In Monday’s post, I answered one of the most common questions people ask of me: What is a futurist? I also touched on what the phrase Everyday Futurist means. I mentioned that I combine futuring and coaching in all my work, one-on-one, with groups, and in my writing.
Which brings me to the second most common question I (and most coaches) get asked: What kind of coach?
Since I first began coaching nearly 40 years ago, the profession seems to have exploded into a thousand different subspecialties and labels—career coaching, executive coaching, corporate coaching, leadership coaching, business coaching, relationship coaching, and so on. When I describe my holistic approach, incorporating futuring and coaching, addressing work, business, and life issues and goals, I often get this response: “Oh, you’re a life coach!”
In fact, the first person to call me this was a senior editor and journalist writing for Dr.Koop.com back in the early eighties, and I don’t think she ever did get credit for coining the term! At the time, I disliked it so much that I did not think twice about it, until the nineties, when it became a trendy form of coaching.
I still avoid using the “life coach” label for myself, and I’ll tell you why. First, let me say that many excellent coaches refer to themselves as life coaches, and many of them have solid skills, experience, and certification. We share many of the same approaches, perspectives, and theoretical bases. On the surface, my holistic approach does indeed appear to be that of a life coach.
One of the reasons it applies to me, however, is that the term is so broad as to encompass many different kinds of coaches. This makes it less useful as a title telling you specifically what I can do for you, and it also unfortunately leaves the field wide open to interpretation—and abuse, such as the life coaches involved in the despicable, bigoted gay conversion organizations, now being rightfully sued for false claims and emotional, mental, and physical harm (see, e.g., “Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ Faces Test in Courts”).
Now, please don’t get me wrong. Every profession has some bad apples, and those who abuse the life coach title are not representative of the field. The problem is in part that life coaching and many other kinds of coaching don’t have certification programs and certifying boards. Certification can help weed out the bad apples, ensure competence (and even excellence), and provide people with more confidence when choosing a professional whose guidance could affect major decisions in their life and work.
Providing the people I serve with this assurance and confidence is one reason I chose to become an ICF Master-Certified Coach (MCC) and a CCE Board-Certified Coach (BCC). I am certified not because I want to impress you with my titles but because my purpose is to give you the best possible information and guidance I can—and not just through my fee’d services but in this blog, in my reports and ebooks, and in workshops and presentations.
Part of genuinely serving my tribe means developing and constantly refining the expertise that underpins everything I write and say, rather than expecting people to just take my word for it that I know my stuff. That’s why I have taken the time to earn certification, and why I maintain that certification through constant learning and staying up-to-date on developments in my field.
Similarly, one of my specialties is in mentoring entrepreneurs, especially boomerpreneurs, to create sustainable success. I also work as an expert consultant to those serving the 50+ market, not because I just decided one day to call myself an expert but because I have devoted significant time and thought to developing this expertise, in my work, research, and education. I am a certified gerontologist and have decades of experience as a pioneer working with entrepreneurs to create rock solid businesses based on making a difference and meeting the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit).
My holistic approach to coaching means addressing the whole person (not just work or just personal issues) because everything interconnects, and this is very much like the common definition of a life coach, but I believe my role as a coach has more to do with finding the right questions to ask than simply dispensing pat answers. And this means listening to our intuition and checking it against the evidence.
I enlist my clients to use their strengths in business or their careers to support what truly matters to them—not only to achieve self-mastery and self-actualization, but to reach beyond personal transcendence to heed the call to fully awaken the visionary leader and change agent they are meant to be . . . around the boardroom table as well as the kitchen table.
In other words, don’t just take my word for it, or anyone else’s, when it comes to deciding what guidance is best for you and what path you will take. The answers are within you (intuition) and without (evidence). All a good coach does is guide you to connect the dots, within and beyond the box, so that you can stay ahead of the curve of change to make your future work.
Featured image by Mauro Parra-Miranda.