Only half a century ago, running “for fun” was considered nouveau and strange. But in the 1970s, more than 25 million Americans -- including President Jimmy Carter -- took up running or jogging recreationally. Since then, running, and exercise in general has become the norm. And everyone finds the flavor that works for them. While some of us have found exercise to be a lifelong partner and have made it a habit, others go through spurts of flirtation with the idea of exercising for a few years at a time, then taking a break. The cycle repeats.
Not dissimilar to the way in which we’ve adopted exercise in a fashion that meets our needs, the upcoming decades will indoctrinate us into our next phase of self betterment: coaching. While some of us may dabble with coaching during key points of our lives when we feel stuck in a rut and need help uncovering our true passion, others may look to coaching more religiously and leverage their coach as a temporary co-pilot.
One thing we’ll get more comfortable around is the definition of coaching. Right now, some folks confuse it with counseling while others mistake it for consulting. Where counseling is aimed at resolving issues from the past, coaching focuses on the present and the future. The coach guides a client to establish goals, identify blockers, and develop a plan to achieve a desired outcome. Questions that coaches routinely ask guide a client to form their ideal state and then get to the heart of what’s holding them back from achieving it.
Consultants typically take on the role of an “advisor” or “expert” and will leverage their experience to help clients improve performance. However in coaching, the coach humbly approaches the relationship with the fundamental belief that the client is the “expert” on their own thoughts and feelings; it’s merely the coach’s job to help the client extract the passion and overcome the challenges that will lead to fulfillment.
And like exercise, there’s coaching that meets the needs of different folks in different scenarios. Whether you choose to call it life coaching or career coaching -- it’s the same foundation. You establish where you are now, where you want to be, and put together an action plan on how to make it happen. And for the corporate world, there is executive coaching. This practice, which coincidentally also originated in the 1970s, facilitates direct feedback from your peers, superiors, and subordinates, so the motivation is to improve the performance of your team in addition to increasing your own productivity.
Whether you’re fresh out of college and feel stuck in a rut or running a multinational organization, there’s a coach for you. And, similarly to how we push to become the best version of ourselves physically, we’re going to do the same mentally and emotionally. Because all of us have, at one time in our lives, been inspired or seen those who were, and we yearn to live in that state.