What are the requirements to become a life coach?

I keep encountering coach certification programs that start with the words: “Do you have the right qualities to be a life coach” or something like “can you be a life coach?”. What are the requirements to become a life coach?

I strongly believe that anybody can be a life coach. Just like everybody can be a teacher or a writer. I’m not comparing between coaching and writing, but just like everybody who set his mind to learning how to become a writer can do it, so does someone who decides that he wants to learn how to be a life coach, can do it.

Just like any profession or skill, the quality of the service provided, depends entirely on the person who renders that service. Just as there are qualities that someone possesses that would help him be a better writer, there are certain qualities that would help a person render service as a life coach. This doesn’t mean that there are people who can be a life coach and some who can’t; it just means that if you are naturally inclined to certain qualities, then coaching would come easier for you.

Below are the main qualities I believe a good coach should have. Each one of the qualities below can be improved and trained. So in case you feel you are lacking in one of the fields, don’t worry (!) all you need to improve any of the below qualities is just the will to do it and some practice

The qualities are in no particular order. I believe all of them are important for a good coach. This doesn’t mean, however, that if a coach doesn’t possess any of the qualities, then he is not a good coach.

Solidarity

When turning to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, solidarity is defined as

together

together

a feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc.

A good coach works together with its client, to achieve goals. It’s important that the coach would identify with the goals that were set, and feel as though the goals are his own. This would build trust and ambition for both the client and the coach.

It’s important to remember, though, that too much of identifying with the goals and client might affect the coach’s ability to help. The coach is not the client’s friend. He is there to help him, support him, and bring the best out of him. In order to do that, it’s important that the coach would have the ability to look from the sidelines on the coaching process, and too much solidarity might affect that.

Listening 

Its important to listen

It’s important to listen

The ability to listen is vital for a good coach. Without the ability to listen, the coach might not be able to understand the client’s situation, and know how to aim the clients actions.

Hearing is not listening. As Bob proctor says:

You hear with your ears. You listen with your emotions.

When the coach truly listens, he can identify with the client’s wants and needs and understand them better. This would create better process and guidance.

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to experience something from another person’s point of view, without having to go through the experience yourself. It’s a huge asset for a coach to be able to understand his client’s feelings during a certain experience, as it strengthens the bond between the coach and client, and increases the chances of the process to succeeded.

Awareness (of self and client)

Being aware is extremely important to for coach. A lot of information is being transferred in conversation in a non-verbal manner. Capturing these signs and interpreting them correctly can provide many insights into the feelings and desires of the client.

In addition, during the session the client is enthralled in the thinking and discovery process, and he doesn’t pay attention to many things he himself say or does. These nuances also provide important information to the coach, and being aware as they happen can also affect the course of the session

High EQ (emotional intelligence)

According to Wikipedia, Emotional Intelligence (and the scale that measures it – EQ) is described as:

 a term used to describe the ability of an individual to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior

Emotional intelligence is necessary for a coach to understand what the client is going through RIGHT NOW. It’s the emotional compass which enables the coach to understand the current state the client is in. This quality is vital in determining how the session is progressing, and where, emotionally, the client is found.

Authenticity

Authenticity means being who you are. No more, and no less. Pretending to be something you are not, will only hurt the trust and the relationship between the coach and the client. Being who you are means firstly living in the current moment. Living in the moment and truly listen to the client is the key to elevating the client and helping him. And that is ultimately what coaching is all about

 

being

Acceptance

There is no place for any criticism or judgment in a coaching session. Everything the client does have already been done, and that’s OKAY. There is no need to explain or justify any of the actions that already took place. A coach just takes what is said and done during the session, and reflects them to the client AS IS. Any outside interference in the form of the coach’s opinions on the actions/words will only interfere in the process

Desire to be of service

extending service

Extending Service

The desire to help other people is the quality that touches every other quality on the list. It
is the true want to elevate the client to places that he never thought he could reach, and the desire to help define the blocks that prevent the client from taking actions on what’s important for him. The impact of the actions taken by the coach, on the client, will be determined by the desire of the coach to really help its client

Letting go

This is not really a quality, but more of a skill. The coaching process should be as clean as possible. This is achieved on the side of the coach by letting go of all his experience, and knowledge, and just immerse himself in the moment. This enables the ability to listen to the client, and hear and see everything from HIS point of view, without any thoughts or opinions that come from the coach.

This is one of the hardest things to achieve in a good coaching session. And all though it gets easier with time, and training, letting go completely requires a lot of faith and trust, and sometimes it’s a bit scary, but it’s essential for a good coach to be able to do this.


