What Is A Life Coach?

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Tony Robbins created the “Life Coaching Industry;” and I was right by his side the moment it happened. 

In case you don’t know who Tony Robbins is, he is a world-renowned peak performance strategist, and I was his #1 corporate trainer and record-breaking producer.

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It was circa the 90’s. We were on a yacht off the coast of San Diego having a party. Our team was on board, along with an assemblage of artists and entertainers. I don’t remember them all a band, a graphologist (someone who studies handwriting to understand one's personality), a gypsy palm reader, and other fascinating peeps that I have a vague recollection of. 

But there’s one thing that stands out crystal clear about that auspicious day…

My conversation with Tony. 

He turned to me, and said, “We’re gonna launch a “Life Coaching” division and I want YOU to lead the sales.”

I remember being confused. I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Life Coach” I thought? What’s that?

The first image that came to mind was a football coach on the side-lines coaching a player to achieve higher levels of greatness.

I had no “internal representation” for what he meant by "life coach" (btw, an “internal representation” is an NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) term. It means the structure of our internal experience. In other words: the pictures, sounds, feelings, smells, tastes, and internal dialogue in our mind.

A real life coach is a master at eliciting their clients “internal representations” and guiding them to change these “internal representations” at will — to change their focus, feelings, actions and ultimately, their results. Think of transforming doubt into confidence; fear into fuel; confusion into clarity; stuff like that). 

“Life Coaching” was a new concept.

I asked him, “What’s a life coach? What do you mean by ‘life coaching?’”

Life Coach Defined

He said, “you know how world-class athletes have a coach; and they wouldn’t even think of training without one because their coach works closely with them to reach their highest level performance?” 

I was like, “yay.” 

“Well,” he said, “it’s kinda’ like that!

The difference is instead of the coach working with an athlete to reach high levels of performance in their sport, our coaches will work with people on their mindset and strategies to achieve their goals and dreams in their life! EVERY area of their life! Their business success, physical body, relationships, parenting, basically whatever is important to them, our coaches will guide them to bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to be.” 

I began tuning in to the vision.

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He said, “you know how a lot of people go to our events, get fired up, but then go back to their old environment, and sometimes go back to their old habits? That’s not gonna happen anymore because they’ll have a Life Coach assigned to them for at least 90 days, to map out their action plan and hold them accountable.”

I thought it was brilliant. I just had a zillion questions: 

“Who are these coaches?”
“What’s their background?”
“How are they trained?”
“What qualifies them?”
“What if the client has mental health conditions?”
“How much will it cost?” 
“What’s the structure of this Life Coaching program?”
“How will we ensure these Life Coaches operate at the highest standards of excellence?”
“What if we sell more coaching than we have qualified coaches to deliver, then what?”

My questions went on and on….

I was excited about the opportunity. I remember thinking, this makes total sense! But frankly, deep down I was concerned about turning over my clients to “new coaches” that I hadn’t vetted. 

I felt excited and anxious at the same time. 

See I was on the front line. I was the first point of contact with new customers who put their trust in me, and I took this to heart. It wasn’t just my job it was my devotion, my purpose, my mission, my spiritual practice.

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Fast forward to now…

The Life Coaching Industry

According to CNBC, the Coaching Business is a $2.85 Billion dollar a year industry, with around 5.5% growth year after year. 

The challenge with the industry is that the barrier of entry is ridiculously low. 

Any aspiring person can go through an “online 7-day certification program” and then slap the “Life Coach” label on themselves. 

The other day a major Influencer sent an email that my team forwarded to me, and I almost fell off my chair.

The message basically said, “Are you stuck in a rut? Are you tired of your job? Do you want a new career path? The coaching business is thriving and you can become a Life Coach by going through our training program.”

I rarely see red-alert. But I was like, “What the #!@&%!!?” This is crazy!

How in the world can you ask someone “if they’re stuck in a rut,” then position the solution as them becoming a “Life Coach” that guides others to strategize and create their life by design?!!!

Hello?! Isn’t it common sense that this is a bad idea?

My inner voice was saying, “Calm down. Inhale. Exhale. Zero judgement. Transcend.”🙏🏼

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I’ll admit it’s a pet peeve to see Influencer marketers telling people who don't have a clear vision and strategy for their own lives that they can become a “Certified Life Coach” who guides others on their life path.

Do you know what I’m talking about? 

Marketers who run campaigns (spending millions of dollars on ads) to capture the attention of well-meaning people with an unclear life’s purpose, then feed on it by selling them a “coaching certification program” with generic templates and videos that do NOT prepare them for the infinite array of scenarios that come up in a real life coaching dynamic. 

A client may go to a life coach because they want to achieve a big goal. Well that’s great. But what if that client all of a sudden spirals into a dark depressive state, or rage anger, or their kid is suicidal, then what?  You can’t turn to the table of contents in your workbook to try to discern which protocol to use.

Now I understand the ol’ adage: “we teach what we need to learn most.” But let’s not put the cart before the horse. This is the epitome of the blind leading the blind.

Tell me if you agree, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Essential Qualifications of a Real Life Coach


I believe that it’s essential for a life coach to have a track-record of success and fulfillment in the area that they are coaching. What do you think? Do you agree?

That's why I prefer the term "Results Coach."

You wouldn’t go to an obese person and ask them to coach you on fitness, would you? 

You wouldn’t go to a broke person and ask them to help you with your financials? That’s not smart.

Now don’t get me wrong, a coach doesn’t need to be “better” than the person they’re coaching. 

Sirena William’s coach doesn’t play tennis better than she does. But, he has developed the sensory acuity (powers of heightened awareness) to notice the subtle distinctions that others miss, and mindset and skill to effectively coach a superstar to new stellar RESULTS.

