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Extracts of a Life Coach: A workout for the soul

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Lee Walker, Lance Armstrong’s friend, mentor and ex-President of Dell computers once said, “Schedule is how we manifest our dreams to the world.” A saying and concept that is equally true of the TGROW model of coaching.



When people ask me what I do as a life coach I use the analogy of being a personal trainer (PT) for the soul. It’s not a perfect fit but it does allow me to explain the role by using something that people can identify with.

If you went to a personal trainer because you wanted to run and compete in the next London marathon the PT would assess your fitness as you stand before them, they would not judge you as to whether or not you need a trainer to obtain your goal or compare you to any other clients.

The PT would look at you as a single entity and set exercises to help you to achieve that goal. The PT would be with you at every turning point encouraging you when you needed it, wiping your brow and occasionally telling you to speed up when you are not pushing yourself hard enough.

Each session would be structured towards helping you achieve the ultimate objective. Along the way you will probably lose any excess weight and learn some self-motivation techniques.

A life coach works in much the same way. A client will come to the relationship with a number of goals they want to achieve, for example to achieve a better work/life balance.

I will not judge them or compare them to anyone else. I will give them a number of exercises to do which will focus them on their ultimate goal. I will be with the client at every turning point and discovery of a belief which is holding them back and I will occasionally pull them back to the ‘job at hand’ if they are moving away from the ultimate goal.

This could not be achieved without a schedule. I was familiar with |TGROW before I began my journey into coaching. It has not changed since John Whitmore coined it 20 or so years ago. What is great about TGROW is its simplicity and the way it can ebb and flow whilst maintaining a purpose and target.

You can use it on yourself and on others. There are those who despise it (of course) but I wonder if that’s more to do with reinventing the wheel. With so many coaches around and so many people calling themselves coaches there is a real need for creativity and originality.

As a trainee I believe that I am now learning the basics. It’s similar to learning to drive, as your experience grows you learn to tackle the harder elements. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a great tool to have in my tool kit. So here’s what the TGROW schedule means to me:

Topic anything is coachable, except where an individual may need specialist help in the form of addiction management or trauma for example.

Goal this is the goal for the session, what the client wants to achieve, this can feed into major long term goals. For example your overall goal might be wanting to run the marathon in March 2006. Your session goal would therefore be to devise a training programme to ensure the marathon is completed in under that time.

Reality this is the clients understanding of, if you like, why the session is happening. Once you have a clear idea of what the current situation is you can face the issues (warts and all). It is then much easier to find a solution to move forward.

Options this is the opportunity to brainstorm, like all brainstorms it gives you the freedom to let yourself go crazy and fire all the ammunition at the problem. This will be your list.

Way forward. Once you’ve got your list you can then go through which ones you will feasibly do, won’t achieve and will need support on.

And that’s it in a nut shell. It’s what all the fuss is about – five simple steps that can change your life. You do have to remember though that you have to tell the truth. You have to be honest with yourself and realise that if you don’t do what you said you would do you are wasting your time.

The same would be true if following a session with your personal trainer you then ate five jam doughnuts. You’re not going to shift the weight that way and you’ll probably be less capable of running the marathon in under four hours which was the original aim.

Whose fault would that be? And whose money would have been wasted?

This is non-directive coaching. The answers as we explored in earlier articles are coming from you, you are facing the grim realities of your existence.

Through the TGROW coaching experience you also have the moment of realisation that no one can change it, wants to or is responsible for it but yourself.

There is no magic formula (if there was I would be selling it for lots of money on the internet and I would be a multi millionaire by now). The good news is that if you want to change things and make your dreams come true – it is possible with some dedication, hard work and desire.

Emma can be contacted at [email protected]

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Annie Hayes

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