Friday, October 10, 2014

Coaching Goals and Obstacles

The single best way to develop leaders 
is to take people out of their safe environments 
and away from the people they know, 
and throw them into a new arena they know little about. 
Way over their head, preferably.
In fact, the more demanding their challenges,
the more pressure and risk they face,
the more likely a dynamic leader will emerge.
-Bruce Wilkinson

My Introduction to Life Coaching course finishes tomorrow. It was a good course, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am taking a break from regular studying now until I prepare for and take my grade nine harp exam in January, but I will post my other two assignments here in the future. I think my biggest takeaway was the lecture and readings I did about trust. Establishing trust in a coach-client relationship is absolutely vital, but so is it also in the rest of life's relationships. Trust affects every area of life. It takes a long time to build, but a short time to lose. Trust must be at a higher level than the relationship itself: that's when the relationship will grow. If the relationship is above the level of trust, then there will be serious consequences; either it will not grow or one person will let the other down and disappointment and mistrust will set in. Trust is the oxygen of relationships. It has no cost (except for living a disciplined lifestyle), but if you don't have it, it will cost you everything. Trust begins with you, and it never ends. Either it grows or it does not. Trust is so valuable that you must guard it with your life. It's the most valuable thing you'll have (in terms of character qualities): A good name is to be desired more than great riches. 

But this particular writing assignment wasn't about trust. :) It was about obstacles--something that we all face, and something that is sure to occur in a coaching setting. And it was about goals--guidelines that must be in place if we're to overcome the obstacles. 

The writing prompt given me was this: Explain the importance of goal setting in Life Coaching. Describe how a life coach works with a person to implementing a plan to achieve goals. What are some obstacles that the life coach and the client could run in to, and what are some ways to overcome these obstacles? 


Goals are vital in taking a client from where he is to where he wants to be. Sometimes people need accountability and guidance from another person in order for the change to last (Collins, 2009). A Christian coach will be able to provide godly advice and direction, so that a person can set long-term and short-term goals that enable a person to glorify God in his life choices (Collins, 2009).

A coach will help his client implement goals by asking questions that define the client’s passion, vision, and mission, helping the client clarify the end results and create a plan for moving forward (Collins, 2009). Together the coach and client will brainstorm ideas and ensure the goals are SMART goals: specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and within a certain time frame (Collins, 2009). SMART goals create motivation and action toward the client’s desired end by providing either short-term or long-term goals. Short-term goals are goals that are to be met within a few months’ or weeks’ time. Numerous short-term goals could be created in order to reach the ultimate goal. Long-term goals usually span a year or several years, are much more detailed, and take longer to achieve.

By asking questions and providing food for thought, the coach directs the client to define where he is right now, where he wants to go, and how he needs to get there (Collins, 2009). Goals provide motivation and action, and SMART goals provide specific direction and inner peace with a step-by-step plan (Collins, 2009).

A coach and his client will most certainly face obstacles; therefore, it is important for the client to have the accountability of and trust in a coach who will walk alongside him and direct him through the obstacles. (Collins, 2009) Accountability comes through writing out SMART goals and discussing how the coach will hold the client responsible for his actions—whether it’s by the coach emailing a reminder or waiting for a follow up phone call from the client. A client who knows that a coach is holding him accountable will be much more likely to work toward his own goals since they have previously discussed how to face obstacles. Obstacles can be external or internal. 

External barriers could include distracting life events, criticism from others, or energy drainers, whereas internal obstacles include fears, insecurity, negative mind-sets, impatience, and resistance to change. A coach should direct his client to use these barriers to motivate him closer toward the end goal, by showing him how to face his fears or remove distracting events from his daily schedule. 

Goals are vital to establish a path and routine, but they should also be flexible, in order to allow time to work through obstacles (Collins, 2009). In addition, careful thought and prayer should be given to the way God is leading the client. Sometimes the Lord’s will is not the way a coach and client may have planned their goals. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, KJV).

Collins, G.R. (2009) Christian coaching: Helping others turn potential into reality. (2nd ed.). Colorado Springs, CO: NAV Press. 

Coaches quickly discover that their efforts will not succeed until self-sabotaging mind-sets are recognized, challenged repeatedly, and replaced with healthier perspectives.
~Gary Collins

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