Just because someone is an “Instagram Influencer'' does not qualify them to be a life coach!

Unless they’re coaching people on growing their Instagram following, or they’re coaching in a specific context where they’ve achieved consistent, outstanding results over time, as well as successfully guided others in this area too.

Similarly, just because your friends come to you for advice does not mean you’re qualified to coach them. There’s a big difference between advice and coaching.

Now I understand that we all have to start somewhere. Hey listen, I’ve been in the coaching industry since its origin. I wasn’t qualified right out of the gate. It took years of devoted study and practice to awaken my mind and develop my coaching skills to a level of mastery.

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That’s why I love coaching genuine aspiring life coaches who are committed to develop their skills to a level of mastery in service to their clients and our world.

I actually created an advanced Transformational Coach Program in response to this obvious need for real hand-on training for aspiring coaches; and there’s prerequisites to it, including my two signature courses: SIIA & NeoGenesis. Btw, NeoGenesis (we call it NEO within our community) is coming up, and it only happens once a year.

In my decades-worth of experience, I’ll share that, becoming a real Results Coach requires immense study, practice, commitment, and mentorship with a seasoned Master Mentor — one who has “been there” and has a genuine interest in YOU and your development. A confidant. This is the only real fast track.

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Remember, it’s a journey to mastery.

Like all epic hero’s journeys, the hero (which is you) feels a calling to a higher level of being and adventure, but finds him/herself struggling with immense challenges. 

The moment of BREAKTHROUGH always comes when the hero meets the mentor.

This
archetypal story fuels our existence, which is why it’s the framework of every stellar movie.

It’s a sacred relationship...

Luke Skywalker has Yoda: “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”

Cinderella has her Fairy Godmother: “Even miracles take a little time.”

King Arthur has Merlin: “This is your moment. Believe in yourself.”

You, dear One, have me, if you choose: “You have a unique gift. There’s no one like you.”

Bottom Line: The Hero needs the Mentor to cross the threshold and become all that he or she is destined to become.

This is not a surface-level relationship where you just pay a fee and get a product/service among a sea of other people. It’s infinitely deeper. It has heart.

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A real mentor sees who you really are. They love you. All of you. Even the parts that you haven’t loved yourself. They are devoted to you.

They see beyond the discordant crap that mires your thoughts. They see beyond your past. They see you with a pure heart and an enlightened mind. In their clear, present reflection, all that is not you (like, irrational fears, self-doubt, insecurities, etc.) dissolve, and you are called to rise to the heights of your grand destiny. 

Your grand destiny may be to become a “Life Coach” or it may be something totally different. Something unique to you! Something special that perhaps you haven’t even discovered yet, that ONLY YOU can bring into our world. 

The Bhagavad Gita says, "It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else's life with perfection." 

Have you heard of “Imposter Syndrome?” The term's gone viral! 

The other day my dear friend, who’s a Hollywood Producer, called me up and said, “you really should address “imposter syndrome. I was at a Clubhouse event and the room was on fire talking about it. Even the coaches leading the event were talking about how they have “imposter syndrome.”

Briefly, there’s a few reasons why “imposter syndrome” shows up, and it’s important to transcend this notion BEFORE you can effectively coach someone.

One of the reasons is perhaps they have not yet studied and practiced to the degree of integrating the mindset and skills required to perform at a level of excellence.

Or perhaps, subconsciously there’s an underlying feeling of “not being good enough.” This subconscious limiting belief is usually imprinted in the early stages of childhood.

The challenge is that the subconscious mind works on the process of deductive reasoning and when a distorted belief is imprinted (such as “I’m ugly; I’m stupid; I’m shy; I’m scared; I’m not enough”), then the subconscious mind finds that which is in alignment with those false beliefs, i.e., a root-cause of “imposter syndrome.”

Bottom Line: a "coach" is NOT qualified to coach someone (at that moment) if they're feeling “imposter syndrome” or “not good enough.”

A real Results Coach can guide you to rapidly BREAK FREE of these shackles!

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If you’ve been feeling that way, in the past, because this is a brand new moment, it’s okay. Don’t dwell on it or feel bad about it. Know that you are loved, accepted and supported exactly as you are right now. You are a marvel. 

Those discordant feelings are NOT who you really are. It simply means you have deep inner work to do BEFORE you can coach someone else.

Once you do your inner work you are on the journey to mastery. Your own internal process will begin to season you. I’m here to support you every step of the way with love and respect. 

Would you like to discover more? Would you like me to coach you? 

If so, I have a special invitation for you. My hands-on advanced transformational course NeoGenesis (NEO) is coming up.

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In Greek the word “NEO” means new. “Genesis” means beginning. 

This is a 4-day transformational experience that will empower you to be LIBERATED of doubts and fears. 

NEO guides you to release the root of whatever’s blocked you up until now.

At NEO, I’ll guide you to align your mindset with your Highest Self, so you consciously take inspired action and create the life of your hearts dreaming. Then you will be on your journey to mastery. 

If you want me to coach you, then come to NEO. 

My team is also available to answer your questions regarding NEO. Just email my amazing team at info@niurkainc.com 

Until then, know that you are always in my heart. I see you. I love you. 

Here’s to the fulfillment of your dreams, and with Love,

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5 Comments on “What Is A Life Coach?”

  1. Wonderful blog! I love how you enlighten the difference in professionals, or so called professionals, so that you can get the best results at a level of excellence. So thankful for you and thankful that you have been chosen to provide this care to our community at such a high level.

  2. Very eye opening blog. Thank you for sharing your insight on the ongoing “life coach” industry. It is great to hear the point of view from someone that has so much experience in the field!

  3. Thank you for sharing this important message. It’s so hopeful and inspiring! We can overcome these barriers with hard work. Thank you for the important work you are doing!

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