What is life coaching?

I started working on my life coaching certification back in June. As of October, I’m now a certified life coach.

Since I started working on this path, I’ve commonly been asked: “What is life coaching?”

I’m going to try to explain using an analogy.

Suppose you have a camera.

One of those fancy ones with a giant lens. One with all those settings for things like aperture, ISO speed, and shutter speed. One of those cameras you’d expect someone to use for those pictures you find in National Geographic magazines.

Some people are trained in photography. Some people can take a majestic photo of something as simple as a puddle on a cloudy day. It’s like they’ve reached some sort of photography enlightenment.

But that isn’t the case for most of us.

Most of us aren’t taught how to use a fancy camera.

We have an idea of the type of photos we want to take. We certainly wish for better ones than those we’ve taken so far.

So what do we do?

Maybe we experiment. We play with the settings we know about until we find something that works.

Perhaps we ask for help in getting everything set up.

Or we might search for tips online on how to take better photos.

Eventually, we find the settings that produce a photo we’re happy with. Or at least the photo is good enough.

We don’t always understand the complexity that went into producing that photo–the relationships between the subject, lighting, angle, and numerous other nuances that contributed to its success.

But now that we’ve produced this photo, what happens when we go to take another one?

Quite often, we’re scared to change the settings. They’ve worked in the past, and we expect them to work again. Or at least, we worry that changing the settings will produce a worse photo.

And sometimes, we forget (or never knew about) some settings altogether.

We get frustrated that, despite our best efforts, we’re not getting the photographs we want.

So, how exactly does this help to explain life coaching?

Your camera is your brain.

Your photos are the things you’re creating in your life.

We’ve developed patterns of behaviour because they’ve gotten us results we wanted (or at least, they’ve supported our survival) in the past.

We aren’t always aware of these behaviours, and quite often, we aren’t even aware that alternatives exist.

But we continue to use these behavioural patterns because we think they’ll continue to get us good results in the future.

Unfortunately, these patterns often produce different results.

Crying may have gotten you affection in the past, but if your partner today doesn’t handle strong emotions well, you may not get the attention you seek.

Withdrawing and hiding may have helped you escape conflict in the past, but if your boss is hounding you for a product that’s past due, you may not be escaping the conflict this time.

So again, what is life coaching?

Life coaching is where a coach works with you to look at things such as understanding how your camera works, figuring out the types of photos you love, and using your camera to get more of those photos.

In other words, life coaching is where a coach works with you to look at things such as understanding how your brain works, figuring out the types of results you love, and using your brain to get more of those results.

We may look at the results you want. (e.g. more intimacy in your relationships, more money, less stress, mastering a skill)

We may look at what you’ve been trying and whether it’s working. Or we may explore different things you can try to get the desired results.

We may work on many different things in a life coaching session.

But we do this by looking at your brain, understanding how it works, and learning different things you can do with it to get more of what you want (and less of what you don’t want).

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