What is Life Coaching?

What is life coaching about, let’s explore professional and master life coaching, to help you to gain clarity and avoid some of the common misconceptions about life coaching?



innerlifeskills coaching wagon

What’s the definition of life coaching?

The word ‘coach’ comes from the mid 16th century: from French ‘coche’, and from Hungarian ‘kocsi’ (wagon) from Kocs.

A ‘coach’ or ‘carriage’ gets you to where you want to be.
In the 18th century, the word ‘coach’ started being used as a verb.

Today, when we ask “What is life coaching?” we use answer that the word ‘coach’ for someone who helps us to get from where we are now, to where we want to be in life.

coach here to there
coach here to there life

Learning to life coach is learning special skills and cutting-edge methods, to get people from where they are now, to where they want to be.

But this is only the first level of understanding, if you are truly interested in coaching, then read on to build on this simple definition.

Am I already a Life Coach?

“So if I talk to my friend and help them, does that mean that I am already a Life Coach?”

Ah, not so fast! No.

Many well-meaning folks make this mistake. Being friendly, guiding and counselling, mentoring and leading—aren’t these all the same as coaching? No.

Being able to help others might mean that you already have natural talents and skills—but coaching skills are very specific and different. Check out our quick Coaching Skills Test here if you want to see how you measure up to professional coaching.

Professional Coaching is different to just helping people.

If it weren’t different, why would we have a word like “Life Coach”.

Entirely new thriving professions like Life Coaching, Executive Coaching, Youth Coaching and Business Coaching?

A coaching industry governing body called the International Coach Federation (ICF) who benchmarks the industry by credentialing professional coaches at 3 levels of competency and by accrediting training programs.

If anyone tries to get credentialed, without proving that they are skilled at 11 core competencies, they would fail— which means, “you need specific skills to be coaching professionally”.

So many people have the true meaning of coaching mixed up with mentoring, training, guiding, developing, etc.

So let’s clear up the confusion and help you to really understand what professional coaching is. 

InnerLifeSkills Coach Glenn Douglas

What does a professional life coach do?

A professional coach coaches conversations or meetings, in such a way that the coachee (the person being coached):

  • Establishes clear goals (dreams, aspirations, objectives).
  • Finds their own solutions, action plans, insights and clarity about how to reach that goal. That was the big clue. As coaches, we don’t offer our solutions or our ideas about what the coachee should do. Rather, we help others to find their own best solutions!
  • Holds themselves accountable for their own journey and commitment to their planned actions. Another clue! As coaches, we help people to help themselves, we don’t carry their burdens.

Because as true professional coaches, we don’t give advice, we can coach anyone who wants to make change or progress.

Mixing advice-giving with coaching is a blended approach. We teach our students how to offer pure coaching and how to blend coaching with their other areas of expertise where they would offer advice.

What can a good, great and master level professional coach do?


There are 3 established levels of coaching skills, called ICF Coaching Competencies.

ACC, PCC and MCC (Associate, Professional and Master credentialed coach, respectively).

Here is a very quick outline of what each level of professional coach can do. I hope that this inspires you to strive to become an MCC Master level coach.

Master coaches generally are paid the most, because their skills are much higher, they are more in demand, and there are much fewer Master Coaches around than ACC and PCC coaches.

With ILS you would learn all 3 levels of coaching. Visit this blog post for a video explaining the 3 ICF levels and how to get credentialed as a coach.

In a NUTSHELL, the 3 levels of coaching skill and are listed below.


ACC Associate level… the coach can:

  • Establish trust and rapport with a coachee.
  • Work with a coachee to establish a clear goal.
  • Help the coach to find their own best solutions and insights.
  • Create an action plan to move forward towards their goal.
  • Coach the coachee to be accountable for their own journey.
  • ILS Coach 101, our 1-month online course helps you to gain ACC skill levels.

