I was out with a few friends of mine from college last weekend, and in some cosmic coincidence, it turns out one of them has also been studying to become a life coach. We spent a good 45 minutes looking toward the future and exchanging ideas. She recommended some of her favorite resources on coaching and suggested I read a book titled Walks of Life by author and coach Jill Fratto.
I pulled the trigger and just finished reading the book last night. Having read it, all I can say is this: I’ve never been more excited to be a coach.
To state the obvious: the book is excellent. This didn’t surprise me because it came highly recommended and I know it’s on everyone’s “Essential Reading” list in this field. What did surprise me was how real the book felt. Sometimes you pick up a career-oriented book and the material is dry and overly clinical, but this book felt fresh. You can tell the author (Fratto) loves what she does, and it comes through in her writing.
The first thing I noticed when I started reading was how comprehensive this book is. It runs nearly 200 pages! If you’re looking for a short introduction to this field or just want to read a quick summary of what life coaching is all about, look elsewhere. This is a complete guide to become a life coach.
I like how the first 60 pages or so are devoted to showing what life coaching is all about: dispelling myths about coaching, distinguishing between coaching and consulting/therapy, and explaining what goes into being a great coach. One of my goals in buying this book was to confirm whether or not coaching was right for me, and the first few chapters painted a clear picture of the coaching profession.
The “Coach’s Corner Debrief”
This is probably my favorite part of this book. The book contains a lot of sample interviews, and after every single one, there is a section titled “Coach’s Corner Debrief.” This section illuminates the psychology behind coach and client–the meaning behind the words, the story beneath the story.
At face value, a conversation with a client seems simple. The client expresses a challenge he or she is facing, the coach asks questions to reveal inner motivations and gently guides the client to a more authentic understanding of self, and the client re-evaluates their situation, revises their own narrative, and decides to adjust their behavior, perspective, or both.
But beneath this conversation are 1000 potential conversations that could have taken place but didn’t. But why? Instead of despair, why did the client find peace and authenticity? Was the client being 100% truthful in his or her admissions? Did the coach overstep boundaries in making suggestions? Was the coach too objective and fail to connect with the client emotions?
I didn’t realize it before reading this book, but answering these questions is the key to coaching. It wasn’t just about knowing all the concepts and repeating the same lines over and over. It’s about finding an unspoken connection with the client and letting that information inform the conversation.
This is what separates a good book from a great one. Good books supply information. Great books take that information and show you what it all means.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. It’s such an excellent introduction to the world of life coaching and leaves you feeling informed, motivated, and confident to pursue this career.
Thanks, Ms. Fratto, for helping me start my coaching career on the right foot! I’ll be recommending this book to anyone interested in becoming a coach.