Have you ever seen people investing all that they have: time, money and energy to achieve what, according to some people’s standards, could be considered as great things and then, later on, discover that what they achieved was just unimportant?
How did they get to that point? What did lead them to that situation?
The answer is simple: their decisions and choices. Where they grounded on their real values, dreams, and desires? Of course not, they were merely the reflection of their outer environment’s recommendations, trends, and tendencies.
Following someone else path, won’t make us happy.
Stephen Covey says “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”
This powerful metaphor explains the difference between coaching and the other disciplines. A consultant will measure the wall’s height, determine the appropriate ladder to use, give recommendations on the kind of skills to acquire, and show the best techniques to use to climb that ladder. A trainer will help you acquire these climbing skills. But could any one of them show you what kind of wall to climb? No, because it behooves you to make that decision and there is where coaching is so valuable.
How to get clear about our choices? How to make sure that they express what we really want and are completely aligned with our values? How to go through conflicting choices? How to maintain our inner peace? How to unleash our creativity and reach our highest potential? These are the kind of questions coaching will help you get insightful answers to.
Coming now to the differences between coaching and therapy. They reside mainly in the divergence of their respective philosophy and approach. For therapy, if someone is deeply struggling with something, not being able to turn the page and move on to something else…that’s pathology that should be identified and fixed. How to discover it? By revisiting and exploring layer after layer the past experiences of the patient.
Looking at coaching from the ICF lens, things are totally the opposite. There is nothing to fix. Things, when out of our comfort zone, are tough to deal with even if we might have faced them over and over in the past. We haven’t simply found yet the best way to deal with them. And to find that way we need to move forward, not backward, and to look into the future, not into the past. We need to challenge ourselves to experiment and adjust until we find what is suitable for us.
In conclusion, what is unique about coaching is that it follows an inside-outside future-oriented approach to help people find out their specific, practical, achievable, and inspiring solutions.