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Becoming A Coach for Selfish and Selfless Reasons

AUTHOR: Erickson Coaching International
DATE: 15 September 2015

“How can I become a coach to help other people with their goals when I’ve got my own obstacles in life?”  

This question, or some variation of it, comes to mind for most prospective coaches when they think about pursuing professional coach training. In reality, thinking about this is a reflection of our own unreasonable expectation that coaches should live a life that is void of personal obstacles or challenges.   First, to point out the obvious: everyone has problems. Virtually no one is completely satisfied with their life. That includes professional coaches.

It is a natural part of human condition – and it’s not a bad thing. Recognizing personal challenges is the first step in moving towards solutions. If you see that some parts of your life need some improvement, and you have a desire (though not necessarily the plan or resources, yet) to make it happen, it doesn’t disqualify you from being a professional coach. It just means that you might need help with tools and processes to get there.  

That leads us to the intermingled selfish and selfless reason why many people become coaches (which is an open secret to most who choose this career): we want to know how to fix our own challenges – and at some point help others do the same using effective coaching tools. Life coach Katie DiBenedetto explains how this works beautifully in a recent Huffington Post column:  

While I am still confused -- coming up with new ideas every day and constantly changing my mind, life coaching opened me up to a world of other opportunities. Suddenly, I was around a group of people that were all just like me -- people looking to start something new and take control of their lives. They were of every age, descent and religion. We couldn't have been a more diverse group, but we bonded and learned from one another.  

Through all of this, I learned about psychology, self-improvement, positive-action theories and the role that philosophy and spirituality play in each of our lives. I was introduced to people that live with true meaning and love for the world and everyone around them. I may not know exactly what I want yet, but I know that I am in the right direction.

As you undergo training to become a professional coach, you will inevitably apply what you have learned to your own life. You’ll learn how to practice visualization, goal setting, active listening and many other skills that offer solutions to many personal challenges. You’ll also apply the theory by practicing your coaching skills on yourself and on your fellow coach-trainees.  

Coaches are not all-knowing gurus who have the answer to any question. They are not walking encyclopedias and do not have picture-perfect lives. They just have the essential training and experience to help individuals and groups to problem-solve and successfully accomplish their personal and professional goals.  

Instead of thinking about the reasons why professional coaching might not be for you, think about the positive change you could create in your own life as you train to help others!

You can learn to build healthier and stronger relationships, improve your career, and apply effective coaching tools to achieve other life goals that are important to you. When you train to be a coach, you’ll  inevitably be helping yourself along the way, long before you get to the graduation day. Remember - it’s OK to think of yourself and be a little selfish in the process. Once you experience the positive effect of professional coaching in your own life, you will be able to help others to benefit in the same way, and it will be one of the most rewarding things you can experience.