When people ask me how I got started with life coaching, it’s usually because they’re looking to start this journey.
They want to know how to begin their path to become a life coach.
If we plan to climb a mountain, it’s wise to ask others who’ve already made the summit — how they got there.
I’m happy to guide you on this becoming a life coach adventure.
At the start of your journey, there are 2 big decisions you’ll be facing.
These are 2 forks in the road that can mean the difference between coaching success and coaching disappointment.
I’ve written this coaching guide to help you to become a life coach.
- DECISION FORK #1 To get Certification or Not?
- DECISION FORK #2 To offer Pure Coaching or Not?
Should you get a Coaching Certification or not?
Should you invest time and money in a Life Coaching Certification OR create a coaching career purely on your life experience and sharing what you know?
Should you offer Pure Coaching (which means No Advice Giving) or stick to a teaching and mentoring style?
I’ve walked all these paths, taken both forks in the road, and made all the egg-on-face mistakes you can imagine.
With over 30 years’ experience as a coach (coaching a broad client base from CEO’s to pro athletes, spiritual seekers to executives from around the world) I’m happy to share what I’ve learned to help you with these important decisions.
There are many paths up the mountain, there are many ways to become an established in-demand life coach, but there is no right way.
There are only wise choices to make on your path.
I want you to make these big choices wisely so that you become a life coach, with a steady stream of clients, referrals, and a sustainable life coaching business.
The first fork in your path to becoming a life coach.
The first fork in the road is what I call the “follow-me path” versus the “certification path”:
The “Follow-Me Path”
This is where you build a career mostly based on your life experience, with no formal coaching certification, by inspiring and sharing what life has taught you.
There are many examples of “Follow-Me” Coaches, especially on social media.
But remember that for every Follow-Me style coach that you see with many thousands of followers, there are many thousands of Follow-Me coaches with no clients, struggling to carve out a living.
CONCLUSION: This path is possible, but it has a hit-and-miss success rate, with many more misses than hits.
The “Certification Path”
This is where you build a career on the foundation of an accredited life coaching course, becoming a certified life coach.
There are far more examples of successful Certified Coaches in the world (you need only look at the ICF website with their over 35,000 members as an example).
What’s the downside? Some certification paths are severely limiting, painting you into a rigid structure without room to be unique or to add your style to your coaching voice.
CONCLUSION: This is a more successful path – but can be rigid and limiting.
So, which path is best?
The great news is that you don’t have to choose. You can have both!
I’ve walked both – this is what I learned…
The first#follow-me part of my coaching career as a twenty-something-year-old was a Follow me Path. I put myself out there, attracted clients and started my business.
Back then life coaching wasn’t even a common term, so I called myself a Life Guide and an Intuitive Consultant.
This path gave me the freedom to develop my own style of coaching (my unique Coaching Speciality).
My coaching style centered around bringing intuition strongly into coaching and helping my clients to access their inner intuitive guidance.
What ‘uniquely-you’ something, would you like to bring to your coaching style?
The problem with this path was that some doors wouldn’t open because I lacked the credibility of proper certification.
I didn’t have the confidence to charge properly and struggled to earn a decent living. It was also a lonely path, lacking in the valuable learning to be gained from being in an industry with other professionals.
My experience with the “Certification” life coaching path:
In the second part of my coaching career, I added certification, completing an ICF ACTP program, and became credentialed as a PCC coach, then later as MCC coach (the highest credential you can get).
This boosted my confidence, credibility and gave me master coaching competencies, the kind that made me wonder “How on earth did I manage to coach before having these skills?”
So, you can guess that my income also skyrocketed.
I was so grateful, that I tried leaving the Follow-Me path for a short while, but it felt too grey and limiting for me.
The downside of following the purely certification path, I feel, is that you can’t easily add your unique voice to your coaching style.
Taking the gifts of both paths. This changed everything. And so, it’s what I recommend for you.
The coaching methodology that I created, InnerLifeSkills, celebrates both paths.
Freeing you to walk a Follow-Me path with Certification.
I strongly recommend, to all my students, that they take the best from both paths.
Why not combine your life experience, your gifts, your unique voice and style with the credibility, and proven skills of a certification path?
Here are just 6 of the many important reasons to become Certified as a Life Coach:
- To attract clients from multiple markets. Never limiting yourself to one income stream.