PCC Professional level… the coach can do all of the ACC above, plus:

  • Coach wholistically, helping the coachee to draw on their intuitive, creative and “out of the box” thinking.
  • Help the coachee to find their own best way to overcome their obstacles to success.
  • Create a space for deeper thinking and meaningful new awareness.

ILS Coach professional, our 6-month online course helps you to gain PCC skill levels.

MCC Master level… the coach can do all of the PCC above, plus:

  • Create a true partnership with the coachee.
  • Co-create the coaching experience, where the coachee helps to choose, shape and design their own coaching process.
  • Offer a lot of supportive space for the coachee to work on creating significant new awareness.
  • A master coach makes coaching look easy and very natural, there is hardly any evidence of coaching structures.
  • Create intuitive, relevant, spontaneous questions to meet the coachee where they are.
  • Be comfortable in the unknown unfolding of the session, and yet still achieve tangible valuable outcomes from the coaching session.

ILS Master Coach, our 1-year online course helps you to qualify with MCC skill levels.

    What can an InnerLifeSkills (ILS) Master Coach do?

    Imagine being able to talk to someone for 10 minutes to 6 hours, and NOT GIVE THEN ANY advice, but still potentially change their life! Imagine being able to inspire, motivate and help people to help themselves.

    A qualified ILS Master Coach can coach at MCC levels, (see above) and they also have a coaching toolbox with 52 coaching processes and 111 coaching techniques.


    Which means that as an InnerLifeSkills Master coach, you can coach:

    • Groups and individuals.
    • Any type of coaching (we’ll help you to choose a speciality) – including life coaching, business, executive, youth, wellness, personal growth, spiritual, organizational, talent development, etc.
    • Pure coaching or blended coaching (see our blog article on the difference)  where you add your own expertise and mentoring.
    • Any topic, goal or dream – inner wisdom, relationships, financial freedom, self-empowerment, creativity, business building, career transition, time management, motivation and more.

    Life Coaching vs Mentoring.

    What is the difference between Life Coaching and Mentoring?

    Mentors impart their wisdom, advice and expertise to the Mentee (person they are mentoring).

    A Life Coach doesn’t tell someone what to do, teach or share their advice. Instead a coach helps the coachee to find their own best solutions and wisdom within themselves.

    Many of our trained coaches combine mentoring and coaching. Coaching skills make mentors more effective and more empowering.

    What is the difference between Life Coaching and Organisational Coaching?

    As long as a Manager as Coach is trained in ICF coaching competencies, then qualified life coaches and managers trained as coaches have the same foundation.

    They just apply their skills in different ways.

    A Life Coach can coach life goals and life issues.

    This can include all life goals from weight loss, to relationships, personal and spiritual growth, business and finances, literally any dream that a client wants to work on.

    A Manager as Coach coaches formally and informally at work.

    This can include coaching meetings to be more effective, coaching teams and staff, coaching talent development, strategy, conflict resolution, negotiations, literally any team or career objectives.

    ILS trains both Life coaching and Manager as Coach for organisational coaching initiatives.

    How long is a Life Coaching session?

    A session could be as short as a 20 minute “power espresso”, or a longer 2 hour session. Most Life Coaches set aside regular time to coach themselves. They invest time in themselves.

    What can a life coach do?

    When you learn to coach, you learn to empower people to reach any goal, dream, objective and InnerLifeSkills coaches also help people to overcome inner obstacles (like fear, self worth and procrastination).

    Rely on your coaching skills, and processes, use the ILS toolbox to help.

    You can coach individuals and groups on any topic e.g. life goals, work and career aspirations, financial freedom, wellness and weight loss, personal growth and inner obstacles, dream building, etc.

    Let’s demystify Life Coaching ~ what does a Life Coach do?

    “If I talk to my friend and help them, does that mean that I am already a life coach?”

    Ah, not so fast! No.

    Many well-meaning folks make this mistake.

    Being friendly, guiding and counselling, mentoring and leading—aren’t these all the same as coaching? No.

    Being able to help others might mean that you already have natural talents and skills— but coaching skills are very specific and different.

