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Training to Be a Life Coach - A Way to Practice Even When You Do

Have you thought about becoming a life coach but you're life seems too busy? Or have you gone through a life coach training program, but now you're struggling to find time to practice? Or maybe you've been a life coach for a while, but you're feeling a bit rusty or your strategies are feeling a bit stale?

Well, this article will offer you a specific strategy that can help!

Recently, I was speaking to one of the life coaches who is going through our Coach Mindset Elite Life Coach Training and Certification. She was excited about the training and was loving the life coaching concepts. More importantly, she's taking them and making them her own.

However, she was facing a bit of a challenge.

Her husband is wrapping up an advanced degree. They are getting ready to move. They've sold their house but they haven't found a new one yet. As a result, every aspect of their life just feels up the in the air. She's working with a few clients but to her point... her life just isn't allowing for a lot of practice with life coaching clients right now.

So coming into this conversation, she was frustrated... thinking that she couldn't move forward. To her own admission, she felt stuck.

I listened for a bit and then I think I surprised her with a story.

I told her that back in college, I was really into Tae Kwon Do. I told her that I took classes from a older man who had received all of his training in Korea. We briefly talked about what the classes were like. Then I explained that at the higher belt levels, we would engage in full-contact sparring. I smiled as I recounted some of the war stories and the bruises from that season of kicks, punches and acting like action movie stars (or that's at least how I remember it!).

I'll admit that this little story seemed like a tangent until I brought it back to her situation.

I explained that even though I wasn't great at it, I loved full-contact sparing. It was quick. It was demanding. Things happened so fast that you had to apply what you had learned and adapt quickly.

Then I said, "Full-contact sparring is a lot like life coaching. You bring knowledge, strategies and techniques to both, but when it's time to spar or life coach... you have to let go and allow instinct to take over."

But then I shared a little bit of my Tae Kwon Do instructor's teaching strategy that I thought would also apply to my budding life coach's life.

I said, "There are ways to prepare for full-contact sparring that can help you with your life coaching practice... even though you can't work with a lot of clients right now." She didn't even try to mask the surprise in her voice as she said, "Really... how?"

I explained that one of the strategies that our teacher used to get us ready for sparring was that he would have us visualize a sparring situation. He would have us think through our reaction if someone went to punch us in a certain way. Then he would push us to envision a specific block for an imaginary opponent's kick.

He told us that the more detailed we could be in our mind's eye, the more it would help us. Sometimes we would take 5 minutes to do this kind of exercise in class but he would also encourage us to do this for longer blocks of time outside of class.

Specific kick... specific block. Specific punch... specific block. Sneaky kick... creative block. Surprise grab... quick response. All of this... in our imagination.

Then I asked the new coach, "How could you apply this to practicing for a coaching conversation?"

She said, "Well, I guess I could think about a specific client. I could imagine some of the things that they are up against or some of the decisions they are struggling with. Then I could come up with some questions that I would want to ask someone like that."

I said, "Good" but I held off on the temptation to try to sound like Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid. Then I asked, "What else?"

She replied, "Hmm. Maybe I could even come up with ideas for what they might say in response to my questions. And then I could come up with follow up questions based on that." Then she said, "I guess I would be sparring mentally... kind of like you did. Only I'd be using questions instead of punches."

I agreed as a big grin came across my face.

She continued, "This is great because I've got a lot of time in my car right now. So I could just be running these exercises in my head all the time. I may not have a lot of time to work with actual life coaching clients right now, but with this strategy, I could keep practicing."

Just so she felt really good about this, I went on to explain that in business, they also call this type of exercise "Scenario Planning." This is when entire teams of people are brought in to think about how an emergency or a specific problem could arise and then they put a plan together to address it. In fact, I have a friend who is a high-level executive with a regional power company. His company goes as far as to have the entire leadership team assemble and then they are given a crisis on the spot. Next, everyone has to scramble and address the emergency as if it has really happened. They may spend two full days dealing with the problems that could arise as if they might actually happen. This may seem like a lot of unnecessary stress or work, but this company (and many others) see the value in preparing for situations like this... through practice.

Now, should "mental sparring" or "scenario planning" take the place of working with real life coaching clients? Nope. That wouldn't work in Tae Kwon Do and it wouldn't work in life coach training.

So, I'm not saying that at all.

But this type of exercise can certainly help anyone stay sharp and come up with new ideas... whether you're a new or an experienced life coach.

Plus, for situations like our coaching student... who is experiencing a crazy season in her life when she can't always practice with a real client... this provided a solution that allowed her to "feel unstuck" and continue to move forward in her training.

So here are some specific steps for what we'll call "Mental Coaching"

Decide on a client (you can either make up a profile in your mind or use a specific person from your life)

Imagine that they are coming to you with a specific challenge or more general problem

Practice coming up with a set of questions you would want to ask them to start the conversation

Then imagine them responding in a specific way to one of your questions.

Based on their response... come up with a few more questions that you would want to ask them either to clarify their response or help them move forward

Continue on in this process

You may also find it helpful to create a flowchart of the conversation so you can keep track of your questions and their imagined responses. (this will also help you to record some of the powerful life coaching questions you develop as you walk this out)

To summarize, there is nothing better than working with an actual life coaching client to develop your skills as an elite life coach. However, there can be times when it would be helpful to be able to practice even though it's not possible to work with a person.

In this case, you can take a lesson from my old Tae Kwon Do instructor.

Don't waste those moments. Use them. "Mentally coach" someone and just see where it takes you!

If you have thought about becoming a life coach but you are still wondering if launching a coaching business is right for you... we invite you to also join us for our FREE mini-course called "The Five Critical Questions Everyone Should Ask Before Launching a Coaching Practice by visiting: .