Life coaches can help people achieve amazing things – more fulfilling lives, more success at work, more genuine happiness throughout life – but they’re very often misunderstood. There are even celebrity life coaches who’ve had enormous impact on the successes of such household names as Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Clinton and many more. Phil Towle, the psychotherapist and life coach who prevented the band Metallica from breaking up in 2004 after decades of music success, explained it best when he said “The difference between life coaching and therapy is that psychotherapy is about helping people heal their wounds… and coaching is about helping people achieve the highest level of their fulfillment or happiness or success, whether they’re wounded or not.”
Still, with so many examples success with coaching, a stigma exists; many believe that if they hire a life coach, it may signify to others that there is something wrong with them. I have many clients who refuse to share with even their spouses that they are coming to me for coaching. Why do people feel ashamed to admit they need a coach? Hiring a life coach most certainly is not an indication that you are somehow inadequate, only that you are highly committed to your personal growth and development! Some will pay thousands for a coach to help improve their golf swing, but don’t understand why they’d be wise to hire a coach who can help them be happier and more effective in life, from the living room to the boardroom… Perhaps the benefits of having a life coach would be better explained by comparing a person to a computer.
Your computer was the most efficient and effective when it was first purchased… but updates are still required regularly. It’s best to install those recommended software and operating system updates when those little notifications pop up, isn’t it? They help programs run more smoothly, more safely and with updated features. We invest hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, upgrading our computers to stay current so that what we use them for is guaranteed to be up-to-date and of the best quality. How often do we update the “software” of ourselves? How optimal can our lives be if we don’t also upgrade our “components” – our life skills, abilities, etc.? How can we be sure we’re doing the best we can do if we’re running on old perspectives, beliefs, habits and so on?
As children, we upload certain values, belief systems and “programs”, or coping strategies, as we psychologically develop. Computer operating systems are renewed almost every year or two, if not at least updated to the latest version. Imagine that when you were born, Windows 95 was your operating system. As a child, you upgraded to Windows 98. As you continued to mature you went through a couple of more updates and perhaps skipped an upgrade here and there. As an adult, are you running Windows 7, 8 or 10? Do you know for sure? Could an outdated operating system be the cause of communication breakdowns, lack of job advancement or your sense of fulfillment in the workplace – even family conflict? Differing operating systems (or software versions) can only be so compatible with others. Just like a computer running Windows 10 can’t open a document created in Windows 98, your relationships may suffer, interactions with others may be unfulfilling, and even conflict can arise from failing to update yourself and trying to run with an outdated operating system.
How many of you ever take the time in your adult lives to re-evaluate whether your old operating system or these old programs which run your life, and which you last uploaded in your youth, still serve you in living happy and successful life?
I am sure you’re familiar with the term self-sabotage. Well, this happens when one of your outdated, old programs keep running you unconsciously, trying to psychologically protect you somehow, when in fact it is getting in the way of the very thing you want to achieve, of your own success and happiness. Simply put, if you’re stuck in a pattern of self-sabotage, your operating system has stopped serving your best interests. Don’t worry – updates are, in fact, available.
One way in which a life coach can be helpful is to support you in becoming aware of your old operating systems and the outdated programs that are running your life and keeping you from getting what you want most. A coach can help you re-program your ways of thinking and behaving, so that you approach the same situations in different and more resourceful ways, keeping you focused on achieving your ideal outcome. In other words, they help you to efficiently run your programs and stop your programs from running you! It’s just like upgrading your operating system to match the new higher standard and set of outcomes that you desire, in order to attain success, fulfillment and well-being in your life, today.
To this day, Oprah Winfrey continues to recommend life coaches to her fans, and attributes much of her own success over the last 25 years to her life coach. Not everyone chooses to work with a life coach for that long, but more importantly, few people realize how much they can benefit from even short-term coaching. Unlike a computer that requires so much maintenance, from hardware to software, updates and operating systems, people often require simple “upgrades” or “maintenance” – but those requirements are seldom fulfilled. I often see how even the smallest upgrades and slightest mini-changes or tweaks can have a significant, unexpected impact on a client’s life. Finally, I leave you with this question: Does the fact that your computer needs an upgrade every so often, mean that there is something wrong with your computer?
I’m guessing the answer is “no”.