What Is Coaching, Anyway?

The recent surge in the personal coaching profession indicates that people today are hungry for answers. What drives someone to pay anywhere from $250 to $1200 (or more) per month for a weekly 45 minute phone call?

I believe it’s partly due to our innate, God-given desire to grow, improve, and succeed.

During the past week I’ve spent time in two Athens – one in Greece and one in Ohio. Conversations with friends who invest most of their time with college students gravitated to the issue of life-change. Today’s students are overwhelmed with choices, data, and information. As a result their filters are high – most won’t even answer their cell phone if caller-id doesn’t show someone they know.

Contemporary educational theory purports that if students are given more information they will make better, more responsible (can we say moral?) choices. But the evidence doesn’t bear that out. Studies reveal (see Made To Stick) that more choices typically lead to analysis paralysis. Maybe that explains the 3.5 hours per day that the average guy spends gaming or surfing.

People today want coaches because they want to know how to live better.

What does a good coach do? In sports, good coaches teach the fundamentals, observe performance, offer affirmation and correction, inspire with an arm around the shoulder or a well-placed kick in the rear, and work with a player to chart a course for the future. The best coaches find a way to extract an individual’s dreams and keep them in view.

Smells a lot like life-on-life discipleship to me. When Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” he wasn’t just talking about theory or religious ideas. He meant “I am the way to live – do it this way.”

Each of us needs a few friends to help us sift through the mountains of information we’re inundated with each day and convert that into knowledge leading to wisdom. Wisdom is simply knowledge applied well. Wisdom, like a good coach, offers teaching, reproof, correction, and training in good living.

By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded Indigitous.org, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at www.onleadingwell.com.

1 comment

  1. Very wise analysis here of why people -especially college students-are seeking the guidance and support of life-coaches! I really wish that I had had the benefit of a mentor/coach back in my undergraduate days, or should I say haze! (I’m laughing! …Haze because of the sheer confusion I felt at that time with regards to my life direction!)

    I agree that students are overwhelmed with all of the choices available. It’s been my experience both personally and professionally that a good coach can also help you to see your unique path and next steps therein more clearly.

    Again, thanks for this article! I’ve been thinking about how coaching fits so well into the spirit of our times (zeitgeist), so this was just what I needed to read!

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