6 things that coaching is... and 4 that it isn't

Updated: Jul 16, 2019



Recently a lot of people have been asking me to explain to them what coaching is, and isn't. So here goes:

Coaching is....

  • Coaching is a conversation between two people - the coach (me) and the coachee (you). Through active listening and skillful questioning, I create a space for you to think, to learn about yourself, to explore your strengths and weaknesses, and to pursue the alignment of your passions and purpose.

  • Coaching is essentially a collaborative, creative and solution-generating relationship. Together, we co-create the way in which we work so that we can optimise on raising awareness and insights for you, so that you can take action.

  • Coaching is like a massage for the brain. During coaching sessions, you experience the opportunity to brainstorm, strategise, think out loud, be challenged, stretch your brain, explore alternatives, learn about yourself, and consider your goals and objectives. Most importantly, you experience the benefits of having a space held entirely for your self-development.

  • Coaching is future focussed and action oriented. We look at where you are now and where you want to get to. Then we work out an action plan that sets out how you are going to achieve your goals, what support you will need, what resources you will need, who you might need to lean on, when each action will be taken. And then we start with a first step. Because achieving your goals is a bit like how to eat an elephant.... one bite at a time!

  • Coaching is all about asking questions - it's not about telling you the answers. The most important skill of a coach is asking the right questions to help you work through your own issues. Your coach does not have to be a subject matter expert - coaching is about providing you with a space to think and a process that supports your learning. As your coach, I listen more than I talk, I asks questions rather than giving advice or direction (unless you specifically ask for it). With your permission I provide insights and observations as opposed to making judgements. I guide you to focus on outcomes rather than problems. I facilitate your thinking and awareness. I help you develop achievable and defined actions, and I keep track of progress.

  • Coaching is founded on confidentiality and trust. The very basis of a relationship is trust and rapport. Together we create that relationship through honesty, openness, being brave and being curious about your learning. Anything that is said in the coaching session, stays in the coaching session.

Coaching isn't...

  • Coaching is not training. In coaching we look at unlocking the potential inside you - you are your own subject matter expert. As your coach, I am not here to provide the answers or teach you specific skills. I am here to hold a space for you to find your own answers.

  • Coaching is not therapy. Coaching is outcome and action oriented, whereas therapy aims to unravel the past to understand the source of an issue. In coaching we focus on the solution rather than the problem.

  • Coaching is not consulting. In consulting, you pay me to provide you with the answers. The problem with that, is that when we are told what to do or how to do something, we are less likely to take ownership of the action, because that's how our brains works.

  • Coaching is not a quick fix. The development of trust and rapport takes time. While you can expect to develop insights, and experience the benefits of coaching in one session, it often takes more than one session to make real changes. How many sessions you should have is really dependent on the extent of your goals. If you are looking to make great changes, you may need more sessions. The amount of support you need and how committed you are to doing the "in between session" work is also a factor to consider in determining how many sessions to have. Generally, a minimum of 4-6 sessions is recommended and 10-12 sessions seems to be optimal. Thereafter ad hoc sessions are always available for ongoing support and thinking.

So to sum up...

Coaching is a wonderful process for empowering you to think for yourself and to take ownership of the actions in achieving your desired goals.

The way I explained this to someone else the other day was as follows:

"Coaching is a great way to harness all your strengths and creativity to take action in the direction of your goals! In coaching what we do is figure out where you are now and where you want to get to. It requires a lot of vulnerability, soul searching, honesty, and a real commitment to yourself to take action!

But we have fun with the process! Because in coaching you get to learn a lot about yourself, your strengths, your values, who you are, where you want to be, who you need to support you, what resources you need to make it happen. Most of that is serious stuff! So we have to have fun with it to keep it from being hard and scary!

The journey is exciting and as you learn and grow, it gets easier and your eyes open to the host of possibilities before you! I truly believe coaching is like magic if you let it in, embrace the process and do the work! Taking ownership of the truth in your life can be scary - it's also extremely liberating and empowering!

Opening up to someone requires vulnerability and trust - and yet letting yourself be known helps you to share the burden and develop allies and support"



I love conversations and would love to engage with you on your career and how you are managing yourself and your career like a business.

I believe "managing your career like a business" means having insight on where you want to go in your career, the agility and resilience to change track when necessary, competence to navigate transition points, and self-awareness to manage yourself.

I help you do that through one-on-one coaching, CV and LinkedIn profile writing, topic-specific workshops and a suite of blogs and other materials available on my website. Want more information? Drop me a message and I will get back to you asap.

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