The Game of Life Coaching
Tired of sitting on the bench? Maybe you need a pep talk to help you get to the next level.
It’s just after noon on a recent Wednesday and 16 women of various ages, temperaments and perspectives have assembled in a nondescript, if pleasant, meeting room.
As these women munch on a light lunch of salad, fresh fruit, bottled water and (yes!) chocolate-chip cookies, they listen to Leah Turner and Jennifer Lee, who are standing at the front of the room.
“What we’re going to talk about today, ladies, is getting unstuck and out of that rut,” announces Turner, a take-charge brunette with prominent dimples.
“Being proactive, as opposed to being reactive,” adds Lee, whose curly hair and habit of opening her eyes very wide to emphasize a point make her seem charmingly doll-like.
Turner and Lee, who live and work in the Orlando area, call themselves personal and professional coaches. Sometimes, they’re known as life coaches. Either way, their coaching assignment today is these women who have gathered at Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando on Lee Road, near I-4.
It hardly matters whether the group is large or small; business or social; male, female or mixed. It could just as easily be the Associated Builders & Contractors, the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce or the St. Maximilian Kolbe Council of Catholic Women, all of which these coaches have visited in recent weeks.
The message, say the coaches, applies to us all, no matter who we are (although it applies especially to people in transition). What matters most is that we are ready to hear it.
Basically, that message is: Get it together.
The coaches don’t put it quite so bluntly, of course. Warm, “Stuart Smalley” words like “goals,” “reinventing” and “empowerment” tend to come up a lot. Often the coaches rely on metaphors to make their points.
Riding a bike. Taking a trip. Eating an elephant. (How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.) In fact, the name of their company, Creating Your Masterpiece, is itself a metaphor—as Lee explains:
“We believe that everyone is an artist of their own life.”
More and Less
Workshops like this one are only one way that life coaches ply their trade. In many cases, they hold one-on-one sessions, either in person or by phone.
In a typical arrangement, Turner or Lee works with a client for 30 to 60 minutes a week at a cost of about $300 to $450 per month. They require a three-month minimum commitment, although it’s not uncommon for a client to stay with a coach for years.
Each coach approaches his or her work a little differently. Turner says she focuses on five areas of life:
- Relationships, including romantic, family and workplace ones.
- Health, both physical and emotional.
- Finances, including employment.
- Physical environment, which may involve the client’s home, office or even clothing.
- Spirituality, including, but not limited to, religion.
When life coaches talk about their work, it often sounds either intriguingly inclusive or maddeningly vague, depending on your perspective. But each case has its own challenges.
Recently, for example, Turner worked with a thirtyish man who was laid off from a job in the corporate world. She led him to realize that what he really wanted was to leave that world and start his own graphic design company.
She helped him to focus on developing a business plan, creating a mission statement, networking with his existing contacts, building a client base and, generally speaking, thinking outside the corporate box he had built for himself.
Sandy Vilas, who owns Coach U—an Arizona-based school that trains personal and professional coaches throughout the world—says that coaching makes just as much sense in life as it does in sports. In fact, he points out that professional athletes are especially open to the idea of life coaching.
“All professional sports players have coaches,” he explains. “So it’s just natural that they would think that, in life, why not get a coach?”
Been There, Done That
Back at Jewish Family Services, things are starting to cook. The coaches have asked their audience to talk about the fears that hold them back.
“Outliving my money,” offers one woman as she finishes her lunch. “It’s stopping me from traveling.” A younger woman pipes up to say she’s afraid of “the new social media” and “getting too involved with people I don’t want to get involved with.”
That confession inspires a lot of meaningful nodding throughout the room.
When the coaches ask the women to talk about things they have always wanted, an older woman flatly states that she’s done it all. So somebody asks her: What about skydiving? Been there, she replies. Traveling through Africa? Done that. Finally, though, she relents.
“OK, thighs!” she admits with a shy smile, to much sympathetic laughter.
The coaches are sympathetic, too. Whatever your fears and goals (thinner thighs, included), the key, they say, is to work with a coach to devise the appropriate strategy, and then to stick to it.
“By the time you get done here,” Lee promises the group, “you’re going to have an action plan, girlfriend!”