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5 Things to Look for in a Life Coach

How to find a life coach that you truly connect with.

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They say if you find a great life coach, don’t ever let her go. This is because finding a great coach is difficult.

It’s not just about tools and techniques. A significant part of a great coach is the chemistry between you and your coach. And that chemistry is unique to each relationship. Just because a certain life coach was super effective with your friend doesn’t mean that same life coach will be effective with you. Again, every relationship is unique.

What do I mean by chemistry? Everything from your level of respect to personality to relatability to coaching style to her story—the list goes on and on. But here are five fundamental things to look for in your coach for any chemistry to be produced. These traits are required for you to have the best chance of having a powerful dynamic with your life coach.

1. Authenticity.

Without authenticity, trust can not be built. Without trust, there is no relationship. The process becomes slippery. There will be no traction. You may receive instructions and exercises but that will only give you a two-dimensional experience. It will feel like a seminar or a presentation. The power of the coaching experience will always live in the dynamic of the relationship. Make sure your coach is authentic. She shows herself. She is genuine. She doesn’t try to be someone she’s not. This produces glue, trust, your buy-in. Also, her ability to be authentic is telling of where she’s at in her own life journey. Authenticity is the soil.

If you’re a coach: Being authentic is terrifying. I get it. We want our clients to see us a certain way. We want them to believe our lives and relationships are perfect. We want them to believe we are perfect and if we’re authentic, they may see our flaws. They may not like us. But remember, if that is your focus, you are taking and not giving. To give is to be yourself.

2. A voice.

This doesn’t mean your coach should be loud. By voice, I mean what makes your coach uniquely different? What is her style, her perspective, her approach, her story? Imagine that life coaches are like film directors. They see the world a certain way. They have a distinct style. The same screenplay directed by two different directors can produce a very different feeling, message, and story. Like directors, life coaches are artists. Yes, life coaching is an art. Therapy is not. This is because the therapist is a clinician and he is restricted by strict guidelines and approaches. Of course, there is room for each therapist to have their own distinctive style but due to their training and a board, they are much more limited than life coaches. Actually, life coaches don’t really have a limit, other than their own ethics. This creates a wide spectrum of coaches.

Make sure your life coach is not a walking textbook. The value of a coach isn’t just about techniques. It’s about their voice.

If you’re a coach: Trust what feels honest to you. Don’t get caught up in your definitions of what a coach should look like. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t try to be like other coaches. What works for them may not work for you. Try different things, knowing that there is no such thing as failure. It’s all information and learning. You will always be growing. You will always be evolving. You will always be honing your craft. But only if you listen to your voice and no one else’s.

3. Confidence.

If your life coach does not have confidence, you will not trust her. Confidence doesn’t mean having the answers to everything. Life coaching isn’t about answers. Confidence isn’t about right or wrong. All life coaches will make mistakes. Confidence isn’t about being perfect. Or having a perfect life. That doesn’t exist. Confidence isn’t about a track record and how many clients they have under their belt.

Confidence is about knowing your worth, as well as your shortcomings. Confidence is about being honest with yourself, practicing your truth, standing for what you believe. Confidence is taking ownership of things you don’t know, pulling from your heart instead of ego. Confidence is vulnerability. Confidence is communication. Confidence is knowing if you can or can not help a client and referring them out of you don’t believe you can. Confidence is exploring your own triggers as a coach. Confidence is setting appropriate boundaries. Confidence is making it about the client instead of you.

If you’re a coach: Confidence takes time. Be patient. If you don’t feel confident, it’s okay. Work toward building your confidence. It’s a process. Remember, every coach starts off unsure and scared. What’s important is a willingness to build it and to be honest about where you’re at in your life coaching career. That’s confidence.

4. Passion.

There’s nothing worse than a passionless life coach. Your coach doesn’t have to be a walking bottle of inspiration. As a matter of fact, that can feel false and forced. Your life coach doesn’t have to be where she wants to be in life. Because she is a person and has her own struggles and journey. But she should be passionate about helping you. She should be passionate about coaching. Yes, there is burn out. Her passion can and will fluctuate. But generally speaking, she should possess a passion to help others. She should be passionate about her craft. She should be passionate about helping you write a better story.

5. Magic.

This one is a bit difficult to define. It’s the X factor, the special sauce, the unexplainable, of two people coming together, connecting, and impacting each other. Yes, the life coach will also be impacted by you. Whether they admit it or not. It’s nearly impossible for them to not have any impact from you and your story.

Magic is tough to describe because it will be unique to the relationship. The magic is in the exchange. And remember, magic isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Magic can come in the form of resistance. Because from resistance, assuming you and your coach process and explore it, is where amazing growth can be produced, in both you as well as the coach.

Magic can come in the form of revelations, hope, feeling supported, heard, cared about, believed in, and trusted.

If you’re a coach: Don’t try to force the magic. Just focus on creating the space to allow it to happen. If you try to force magic, you’re going to come off as trying too hard. And your client will smell it. Instead producing magic, you will produce skepticism.

To find a therapist or life coach, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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