Updated: Feb 25
Ever wonder why has coaching become such a big deal of late? What appears to be happening is a convergence of multiple trends:
New discoveries in neuroscience, psychobiology and the microbiome
Democratization of knowledge through the internet and media
Growing recognition of the importance of mental health
Increasing interest in emotional quotient (EQ) or emotional intelligence in the workplace
We are witnessing a societal revolution in mental health similar to one we lived through in the 70s when physical fitness became popularized. Coaching is to brain fitness what personal trainers were to physical fitness back in the 90s.
What’s a personal trainer?
If you are older than 45, you probably remember a time when gyms and personal trainers were for elite athletes and bodybuilders. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jane Fonda were some of th
e earliest celebrity fitness gurus in the 1980s, and you may remember Richard Simmons or Kathy Smith in the 1990s.
As a society we watched the baby boomers and Gen Xers shift from being couch potatoes to gym rats over the past four decades. And we learned how helpful it can be to have a personal trainer work with you on setting fitness goals, keeping you motivated and on track.
Coaching is to brain fitness what personal trainers were to physical fitness back in the 90s
If you are younger than 45 it’s probably hard to imagine when exercise was considered niche or maybe even a little weird, and when being a personal trainer was not considered a viable career path.
Coaching vs therapy
Another question I get asked a lot is what’s the difference between coaching and therapy? The easiest way for me to explain it is to draw an analogy between personal training and physical therapy.
A personal trainer takes someone who is physically fit and helps them by working on, say, upper body and core strengthening. Whereas a physical therapist takes someone who is injured and gets them up on their feet again.
So in that sense coaching is really “mental health lite”. There is a lot of overlap, and clearly there are many different styles and techniques that different coaches and therapists will use, but I think of coaching as being more action and goal oriented.
Pretty sure I don’t need a coach
Life coaching has actually been around for a long time, as has health coaching and executive coaching. But it has always seemed to be something expensive and unnecessary in the same way that personal training may still be for some. And that’s okay.
After all, before coaching, we used to learn self help psychology from books like the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, and countless others. You can definitely manage thoughts and feelings on your own, through blogs, podcasts, or other resources. And you may also benefit from having coach work with you - it’s totally up to you.
And some people would just as soon avoid all things related to mental health or feelings. Maybe they would prefer to workout or manage stress in other ways. That’s always their choice.
Just recognizing that there are options out there for working out doesn’t mean that everyone is going to jump on the fitness band wagon. Seriously there’s no judgment because in the end coaching is all about supporting personal integrity, so if I like my reasons for doing what I do, that should be good enough.
In brief: A classic personal development book. Focuses on timeless principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity.
Learn more about life coaching through this free podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind and emotions.