How to become a professional Life Coach, the authentic, credible InnerLifeSkills way.
So you want to be a life coach, fantastic!
There are many traps that derail new aspiring coaches, so we’ve put together some critical advice for you here.
We want you to succeed as a life coach.
So please avoid these common traps—that catch many good people. And take these helpful steps.
InnerLifeSkills can also help you learn how to be a Life Coach to yourself.
Here are some of the reasons we hear our students give when we ask them “Why do you want to become a Life Coach?”
What’s your reason to become a professional Life Coach?
- “I’m already the go-to person when others need guidance and support, so I want to learn how to ‘help’ rather than ‘harm’,”
- “I want a meaningful career, doing what I love.”
- “I want to help people to help themselves, rather than carry them.”
- “I love empowering others, so I want to now earn money doing making a difference.”
- “This is my calling, I feel it is my life purpose to coach.”
- “I’m interested in psychology and what makes us tick, and learning to life coach was a natural next step for me.”
- “I’m a leader or manager who wants the latest cutting edge skills to lead my team effectively and rise to the demands of today’s world.”
8 Traps to avoid, and 8 Steps to take—when starting your journey to become a successful life coach.
“Do you know what life coaching really is?
—Are you 100% sure?”
Life Coaching is not guiding, helping, mentoring, training or supporting. It can help with all of these, but it’s not the same.
You won’t believe how much confusion and ignorance there is about what real life coaching is. That’s because the word “coach” is used in so many different ways.
The word “coach” is used in sports and is often mistakingly used as a synonym for mentoring and guiding. It’s even a form of transport—as in a “carriage” or “coach”.
Life coaching is an actual thriving global profession, with benchmarked competencies and international standards.
Life coaching and its spin-offs; like business coaching, youth coaching, executive coaching etc; is not a regulated industry like medical professions. The good news about that is that as a life coach you will have lots of room for your creativity and uniqueness. But the bad news is that there are a lot of people calling themselves coaches, when they have had no real training, and are in fact mentoring or teaching.
So, if you want to rise above the masses, and create a special coaching career—it’s important for you to know that there are structures, definitions and actual competencies that determine whether you can coach or not.
It’s important to know what real coaching is—and what it’s not.
If you are not 100% clear on the differences between coaching, mentoring, training, counselling, and just “helping” then this can be a real trap. Read STEP #1 to avoid this TRAP.
“Understand what life coaching really is (and isn’t).”
Start your journey to confidently standing anywhere in the world as a competent credentialed professional coach.
To avoid the ignorance trap, and to be able to confidently stand anywhere in the world talking about coaching accurately.
We recommend our free on-ramp as an excellent place to learn about coaching in general and ILS Coaching (our unique methodology).
“Do you know how to tell quality life coach training from poor training?”
If not, then this trap can mean wasting your time and money.
There are great life coach training providers out there, but there are also many poor life coach training companies and many highly theoretical academic coach training (usually government-run or accredited).
Make sure you don’t waste time and money on a course that doesn’t really help you to become a professional life coach.
We recommend that you avoid courses that are heavily theoretical or academic unless you only want to learn “about coaching” and not really be able to practice as a coach.
Why avoid overly theoretical courses? Because coaching is a skill—the best way to study coaching is to be given enough theory to understand what you are doing, but the emphasis must be on DOING.
We make sure you start coaching within 6 hours of training.
“Use our coach course checklist.”
To help you to choose wisely, we created a 10 point checklist… click here to get the PDF checklist and to watch 2 videos about choosing a course wisely.
Make sure that the coaching course you choose can pass our checklist.
“Are you sure you don’t have missing skills?”
Not having all the skills you need can get you in trouble.
What if you face a client with real issues and don’t have the skills to manage it?
What if you get the opportunity to coach for a large organization but they want you to be ICF credentialed?
Even if you have natural skills as a coach, and people come to you for guidance and support, there is a real difference between a professional and an amateur coach. We’d love to help you to take your skills to the next level and become a pro.
The ICF has worked for decades to establish measures for determining the competencies of professional coaches.
The ICF core competencies are the critical skill sets that a professional life coach should be able to demonstrate in order to call themselves a coach. The ICF even distinguish coaches at 3 levels of competencies ACC, PCC and MCC— Associate, Professional and Master Credentialled Coach respectively.
Do you want to see where you measure up? Here is our Coaching Skills Snap-Shot Test page for you to see where you meet the grade, and where you might need to develop your skills more.
It would be a trap to not master these core ICF competencies. They are the essential foundation required by any professional life coach.
Here is a link to the ICF website, where you can find us listed as offering an ACTP Accredited Coach Training Program, (the highest level of accreditation). Look for InnerLifeSkills Coaching “ILS Master Coach” ACTP program.
Check out the STEP to avoid this TRAP of having missing skills.
“Get the 6 ICF core competencies— minimum.”
Coach anyone, anywhere—with confidence and skill.
To be able to confidently coach anywhere in the world and to possibly become credentialed by the ICF, we recommend ensuring that your coach training helps you to master the core competencies.
We recommend that you study any ICF accredited programme.
Naturally, we’d love you to consider choosing our ICF accredited course, which is made up of 3 levels:
- Level 1 ILS Coach 101: worth 14 hours ICF training, ICF ACSTH
- Level 2 ILS Professional Coach: worth 74 hours ICF training, ICF ACSTH or CCE
- Level 3 ILS Master Coach: worth 162 hours ICF training an ICF ACTP (the highest accreditation).
- ILS Master Coach Entrepreneur: worth 213 hours ICF training an ICF ACTP
With our courses, you get all 11 ICF core competencies and additional coaching processes and methods, in fact, we teach you over 50 coaching processes and 111 coaching techniques.
