What is coaching and how a coach might help you
I have mentored and consulted numerous people in my life. I helped people understand and implement some difficult concepts and strategies of personal finance and investing. I also supported people who are aspiring to become software engineers or who just started their engineering careers. I helped countless immigrants with the process of settling down in the United States, ranging from choosing a school and a major, finding a job to taking care of benefit elections.
My consultations included a lot of resource sharing, teaching, and training. People were happy with what they gained from the consultations, but I knew more could have been done. For some reason, I felt what I was providing was not enough. I wanted to create more impact in their life. I wanted to empower people.
During this time, I started therapy sessions with an amazing mental health counselor. I had eye-opening conversations with her. She was intuitive. She helped me realize the patterns by listening and asking sharp and insightful questions. I was inspired. I started researching more about counseling. That is how I stumbled upon the world of coaching.
Counseling V.S. Consulting (Mentoring) V.S. Coaching
Counseling is definitely different from coaching although there are a lot of common skills and principles shared between these two. Counseling mostly focuses on the mental health area while coaching usually does not involve mental health treatment unless a coach is also a licensed mental health professional. Counseling has a huge emphasis on people’s past while coaching emphasizes people’s potential and future.
What about consulting or mentoring? How are they different from coaching? Consulting and mentoring usually require the consultant or mentor to be an expert in the subject matter. They are supposed to bring expertise, provide analysis, and help solve the problems.
On the other hand, a coach does not have to be an expert in the subject matter. The fundamental belief of coaching is that people are naturally capable, resourceful, and full of potential. People already have their own answers. A coach simply helps them see the potential they might not see themselves. Based on this principle, a coach does not provide answers or solve problems for coachees either. However, when a coach has extensive experience in the subject matter and a coachee requests to be consulted, a coach can create a separate consulting session.
Definition of Coaching
So, what exactly is coaching? In my own words, coaching is exploring and discovering clients’ full potential by staying curious and supportive. Coaching is assisting clients to evaluate all the choices that clients might have and achieve a balance between what to give up and what to attain.
Coaching is not about leading and being led. Rather, it is a collaborative, equal, trusting, and safe relationship where a coach facilitates a process of uncovering through questions, tools, and role-plays.
To further develop my skills as a coach who can empower people, I started an ICF (International Coach Federation) training program this year. I will be accumulating 500 hours of coaching to be certified as a PCC (Professional Certified Coach). During this journey, I will be sharing more about real-world coaching experiences here on Medium, so people have a better idea of what coaching really is. I am hoping for the world where coaching is widely accessible for everybody, not just people in corporate leadership.