    So what does a Life Coach do?

    Professional coaching is different to just helping people.

    If it weren’t different, why would we have a title like “Life Coach”? But what is life coaching?

    If anyone tries to get credentialed, without proving that they are skilled at the 11 core competencies, they would fail— which means, you need specific skills to be coaching professionally.

    A coaching industry governing body called the International Coach Federation (ICF) who benchmarks the industry by credentialing professional coaches at 3 levels of competency and by accrediting training courses, ensures that the specific skills are applied.

    But if you’re wondering why life coach anyone then check out this guide.


    course notes1

    Can I combine other methods and processes?

    Absolutely yes!

    ILS Coach skills and methods are easily adapted and can be added to other empowerment exercises.

    Start your understanding of Life Coaching and InnerLifeSkills here.


    Why is Life Coaching popular?

    Coaching is a multi-billion dollar industry and is growing every year. Why?

    There is a variety of new thriving coaching professions like Life Coaching, Executive Coaching, Youth Coaching and Business Coaching which have emerged in the world, because they answer a need.
    People became tired of relying on externals — hence the self-help industry was born.

    And with the self-help industry people started claiming back their power, to help themselves in every area of their life, from health, to spirituality, to education, to finances and career building.

    That’s where life coaching and all of its subsidiaries arose to answer the growing appreciation for self-help.

    The best way I know to learn about Life Coaching is through our free online Life Coach sample course.

    Coaches help us to help ourselves.

    Is the ILS Master Coach course focused on NLP Coaching?

    The following processes that we use in our coaching course might have NLP roots, but their true origin is not clear:

    • “As If” and “Reframing.” We have written and taught these in our own way.

    Then some NLP practitioners use these processes although they have a coaching origin:

    • “Disney” and “Mentors Table.”

    Most of the ILS Master Coach course is ILS unique or draws from ICF core competencies and as such are not NLP. Coaching and NLP share history and roots.

    There are many companies that train NLP and call it coaching, but fail to deliver the steps and skills of REAL coaching, thus not enabling the coach to even know how to obtain correct contracts, actions and overcoming obstacles etc.

    It’s a nice tool to have to use in coaching provided you know how to coach to implement NLP into a standard coaching session where and when required.


    What accreditation does a Master Life Coach get?

    The recognized world authority in coaching accreditation for coaches and coach training is the ICF.

    This is truly the benchmark for true professional coaching standards.

    Make sure that your training is ICF accredited.

    There are 2 main levels of ICF recognition and accreditation.

    They are:

    • ACSTH (training hours are approved) and ACTP (the full training program is accredited, including assessment procedures; which means that ACTP graduates can fast track their application to ICF for credentialing.

    ILS has both ACSTH and ACTP ICF accreditation for its ILS Master Coach program, and all of its component short course modules.

    Can I life-coach without certification?

    Many people make the mistake of thinking, that “coaching” is just general helping or guiding.

    They are very surprised to realise that coaching is both an art and a science, that needs proper training to master.

    ILS will teach you life and business coaching skills and methods.

    You will learn over 50+ processes in our course.

    You also get worksheets and scripts, that you can use to coach on a wide variety of topics. In other words, you get real, internationally accredited Life Coach training.

    What else can I do with this coaching certification?

    If you study our ILS Master Coach qualification, not only will you have life changing tools to be a top Life Coach, for the rest of your life!

    But you will also have Master Communicator skills.

    These support many other careers and service related professions.

    So you will make yourself more skilled and more valuable as a leader and communicator.

    Why is ICF accreditation important?

    International Coach Federation (ICF) accreditation is the real thing. ICF audit coach training methods, materials and assessments to make sure the training meets international benchmarks.

    ILS Master Coach with all of its modules, is accredited at the highest ICF ACTP level.

    How do I get credentialed as a coach with the ICF?

    The international Coach Federation (ICF) credential certified life and business coaches. To apply for credentialing as a professional coach and to see their criteria, visit their website http://www.coachfederation.org/