Podcast 11: Coaching Q&A – What It Is, How It Works and Why

Posted by: Penny Rackley   |   Comments Off on Podcast 11: Coaching Q&A – What It Is, How It Works and Why   |  Posted on: Jun 02, 2016



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  • What is life coaching about, and why would I want to try it?

  • Is it like therapy?

  • How long does a session take? How many do I need?

  • Why did you become a coach in the first place, and why do you think you’re qualified for the job?

I love to receive questions about coaching!

In this podcast I answer some of the most common inquiries, and give a little background on why and how I became a coach.

Coaching Q&A

I’ve coached since 2011, and have worked with dozens and dozens of people over hundreds of hours. Some of the most common questions I receive are:

Is coaching like therapy? 

First, let me say that coaching is not therapy. They are similar in that both are confidential, professional relationships. But therapy oftentimes focuses on the past, on issues from your childhood, how you were raised, examines past wounds that you’ve suffered and the effects of those wounds on who you are today. It also addresses issues such as substance abuse and domestic violence. When I recognize a client is facing problems such as these, I always recommend a licensed therapist that is trained to delve into them.

Instead of focusing on the past, coaching is about understanding where you are right now in your life, defining where you want to go, and helping you devise specific steps to get to that goal — whether it’s graduating from high school or college, successfully and peaceably attending a family reunion, finding a new and more gratifying job, negotiating life after a layoff or a divorce, or choosing when and how to retire.

Again coaching is about defining where you are now, choosing where you want to go next, and then building steps to get you there.

Here in the podcast (at 2:18) I share an example of coaching a college student through a decision point and next steps for his future. It was an exciting moment!

The beauty of this example and all coaching is…

I’m not your mom or spouse or roommate or your boss, I’m your coach. We don’t share an office or a 401K or a pantry or a bed. To me, your decisions are your decisions, your choice — I’m a neutral third-party who has no preferences, judgments, preconceived ideas or opinions on what you should to do.

My role to help you:

  • outline your goal

  • understand the implications and consequences (good and bad) of that goal to your future life

  • determine the steps to you get there

I’m an advocate and neutral sounding board who can help you think through your options and the potential outcomes of pursuing those options, get it all out on the table and look at it, without fear or judgment.

What’s the first session like?

It’s like dumping all your legos or blocks out on the table — your work life, your social life, your love life, your job, your family. We sort through whatever is weighing on you (meaning, I don’t choose the topic, you do).

Then we talk about the kind of life you want to build with those blocks. I’m not so concerned about what you’ve been or had or done in the past. My primary goal is to help you solidify your building plans for the future, and then to line out how to start construction on what you want.

The next thing clients rely on me for is to help them stay true to their plans, their commitments to themselves. That might mean reminding them of deadlines or promises they’ve made to live in a different way from before. I will also pinpoints obstacles that you are putting in your own way, and help you determine if those obstacles can be moved or maybe even eliminated.

I hold you accountable to yourself and yourself only. I’m not your boss’s coach or your neighbor’s coach or your spouse’s coach. I’m really your advocate.

How long does coaching take? Do I have to sign up for a specific number of sessions?

Sessions usually last about an hour, and the number of sessions and the scheduling of those sessions is entirely up to you. Here (at 7:05) I describe some example coaching issues and around how many sessions you might require to get your plan in place.

The important thing to remember here is YOU are always in charge of the number of sessions you want, and the agenda in each one of those sessions is always your call.

Why did you become a coach and what are your qualifications?

In 2008, one of my sons became ill, and his condition required my full attention for doctor and hospital visits and schooling. At the time, I was a freelance technical writer — I’d really been one for my whole career. I set that work aside to focus on his care.

Some time passed, and thankfully he got better and back to regular life, and I knew it was time for me to go back to work, but I just wasn’t all that excited to write about wireless access points and routers again.

It was around this time that I first learned about life coaching, and I just immediately fell in love with it and had to know more. So I researched programs and training facilities, and chose the Gardner Institute in Southlake, Texas, then worked to became certified and began coaching in 2011. I truly believe this was the job I was born to do.

Since then I’ve coached so many terrific clients, and truly I look forward to every session. If you’d like to know more about my approach and what it’s like to coach with me, visit the Recommendations section on the “About Penny” page of my website at www.pennyrackley.com, and there you’ll see a few words from my clients.

More questions?

If you have other questions about coaching or just want to talk about it, call me at 214-793-1503. I welcome your inquiries and would love to talk to you.

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