How to Tell if a Life Coach is Good

Coaching is a booming industry with a low bar of entry. The great part is that many wonderful people can become coaches pretty easily and start impacting lives immediately. It’s fantastic because it helps a lot of people awaken and embrace new realities. You don’t have to walk down the path your dad did. Or you don’t have to work in the same industry as your best friend.

The flip side is (at best) wading through a lot of well-meaning people without a lot of experience or training, or (at worst) people taking advantage of those in vulnerable moments.

So, how can you tell the difference?

Here are some tips for choosing a good coach (whether it’s a life, business, career or other kind of coach):

Do They Ask You Questions? You hire a coach to talk about yourself. That’s really the bottom line. It’s an opportunity to shed some light on your job, maybe your relationships, what you want more of - all leading to the outcome you’ve hired them to achieve.

So, are they asking questions to get closer to those answers?

Are they curious about your life? Your dreams? Your stress about a lack of dreams? The reasons why you want certain things, or believe certain things are true or not true for you.

Some coaches are so excited about being coaches and truly want the best for you, and that’s wonderful. Excitement is contagious and I wouldn’t recommend working with someone who seemed jaded. But there’s a difference between a coach who loves their job and a coach who excitedly talks mostly about their own story, expecting you to connect the dots and draw the parallels to your own life. That might be great teaching, and it’s always great to know coaches practice what they preach, but it’s definitely not the same as coaching.

Count the “I” Statements. Personal anecdotes can be powerful. When you’re going through a hard time, sometimes there is nothing more reassuring than hearing how someone else got through a similar situation as you and knowing that you’re not alone.

However, a coach’s job is not simply to talk about how they made it through a similar scenario. Your coach is responsible for looking at your individual situation and creating the best path toward your individual goals, the outcomes that you want to see come to fruition.

This may be different from your coaches goals.

Or they might be the same as your coaches goals, but you require a different path to get to the same place. It helps if your coach can allow for the possibility of something other than what they did.

Do You Trust Them? Is this a person that you want to confide in to? Trust? Check in with over several months? Be vulnerable with? Do they make you feel seen and heard? No, they should not be worried about being your best friend. You hired them for a specific reason and it’s their job to deliver.

Charming is great, but do you believe them? If not, find someone else. There are plenty of coaches out there who can help you get what you want. Not every person is meant to work with every person. Do you believe this person will help you get what you want?

What To Look For: The truth is a great coach is just someone who has led people down the path you want to walk. They’ve gotten people the results you want. They know that people have similar struggles, but sometimes need different approaches to get them motivated and taking action. So can they take your particular situation and create a path to success that might be challenging, but is reasonable for you?

The truth is, ultimately, you are the person who will determine success or failure in your own life. It’s up to you to make changes and do things differently if you want different results. But the point of hiring a coach is to guide, specify, and limit your actions to those they know will be beneficial. You’ve already done the guesswork, spiraled into panic, and run into walls.

Of course you did. That’s how you know it’s time to hire a coach.

Your coach's job is to make things easier. Their job is to show you the path. It’s your job to walk down it (sadly, no one can do that but you). But it is their job to hand you a map, circle “You Are Here”, and show you the fastest route to from Point A to B.