What is life coaching?


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Rodney Merrill coaching online. Most coaching is done online or by phone these days.


Life coaching is one of the newest and fastest growing human development professions today. And for many everyday issues, it is very powerful. More to the point, it can help you enjoy a better quality of life, a stronger sense of direction and more control. 

Unskilled Coaching

Beware! A lot of people are calling themselves life coaches and all they are doing is offering their personal beliefs and opinions on how your life ought to be and what you ought to do to get it that way. That is emphatically not life coaching. These self-appointed experts used to called themselves personal advisors but have now latched on the the life coach title because there is nothing to prevent them from doing so.

Coaching organizations are currently working out quality standards for life coaching so that clients can be assured they are getting more than someone’s beliefs and opinions. Standards also assure that methods used can realistically achieve results.

Professional Coaching

Life coaching is the professional application of the principles of positive psychology and coaching psychology to achievements in everyday life rather than sports. As in sports, there are goals, motivational exercises and practice. Unlike sports, the coach does not decide what you should ought to achieve. You work that out together but, in the end, the project is discovering your goals and desires and the best way to achieve them.

Good life coaching helps you become clear around what you wantwhy you want it, and how to get it.

Most of us live inside a gap. We all know it or at least sense it—that there is a disparity between what we expect and what we have, between who we want to be and who we are. In short, it is a gap between where you want to be and where you are. For some of us, that gap is so large that there isn’t any enjoyment in life.

Now, I am not talking about depression. If you are feeling bleak and suicidal, you do not need a coach. You need a psychologist, a psychiatrist, a doctor, somebody who specializes in medical depression.

Life coaching is not therapy. It is a process of dialog that opens a space for a different kind of conversation, one that is philosophical in nature but practical in outcome and one that makes a difference in life. It is about acknowledging that gap between could be and is and doing something about it.

Coaching starts from strengths and possibility rather than disease and limitations. Instead of talking about problems and why something cannot be done, we talk about what would have to be different if you could. Rather than rooting around the past, it’s about creating more powerful futures, about where do we go from here with who we are now.

Strategies and techniques

Of all the things we have learned from childhood to where we are now, most of us never learned strategies and techniques for creating the life we want. We just stumble through life, wishing and hoping that things will turn out.

Coaching is about demostrating strategies and techniques which assist you in creating what you want in life. It isn’t magic. It is about focused intention.

Life Coaching is dialog with focused intention

The premise of my coaching practice is that participants in the coaching conversation have the resources necessary to generate a future from the present rather than the past.

In future installments, I will be sharing what coaching means, how coaching works, and how coaching applies to everyday life. I hope to show that, properly grounded and properly done, life coaching it is not a goofy fringe idea but a sound practice based in research and science.

I hope you will find it interesting; but more, I hope it will contribute to your aliveness and living skills.

Rodney L. Merrill, M.P.H., Ph.D.
Tools for Brilliance, LLC

“A Coach Approach to Accelerated Personal & Professional Development”



About Rodney Merrill

Certified Life Coach with B.A. degree in Sociology, Master's in Health Education, and PhDs in Social Psychology and Applied Social Sciences. TOOLS FOR CREATIVE LIVING EDUCATION Comprehensive Coaching U Certified Comprehensive Positive Psychology Coach Erickson College 2012 Professional Coach Program Solutions-Focused Coaching Life Coach Institute 2011 Certified Life Coach Goal-setting & Self-Talk Coaching Tilburg University 2011 PhD in Applied Social Science California State University, Northridge 1989 MPH in Health education Columbia Pacific University 1983 PhD in Community Psychology Columbia Pacific University 1980 MA in Community Psychology Humboldt State University 1975 BA in Sociology Ventura College AA in Liberal Arts Lisbon Regional 1968 High School Diploma
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