Someone asked me if I yell at my clients like a sports coach or fitness trainer would. I thought that was an interesting question, so I asked how they made the connection. This person assumed that coaches make their athletes or clients feel like crap, so that they feel motivated to push harder. I’m not sure if all sports coaches are like this (I hope not), while I could see some people want this type of coaching, my work does not involve making my clients feel like crap. Here’s why:
My clients are achievers, or they were at one point and presently feel like they’re stuck in a rut. These people know they need help, so they hire me to help them to get their lives and careers in order. These people, because they are natural achievers or want to be, are harsh on themselves. Just as they judge their subordinates or their colleagues on their performance, they judge themselves. This judgement gets stuck in their heads and they repeat the same critical thought-patterns or as I like to call them “Broken Records” such as, “What’s wrong with me?,” “I’m not doing my best.” over and over again.
My clients have expected to see criticism in everything they see, hear, and do and this self-doubt and judgement paralyzes them. This is where the motivation part comes in. Much of my work involves deconstructing these broken records, revealing the dishonesty in the statements and getting my clients to expand their perception in order to change their mental dialogue. I help them to perceive that they are more capable in accomplishing their goals than they initially believed.
This motivation process is extremely sensitive. A life coach has to respect a client’s comfort zone, while challenging them to push it. I have to make sure to provide a consistently respectful and constructive environment where my clients feel free to observe their behaviors, discuss them, and experiment in changing them.
Yes, there are times when my clients don’t do their “homework” assignments, they miss sessions, they give me transparent excuses to cover up their inaction. I suppose this is where a coach would yell and scream at their clients for being so weak. This is where I remain consistent, respectful, and remind them of what they set out to do and the consequences they agreed to like losing out on sessions, answering my probing questions to root out their excuses, and having to remain accountable with their work.
Believe it or not, the client is much more nervous and upset about their failures and excuses than they lead on. They are often afraid of my reaction; they – because of their prior conditioning – expect that I’ll give up on them. Of course, I don’t. I never do. My work teaches them how to set respectful boundaries with themselves and others and to pick up where they left off and try again with no judgement. If I got caught up in criticizing my clients, they’d make no progress and they’d give up. We simply point out the truth, understand it, and take what we have learned in order to move forward.
Image Source/Credit: Tung Photo