The Coaching Phenomenon

For years, it was the private secret of the business world. Corporate executives experienced it behind closed doors, in board rooms, and in departmental meetings. Now, the secret’s out of the closet, and the public has discovered it.

What’s the secret? Personal Life Coaching.

The phenomenon of life coaching has taken the public by storm. People from all walks of life are now hiring coaches to help them meet both personal and career-related goals. Businesses, both large and small, are looking to coaches to help implement corporate vision, develop strong leaders, and build unity among the ranks. Even churches have turned to coaching as a viable and effective tool for helping their congregations fulfill their God-ordained destinies.

After September 11, 2001, a paradigm shift occurred in the consciousness of the American people. Suddenly, the rat-racers stopped in their tracks as the social and economic treadmills of money and financial gain came to a screeching halt. Things long forgotten–such as the importance of core values and personal relationships–surfaced once again like oil on water. People began questioning the meaning of their lives. They began to realize that what ultimately matters is no longer the bottom line, but the bottom of the human heart.

How to get to the bottom of the human heart became the pressing question and burning desire of many. Enter the Life Coach to offer insight and support.

What exactly is coaching? Coaching is a collaborative effort between coach and client in the process of helping the client discover and fulfill his or her life purpose. Unlike counseling that looks backward, coaching looks forward. Counselor-turned-Coach Gary R. Collins says it like this: “Coaching is not reactive looking back; it’s proactive looking ahead. It is not about healing; it’s about growing.”
Coaching involves dialoguing and brainstorming, rather than advice-giving or therapy. It is results-oriented and focuses on setting and achieving goals.

Like a football coach or a personal trainer, the Life Coach is a strategist, offering “plays” for winning at the game of life and encouragement for overcoming the hurdles along the way. The role of the Coach is to offer the client strategies for success and a framework for accountability. Indeed, accountability is one of the key factors that make coaching so effective. As a rule, people tend to accomplish more when they have to answer to someone for their goals.

A major reason for the surge in life coaching is that traditional support systems–such as family and close friends–no longer play a significant part in our mobile society. Deborah Munson notes, “Our culture is creating individuals who are feeling increasingly isolated yet pressured to give more and be more to their employers, businesses, communities, and churches coupled with a need to create more personal time and a less stressful lifestyle. The desire to do so is there. But the wherewithal to achieve this has to come from within, and that is not always easy to access and develop on one’s own. Enter the life coach.” The coach fills the role of sounding board once held by a relative or a close friend. Collins points out that “support constitutes the most distinguishing feature of coaching.”

A second major reason for the surge in life coaching is the increased interest in things spiritual since the
9-11 catastrophe. As a result, people are realizing their need to address the spiritual aspect of their lives, not just the material.

This is where the Christian Coach bears a significant responsibility. Much current coaching focuses on New Age philosophies that view man as the center of the universe. Such an approach invariably leads to ultimate disillusionment and failure because it is not based on absolute truth.

The Christian Coach, on the contrary, focuses his or her coaching on the truth of God’s Word, the only standard for a true understanding of the client’s purpose in life. Armed with this understanding, the Christian Life Coach is uniquely equipped to help his or her clients catch the vision of what God desires for their lives.

Perhaps the best endorsement of the effectiveness of life coaching comes from those who have experienced it firsthand. Successful writer and now life coach herself, Marlee Huber of Washington State remarks, “I cannot adequately express the joy that I am feeling as I move forward in my mission.”

For Janet Alario of Colts Neck, New Jersey, coaching has been a means of regaining control of her life: “I have learned how to rearrange my life to accommodate my priorities and not remain a victim of circumstance.”

And in the words of businesswoman Tracy Chance of Millville, New Jersey, “being coached was like having a personal trainer for my mind.”

Experiences like these prove that coaching is filling a real need at the right time. What was once a secret for the few is now a blessing for the many.
Gary R. Collins, Christian Coaching (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2001, 16.

Deborah Munson, “The Life Coaching Craze and the Church,” Ibid., 59.
MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, CLC, is a Certified Life and Career Coach based in New Jersey.

© by MaryAnn Diorio, Ph.D. All rights reserved. This article may not be published or reprinted without the written permission of the author. Doing so is a violation of copyright law and subject to legal action.