Life coaching is all over the media at the moment.
Every day there seems to be an article about how to change you life with the help of a "Life coach" but do we really need coaching or is it just a facet of "modern life" that has been hyped by the mainstream media?
As a coach working with both individuals and businesses for many years, my personal take on whether we need coaching is both yes and no.
Yes, there are people who for whatever reason in their personal and/or business life, need an outside influence to encourage, motivate, question and reinforce them in some way as their existing "support mechanisms" are insufficient in some way.
This might be a work colleague they have recently connected with, a person they look up to that they feel that they can approach or in some cases a professional life coach.
An important point for any (non sports) coaching is to question and have a balanced approach instead of a critical outlook.
Often life coaching is requested when a person can't see a way around a problem or maybe has developed a phobia of something.
Criticising holds little value in these scenarios yet I often hear people saying "Oh come on, it's only a spider." or "Well everyone else is managing ok."
People making these kind of statements probably believe they are being helpful and often that is their intention, however it doesn't help the person struggling, to understand where their problem originates and therefore deal with the root cause.
When we are born, we are a blank slate, though one with enormous learning potential. That slate is written on by ourselves, our parents, teachers, friends, in fact everyone that we come into some form of contact with including authors, actors, painters etc. via the arts and other media.
As our powers of logic and reasoning develop, so we apply this knowledge and this along with any inherent genetic traits make up our character.
We are not genetically programmed (as far as medical science has thus far established) to be afraid of spiders, flying, clowns etc. therefore this trait has been learned from someone or something!
A life coach has the very positive role of exploring where we learned this and helping us to see alternatives to the fear we feel. It is not hypnosis but re-education!
So coaching can have a very positive role to play in life and also business BUT as I said at the beginning, my own view is that there are also times when it is completely unnecessary or at least only required for a short duration.
An example might be where a person does not know how to complete a task. All that is required is to show them the process, let them practice a few times and then leave them to it, with the occasional check to make sure they are ok. They clearly do not need coaching to help them learn the task unless it is particularly complicated or they have "learned" to fear it due to prior experience (theirs or others they have heard about).
So "Coaching" is the media darling but is rarely mentioned in context of being only one part of the Learning and Development spectrum.
When I started coaching in the mid '90's, the focus was very much on being a "Trainer", whereas now the whole L&D cycle seems to revolve around "Coaching" and "Life Coaching".
At the end of the day, there are times when it is useful and times when it isn't but as L&D professionals, we should remember that it is only another tool for us to use at the appropriate time for the learners benefit.
Thoughts and comments are as always welcomed.
I've been working in training and development for more than twenty-five years now including twenty-three coaching.