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A Conversation with a Life Coach

“So, you’re a Life Coach?”

Yes, that is one of the things that I do.

“You tell people how to live a fantastic life and have everything they want, then, do you?”

That might be a common misperception of what a Life Coach does. It’s certainly not uncommon to be asked a question like that, by someone who is understandably cynical. Until you find out what the role of a Life Coach is, you could be forgiven for thinking that they’re offering you the key to the kingdom along with the wealth, status and power that goes with it.

Every business has its quacks and Life Coaching is no exception. There are some less-than-reputable Coaches out there who, judging by the content of their websites, seem to be offering you fame and fortune if only you’ll sign up for their (very expensive) coaching services. Take their course. Buy their book. Attend their webinar. And so on, and on. The sheer number of ways they have to separate you from your money is really quite impressive. Wealth is evidently their objective: their wealth, not yours.

“Stick with me, kid, I got all the answers.”

Really? But, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Would you buy a used car from that guy? No? Of course you wouldn’t. Your BS detector started ringing alarm bells before his home page had even finished loading.

A Life Coach, when they’re doing their job properly, isn’t offering anything more than to guide you as you figure out who you really are, and what you want (and need) to have, to do, and to be if you want to live an authentic life. An authentic life is one in which you’re living fully in alignment with your true self.

"Who I really am? Don't be ridiculous. I know that. I'm [insert name here] from [insert town here]."

Who you really are has nothing to do with your name or where you live, nor what you do for a living, your nationality, which football team you support, or anything else like that. Those things are part of your story - part of what you do, not who you are. You're a human being, not a human doing! If you want to know who you are, you're going to have to dig deep. It's a rare person who can figure this out on their own.

A Life Coach will not give you advice or instructions. It’s your life, and only you can answer your questions. A Life Coach will guide you so that you can discover the questions in the first place, and then dig for the answers that you’ve been carrying with you all along.

It’s an inconvenient truth that your answers are to be found in the places where you’re most reluctant to look. There are plenty of reasons for that, but a Life Coach knows how to persuade you to shine a light into the dark corners of your life and to confront what you find there. When you do that, you can start to make progress towards figuring out what an authentic life looks like to you, and then you can start living it.

“But I thought you were going to tell me how to be happy.”

No, I’m not going to do that. Happiness is a fleeting emotion; it’s an effect, not a cause. Chasing happiness for its own sake is a lot like chasing a rainbow and hoping to find a pot of gold at its end. It’s futile. But it’s what a great many people in the world today are doing. They strive to earn more money so that they can buy a bigger house and fill it with wide-screen TVs and other gadgetry. They get married and have 2.4 children and live in the suburbs. Maybe they take an overseas holiday every year or two, or go skiing in the winter. But are they happy? Some of the time, maybe, but it doesn’t last. It comes and goes. And when it goes, what’s left? Stress and worry at the size of the mortgage while interest rates are rising and the only answer is to buckle down and work hard, harder, hardest.

Do Mr and Mrs Average, struggling to keep themselves afloat in a world of debt and always-on technology that’s continually demanding their attention, have the time to realise that they’re not happy and to figure out what to do about it?

No, they don’t. So they muddle along, keeping on keeping on while the stress and tension ratchets up day by day. Eventually one of them probably has a heart attack or falls seriously ill or is involved in a nasty accident, or their relationship breaks down entirely because they never had the time to talk to each other.

There’s nothing more effective than a cataclysmic event such as confronting your own mortality or a painful relationship implosion to make you start asking what life is really all about. Wouldn’t it have been better to ask that question before your life started to go down the toilet?

One of the most transformational things a Life Coach will do is to stop you and ask you to look at your life. What are you doing? Is that really what you want?

Chances are you’ve never asked yourself those questions, because of course working hard and acquiring more stuff is what life in the modern world is all about, isn’t it? Doing that should make you happy, shouldn’t it?

“Should” is the least helpful word in the English language. It’s all about expectations; in this case, it’s about what you believe everyone else expects of you. Fear of other people’s opinions - FOPO - keeps you on the treadmill. But hold on a moment, whose life is it that we’re talking about here? It’s yours, right? So why would you let all those other people have so much influence over how you choose to live?

