Coaching Facts

What is coaching?
The first time it was ever used, the word coach described a horse-drawn vehicle – a stage coach that would get people from where they were to where they wanted to be. A modern bus does the same thing, and often these vehicles are called coaches. Most often today, coaches are people who help athletes and teams move from one place to another that is better and where they want to be.

But coaches also help musicians, public speakers and actors, who rely on coaching to improve their skills, overcome obstacles, remain focused, and get to where they want to be. Coaching is very popular business and corporate settings around the world where “executive coaches” help managers and other business leaders deal with change, develop new management styles, make wise decisions, become more effective, cope with their hyperactive lifestyles and deal with stress. Executive coaches work with people in business to help them move from where they are to levels where they are more competent, fulfilled and self-confident than they would have been otherwise.

Coaching helps people expand their visions, build their confidence, unlock their potential, increase their skills, and take practical steps toward their goals. In summary, coaches guide people from where they are toward the greater competence and fulfillment that they desire.

Why would anybody want a coach?
Coaching helps people who want to

  • Get unstuck
  • Build their confidence
  • Discover and expand their vision for the future
  • Fulfill their dreams
  • Unlock their potential
  • Increase their skills,
  • Move through transitions, and/or
  • Take practical steps toward their goals.

How does coaching differ from counseling?
Unlike counseling or therapy, coaching is less threatening, less concerned about problem solving, more inclined to help people reach their potential.

  • Coaching is not for people who need therapy to overcome painful influences from the past; coaches help people build vision and move toward the future.
  • Coaching is not about looking back, it’s about looking ahead.
  • Coaching is not about healing; it’s about growing.
  • Coaching focuses less on overcoming weaknesses and more on building skills and strengths.
  • Usually coaching is less formal than the counselor-counselee relationship; more often it is a partnership between two equals, one of whom is a change expert who has experiences, perspectives, skills or knowledge that can be useful to the other.

What do Coaches do to help others?


  • Coaches stimulate better skills. Good coaching helps people anticipate what they could become, overcome self-defeating habits or insecurities, manage relationships, develop new competencies and build effective ways to keep improving.
  • Coaches stimulate vision. How many people have no vision? They keep doing what they have done for years, without much change and with little expectation that things will ever be different. Coaches work with individuals and organizations as they think beyond the present, more clearly envision the future and plan how to get there.
  • Coaches help people grow through life transitions. Whenever we encounter major changes in our lives–like a new job, promotion, a move, the death of a loved one, the launch of a new career, or retirement–we face uncertainty and the need to readjust. Experienced coaches better enable people to reassess their life goals, find new career options, change lifestyles, get training, re-evaluate their finances, or find information so they can make wise decisions.


  • Coaches speak the truth in love. Good coaches know that sometimes the best way to help is by refusing to ignore harmful behavior patterns. Instead, coaches nudge people to deal with attitudes and behaviors that should be faced and changed.

What Happens in Coaching?
Coaching is a relationship that most often is client-centered and goal-directed. Every coaching situation is unique but usually coaches will begin by exploring the issues that the person wants to change. In what areas does he or she want to grow? Sometimes the person wants to be a better leader, better self-manager, or someone with a clearer perspective about where he or she wants to go.

Then there is the need for better awareness of where the person is at present. What are his or her strengths, weaknesses, abilities, interests, spiritual gifts, values, and hopes? Often the coach will use assessment tools to enable people to learn more about themselves.

Then comes vision – where coaching clients want to go. Coaches may assist people or organizations to formulate life-vision or life-mission statements. Coaches might ask, for example: “Considering your gifts, abilities, driving passions, and unique personality, what is your life mission?” It takes time to answer a question like that, but without a clear vision, people, companies, organizations, even governments tend to drift with no direction.

Often, coaches will help people set goals and plan ways to reach these goals.

When obstacles get in the way, coaches challenge, encourage, and give accountability so the person can get past the obstacles and experience success. A coach can help you to remove the blinders, allowing you to see what you already know, and give support as you move forward. A coach is there for you, listening to your concerns and asking questions that will give you clarity on your situation, get you past your own blocks, realize your potential, and challenge you to be your best.

Copyright © Gary R. Collins, 2009, used with permission

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