The Top 10 Characteristics of a Life Coach

You have the highest degree of Life Training. Who better to be a Personal Life Coach, than someone who has been there, someone whose been in the trenches? Someone who has looked the devil in the eye and lived to tell about it.

I believe you have what it takes, but you’re going to have to have 10 basic qualities to rock as the kind of Personal Life Coach who can help to inspire others who need your help to get to the other side.

The Top 10 Characteristics of a Life Coach

  1. Confidentiality
  2. Tolerance (no judgment)
  3. Active Listener
  4. Supportive
  5. Adaptive
  6. Willing to Learn
  7. Filtered Empathy
  8. Identify Goals
  9. Accountability Partner
  10. Integrity and Honor

Let’s take a closer look at these characteristics:

  1. Confidentiality

I started my tenure as a Life Coach in the ministry, so maintaining confidentiality was my primary function. To encourage people to achieve their highest and best, while being their trusted confidant. When you’re on a path that diverges from the path that would otherwise be your natural default, you need someone you can lean on. Someone you can trust. Why?

Because no one knows better than everyone in this room, that “you can’t trust anyone.” Not your family. Not your spouse. Not your best friend. But you better damn well be able to trust the priest or your coach. That’s for damn sure.

If you’re going to be a coach, you owe it to yourself, your clients, your community, and the world to protect your client’s privacy and honor their daring to be open and honest with you. Because you know, you need someone you can trust, and today, that person who can be trusted is you.

  1. Tolerance (no judgment)

What is tolerance? In the coaching environment which we set aside as sacred space that you share with your client, you establish and understand that this is not about you and your life.

The coaching relationship is about your client and his or her life, not you and yours. That means everything that happens in this sacred space represents your client’s world, your client’s universe, which could be very different that the world and universe that you live in. And that’s okay.

There is no judgment in this coaching space. If your client says, “that’s the way it is,” then you honor that and you agree with them, that’s the way it is. And you don’t say something condescending, like, “Well, that’s the way it is for you.” No. There is no judgment here. You let it be. Let them be. Whatever it is. You’ve got their back.

  1. Active Listener

You are not here to lecture your client, or tell them how it’s gonna be, or how their life is supposed to be. It’s your job to listen.

Now, I admit when I was first active in the ministry, there was a lot more leading and a bit of judgment in my coaching because I was young, ambitious, and naïve. I mean, all I wanted back then, was for my Heavenly Father to be proud of me. I wanted to do Him proud, because I wanted Him to love me. I mean, I wasn’t getting that kind of love from anywhere else, so I just did the best I could with what I had.

And no one should judge you for doing the best you can with what you have. So, what does it mean to be an active listener?

It means you listen to your client tell his or her story. You repeat back what he or she says in your own words to let him or her know you understand and if they don’t think you’ve got it, they can qualify what they said until you get a firm grasp of it.

And you ask them questions about what they were talking about and give them space to elaborate.

Now, you’re actively listening, and you’re hearing what they have to say.

  1. Supportive

And you’re hell of supportive. Yes, you don’t just listen, you can encourage them, challenge them, dare them to look at their situation of circumstance from a different perspective.

You can get them to think outside the box, my asking them, “What if,” questions.

You can gently persuade them to move in a positive direction, but you will never tell them what to do. Why? Common sense: This absolves you from responsibility. Your clients will never be able to say, “My coach made me do it.” And what if one of your clients did try to blame you for some action that they took which came with dire consequences?

You can say with the clearest of conscious, say, “I never tell my clients what to do. I am 100 percent committed to supporting my clients and what they do, without judgment.” And your practice is a clear indicator that your word is good.

  1. Adaptive

You don’t have to think about yourself as a chameleon, but you must have the ability to walk a mile in your client’s shoes. Most Life Coaches have a degree of empathy, and find it fairly easy to imagine what it would be like to be in the shoes of their clients.

Being adaptive goes hand in hand with being tolerant. You want to be able to adjust your environment, your sacred space, to be the most supportive of your client, at the very least, for the time you are creating space for your client to do their personal work.

I like what St Paul had to say about being adaptive, he said, “I am become all things to all men, that by all means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

It doesn’t mean you compromise who you are at all, it means you are willing to take the back seat in the effort for someone else to excel. Can you do that?

And do not worry. You will not have to be stuck there. After your client has left, you can clean yourself and the area, to ready for the next unique client or environment to be attracted to your and your area of expertise.

The upside of being highly adaptive, for me, is to share experiences with my clients which I would never have had the chance to share, not in a million years, or thousand lifetimes.

  1. Willing to Learn

The path of the Personal Life Coach is one of constant and never-ending improvement. This is a full-tilt non-stop learning environment.

If you’re good, you’ll be learning from your clients. You’ll be learning from your peers, and other coaches who share communities with you.

In fact, we’re setting up a Facebook group for all you coaches coming onboard here, today. We will be sending you an invite to join the group.

Now, this is also a safe environment, and you agree that when you are using this group, you are doing so to exchange information and ask for input that concerns you, your clients, and your coaching business.

This is not a dating site. It is moderated, and strictly for your coaching needs, concerns, and growth as a Personal Life Coach.

