With the proliferation of executive, spiritual and life coaches and the coaching industry in general, I often wonder when it all started - the concept of coaching.

There sure are a lot of coaches out there to select from and once we’ve decided to embark on a coaching journey, it can be challenging to decide who we should choose to be our guide.

What criteria do we use when evaluating a coach’s ability to help nurture us through this rite of passage from a life of unconscious existence into a re-arranged and authentic life?

Should clients consider hiring coaches whose lives look perfect and constrained on the outside or is certification from an accredited school the criteria that really matters?

Should potential clients select a coach due to a referral from a colleague or do they select someone who, like the proverbial phoenix, has been decimated from hard times yet rises up again?

The lotus flower and the phoenix bird are powerful symbols of resurrection through hardships artfully developing resilience as they rise again – stronger, wiser, and more compassionate than before. A coach’s hardships, lessons learned and resiliency are their greatest and most worthy credentials.

Just as there are some doctors who are more skilled than others in spite of identical training, so it is with coaches. A skilled coach is like a tincture of gypsum that breaks up the old, stagnant, and toughened clay before planting delicate seeds and later serves as a mulch of new tools protecting and nurturing their client’s tender shoots of strength, authenticity and perspective.

When evaluating a life coach, consider which one might ask us tough questions in the context of getting past our blind spots. In the spectrum of coaching choices, which coach is more likely to have a profound impact on our life?

Which coach may be afraid of offending us and therefore may let us slip by because they are invested in us liking them. And which coach has mastered the finer qualities of intuition, strength, and active listening?

Which coach skillfully weaves a tapestry of safety so we can be the most transparent – allowing our true self to emerge fully rooted and which coach would we be trying to impress as we hide our deepest fears, dreams, and weaknesses from them – entrenched in our makeshift image?

Coaches don’t have to lead perfect lives to be highly skilled in this craft, just as some good doctors don’t have the healthiest of lifestyles or habits yet they exercise the best of care for their patients. Similarly, therapists don’t counsel themselves and often have their own therapist, doctors don’t operate on family members and lawyers rarely represent themselves.

Great coaches though, do need to be professionals who are comfortable living within ambiguous contexts instead of pigeon holing their clients or trying to “fix them” and they must have the ability to listen exceptionally well and hear what is not being said – those deafened or noisy, tense areas that keep us looping in unconscious behavior.

Which coach will cultivate our feelings of strength allowing us to access new skills during those times in our lives that evoke our strongest fears and trigger over-used, outdated and destructive habits?

The best coaches are compassionate yet fierce, adept at seeing larger or different perspectives, insightful and forthright and have a great deal of intuition and compassion. These skills can’t be taught in school but they can be honed and developed through awareness.

Great coaches believe their clients are “naturally creative resourceful and whole” even in the midst of struggle, grief, hardship, disappointment, loss, and the tumult of change. They learn to encourage the process allowing it to develop on its own time instead of forcing a premature solution.

Which coach will help you let go of your dependence on what is familiar and move past your resistance into a new direction? Which coach will be side by side with you as you shed light on the areas in your life you haven’t been able to face before?

I wonder, which airline first announced that in the case of a loss of cabin air pressure passengers should first put on their own oxygen mask before attempting to help their children or other travelers. Was the airlines policy of “putting on your own oxygen mask first” a twinkle in the coaching profession’s eye or was it some other seemingly innocuous event that triggered this line of work?

“Putting on your own oxygen mask first” has profound implications for us all. I don’t know which airline first taught this valuable life skill, but I wonder if they realized how profound this instruction is to the quality of our lives and safety on the ground as well as in the air.

“Putting on our own oxygen mask first” is a learned skill that is developed during the coaching dynamic. We take care of ourselves first by becoming a clear channel before we are capable of truly caring for, loving, and working well with and serving others.

Clean clear oxygen is intoxicating. So is the coaching dynamic and living an inspired life free from habitual patterns.

May your life be invigorating and may you become clear enough to see all the serendipitous occurrences happening all around you ~ all the time.

Author's Bio: 

Stacy Kamala Waltman has been a devotee of Swami Satchidananda’s for over 25 years. She is a certified yoga instructor and a professionally trained Life Coach. Her website is: www.integrationcoaching.com. Please contact her at ic@integrationcoaching.com.