Getting a life coach seems to be one of latest fads. How do you know if one is right for you? Magic City Momma recently spoke with author, speaker and life coach Anthony D. Sparks.
What is a life coach?
I liken a life coach to the most common type of coach there is: a sports coach. Just as a coach in sports is there to help guide an athlete to his/her optimum level of success in a given sport, a life coach does the same, which is guide someone to an optimum level of success in a specified area of that person’s life. A life coach is a person who serves as a sounding board, gives advice, creates action plans, and uses his/her gifts to bring out the best in a client. A life coach is like an unbiased friend who is obligated to be there on time, for the agreed upon amount of time, to give you the guidance you need in the areas you seek.
How do you know if you need a life coach?
Well, if you feel like you just need that extra “push” to get to the next level in a certain area of life or if you have a vision for your life but you might not know how to bring it to fruition, you could benefit from a life coach. If there are areas in life you’re struggling with, then seeking out a coach who specializes in those areas could possibly help you get the breakthrough you’re looking for.
Why did you decide to become a life coach?
Purpose. I really feel like God has given me a gift of being able to connect with people from all walks, areas, and points in life. I believe it’s my responsibility to use my experience to help others with whatever they may be experiencing. I’ve had hurdles I thought I’d never get over; I’ve loved and lost; I’ve succeeded gloriously and failed miserably; I’ve been the “it” guy and I’ve been treated like Cousin It. I want to use all I’ve done and gone through to help others avoid some of the pitfalls and achieve some of the successes. I feel that everyone’s purpose in some way is to be a blessing to others, and this is the way I was given.
In what areas do you specialize?
I specialize in four main areas: relationship coaching (singles, seriously dating, engaged, married); dream/brand coaching (using your God-given abilities to build your brand or flesh out your dream); lifestyle coaching (helping people find that elusive work/life balance and not feel guilty for it); men’s coaching (helping men identify what it really means to “be a man” and what our roles and responsibilities are today). I coach men and women in all of these areas with the exception of men’s coaching, which is of course for men only.
How do you determine if a life coach is a good fit?
Look at the coach’s life. Generally, you want a coach to help you in areas you may struggle with or not be as strong in. For instance, you wouldn’t hire a coach for relationship help if that particular coach is in and out of relationships and has no stability; you wouldn’t hire a coach for financial help if that particular coach is struggling to pay bills and make ends meet; you wouldn’t hire a coach to help you birth a book if that particular coach has never written anything. The ultimate determinant of if a coach is a good fit is whether or not they’re stronger (they don’t necessarily have to have it all together) than you in the areas you need help.
How is a life coach different from a counselor?
Well, a life coach is typically for people who are generally “well-adjusted” and already have some form of contentment with life, but they may just struggle in certain areas. Coaching is not a substitute for therapy or counseling from licensed professionals–if that’s what’s you need. For example, as a coach, I don’t diagnose/treat mental illness or give CPA-level accounting advice or deal with substance abuse issues, etc. I deal specifically in the areas I specialize in, and if during the course of coaching I find that someone may need more nuanced, licensed guidance, I’d recommend they seek that.
What advice do you have for people who feel they can’t afford a life coach?
You said a key word right there: feel. For someone who feels (or thinks) they can’t afford a life coach, I say reach out to that coach and just ask. I don’t know the practices of other coaches, but for me, I’m willing to work with clients because this a calling for me. Whether it means working out a payment plan or shaving a percentage off my services, I’m willing to work with people as long as I know 1) they’re not trying to get over and 2) they genuinely want help.
What should people look for when hiring a life coach?
There are a lot of people out there calling themselves “life coach” and “expert” and so on. I think it’s important that you vet those people who use those titles. Your life—and everything in it—is precious, so make sure the coach you’re thinking about hiring has similar values and is at the very least trying to live a lifestyle that you’d be proud to be associated with.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Sure. Life coaching gets a bad rap sometimes because it sounds like a “fad” or just “something to do,” however, I take it seriously. We have a tendency to discount things we either don’t understand or don’t agree with. We’re so cynical sometimes. Every now and then I’ll see or hear someone bash life coaching just because in some circles it’s “taboo” to hire someone to help you advance in life or it’s not a conventional career to have, but I ask this: If the greatest athletes on earth need–and benefit–from having a coach, then why should our lives be any different? Coaching brings out things in you that either you didn’t know you had or you didn’t know how to bring them out yourself. A good coach gives you the tools you need to help you get the results you want.