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7 Day Challenge to Become a Better Life Coach

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As a life coach, you want to constantly practise the CANI principle. CANI, which comes from the Japanese word Kaizen, stands for Constant and Never-ending Improvement.

But CANI is so much more than just a principle – it is a lifestyle. It takes discipline and dedication.

Make a conscious decision to practise your daily CANI – because once you do that, you give your clients a precious gift.

Here’s a 7 day challenge to take your client’s coaching experience to a new level:

Day 1: Start from a clean slate

This means you practise hearing out your client with zero bias, judgement, or previously set beliefs. You are open to new perspectives.

For example, there will be times when your client talks a lot. You might notice a lot of language around:

– Then she said…

– Then I did…

– So what happened next…

That’s OK. Your job is to stay in a judgement-free zone and tell them: “Coaching is like a conversation you have never had before. So when I have understood the background story, is it okay for me to interrupt you? This is not to be rude, it is because I want to make the best use of our time we have together.”

That way, you do not get stuck at what happened in the past and have a chance to go at a deeper level and explore things from a new perspective. You are 100% focused on the client and ask for permission to keep moving in a direction as the conversation goes deeper.

Day 2: Aim for permanent changes, not just temporary ones

Your goal is to bring a lasting change in your client. This requires going beyond a superficial level of conversation and taking it deeper toward exploring your client’s real motivations, beliefs and drives.

For a lasting change to happen, allow the client to come to their own realisations. You can share your insights, but don’t be in a rush to do so until the client has a chance to arrive at it on their own.

In essence, you are acting as a facilitator. Rather than spelling everything out for them, you:

– See beyond the current challenge to further possibilities

– Demonstrate genuine delight in not knowing all the answers

– Facilitate out-of-the-box thinking

– Promote experimentation and innovative new choices

ICG has researched and developed coaching core competencies to facilitate your understanding and practice in coaching. Learn more about “Inspires learning and growth” (and other competencies) here.

Day 3: Build rapport and trust with your client

During a coaching session, your client will go through several ups and downs, roundabouts, confusions and celebrations. This is when they need your validation, support and trust the most.

Avoid using words such as “but” or “however” when you want to validate your client. Use acknowledgement to build trust. For example, you can say:

“I want to acknowledge you, Susan, for your willingness to have a go at this, despite it being a challenge. Good job!”

When you notice a pattern of non-awareness, secondary gain or fear-based beliefs in your client, you make a note of it and weave in the possible solutions for future sessions.

Similarly, when they experience a breakthrough, acknowledge and celebrate with them. Champion them. Because you play the role of their biggest cheerleader.

Clients open up and trust you even more when you adopt the above approach to coaching.

ICG Associate and Recognised members can utilise the upcoming ICG professional development series of classes on “Relationships with Self, Others, and Business” by Melissa Adeson to get mentoring and feedback on this core competency.

Day 4: Be truly on your client’s side

Your role as a coach is to identify your client’s map, the story they tell themselves, patterns of behaviour, choices and non-choices.

Because your conversation with your client is stimulating, uplifting and gives them a sense of direction, your client won’t remember the self-conversation they were having before the session started.

Another idea is to be accessible at an extra request via a phone call or email when your client needs a few minutes of your time, simply because you care.

Day 5: Ask open-ended questions and wait for answers

Let’s face it – your client will not always make “sense”. That’s okay, because especially in early days of coaching they are searching for clarity.

To become a better coach, your job is to tell them that they are doing well and help them navigate new pathways ahead.

One of the many ways to do this is by being present and asking open-ended questions. Avoid closed questions as much as possible.

Why? Because closed questions (or questions starting with “Why”) don’t leave much room for exploration, except for times when you are clarifying what you heard to be on the same page.

By asking open-ended questions (such as “How can we…”), you get out of your client’s way and make the process more effective to bring about change.

Great questioning means the person doesn’t feel defensive, attacked or picked.

Day 6: Dig deeper

A lot of the times, the first issue the client brings to the session is not the real problem.

To gain awareness of what’s really happening for them, your challenge is to develop rapport, listen generously without judgement and assumptions, look for patterns and meaning, and always stay curious.

Day 7: Invest in your own personal and professional development

As a serious coach, you want to keep learning about self and human behaviour. You are committed to CANI, in terms of both personal and professional development.

Coaches who are serious about their growth participate in regular trainings to advance their knowledge and experience in the profession. They are at the top of the game.

Here are the overarching ICG coaching core competency categories to focus on for your own CANI:

– Self-Management

– Relationship Management

– Communication Skills

– Technical Coaching Skills

– Facilitating Progress

For further support in advancing your coaching expertise and career, find out what it means to become an ICG Associate or Recognised Member here.

Gaining ICG Recognition distinguishes you in the coaching market and aligns you with the highest benchmark of coaching excellence currently available in the industry.

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