Wouldn’t you like to be free of all that FOPO so that you could live your life in a way that works for you? A way that aligns you with your true self? Would you prefer to live a life that you choose, or to blindly walk a path that’s been laid before you, for you to follow unquestioningly and by default?

As a Life Coach, I’m offering you the freedom to make that choice.

“So you’re living the perfect life yourself, then, are you?”

That’s a perfectly reasonable question but it often comes with a cynical sneer and an unspoken "where's your Rolls Royce, and why don't you have a solid gold Rolex on your wrist?" You see, if you buy in to the idea that a "perfect life" - whatever that may be - involves acquiring more stuff, then the absence of "stuff" must indicate an imperfect, unsuccessful life. The trouble with that idea, though, is that it's based on a flawed premise. Acquiring and owning more "stuff" is the way many people distract themselves from feeling that their life is unsatisfactory, but no matter how much more "stuff" they acquire, that feeling never goes away.

Life can only feel satisfactory when it has a purpose, and when there is movement towards achieving that purpose. Your purpose - and yes, you do have one even if you don't yet know what it is - arises from your true self. It follows that if you want to live a satisfactory, purposeful, fulfilled life, you must start by discovering the truth of who you are. When you figure that out, you'll soon discover how unimportant and even unhelpful it is to be surrounded by more and more stuff. Stuff is not the answer!

Now I’m telling you that I can guide you to discover your own version of an authentic life, but what exactly is it that qualifies me to make that claim?

Is it all the Life Coaching qualifications that hang like wallpaper in my office?

Is it because I’m living a “perfect life” and I want you to adopt me as your guru and attempt to emulate me?

It's none of that. What qualifies me to offer you my guidance is the experience that I’ve acquired on my journey through life. I’ve had my share of triumphs and tragedies, wins and losses, successes and failures. I’ve learned, often the hard way, about what works and what doesn’t. Most of all I’ve learned about myself; who I really am, and what that means in terms of how I show up in the world and in what I choose to be and to do in my life.

I don’t waste any of my time acquiring more stuff, chasing the next shiny thing, nor worrying that I don’t have enough. I don’t compare myself to anyone else nor envy anyone for what they have or what they do. I don’t care what other people think of me; if they want to judge me, that’s their prerogative and I hope they have fun doing it. I’m not wealthy. I don’t wield status or authority. What I do have is authenticity: what you see is what you get.

The University of Life, School of Hard Knocks, is the best and only place to learn about life. I’ve been there, done that and got the tee shirt.

One of the things I learned on my journey through life was that I’m not alone. The things that I struggled with are exactly the same things that pretty much everyone else struggles with, too. I know how much pain, distress and unhappiness my struggles caused me, and I see other people going through that same pain, distress and unhappiness. It’s not pleasant, but I know how to get past it and out of it. In short, I see others suffering, and I want to help them out of it. I have helped some out of it.

That is what qualifies me to call myself a Life Coach and to offer my guidance to anyone who's tired of suffering and wants to live a more authentic, fulfilled life.

“So if I want to be happy, I have to give up all my stuff and live like a monk?”

No! If keeping your stuff and living as you do is what floats your boat, go for it. Just don’t make the pursuit of more stuff, more wealth and more status the whole purpose of your life. Ask yourself why you want those things and what you’re going to do with them. You could use your wealth and influence to help other people and to make a positive difference in the world. Wouldn’t that feel better than simply hoarding it for your own selfish pleasure?

"And do you get paid for being a Life Coach?"

Yes, I do.

There are two reasons for that.

One: Giving my time to help others is a fine thing to do, but something has to pay my bills!

Two: If I give my time for nothing, my clients have a tendency to put a low value on it.

I do not charge excessive fees; just enough to cover my costs and to focus my clients on the value they are receiving. I didn't go into coaching to make myself wealthy. I believe there's something slightly unethical about coaches who charge exorbitant fees. It seems to me they've got their priorities a bit skewed. But that's just my opinion and I'm sure plenty of people would disagree.

"OK, you've got me interested. How do I find out more?"

You could visit my website, and that will give you a bit more detail. But, if you really want to know more about Life Coaching and how it could help you, you could book a Discovery Session with me. Then you'll get to have a one-on-one conversation with me and you can ask any questions you might have. Best of all, it's free and you're under no obligation to sign up for a coaching program with me.

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