by Jean-Paul Cortes
There could be two reasons why you’re on this page: it could be that you’ve heard, read or seen something about coaching and how it’s helping people thrive and want to find out what coaching is. The second reason is that you are considering being a coach or may even be training to be a coach already.
Regardless, you may want to take a note of this: professional coaching is a multi-billion dollar industry, according to new global research produced by the International Coach Federation. In 2012, the ICF commissioned a Global Study and found the estimated global revenue from coaching to be almost $2 billion ($1,979 million USD) annually.
That’s a pretty big number wouldn’t you say? Yes, it’s fair to say that coaching has exploded in the last 15 years or so.
Would it surprise then, that in as much as coaching has established itself as a career, not many coaches have a decent answer to give when asked "what is coaching?"
Most coaches waddle around, trying to define what they do, trying to figure out what to tell their prospects or clients and end up working too hard to be understood in the best of cases, in the worse having people walk away without the faintest idea of what they’re been talking about.
Even the big guys in the coaching world, like the ICF, have quirky ways of defining coaching. Yes, I’ll include a few definitions in a little bit so you see what I mean.
But more importantly, I’m about to give you the real reason why having a good definition is important. And it may not be what you’re thinking…
Most coaches will fall flat on their face because they try to define coaching as something they do and not how what they do will help their potential clients.
If you didn’t understand the last paragraph, maybe you should read it again. It’s that important. Because not one of your clients will give a hoot about your long winded definition; they just don’t care. All they want to know is how coaching will help them.
It’s always about them and what you can do for them; it’s never about your coaching model, process or training. That may come up later, and it’s certainly important, but when someone asks you what coaching is what they really want to know is:
When you create a definition in this way, it actually creates an advantage for you big time. Why? Because it shifts the focus off of you and turns it towards your client…the one that’s actually paying your bills.
Let me drive this point home; let’s take a look at three definitions I found by doing some research online. Click on the links to open a new window.International Coach Federation coaching definition
It’s pretty vague; they lost me at “inspires them to bla, bla, bla.” The problem is that it’s way too general to really be effective. Here’s a good piece of advice that you should permanently burn in your coaching psyche: You simply cannot be the “coach of all trades.” Your clients are very specific when it comes to working with someone, especially this day in age when anyone with an Internet connection has so much information at their fingertips.
We’ll get to more of this in a moment; here’s the second definition:International Coach Academy coaching definition
It’s somewhat better; but not quite. It still leaves you feeling somehow that they’re talking at you but not to you. There are still a lot of holes gaping at you in this definition.
Here’s another one:The OCM coaching definition
If you notice, it’s really talking about a process, something that will occur at some point in time because I’m following a way of doing things. And that’s the common theme with most coaching definitions, generalities, vagueness, splattered words on a page that sound nice but don’t really mean anything.
This is probably one of the most important questions you can ask yourself to improve your coaching business. You would be amazed to see how many coaches out there remain clueless about who their ideal client is, about who they’re trying to coach.
And that’s why their marketing, websites, brochures and every other method they’re using does not work. Because when you’re not clear about who you are serving, their needs, their pain, you will have a hard time making them feel good about working with you.
I’m about to tie all of this together, I’m about to give you the clue on creating a definition of coaching that will never leave you stumped the next time a client asks you what you do.
Remember, it’s not “what” type of coaching you do, but what “what” you do DOES for your client. It’s not some clever slogan or some mysterious definition; it’s actually something very specific that goes to the heart of your client’s needs and wants.
But to make things easier for you, here’s a very easy formula you can follow to get started:
Creating a definition formula: "I help (this group of people)…do (this benefit(s))…(better, faster, easier, etc.)"
It’s all about how you position yourself in your client’s eyes and mind. The answer to the "why should I do business with you, instead of a hundred other coaches out there” million dollar question.
To wrap things up, your definition of coaching has nothing to do with you and everything to do with what “what” you coach does for your client.
Use the formula above to get started, you’ll start off on much better footing than 90% of all coaches out there and you’ll be able to finally explain what you do in terms that actually make you money.
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