“When your coachee hits an inner obstacle—can you confidently help them to overcome this?”
Not being able to coach more than goals, action plans and some limiting beliefs can be a real trap.
We want you to coach deeper than the surface— where the real change happens.
In our experience, we have seen this as a big trap.
Many well trained coaches cannot confidently and skilfully coach a client’s inner obstacles!
What we mean by inner obstacles includes:
not knowing what to do,
lack of confidence, etc.
A traditional coach is often only taught how to ask their clients to solve their own inner obstacles, or to do some surface work with “limited beliefs”—but this is never really enough.
What this looks like is the client admitting a fear, procrastination or lack that is causing them to fail to take the actions they want to, towards their dreams, goals and aspirations.
A traditional coach is often taught to reply with something like, “So how can you overcome this?”
This is hit and miss. Sometimes, you’ll be lucky and the client will have a solution. But most of the time they’ll say something like, “I don’t know, that’s why I came to you for help!”
We have seen professional coaches, (not ILS trained) get unraveled, upset, stressed and even give up on their clients when this happens. This is a complete breach of coaching ethics, and so please learn as many tools and skills as you can to manage and guide someone through the vulnerable space of their inner obstacles.
“Get skills and methods to coach inner obstacles.”
Coach real inner transformation.
When we built the InnerLifeSkills (ILS) Coach courses, we intentionally focused on equipping our coaches with the ability to coach inner obstacles.
Other than world class competencies, this is what ILS Coaching specializes in.
Whether you choose ILS or not to train you, please make sure that your path towards becoming a coach includes knowing how to coach people to overcome their inner obstacles—to transform fear, lack of confidence, self-doubt, procrastination, anger and to help them to get over their, “I don’t know what to do!” mind.
“Are you stuck with only 1 coaching method?”
Don’t get trapped in a rigid coaching model!
Having only 1 rigid way to coach is a prison of boredom and limited value for you and your clients. No one wants to be coached the same way again and again.
Also, it severely limits your income earning potential, because you can only coach 1 way with a limited amount of topics, for example only being able to coach action plans.
Did you know that a lot of coaches really can only coach others to create action plans?
Real coaches should be able to coach a wide range of tangible outcomes, like motivation, decision making, brainstorming ideas, overcoming obstacles (yes there it is again).
“Learn a few coaching methods and be able to coach unlimited goal topics.”
Be versatile and have a comprehensive coaching toolbox.
Please make sure that you build a MASSIVE coaching toolbox.
This keeps coaching interesting for you and the client. You’ll be able to coach your clients again and again without becoming a boring coach and you’ll be able to coach a wide range of topics.
Our free on-ramp email course can help you to start putting coaching processes in your coaching toolbox immediately.
“Are you planning to sell your time?—This is a limited income trap.”
Avoid the “selling your time” ceiling.
If you need or want to earn money as a life coach then read this trap and its step.
If you have the luxury of not needing to earn an income from coaching then skip this.
So most of us need or hope to make a good income from coaching. But very few out there are able to do this easily. One of the main reasons is because they fall into this trap, and Trap #7 (see below).
When you sell time, you can only earn within the limitations of the hours you are able to work.
Check out the STEP to avoid this TRAP.
“Learn to coach groups, online, blended coaching and target a variety of markets.”
Multiply your income streams.
To avoid the cost of this trap, and to be able to earn a good income, please give serious thought to this step.
There are several strategies that we recommend to break the trap of being limited by selling time.
- Offer group coaching—this is an instant hour income multiplier.
- Coach for more than 1 market and make sure that at least 1 market can afford to pay a higher hourly rate, e.g a corporate, career building or business market.
- Grow passive income streams linked to your coaching business e.g. write and sell a book to your clients etc.
- Consider offering blended coaching (see our blog tutorial on pure vs. blended coaching), this way you can distinguish yourself in the market and increase your potential revenue.
- Build online coaching into your business, so that you can coach from anywhere, even on holiday if you like, and limit your overhead expenses. This also opens up your market internationally, instead of being limited to your city.
“Are you allergic to marketing and sales?”
Stop being a book without a cover!
It’s no good having life-changing, game-winning skills without clients! Many talented, highly skilled coaches fail simply because they let their resistance and ignorance of how to market and sell block their progress.
Check out the STEP to avoid this TRAP.
“Heal your allergy and learn to sell authentically and ethically.”
Be a book with a great honest authentic cover.
To avoid this trap, and to be able to build a lucrative successful life coaching business, we recommend learning to market and sell in an ethical, comfortable, natural and authentic way.
None of us like infomercial style marketing, or forced sales.
That’s why we teach our students to “share” and not “sell”. All our coaches learn natural sales and ethical (no spam) marketing methods.
“Do you think that you only need a business card and a website to win clients?”
No, even a brilliant website is not the real solution!
A lot of new coaches have never built businesses before, so they are simply ignorant. They believe that having a business card and a basic website is enough for clients to find them.
This is not true. It is a trap.
“Follow a proven path to build an authentic business.”
Use our ILS 7 Step Dream Builder.
Building a business (no matter what type of business) takes knowledge and consistent effort.
For those of us who have succeeded, it’s been worth all the time and money, because now we get to do what we love, make our own rules, be independent and free.
Visit our blog, category “building a life coaching business” to get our expert advice.
So that’s our 8 Traps and 8 Steps.
We hope you benefited from the sound advice and guidance.
Here is an example of the positive impact of the work that our ILS Coaches achieve. Phil Keye and Brandon Copley use InnerLifeSkills coaching methods to make a difference in schools and for the youth. Here is a Facebook post to read.
Everything that you learn from InnerLifeSkills has been tested and refined over many years. We are here to support your journey. We love and live what we teach.
All my best,
Founder of InnerLifeSkills Coaching
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