Transformational Life Coaching: An Alternative to Traditional Personal Coaching
The practice of Transformational Coaching is based upon the premise that most people have the resources within themselves to find solutions to all of their problems and reach their goals. What they really need, rather than having someone tell them what to do, or “fix” them, is a guide who can help them to find the answers themselves.
Designing a Coaching Relationship
Transformational Coaches believe that the quality of the relationship between the coach and the client is the foundation of the work between them. It has to be really solid in order for the client to have the success they are seeking.
This is probably true of any good personal coach, but Transformational Coaches tend to take it a step further by consciously discussing the relationship between themselves and the client at the very beginning of the coaching process. The coach lets the client know specifically where they stand in terms of issues like confidentiality. The coach makes it clear that the client’s agenda is the core of the process of coaching, rather than the agenda of the coach.
The coach will ask the client questions in order to understand what will make the client feel safe, such as “how do you want me to hold you accountable?” Does the client prefer to be held strictly to plans that are made together, or is it better for him to be given some space? Are there certain areas in which the client feels really vulnerable that the coach should know about ahead of time?
Transformational Coaches Use Deep Listening
Since Transformational Coaches believe that clients hold all the answers they need within themselves, and that they are already whole, it stands to reason that the most important tool they have to work with is their own ears. Listening deeply on many different levels is key.
Listening to the words that the client uses is only a part of the way a Transformational Coach will “hear.” Honing in on the tone of voice that is used and even more subtle clues, such as word choices, give the coach a great deal of information. If the coaching is in person, then body language adds to the coach’s listening bank.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, is the deepest type of listening, which is hard to put into words because it occurs at a level beneath the intellect. Some refer to this deep listening as intuition. Other coaches feel as though they are listening with their bodies or their guts.
Whatever type of listening is being used, and however it is defined by the coach, there are certain things that a Transformational Coach is looking for. The first thing to hear is what the client is saying and feeling right now. Who is this person in this moment of time? A good coach will make sure they have this right by reflecting back what they have heard and checking to see if the client feels understood.
Then the coach listens for a different message. They ask themselves, who is this client becoming? What are they hungry for? Where would they travel if nothing was holding them back?
The Transformational Coach’s Toolbox
In their work with a client, a Transformational Coach uses a broad range of tools. Some of them are the same tools that any personal coach would use, such as discussing the client’s dreams and goals. Transformational Coaches, like all life coaches, want to challenge their clients and ask them to stretch beyond what is initially comfortable for them.
The Transformational Coach, however, makes use of many more tools and they really delve into creative ways to achieve the client’s goals.
One of the first tools a coach will use is that of asking powerful questions. These are questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” The client will have to think hard and dig deep in order to answer a powerful question. An example of a powerful question might be “who would you have to be in order to achieve that?” Another example might make use of a metaphor like, “if you were a sparrow, how would you behave at that party?” It sounds silly, but exercises like this can create streams of thought that open up new worlds for the client, and cause her to move beyond limiting beliefs about herself.
Use of the visual is another good tool. In some cases, a coach might ask a client to create a vision board. This is generally done with magazine clippings, photographs, fabric swatches, or any other visual materials. A vision board can be used to ask a client to visualize how they would like to see their life a year from now. It can also be used to ask a client to understand better what they are feeling about something right now, or it can answer a question such as, “how do I feel in my current job?.”
Another tool often used by the Transformational Coach is that of going deeper. “What is underneath that?” the coach might ask. If the client is not sure, the coach might ask them to make something up. That bit of fantasy often leads to clues to what the client is really feeling or seeking.
This is only a sampling of the types of tools that Transformational Coaches use to work with a client. If applied thoughtfully and skillfully these tools can cause deep and lasting change in a client’s life. This change goes beyond the superficial, and often temporary, changes that a person can make from their will, or from a suggestion by the coach.
The goal of a Transformational Life Coach is to help the client discover what is already there, waiting to be revealed to both the client and to the world.