Life coaches and business consultants have many places to go for advice, resources and training. But if you are a Life Coach, how do you evaluate whether or not a training, product or advice is sound? Who do you turn to?
I had this problem. I looked around for years for the best advice, training, and products I could find. What I found, however, is that Life Coaching is NOT a licensed profession, and that anyone can hang out a shingle and call himself or herself a “life coach.”
Business coaches are generally more regulated, and can join many organizations, such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF) to get excellent training and certification. Besides training and certification, the IFC also offers regular events, a member directory, and act as a clearing house for referrals to organizations and businesses needing a consultant.
Life coach certification and training, however, is not so cut and dried. There are no state or federal requirements for life coaches, and none are expected to arise in the near future. Consequently, life coaching as a profession is still “the wild west” and life coaches are essentially cowboys! Ye Ha!
While on the surface, this loose certification requirement may seem like a bad thing, it is also has its great qualities. I can, for instance, go and get my life coach certification online instead of having to sit through some boring year-long course of instruction. But I can also sit through that year-long (or sometimes even FOUR years-long) of courses if I REALLY wanted to feel good about myself!
But I wouldn’t. But maybe you would.
If long courses are for you, more power to you. I have found, however, that I do best when I simply get a basic certification, then go out and learn all the greatest coaching and transformation techniques that I can find.
Before deciding on a coaching school, course, or certification training, the questions you must ask yourself are these:
- How much natural talent do I have in listening and coaching?
- What is my learning style? And
- What do my clients or prospective clients need in order to hire me as a coach or consultant?
Natural Talent. You either have and interest in helping people or your don’t. “Talent” is something you develop because you WANT to help people . . . not something you are born with. Talent here is all about the WHY, not the “what.” If, for example, you have NO interest in people at all and prefer working with things, then get a cat and stick to your code writing and mystery novels.
Learning Style. Do you pick up things quickly? do you see and hear something once, then have it down? Lucky you; you can do anything you want. If, however, you are like me and love to have a lot of hands-on experience before you get it, then you fit into the average range of human learning skills. Besides speed, there are also WAYS we learn, such as visually, through hearing, or by touch. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic are the main learning modes, and there are even subsets and combinations of these! The main thing is to know your own speed and method of learning, and choose a training style that matches your comfort and effectiveness.
Client Needs. Do you REALLY know what your clients or prospective clients want? Or are you just guessing? Without survey or buying data you are just guessing. Also, your client needs may depend on the TYPE of coaching or consulting you plan to do. Want to be a business consultant for a major corporation? Then you may want to be certified by an ICF Trainer or course and be able to present this diploma when requested. On the other hand, if you want to coach stay-at-home moms on how to get their children to behave, you may never get asked about your certification. What do YOUR clients need and expect?
So what’s your choice: life coach certification? Or ICF Business Certification? Answer the three questions, then decide.