What is Life Coaching?

The stakes that landscapers use for newly planted trees provide a great metaphor for coaching.  These stakes are there to support the tree so it can thrive and grow, and after a while they are removed.  Similarly, coaches come alongside people in times of growth, change, or hardship in order to support and encourage them for a time.


The tree is naturally talented at growing deep roots, growing taller toward the sky, and branching out and bearing fruit.  The stakes don’t do this for it, or necessarily tell it how to do this.  They simply help it do what it does best.  The stakes support the tree when its newly planted and experiencing weakness, so that the tree is protected and strengthened during change.  They guide the tree through a time of rapid growth.  And they are a terrific support if there is strong wind or a storm.  With the stakes, the tree has a greater chance of becoming more strongly rooted and achieving growth in the right direction for a successful future.

Like stakes for a tree, a coach comes alongside the client in order to help them grow and reach their goals.  Coaching is a relationship that is for the client, while there is also reciprocity as both people agree to fill different roles.  The coach is responsive to the client’s needs and goals, providing support such as listening, feedback, individualized assignments, accountability, encouragement, and celebration of accomplishments.  The client takes responsibility to complete assignments between conversations as s/he makes choices and takes action to reach her or his life goals.

The coaching relationship can be compared to the stakes supporting the tree:

  • Coaching provides support during times of growth, change, and hardship or stress.
  • Clients are not dependent on their coach.  Clients are the ones making choices and living out their decisions.  The coach supports with listening, encouragement, and accountability.
  • The coach can provide guidance and stability so clients can more fully achieve their goals and grow in their strengths. As a coach, I might help clients be more grounded in their relationship with Christ (like roots), or grow and accomplish more than they would on their own (a tree reaching skyward).
  • A coach can be the perfect source of help as a client improves areas of weakness or through a vulnerable season of life.  We weren’t created to do life alone, and this is especially true during difficult times!
  • After a while, when goals are reached or a season is over, coaching isn’t needed and we celebrate successes.  The tree doesn’t need the stakes forever!

Does this sound like it would encourage you where you are in your journey? Or do you have more questions? If so, please write me a note! I am glad to hear from you, and will respond as soon as I can.

Kathryn Featherstone is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a board-certified Christian Life Coach. She’d like to encourage you in your journey! Write her a note or see her Coaching page.

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