Updated: Aug 16, 2022
Everyone wants to feel successful in their lives, and that need is not always limited to work. We need to be successful at our relationships, with our partners, with our children, our families, socially and of course, at work. We all have an inherent need to be the best versions of ourselves. But did you ever consider that having a coach could be the vital key that could make that success real and achievable.
What really is coaching?
As per the definition of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the global organization dedicated to advancement and training for this fast-emerging profession, Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Another industry definition is that Coaching is a transformative process for personal and professional awareness, discovery and growth, and the expansion of possibilities.
In simple layman terms, it involves a client who engages with a coach to explore any particular issue that he or she feels troubled by at work or in personal life, which gets in the way of his development or performance. The mode of engagement is conversations.
Coaches use their ability to listen deeply, process in the present and invite possibilities in order to motivate their clients and help them reframe their realities. Coaches spend hours practicing these intangible and seemingly undefinable skills. Their objective is always to empower their clients through self- awareness and self- support. More often than not, coaches are those people who have had transformative life experiences and understand the power of empathy and guidance. They have huge interest in playing a part in the development of fellow humans.
Whether a minister, a performer, a leader, a doctor, a teacher or a rocket scientist, we are all essentially humans first. Inherent in our humanness is this construct of mental maps, judgements and belief systems. There are belief systems that we develop in our minds throughout our formative years and later, as we experience the world. These beliefs are deep and embedded in our subconscious. Never brought up, never questioned, never resolved. A coach listens to us with a deep ear, identifying and making us aware of these belief systems. A coach, by challenging our assumptions and coaxing us to question our belief systems, helps us reach into our well of untapped potential. This in turn gives new meaning to clients.
Many celebrities have used coaches and achieved significant, life changing results. Oprah Winfrey, one of the richest women in the world, attributes much of her success to her life coach, Martha Beck. Leonardo Di Caprio has worked with the famous coach Tony Robbins. Bill Clinton reached out for a coach in his most trying moments. 
Atul Gawande, the New York Times best-selling author and a successful surgeon employed a coach to improve his performance, even after performing more than 2000 surgeries. He says “Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance.” He aptly describes their value addition. “The coach provides the outside eyes and ears, and makes you aware of where you’re falling short.”
Women can benefit immensely by having a coach.
My firm belief is that women will achieve a lot of success if they support themselves through a coach they trust. Many research studies show that women tend to ruminate on things way more than men. We tend to “self-sabotage” more than men, we tend to score higher on personality traits of “agreeableness” in psychology research, compared to men who score higher in traits such as “assertiveness”.Men and women do have differences in the way they sense the world. Coaching addresses a lot of these issues for women.
Ms Denise Pang, an award-winning coach in Singapore, with over 10 years in the profession, and my mentor coach, helped me to overcome some of my own belief systems in mid-life for excellent results. I was able to give up on my earlier profession and move completely into this one. My courage, ability to take a chance on myself has a lot to do with my conversations with her. She shares with us some of her valuable insights. “Women often seek and heed advice from a wide variety of sources, living or otherwise. Yet they continue to feel conflicted and confused because there is an important voice that we have been taught not to trust, our hearts. Whether it’s about the kind of mother, wife, daughter, employee, entrepreneur, leader or person they should be. Even if they don’t actively ask for directions, their choices are usually set by external parameters or in the footsteps of someone else’s experience.
Through the practice of deep listening and mindful sharing, masterful coaching opens up the space for people, especially women, to recognize their inner wisdom as an equally important reference point, in designing their life, career and who they become.”
Rooted in psychology and science
Research is also finding that the practice of coaching is rooted in scientific principles — psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry. It is a practical application of these bodies of knowledge. In their book “Coaching With the Brain in Mind”, David Rock and Linda J Page assert that “Contemporary Neuroscience is beginning to provide a scientific platform for the practice of Coaching. Coaching in one application of the theory arising from neuroscience research.”
Whether it is in the area of health, mental wellbeing, wellness, performance at work, relationships, parenting, learning a new skill, the services of a coach can be highly useful.
Someone once told me that “those who can’t do, call themselves coaches.” This could not be more distant from the truth. These misconceptions maybe the result of the narrative of popular Hollywood films. Coaches are people skilled in the knowledge of psychology and understand that support, motivation, empathy and shaping people’s mindsets positively have a lasting impact in the way they lead their lives.
How Coaching Works
a) Coaching is always centered around the client, and the coach is invisible.
b) It is based on trust, empathy and deep listening in order for her client to explore certain areas, while holding back any sort of judgement. The supportive relationship between the coach and the client results in transformation and growth.
c) Coaching believes that the client is capable of self-choice, finding answers, dealing with setbacks and taking action.
d) A good coach aims to increase self-awareness of the client. While affirming the client’s strengths, a coach also asks powerful clarifying questions which helps the client to reframe their thinking.
e) A coach partners with his or her client in order to set value based goals and provides support to achieve them.
f) The client’s situation is always adhered to “at the moment”, processing “in the present”.
At the end of the process, the client emerges with purpose and achievable milestones. The journey itself unleashes magic in the life of the client.