what is a life coach?

I am a life coach.

When I tell people that, I am usually met with puzzled looks and some mumbling about psychologists and fixing people’s problems. Although I explain what it means, I am often left with the sense that the listener didn’t quite get it. So I wonder what does it mean to say “I am a coach”? Who and what are life coaches?

The life coaching industry is unregulated, meaning that it is possible for anyone to practice as life coach; a scenario that makes choosing a coach a confusing task.

There is no requirement for a coach to have a specific coaching qualification, or indeed any qualification at all.  The coaching profession encompasses a range of individuals who, on one end of the spectrum, have no qualifications but consider themselves to be great leaders, teachers or mentors, and on the other end, highly qualified people who have years of experience in their career as well as a formal accredited coaching qualification, and any variation in between. Whether or not the coaching industry should be more regulated is an ongoing debate for which there are multiple arguments on both sides. That is not the subject of today’s post. I believe a more important question to be asking is what makes a person a coach?

By posing that question I am forced to look at myself and ask; what makes me a coach?

When I decided to become a coach, it was important to me that I obtained a qualification in the field. I already held a Bachelor of Commerce and a postgraduate law degree from two top universities but I felt sure that the art of coaching was a discipline in which I needed to be trained to practice as coach. I found a reputable coaching academy whose qualification is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and qualified with Professional Coach Diploma. The question is, does my diploma make me a coach in the same way that a medical degree would make me a doctor?

At the time of obtaining my coaching diploma, I had 14 years career experience and 32 hours of coaching experience. In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell makes reference to 10000 hours as being the benchmark for expertise in a field. I was certainly no coaching expert by that standard, but my career experience provided me with business acumen, knowledge, strategic ability, insight and leadership skills.

If coach’s role is never to tell a coachee what to do but to guide them to find the solutions within themselves, what good is my experience if I can’t just fix it for the client?

Without my 10000 hours of career experience, I would not have been able to confidently and credibly coach the senior executives and powerful individuals that I have worked with over the years. My knowledge and experience gives me the ability to connect with a client, to be present to what their world is like and what it feels like to be them in the role they fulfil. Without that the kind of insight the coaching process can feel detached, academic and removed from the real world in which our clients function. So, is it that simple, does a qualification plus 10 or more years of career experience make a coach?

There is more to being a coach than experience and qualifications. To be a coach is no more a job than being a person is a job.  Therein is the key distinction; qualifications and experience make it possible work as a coach, they do not make a coach. The question our potential clients should really be asking is “who is a coach”?

What makes a coach is the ability to see possibilities beyond what the client can see and put the client in the position of seeing that possibility as a reality themselves.

A coach simultaneously witnesses the highest potential of the client and the anxious doubtful self in the client and builds a bridge between the two, enabling the client to walk across, keep the troll in its place and reach the higher destination. A coach maintains an absolute, unwavering belief in the client’s abilities, even if the client falters. A coach is a champion for the client’s higher self; with their deep understanding of humanity they see the value in all aspects of the client, without judging, while at the same time calling forth only their highest qualities. A coach is disruptive; they have a fundamental inability to accept that how it is now is how it has to be forever. A coach challenges the status quo in favour of greatness. A coach paints the picture of you as you know you can be and walks with you as you bring it to life, all the while holding the painting up to remind you what you set out to create. Simply, a coach is an expansive, insightful, disruptive, compassionate and steadfast partner to those who choose to commit to their own greatness. This is WHO a coach is.

There is a maxim “leaders are born not made”. I’m not sure I believe that in all cases, but the meaning behind it is true of coaches too. Leadership and coaching are a being, not a doing. We can train people to do coaching; being a coach is not the same thing.

I AM a life coach.

Who or what is a coach? I’d love to hear your thoughts….

Much love,

Tania written

where do I register for a B. Parenting?

I trained as a lawyer, worked as an accountant, held roles in senior management, ran businesses and lectured at a university. Six years ago, I became an executive and life coach. All the positions I’ve held carried responsibility. My competence (or incompetence) in the role had the potential to impact many people’s lives, finances and well-being. I have been a leader of people and a leader of businesses. People have counted on me to know what I was doing and to do it well.

In an attempt to minimise the risks associated with failing in these positions, industries deem it necessary that qualifications are obtained.

