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7 Things Being a Life Coach Teaches You About Yourself

November 04, 2022 by Amanda Reill

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.” - Mahatma Gandhi

The act of service to another never leaves you unchanged. Life coaching is, at its core, a service of self. It’s a gift of presence with the hope that the other benefits. But what does the process do to you? How will you be changed?

Coaching is a brave activity. It can involve being present for some of the most sacred moments in a person’s life. Coaches almost never feel entirely prepared, but a sense of reverence colors their life’s work. Witnessing personal a-ha moments in the lives of your clients feels new each day. What we may not expect is all that we have to learn about ourselves in the process.

7 Things Being a Life Coach Teaches You About Yourself

7 Things Being a Life Coach Teaches You About Yourself

1. Your intuition is stronger than you think. The intuition is a faculty of “knowing”  without rational or logical deduction. It’s also known as “trusting your gut.” One of the most stretching aspects of coach training is releasing an overly formulaic approach in favor of an intuitively led one. It may be a microexpression on your client’s face or an offhand comment, but there will be many times that “something” tells you to ask a curious question and dive deeper. The more times you say “yes” to your intuition, the more you’ll learn to trust it.

2. You may not be the listener you believed yourself to be. Active, empathetic listening is hard work. It’s emotionally, psychologically, and physically taxing. As a coach, being a good listener tests a lot of different skills. Active listening involves paying attention to your body language - is it communicating support for your client? You quickly learn there is a difference between allowing someone to finish their sentence and allowing someone to finish their thought.

Giving a space of even 3-5 seconds after your client appears to have finished their thought, particularly when they’re in a place of deep reflection, can be the most important few seconds of the entire session. When the client is given the space to travel down that path a few steps further, they may uncover something unforeseen. For some coaches, that silence may feel painful. After seeing important breakthroughs due to enduring this discomfort, you’ll never listen the same way again.

3. You have a lot of opinions. The first natural inclination for so many of us is to give advice — in any scenario. Anyone who’s ever had a mother-in-law knows that a loving  heart often feels like telling someone what they should do. And anyone who has gone through coach training knows that advice is not what we’re there for. Giving someone the space to solve their own problems (and communicating your faith in their ability to do so) often reveals one of two things:

a. The person arrives at the same conclusion you silently conceived. Because they arrived at it on their own, they were able to own the idea or action in a much more powerful way. They’ve said it aloud to themselves instead of receiving it from an external source. You’ve simply been there cheering for them.

b. You were wrong. Veteran coaches have countless stories of coaching moments where they felt they knew the conclusion the client needed to arrive at, only to set that aside and find that the client was able to uncover a completely different - and better - solution.

4. You will never stop learning. The best way to get better at coaching is to do it, and like nearly any other profession, there is always something new to learn. Engaging in active listening means that your clients will constantly surprise you with the wisdom that seemingly falls out of their mouths. You’ll find yourself taking notes for your own life based on what they’re working through. Consider it a perk of the job.

5. You are capable. Stepping into some of the most intimate parts of someone’s life can be intimidating. When you begin to realize that your true power comes from simply showing up, you’ll understand that you’re more equipped than you think. When imposter syndrome sets in, remember that trusting yourself, the client, and the coaching process is enough for the magic to happen. 

6. Boundaries are healthy. There will be times, as a coach, when you have to set particular boundaries for specific clients. Setting boundaries doesn’t always feel easy or natural because we can fear disappointing the other person or second-guess our judgment. We often learn these boundaries the hard way, when we burn out after promising someone too much or allowing our client to veer into uncomfortable territory one too many times. Though it may feel uncomfortable to communicate these boundaries at first, when you’re better practiced at doing so, you’ll better understand the value and importance of setting them early on.

7. Failure makes you better. You will leave coaching sessions wondering if you could have handled something better. Everyone does. And it’s what makes you a better coach. Rather than translating that thought to shame, consider turning it into gratitude and reflection. Give thanks that you have the insight to recognize something that could be improved and reflect on how you’d like to try it next time. Feel empowered and encouraged by lessons hard-won.

Life coaching is an incredible career path because of the rewards it offers in return. Each person and discovery made along the way is awe-inspiring in its own right, and will remain with you in some capacity. You’ll never walk away from a session unchanged, and this change can only make you better. We are the lucky ones!

If you would like to explore more on this topic, you may enjoy the blog Individual Benefits of Coaching & Why They Matter.

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