How To Slam the Door On Coaching Myths

Coaching Myths

Coaching misunderstandings

There is a lot of misunderstanding and confusion out there about Coaching and what it actually is. If you Wiki Life Coaching (“Life Coaching is a future-focused practice with the aim of helping clients determine and achieve personal goals”), Personal Coaching (“Personal Coaching is a relationship which is designed and defined in a relationship agreement between a client and a coach. It is based on the client’s expressed interests, goals and objectives”) or Business Coaching (“Business coaching is the practice of providing positive support and positive feedback while offering occasional advice to an individual or group in order to help them recognise ways in which they can improve the effectiveness of their business”), the explanations are nothing to be desired, as Coaching will mean many different things to many different people, and it is completely subjective.

Let me clarify.Coaching Myths

What is Coaching?

Coaching has many definitions. I liken coaching to simply being “a structured conversation”. However, it means something specific to each one of us, whether we realise it or not, or whether we have previously given it thought or not.

Coaching Myths

Whatever Coaching means to you, here is what it is not:

  • Coaching is telling a person what to do (we have friends and colleagues for that)
  • Coaching is advising (we have consultants for that)
  • Coaching is Mentoring (we have advisors for that)
  • Coaching is Counselling (we have psychotherapists for that)
  • The coach is in control (the client or “coachee” controls the process)
  • The coach sets the agenda (the client calls the agenda and creates the action plans)
  • Coaching is too expensive (if you are considering coaching, then you or your organisation are struggling in some form or other, so can you really afford not to employ a coach?)
  • Coaching takes up too much time (Coaching is specific and follows a process. It is successful, not unlike antibiotics, when followed through to course, thereby ultimately saving time)
  • Coaching is a myth! (Coaching has been around for 1000’s of years, but it’s our obsession with naming and categorising things that we suddenly find in modern language)
  • Coaching is new! (In Cork, Ireland it can be seen as the equivalent to “cop on”, otherwise known as common sense. Somehow, we have traded our common sense for reality TV)
  • Coaching is common sense! (Yes, but “Why do we call it common sense when hardly anyone ever uses it?”)
  • Coaching is a joke! (Talk to someone who has availed of the coaching process and see if they are laughing)
  • A Coach must be qualified or experienced in the area they are coaching (coaching is a process, so it works in any situation. A coach will often find their specific niche or area of expertise.)

Coaching terminology can be confusing!

Anyone can be a Coach (as anyone can be a consultant, auctioneer or advisor). Personally, I feel people who are natural or adept listeners and empathisers make great coaches (the rest of us have to study and work hard!). Thankfully, Ireland takes the coaching profession very seriously and is highly regulated. Any Coach worth their salt will belong to the regulated and accrediting International community. Coaching myths are rife, and it’s up to you to understand fully what it is you are buying into.

It would take a white paper to really explore this further, but I hope that the small (albeit tongue in cheek) list above raises some questions in your mind, and entice you to explore further.

2 thoughts on “How To Slam the Door On Coaching Myths

  • April 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Elaine, I’m looking forward to meeting you at our launch events next month, but I just had to comment on your blog post re: what is coaching!

    I love your comments, and having been a business coach (not a life coach!) for over 12 years here in the US, and having listened to hundreds of coaches (some excellent, some self proclaimed)spend hours defining what is coaching, I always find myself wondering why are we spending so much time trying to define coaching instead of getting on with it! Do Doctors sit around and ask -How do you define “Doctor” or do they just help their patients get healthy!

    When I ask small business owners “why do sports teams or professional athletes always work with a coach? the answers always range from; Motivation, Objective Feedback, Leadership, Direction, Accountability etc. etc. While I think all of those answers are a huge part of any coaching relationship, when you boil it all down and remove the noise, the only reason any sports professional hires a coach is to “help them win”! Not to motivate, not for accountability, those are all great features of coaching, but if the coach is doing a great job at motivating, leading, etc, and the team never even makes it to the All Ireland / Super Bowl, or even the quarter finals … how good of a job is the coach doing?

    I believe the exact same philosophy applies to business coaching, and life coaching … as coaches we must learn what does “winning” look like for our clients and then decide if we can help them achieve that with our coaching services. If we truly believe we can, then we decide how best to work with them to help them WIN! I just find if I keep that thought in my mind as I work with the small business owners we work with, it helps me stay focused on the end goal.

    Great article, thanks for the opportunity to comment! Looking forward to continuing the conversation when I meet you on the 26th/27th!

    Colm Kelly
    Business Coach & Founder of Do Business Smarter Coaching & Consulting.

    • May 6, 2010 at 7:38 am

      Hi Colm,
      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post. It was written in response to many queries about coaching, so I thought i would voice them. It did initiative an interesting response where it was published on another forum, Bloggertone That reader, also a coach, commented that he is tired of people defining what coaching is “NOT”, and why do we feel we have to? I have the opposite experience out and about. Everyone I have met has an opinion and an hypothesis on Coaching, so I thought I would dispel a few misconceptions 🙂
      The Sports Coach is always a great comparison. In the modern world, Sports Coaching is not only deemed plausible, but necessary. I take on board your comments about “winning”, as in business, it’s all about the end-result and profit.
      However, I encourage my clients to also appreciate the journey, as that is where the learning and experience occurs. See you in a couple of weeks.

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