The more onerous the position the more important it is to have a specialised qualification. I have the necessary qualifications to enable me to do those jobs. Whilst a qualification of itself does not guarantee that a person will be good at their chosen profession it does provide a foundation, a basic benchmark that ensures a minimum standard for the quality of execution in the role.

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why bother?

Why bother when everyone else is carrying on regardless?

Why bother when it can be so disheartening and downright frustrating?

Why bother when nobody else does?

It’s true; it takes discipline, dedication, focus and awareness to live your chosen legacy in the face of a world that may not always make it easy. 

So why bother?

Because you must! 

You will leave behind a legacy anyway; you will change the world. It is an unavoidable consequence of living. 

I wonder; are willing to exchange your life for a legacy that is less than the best of what you could give because ‘they’ didn’t bother?

Much Love,


© A Verburg (used with permission)

Yesterday was a hot, summery sort of day that turned into a beautiful evening of clear skies and a billion stars. I even commented to a friend that the Easter weekend is going to be kind to our little holiday village with weather like this.

To my surprise, I awoke this morning to lightly falling rain and overcast skies; the kind of day the Irish refer to as a ‘soft day’. No less wonderful than yesterday, simply a complete contrast.

This is the beauty and power of the ‘in-between’ seasons; Autumn and Spring. The long weeks of fabulously hot summer days can leave us feeling a little complacent, settled into a comfort zone of predictability. Autumn’s changeability reminds us to live in the moment, be present to the now, for we do not know what tomorrow will hold. Nothing about life is ever completely predictable.

If there is something to be done, do it today! Tomorrow may very well bring sunny skies and a perfect breeze that have you aching to go and fly a kite on the beach. If today is that day go and fly the kite, for there is no guarantee the moment will present itself ever again.

I wonder, what is your heart aching for you to experience today that you keep putting off to another day…..?

Much love,

don’t push the river…

All rights belong to T M Adams © 2012

The Kowie River; this is one of the views I am treated to daily.  It flows out into the sea through the pier in Port Alfred.  I have become familiar with the rhythms of the river, the tidal changes, its moods, the animals and birds that inhabit its waters and banks at different times of the day.  I am learning to anticipate the conditions down on the beach or the weather that is on its way, by observing the river.

Yet the one thing I have never seen is someone pushing that river down into the ocean, not once, never! 

And still somehow, after it has gone past our houses, around  the bend where I can no longer see it from where I stand, once it has gone through the town, and through the pier walls, it gets there….Sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but it always flows to the ocean, by itself.

This is how it is with life.

When we are in flow with the essence of what we are about, who we are and what we stand for, we too flow easily into the future.  We are able to fulfill our purpose; to nourish and support those who stand upon our banks or travel downstream with us.

When I am authentically in my flow, I need not get overly excited or overly fearful of the future, for I can trust that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, headed exactly where I am designed to go.  And while I may not know the exact conditions of the ocean when I arrive, it matters not, because I will have reached my true destination and fulfilled my true purpose along the way.

I wonder …………. what would need to change for you to be flowing into your future, fulfilling your purpose?

Much love,

who are you, “above all”?

He saw that Fatima’s eyes were filled with tears.  “You’re crying?”  “I’m a woman of the desert”, she said averting her face.  “But above all, I’m a woman.”

 ~ from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

None of us is only one thing at a time, yet we strive to define ourselves as this or that, to the exclusion of anything else, often becoming angry with ourselves when we find we are not what we thought we were in a given moment.  What’s more we are encouraged to abide by our culture or society’s understanding of what it means to be a woman, a man, a wife, a husband, a business person, a mother, a lover…..

Yet, our essential nature is always there and underlies everything else that we are.  It is indeed the very thing that enables us to bring our unique flavour and gifts to any role that we find ourselves in.

The deepest, most important awareness we can develop is the knowledge of our true essence.  We must learn it, know it, embrace it; both its light and shadow sides.  It is only then that we can fully infuse that essence into whomever we choose to be in each moment.  This we must do; it is what it means to be a human be-ing, to live our legacy daily.

Are you honouring your true essence; do you know who you are “above all”?

Much love,

are you one of the crAzy™ ones?

“Here’s to the Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world – are the ones who DO!” ~ Apple Computers ~


Have you ever wondered about the emphasis on achievement in society today?

Achievement is regarded as something to have or somewhere to get to.  We only acknowledge the achievement when we feel we have “arrived”.

I wonder about the quality of the journey in between?  What if that is the  achievement?

Much love,