A Short History of Life Coaching and Why It's Important

Updated: Apr 1, 2019

Hold on to your hats... You're in for a history lesson!

It’s hard to pinpoint when Life Coaching officially emerged, but the fundamental concepts aligned with it (self-improvement and self-development) have existed since humans have existed for the simple reason that we are insatiable.

It’s unlikely that this intrinsic thirst for progress, advancement and knowledge or the desire to understand the chaos that is the universe will ever be quenched. As Aristotle said: ‘The more you know, the more you know you don’t know!’ Without getting too political, that's got to be true, right?!

Self-help books have been around for a pretty long time for these reasons. Perhaps the Bible or even older texts could be considered the first things people went to for general advice or guidance, trying to understand the world or how to live happily. Throughout history, Religion has obviously been extremely influential in helping people self-develop and self-improve in their mind and in their spirit. Ideas and quotes from religious texts give meaning to people’s situations and direct them on how to live their lives ‘right’. The first ‘official’ (still quite religious-based) self-help book ‘Self Help’ was authored in 1859 (by the aptly named Samuel Smiles) and since the 1960s there’s been an abundance of very specific self-help books published on virtually every aspect of how to live life in the most fulfilling way- I myself have had a bookshelf full of advice on spirituality and motivation, confidence, love, diet and everything in between. I’ll go out on a limb and say I bet there are more adults these days who’ve read a self-help (shelf-help?) book of sorts, than not.

So why does it seem like everyone is just winging it?!

You’d think that with this abundance of advice and information, we’d all know exactly what to do at all times, rather than feeling like we’re massively winging it. It’s all very well and good reading about how to live a better life, self-improve and self-develop, but putting all that (very useful) information into actual practice is so not easy. Which is why Life Coaching has snowballed in popularity in recent years. It helps people to help themselves.

The reason it is called ‘coaching’ is because, in the 70s it was sports coaches, managers and trainers who began to realise that self-belief, attitude and determination of players were just as integral to their success as natural talent and technique. They noticed that to improve their game, it takes professional sportspeople more than having a coach for fitness and training, because what’s going on in their minds is so massively influential, too.

Successful multi-tasking is a myth because you end up just doing two things less well.

This makes sense, because when you have something on your mind you’re naturally less focused on whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re not 100% present. Things like what you’ve got to do later or what happened last night or your financial situation, relationships, spiritual and religious beliefs among a million other things all have a role to play on the quality of our mindset or focus. This in turn impacts on the quality of our output. Sports coaches saw that if the mind was free of other worries or concerns, focus and determination were heightened, which are prerequisites for improvement and development.

Life coaching eventually progressed to boardrooms because companies realised that their executives responded in similar ways to sportspeople. In order to achieve their full potential and make their best decisions in the office, issues outside of work need to be dealt with. Many of the world’s top companies now make Executive, Business, Management and Career Coaching accessible to all staff as part of their business culture. Government officials and top politicians have also become frequent users of coaching services.

The word inevitably spread from sportspeople and boardrooms to the rest of us. Coaching is now a multi-million pound industry, with over 100,000 coaches across the world, because everyday people want to be successful in their everyday lives, too. And rightly so! Humans want to be fulfilled in the best way we can; mind, body and spirit. Its just little things... like circumstances, situations, problems, emotions, impulses and other people that can really hinder us massively! This is why coaching is so great- it raises awareness of these things happening around us, which is half the battle of being able to press pause on life, question said situations/thoughts/feelings and understand why they are affecting us in the way that they have. This is the key to understanding the very nature of how we’re showing up in life.

Modern life is fast-paced, high-pressured and this can be overwhelming.

Which is why Life Coaching is so important for self-care for our mind and our spirit.

People routinely visit doctors, dentists, optometrists, gyms (they may even have a personal coach for fitness) and I reckon at one time or another we've all splashed out on a hairdresser or getting our nails done or any number of other treatments. This is because we want to keep ourselves healthy and take care of our bodies. So, especially in this day and age, isn't it just as important to take care of our minds?

'When mind, body and spirit are in harmony, happiness is the natural result' - Deepak Chopra

As I said, the fundamentals of Life Coaching are nothing new. That atavistic, integral human drive for self-improvement and self-development has existed since year dot. Understanding, knowledge, progression and goals are important for us to find a way to happiness because these drivers give us meaning and direction about how to live our lives in a way that's 'right', by which I mean the modern day translation: right for us. Just like the original coaches noticed: success happens when both the mind and body are aligned: what affects one, affects the other.

If you'd like to get your mind, body and spirit into alignment, get in touch: faye@moxiecoaching.co.uk