You can’t fulfill your potential and calling without guides to move you forward.
You need others to help you move forward in life, but how do you know who the right person is to invest in your life?
One of my favorite Proverbs is “plans fail for a lack of counsel, but with many advisors, they succeed.” Collecting and engaging reliable voices in your life will be a huge predictor of your life’s wholeness.
I’m a firm believer that if you’re a leader, committed to wholeness, you need each of these 3 guides to help you work through your past, pay attention to your present, and move forward to design the future.
As a certified coach, I’m often asked about how coaching is different from other types of mentors or “guides”. Because of the popularization of coaching in the last decade, there’s a lot of confusion about what makes coaching different and what makes a coach qualified.
Here are the over-simplified, not comprehensive distinctions between the 3 approaches:
THERAPIST: past focus
Therapy is a healing science, focused on the past. A great therapist knows how to help you heal from family of origin wounds, trauma, process past hurts, and know yourself better in light of your past experiences. I’m a huge fan of therapy. I’ve personally had about a half dozen periods of time in my life where I’ve utilized a trained therapist for my specific issues. Every member of my family has been to counseling (even my 7 year old!). The healthiest of leaders I know are people who’ve spent significant time in a counselor’s office. I consider this healing discipline a requirement for healthy, whole life and leadership.
SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR: present focus
Spiritual Direction is a mystical practice, focused on the present moment. A spiritual director is someone who helps you hear the voice of God in your life right now. A fantastic spiritual director has discernment and often prophetic gifts that can help you tap into the mystical nature of God. Direction offers you the opportunity to open yourself up to a deepening relationship with the Divine. I’ve had the same spiritual director for over 15 years. Brian and I haven’t made a major life decision without asking her to help us hear from God well. I’ve utilized another spiritual director this last year as I needed to know where the Spirit was in the midst of some confusion and pain. Spiritual Direction is a beautiful and powerful practice. “Be here now” is a great mantra for a spiritual director.
COACH: future focus
A coach is a behavioral science, focused on the future. Coaching applies the art and science of transformation for how a person wants to move forward in their life. A trained coach is intuitive enough to know people are complex, thus coaching is an artful process. However, they are also skilled in how people change on a neurological and behavioral level. Coaching is rooted in behavioral science. It’s mandate-based, action-oriented, and results-focused. A coach’s job is to see how people relate to the future and to use that as leverage for the present.
It’s preferred when we have access to all three modalities of transformation. When I’m coaching someone I will often recommend using a therapist or spiritual director in partnership with coaching. Since they each focus on different aspects of transformation, each of them offers a unique perspective and approach. There are different periods of life when each modality is necessary and needs to be a priority.
However, just as you would never go to a therapist who’s not trained and certified, I strongly encourage you ONLY to work with a trained and certified spiritual director and coach.
I’m not a certified therapist or spiritual director, so I personally don’t offer this kind of transformational work. However, we do have trained and certified spiritual directors at Ezer + Co. who are excellent!
I am a certified coach and, because coaching has changed my life, I love providing this space for others. It’s so empowering when we’re able to achieve our goals and move from here to there.
FAIR WARNING: There are a lot of “coaches” these days. The majority of those who provide coaching offer reactive, advice-giving-based solutions. That approach has its benefits, but it’s not coaching. They’ve positioned themselves as the expert with the answers for your life. Since coaching is a developmental science, be sure to get a coach who practices the art and science of results-based coaching. Before you jump into a coaching relationship, ask about their training and ongoing coaching development. Not all coaches are the same.