by Martha Pasternack
That is a great question and as life coaches, we seem to ask a lot of questions. Like me, most life coaches initially felt a calling from deep within, from a place of caring for and helping people.
One of the beautiful things about coaching is that each individual can respond to that calling from a variety of specialties and difference approaches.
For example, a life coach can practice with clients in private coaching sessions: in person, on the phone or on the internet, as an educator, or researcher. The coach can specialize as a business coach; as a health coach; spiritual coach; family and relationship coach; part of a trauma team; environmental specialist; or life coach entrepreneur. Some life coaches are generalists and do a little bit of all the above. (I get tired just thinking about that.)
Regardless of the area of focus, professional life coaches are engaged with the human spirit on a very intimate level. The coach is attuned to the body, mind, emotion, soul, and spirit of a client by the nature of the work. Throughout the development of the profession, life coaches have provided creative leadership in the realm of compassionate care for those ready to move forward towards self-empowerment.
We know that valuing assertiveness, developing effective communication skills, establishing space and time for client-care, and honoring commitments to self-care are important. “But please tell me, where do burned out life coaches have a choice?” That is a question I hear often from my colleagues.
Here is the thing. Professional life coaches do have a choice. We can mature into models of healthy living or be worn down and burned out by consistently choosing an unbalanced lifestyle. Emotional, physical, and mental fatigue can render a life coach ineffective. Life coaches can only be facilitators of health and personal growth to the extent they are willing to be healthy and grow personally. It is that simple and it is a choice.
Some coaches seem to have forgotten the power they have to care because they are overwhelmed with the demands placed on them to “perform” as selfless servants of the client. This is where burnout can wriggle its way into our experience as coaches. But coaches do care, and caring for another human being is a powerful force in nature.
Inherent in that work is the challenge of self-care. Too often the coach fails to care for her or his own body, mind, and spirit. The coach may seem to forget to care for his or her own well-being, but do they really forget? Or do they relinquish their power to what they may perceive as more important (namely the client, the task, the paycheck)? Forgetting one’s purpose and disconnecting from one’s passion takes energy – a lot of energy – away from the work coaches love to do and the reason they decided to do it in the first place.
Self-confidence, self-awareness and self-love are often put deeply at risk of becoming diminished by the demands of the coach-client relationship. Deeply felt fear is often at the core and plays a role in our lack of confidence, loss of creativity, fatigue, and what is commonly known as professional burnout. That is the area I focus on as a fearless living coach: fear.
Now we are back to the concept of having a choice. Ask yourself about your own choices. Are you choosing to burn out? Will you chose to change? Are you being your own champion?
Martha Pasternack, MMC www.CircleofLifeCoach.com