- With an ICF ACTP certification course behind you, you can comfortably charge more for your coaching sessions.
- A Certification path exposes you to the industry, so that you can learn from your colleagues.
- It’s important to see what “best practice coaching” really is, for example there is a massive difference between an ACC level coach and MCC level coach.
- ICF certification competencies can be used in any form of coaching, from life coaching to business coaching, from the youth coaching to wellness coaching. It’s important to have maximum flexibility to be able to coach two or three coaching specialties so that if one dips in income, the others can carry you.
- MCC Master coaching skills are worth learning, they give us ways to change lives by creating safe spaces for people to do powerful inner work.
The second fork – pure coaching or blended coaching
The second choice that you will likely face on your path to becoming a life coach, is whether to offer, what I call, “pure coaching” or “blended coaching”.
Many aspiring life coaches are shocked to discover that professional master coaching (as defined by the ICF and other global accreditation bodies) means absolutely no advice-giving. No telling people what to do. No offering wisdom and guidance. No sharing teachings.
Are you shocked?
But why do so many people call themselves life coaches when they give advice? And what does a life coach do, if not give advice?
Many don’t realize that professionally certified coaches don’t give advice. Many don’t realize that there’s a difference between a coach and a mentor.
But what if the reason you want to be a life coach is because you’re good at offering guidance, and you want to share your life learnings to benefit others?
If you feel that way, you’re not alone.
I too am someone who shares teachings and am more of a mentor by nature than a pure coach.
What should you do then?
Should you choose the path of becoming a pure coach, giving up your natural inspiration to share with others?
Or should you choose the path of being a mentor instead, and give up the incredible life-changing skills that being a coach has to offer?
I think you can guess what I’m going to suggest. Both.
You don’t have to choose.
By learning Pure Coaching (no advice giving-ICF certification path) you can:
- Change people’s lives without giving advice.
- Avoid liability, because with advice comes responsibility. We are legally responsible for any advice we give. Pure life coaching places the responsibility firmly on the client—where it belongs.
- Instead of giving water from your own inner wealth of wisdom, pure coaching means helping others to build their own inner wells, to find their own inner wealth. This is true empowerment.
- Pure coaching frees you of the burden of helping others because you are helping people to help themselves.
By learning blended coaching (combining no-advice giving master coaching skills, your area of speciality and knowledge) you can:
- Choose when to offer pure coaching (no advice) and when to give guidance, balancing a coaching session with empowerment and enlightenment.
- Create a coaching speciality, with your area of expertise, skills, credentials, qualifications mixed in to coaching. – For example, InnerLifeSkills has trained master coaches who add pure coaching to wellness coaching because they’re qualified nutritionists, yoga instructors, fitness professionals etc. We also train financial planners in master coaching skills, and they happily combine their expertise with master coaching.
- Create a unique coaching brand. Instead of being a generic life coach or business coach, by offering blended coaching you take the best of both worlds, distinguishing your brand in the market, and creating a unique coaching speciality. – For example, InnerLifeSkills trained a professional photographer who combines photographic portfolio work life coaching, giving clients a unique makeover journey. We also train business coaches who combine pure coaching with digital marketing, brand building and other areas of expertise to offer unique business building coaching.
SUMMARY OF HOW TO BECOME A LIFE COACH – 2 PATHS
In summary, the start of your path to becoming a successful life coach asks you to make 2 big decisions. You face 2 forks in the road.
I say, instead of only taking one path, you can take BOTH.
Instead of going solo, and not being certified, I recommend you combine a follow-me path (where you use your life experience to build your coaching offering) with becoming a certified master coach (where you add credibility to your brand and master the skills pure toolbox).
Instead of offering pure coaching (no advice-giving), I recommend you combine the best of pure coaching (ICF core competencies) with your area of expertise to offer blended coaching.
So that you can empower and enlighten your clients, attract multiple niche markets, create sustainable coaching income streams, and build a unique coaching specialty brand.
I’ve made it my life’s work to train master coaches with InnerLifeSkills my coaching methodology. We offer you the best of pure coaching and blended coaching, allowing you to walk a follow-me path and a credible certification path.
My team of master coach trainers and I are waiting to guide you to the summit of your life coach mountain so that you can make a living making a difference.