What is Coaching?

Honestly, up until a few years ago, when I heard the word "coaching", the images that came to mind were those of my middle school football or baseball coaches. Now all of these were great men. They wanted us as a team to improve, to be better and especially to beat the other team! These coaches told us how much weight to bench, where to set up practice, when to be there, what we did and when we could go home. My coaching is not this.



That's right, this is not that. The coaching relationship I'm writing about will produce insights, greater personal awareness, new or modified behaviors, action steps, and ultimately results that satisfy you. Read along with me as I define coaching by comparison and contrast.


Coaching is...


Coaching is about you: your goals, your development path, and your growth as a leader. Together, you and I (the coach) will attempt to listen to God and to discern his voice among all the competing voices in your life.


Coaching is about learning: rather than teaching. You’re the expert on your life. A good coach uses coaching techniques such as active listening, open questions, encouragement, challenge, and catalyzing moments to help you move forward, while always remaining supportive.


Coaching is about action: your action. In each session, you’ll determine 1-3 action steps to take before the next session. You may be surprised how quickly you progress toward your goals!


Coaching is not...


Coaching isn’t therapy. Although many of the communication techniques can be similar, such as active listening, reflecting, using questions, limited advice giving, etc., therapy focuses on the past to bring healing and unblock a person emotionally in order to move ahead. Coaching is future-and action-oriented, as well as for people who are basically clear of larger psychological and emotional issues. Using the metaphor of driving a car, therapy is looking in the rear view mirror and coaching is looking out the front windshield.

Coaching helps to pull answers out, while mentoring helps to put wisdom in.

Coaching isn't mentoring. Simply said, coaching helps to pull answers out, while mentoring helps to put wisdom in. Mentors are typically experts in a particular field with a desire to pass on their expertise to another person. Mentors provide knowledge, advice, guidance, correction, and encouragement to people who need the input of information, wisdom and directive guidance.


A Summation


The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”


A coach is a collaborative partner, not a hired expert. A coach is not a consultant, mentor, counselor, or adviser because he or she is non-directive. We say that coaching is done “from the inside out” rather than “from the outside in”.

We say that coaching is done “from the inside out” rather than “from the outside in”.

Coaches have no agenda, no personal investment in a client taking one path versus another. Instead, coaches will listen for and focus on the gap between where a client is now and where the client senses God is calling them to be.


Coaching is the art of asking powerful questions that prompt clients to think about things they’ve never considered before, or may have dismissed as impossible. Is there something in your heart that you are not taking action on that you could if you had this kind of person "coaching" you in the things of life that matter to you?

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