Robert Seidenspinner’s new job: Life coach in Pleasant Hill, California.
His old job: Building manager for several office buildings.
How long it took to make the move: Roughly eight years. Seidenspinner holds two life coach certifications: Certified Professional Co-Active Life Coach (CPCC) and Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Seidenspinner was considering becoming a therapist or a minister when the woman he would later marry asked if he knew anything about life coaching. He took his first life coach training course in 2004, completed his basic training in about 18 months, and qualified for life coach certification nine months later. Seidenspinner took weekend coaching courses, Friday to Sunday, using vacation days to take Fridays off from his day job. “I did my training in bits and pieces, which softened the impact,” he says. He continued to work at his day job for eight years while he coached clients part-time, finally becoming a full-time coach in April 2012.
How’s he doing? Though he admits, “I was afraid to go into business for myself,” Seidenspinner delights in how fulfilling it is to be paid for something that comes naturally to him. The coach training enhanced his ability to be really curious and give the client his full attention. “I’ve long been the ‘go-to’ guy, the person people come to with their problems. Coaching comes from my heart, and I’ve always wanted my work to be about helping others,” he says. After coaching full-time for only four months, he’s still supplementing his income with his savings until his coaching business becomes better established. Seidenspinner projects that his business will fully support him by the end of 2012, and that within two years he’ll be putting money back into his savings.
How much it cost: Seidenspinner estimates that his life coach training cost $20,000. He used savings to help pay for his courses.
Critical skills: Life coaches must be excellent listeners. But they must also be adept “self-managers,” says Seidenspinner. This means mastering the art of dropping your judgments. “My job is to help the client find balance. It’s also to help the client fulfill whatever is most important to him or her,” says Seidenspinner. “It’s not about knowing what’s ‘right’ for a client or about ‘fixing’ him or her.”
How does he grow his business? “You have to be visible,” says Seidenspinner. “That means networking with other coaches and business associates.” He also trains, teaches and speaks at local community venues, saying yes to any opportunity to speak on coaching topics. “My coaching business has grown fairly easily,” says Seidenspinner.
Best advice: Do your homework, says Seidenspinner. By homework, he means that before you can coach others, you have to know yourself pretty thoroughly, a process that coach training will enhance. “You have to trust the life coaching process—and yourself.”
What he’s learned: The importance of connection with others. “Connection is so important. Through coaching, I’ve discovered that there’s often a parallel process: A client may tell me he or she wants to work on a particular issue—and I discover that’s an issue I want to work on for myself.” Coaching is a co-active model, he says. “When the client is successful, it’s because of our work together—not because of something ‘Rob told me to do,’” says Seidenspinner.
Hidden dangers: “The whole life coaching process is about not giving advice, and it’s hard to learn how not to do that,” he says. Being afraid to make your own mistakes is another hidden danger, he notes, because you’re often worried about saying the wrong thing. That’s where trusting the training and the coaching process comes in, says Seidenspinner.
“As a coach, I consider that the client is the expert in her own life. I value the stance that coaching takes: ‘You are responsible for your life and for learning.’ I will help and witness your progress, but you are in charge of the direction and results. When I’m worried about giving advice to a client, I don’t. Instead, I’m really curious, ask powerful open-ended questions, and then I ‘request’ an action for the client to work on between sessions,” explains Seidenspinner.
Biggest surprise: “My biggest surprise was how much I felt at home once I made the decision to become a coach. I didn’t have any doubts once I left office building management. It’s really true—all the things I believed about reaching and following my passion—I really can do it. Wow!,” says Seidenspinner.
For information about becoming a life coach, visit http://www.coachfederation.org. For information about coaching with Rob, visit http://www.unitycenter.net/newthoughtlifecoaching/id69.html.