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Ask almost anyone if knowledge is power and they will answer yes—but I say knowledge is not power! People who are overweight know they need to eat healthier and exercise, but that doesn’t necessarily change their behavior. Most people understand that buying on credit can lead to drowning in interest payments, but knowing this doesn’t necessarily provide them with the power to spend wisely. Many parents are aware that hurtful words can crush their children’s spirits, but that knowledge doesn’t always empower them to make good parenting choices. Most people understand the only person’s behavior they can control is their own. Despite this, people still continue to coerce others into doing what they want them to do—an effective way to damage a relationship and create misery for everyone involved.

It’s the application of knowledge that creates power. Having the information you need does not always transform into the power of implementation. Going from knowing what to do, understanding how to do it and then actually implementing it may require a skilled life coach.

Academy of Choice coaches are uniquely trained to facilitate your progress from understanding a concept to developing the behaviors to match that concept.

Life coaches are individuals trained to help you look at your personality traits, what you want in life and your future plans to get there. In many cases, you could do it on your own, but having a coach will help you get there faster. If time is money, as the expression goes, paying for a life coach is an investment, as it will provide additional time to operate in your passion. Yes, coaching costs money, but if it can boost your progress toward success, isn’t it worth the investment?

Coaches are trained to be neutral; they do not have any investment in what you want or whether you are a success at it. That’s not their job. If you hire them to help you accomplish your goals, they will do that. If you engage in self-sabotage, drag your feet, or change your mind, it doesn’t matter to your coach. If you self-sabotage, your coach will invite you to take a look at that. If you drag your feet, your coach will hold you accountable. If you change your mind about what you want, your coach will help you develop new goals. The choice is always yours.

Life coaches provide a layer of accountability. They know what you want to accomplish, and they do not let you off the hook when you don’t accomplish your objectives. You must tell your coach what got in the way of you doing what you said. Often, hearing yourself explain will sound quite lame. Wanting to avoid experiencing that discomfort again, you will make sure you complete your commitments prior to your next meeting.

Jack Canfield wrote in The Success Principles, “Of all the things successful people do to accelerate their trip down the path to success, participating in coaching is at the top of the list. A coach will help you clarify your vision and goals, support you through your fears, keep you focused, confront your unconscious behaviors and old patterns, expect you to do your best, help you live by your values, show you how to earn more while working less and keep you focused on your core genius.”

Of course, this is what happens when you have a good coach. Some people have been so turned off to coaching because they’ve either experienced or heard horror stories about incompetent coaches. Life coaching is a relatively recent profession. Thomas Leonard started life coaching as a profession in the 1980s. In the early 1990s, he began a coaching program called Coach University. The Board Certified Coach credential initiated in 1995. There are many certifying coach programs with two main, internationally-known credentialing bodies: Board Certified Coach (BCC) through the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) and the International Coach Federation (ICF). Some certifying coach programs are approved through these two programs, while others provide their own certifications. And there are currently no known laws requiring coaches to be certified, which means anyone can just decide they are a coach and start providing services without any training or experience. This accounts for some of the disappointing experiences people have had.

To protect yourself from something like that happening to you, ask questions. Ask where your coach was certified and request a copy of their certification. Ask if their program was accredited through ICF or CCE. Peruse their website to see if there are testimonials. Ask to talk with a former client. Ask your coach about their areas of expertise. Request a 20-minute trial session to see if you think this person is a good fit for you. Discuss how you want to be coached. Verify whether the coach has a satisfaction guarantee. Getting answers to these questions won’t necessarily protect you from a negative experience, but it will reduce its likelihood.

Having a life coach is a short-term experience. The average length of service for clients is three months. “In fact,” I tell potential clients, “I guarantee if you are not significantly closer to your goals within three months, I will refund your money.” When you are motivated and inspired to change or accomplish something, it does not have to be a long, drawn out process. Good coaches will be able to sniff out when you are sabotaging yourself and call you on it. They will be able to support you when you doubt yourself. They will be able to keep you focused on the goals you set.

One of the main differences between counseling and coaching is that counseling typically focuses on the past to determine the causes of your behavior. Coaches are unconcerned about that. Coaches understand your past may very much contribute to who you are today, but discussing your past ad nauseum is not going help you accomplish your goals. Do you want to honor your past? Absolutely! It has shaped you, for better or worse. If your coach has a growth mindset, he or she will be able to help you see that your past does not define you, nor does it prevent you from doing what you want to do.

If you have a burning desire to succeed and you possess the information of how to more forward toward your goal, you have what you need to be successful. Your coach can help you determine what small, gigantic, or anything-in-between steps you can take to move you in that direction. If you don’t have a burning desire, you and your coach can explore what would be better for you. Pursuing someone else’s dream can be a horrible experience. Trying to pursue a goal you are not excited about is equally difficult. Ask yourself, if you had no financial restrictions and weren’t afraid of failing, what would you want to do? If you lack information about how to be successful, you have a little more work to do, but your coach can help you ascertain where to find the information you need.

Sometimes we don’t make progress toward our goals because we fear success, but it’s not really the success we fear, but rather what we would lose by being successful. This fear typically lurks, hidden in your subconscious where you can’t do anything about it. A good coach will help you uncover these fears so you can bring them into the light where they can be scrutinized for accuracy. My personal favorite is working with clients on the “both/and” approach, helping them find a way to have the goal they want while keeping the thing they are afraid of losing.

This has been a brief overview of what coaching can do for you. If you are interested in turning knowledge into power by doing something with it, coaching can help.

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