  1. Filtered Empathy

Okay, we’ve established that most people who feel a calling to the coaching therapeutic sciences lean toward the empathetic side. This can lead to being vulnerable due to your sensitivities to certain circumstances, situations, or emotional vibrations.

You have to promise me that you will look after your empathetic persuasions and protect yourself.

I will share a secret phrase with you that I will hope you find useful for your tendency to get lost in empathy. Ready?

Repeat after me,

“I care.

But not too much.”

Now, I know that sounds crazy, and it’s something you never want to say to your client. This is only for you and the perseverance of your psyches. You have to look after yourself, for damn sure, no one else is gonna look after you. So, if you’re gonna make it in this business, you need to filter your empathy so that it does not consume you.

Learn to care, but not too much.

Another thing that was very helpful for me, was to learn Reiki, which was very interesting to me. I discovered Reiki with other Olympia Life Coaches I was working with, who were promoting their “energy healing,” and I was like, “What is that?”

Since Life Coaches are all seekers of continuing educations, away I went, and one of the most valuable things I learned from the Reiki trainings, was how to channel energy, and I was able to apply that to my coaching practice by allowing my clients energy to flow right through me, and not get stuck inside me. Getting the negative energy of others is a problem that empaths have. Right?

So, looking into Reiki might be something that you might like to check out.

  1. Identify Goals

When you think of a coach, you probably don’t think of all that other stuff, but this: Helping your client identify, set, and reach goals in a successive order to get them from where they are to where they want to be? That’s what you think coaching is all about. And that is the primary reason that someone seeks out a coach in the first place.

I mean, you’re so busy, hacking your way through the dense forest with a machete, that its hard to focus on the concise strategic markers or milestones that keep you on track, and before you know it, you’re saying, “Oh, look. I’ve found a path. Someone else has already cut for me.” And it’s not long that you figure out that that someone was you, and you realize you’re going in circles.

That’s never gonna get you where you want to be.

So, they come to you. You have the aerial view, and you can help them chart a course.

Will you help your clients identify and chart out their goals? Not your ideas of the goals that you think they should set, but those you help them to define for themselves.

  1. Accountability Partner

What is an accountability partner? At Olympia Life Coach, there are many types of coaches, counselors, and consultants. And most of the practitioners there would be glad to have you come in and complain about your life for a hundred bucks, and it’s worth it.

You got to let off some steam, with someone who has your back. I mean, they’re not gonna judge you or rat you out, but come next week, or your next visit, well, life is just the same ol’ same ol, and you want to pay someone to listen.

As an Olympian Life Coach, its not about making yourself feel better after talking about the way things are. No, it’s about personal growth and change, and a desire to reach a degree of competence and excellence in your life.

So, here’s a little trick I learned from Mark Victor Hansen which increased my productivity as a coach exponentially.

It’s that we do this together, step by step. That means when you come in here and meet me in my office, its on. Playtime is over. By the end of this session you’re going to have homework. We’re gonna identify goals, and establish a laundry list of items for you to have checked off by our next meeting.

And expect you to move, and I will move with you, ready to walk alongside of you as you ready for the next step. But if you don’t step, if you’re not kicking ass and taking names, I am going to refer you to one of my associates, because of who I am.

I only work with the movers and shakers. The people like you who are out there doing the work, who dare to achieve your highest and best. Those unique individuals who want to live a better life, your best life, and make the world a better place.

You can have any kind of therapist you want, but if you want to make a difference in the world, and you can keep up… not with me, but with yourself, being respectful of you and who you are, doing right by you, we can talk, and we’ll see how it goes.

Step for step. You and me.

Are you willing to raise the bar and be an accountability partner for your clients?

  1. Integrity and Honor

Last, and most importantly, integrity and honor. You are going to be true to you, first, then you are going to have a relationship with your clientele that is based on the highest degree of integrity and honor.

What is integrity?

They say that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching you, which is true, but it’s more than that. If you operate in integrity, everyone knows what to expect from you. You have an established pattern of behavior that is solid, and people can rely on you to be who you are in almost any circumstance. And it is doing the right thing, whether anyone is watching or not.

And honor?

Honor is representing the high ethical standards that come with holding the lives of others in your hands. As a coach, you could be hugely influential, but that’s not your job. Your job is to challenge and support your client. You could influence or manipulate your client to do what you want him or her to do but you don’t.

You don’t allow weird relationships or fantasies to flourish, and by all means, do not cross boundaries of romance or intimacy with your client. Believe it or not, this comes up often, it the types of coaching relationships where you are doing your best to help someone else achieve their highest and best.

They are not used to someone caring about them that way, and they can misinterpret your supportive actions as love. And of course, you do love your clients, but not in a romantic way.

So, be aware of where your relationship is going. Keep it professional. And if you’re not able to keep your client’s romantic interests in you at bay, then refer them to another coach.

Conduct your practice with honor, for if you don’t, it could be detrimental to the services you are trying to offer.

That’s all ten attributes. Go forth, embrace your talents and gifts, use the lessons you’ve learned from your past to help others achieve their highest and best, encouraging them while empowering yourself to live a better life, your best life, and make the world a better place.

If you want to make a career of your life coaching practice, there are opportunities available with my friends at St Pauls Free University, or you are certainly welcomed to contact me.