This list is what I believe a good coach should have. If you think of any other qualities I should include, or if you have any experiences with a coach which made one of the qualities above stand out, feel free to write about it in the comments below

10 thoughts on “What are the requirements to become a life coach?

  1. Hi Ido,
    I found this article very interesting. I am a great believer in anybody can achieve anything if they really want to and you make this point about being a life coach.
    I never realised there were so many attributes that make a really good life coach but you highlight these very well.
    I really like the subject that you cover as I believe we can all benefit from this at some point in our lives.
    Please keep up the good work.
    Marc

    • ido

      Thanks for the feedback.
      Like you said, I’m a firm believer that everybody can do anything, as long as they commit and persist with the idea.

  2. I recently heard about this new trend. I had no idea there are many skills necessary to be a good one. You explained what life coaches have to do to reflect these qualities. From where I see it, a life coach is a cross between a psychologist, mentor and friend. Is that right?

    • ido

      Actually coach is neither a psychologist, a friend or a mentor. All though there are many differences between the three and a coach, I’ll try to capture the biggest difference for each one:
      A psychologist looks at you now, and tries to figure out what happened in the past that caused the situation, and how to fix it. A coach doesn’t try to fix anything, and does not dwell on the past, but rather on the present.
      A mentor is someone who guides you in some field, using his own experience. A coach does not presume he knows its client’s life better than its client. A coach just asks the right questions that guide the client to where the client really wants to go. A coach does not teach anything on purpose.
      A friend will listen carefully, but probably bring his own opinions and experience into the conversation. A coach actively tries to delete all prior knowledge that he holds, in order for the client to really be himself with no outside influences.

  3. Hindy Pearson

    Very interesting post on what it takes to be a life coach. I’m a certified life coach, and although I don’t work as one, what appealed to me was being able to specialise in any field I wanted. For example, I used to volunteer with abused women and children, and wanted a qualification to go along with that experience. The fact that I was able to become a certified Domestic Abuse Recovery Coach gave me that extra edge needed to help. It’s important to be compassionate, truly interested in helping others, non judgemental and to have a connection with the person you’re working with.

  4. hi Ido!
    You present a very good set of qualities a life coach should possess. As a therapist, I can certainly relate to those qualities, which are also essential in my work. I love the quote from Bob Proctor! It is so true. The ability to see life through the other person’s life is essential. With that ability comes a place of non judgment which is also essential. We can all get trigger sometimes, there is no avoiding that. However, if we have that self-awareness that something is going on for us, as life coaches or therapists, then we can take a step back before we do any damage.

  5. I’ve often thought about Life Coaching, and from your article I think it would be a great field for me to get into! I think it’s important to note that a life coach isn’t a therapist, per se; they don’t dig into the past to get you to understand the “why’s” of your actions, but how you should act and react going forward. On the same note, and having been to therapy myself, is that it’s important to find someone you click with. When you’re being so personal with somebody, trust, respect and “the click” will make things easier in the long run. If you feel like your therapist or life coach isn’t really getting you, don’t be afraid to find someone else!

    • ido

      You are absolutely right.
      A coach is NOT a therapist, exactly because of the reason you mentioned. A coach usually lives under the assumption that the person in front him is whole as he is, and that he already knows all the answers inside. It’s just a matter of getting them out.
      In order to get those answers out, its vital that the coach and client “click” like you say. If you don’t click with your coach, its perfectly fine, and recommended, to find a different one. Your coach would understand that as well.

  6. To become a life coach and becoming a teacher are synonymous, i see no difference between them. Anybody can become life coach or a teacher depending on once ambition, both consist of same process, that is learning what it takes to become what you actually want to be, This is where the qualities you analysed comes in as the basics of becoming a life coach or a good teacher. From my own point of view, i believe these qualities can be developed overtime and become a life coach when masterd. Before i go, would say your site is clean and beautiful. All the best,God bless you.

    • ido

      Thanks for compliment Richard.
      I believe that all though the qualities of being a good teacher, and a good coach are very much alike, the main difference between a coach and a teacher is the fact that a coach is not there to teach anything. A coach is there to help the client find the answers inside him. As a matter of fact, if the coach tries to enforce a certain agenda during the coaching process, it just hurts the client and would impact the coaching. This is where the “letting go” quality comes in. A good coach knows how to just BE with the client, and do a mental “delete” for his own experience and thoughts, in order to give room for the clients thoughts and experiences to shine through.

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