Life coaching is a support system that helps many people improve their quality of life and attitude towards it.
Not fully convinced? Take a moment to explore the skills and support needed to identify and reach your life goals through our latest Business Leaders episode with specialist Kathryn Thompson.
Kathryn, who is a professional life coach and acclaimed author of ‘The Warrior Within – Finding Strength in Life’s Biggest Struggles’, chats us through how she transforms people’s lives for a living.
To find out more, check out our full interview below, or read on for the highlights.
Life Coaching: Kathryn’s Approach
Life coaching is not a simple equation that solves everything. Each person requiring the service needs their approach to be tailored to their situation. Speaking on her approach, Kathryn emphasises that her life coaching is more productive than reductive, to help people unlock their future potential.
“I tend to think of coaching as working more with solutions rather than focusing on problems.
“My role is to help people identify where they want to be in life, and what it is they want. Then we look at where they are now and where the gap is.
“It’s not so much fixing something that’s broken, it’s making something that’s already good and whole, even better.”
Kathryn explains the advantages of life coaching support, in that sometimes you need an outsider’s opinion to help you see the bigger picture and understanding situations better.
“You don’t see your life when you’re in it as it’s very difficult to get a big picture view of your life when you’re caught up in the minutiae of what you’re doing.”
Kathryn provides a useful analogy that she uses in her coaching to help her clients take a step back.
“I often think a coach’s role is more of a helicopter view. An analogy I often use is this: if you are driving a car you are focused on the road ahead.
“So you can’t really see things off to the side, or in the distance, or far behind that might impact on that journey. If you have a coach sitting beside you, they have a bigger picture and can say ‘actually, there could be a better opportunity down that road you were going to pass’ or ‘there’s something behind which I think might have an impact on where we’re going’.”
Life coaching differs from the important role counselling plays in helping people manage crises or challenging situations. As Kathryn emphasises, life coaching looks more closely at the “rebuild stage” of personal development.
“It’s about what you really want. That sounds like an easy thing to define, but quite often if you ask people what they want they say ‘I don’t really know’.
“That’s because the question is about what you want, and not what other people want for you, what society wants for you or what your employer wants from you.
“Very often it’s powerful to ask that question, then sit back and listen to what someone says.”
Beating the Stigma Around Life Coaching
During her Business Leaders interview, Kathryn pointed out that for some people there may be a stigma around seeking help. She added that we are often willing, however, to spend a large amount of money attempting to escape from their lives instead of getting the support needed.
“In the States you have a coach for everything, but in Northern Ireland we have this attitude around keeping a stiff upper lip and having a need to be strong by coping with something on your own.
“But sometimes, the strongest thing you can do is to reach out for help. People will spend a fortune on clothes, or a night out, or a weekend away. That’s not to say these things are escapism, but there are times when people would say ‘I can’t afford that’ and still spend a lot of money escaping.”
The Many Facets of Life Coaching
Kathryn explains that she doesn’t tend to segment or separate her clients’ lives by categorising them under ‘work life’ or ‘home life’ etc., but instead sees each area of life overlap.
“When I’m working with someone, I’m looking at how every part of their life impacts on another part.
“There’s a generic coaching exercise called a Wheel of Life, where we draw a chart with different segments representing, say: your work life, your finances, your family life, your health, your environment and your spiritual life too if that’s important to you.
“We score them from one to ten and that gives a very instant, graphic representation of where the imbalances are. It’s a very simple, very generic exercise and is useful to revisit every now and then.”
As humans, we are ever-changing beings with erratic thoughts and feelings. Kathryn says through this method, we are able to prioritise and make amendments where necessary in our lives as they change.
“It’s almost like we’re mini ecosystems, change has to be ecological. That’s because if you change one part of a system, it can have an impact on other parts.”
She recalls one client who, through her help, was able to identify the imbalance they were experiencing when it came to juggling work-related stress.
“I remember working with one executive, looking at his core values and what was important to him. What came out as being very important to him was family and home yet he was working about 80 hours a week, so there’s a huge imbalance there.
“A question I often ask people is ‘what is really important to you?’. Until you give yourself the space to step back and look at that, you can become buried under everything else.
“When you do take a step back, the question that follows is ‘if this is important to you, would I recognise that from how your day-to-day life is?’.”
From asking these important questions, is where we can make better decisions to ultimately make us happier in our lives.
To discover more valuable insights into confidence, self-esteem, resilience and much more – check out our full Business Leaders interview with Kathryn.
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