What Does the Life Coaching Process Look Like-Charlie Vensel

Have you ever wondered, “Hey! What’s going on behind that curtain?”

If I’ve never done something before, I want to know what I’m getting myself into before I commit. I like surprises, but not that kind. For those of you that share that sentiment with me, here’s an explanation as to what’s really going on behind the curtain in the coaching process.

Part of the process is me just being who I am. I have a unique combination of education, training, experience, a “counselor’s heart,” and well-developed gifts of discernment, wisdom, and intuition. Pulling all of that together, and ever-mindful that coaching is more of an art than a science, I work from a grid that has two levels, spread over six categories, interacting with four relationships…and, oh yes, one very big assumption.

1. Two levels

There are two levels of depth in the coaching relationship, the pragmatic level and the core level. Because of my life experience, it is very easy for me to help you with pragmatic things like:

  • Planning a project and determining resources.
  • Setting goals and breaking them down into manageable steps.
  • Organizing in the midst of overwhelm.
  • Losing 20 pounds in 30 days.

We don’t really have to go too deep on those things. They are pretty surface-oriented with fairly straightforward solutions. Some people prefer to stay on the surface and that’s fine. A lot of life happens at that level.

However, it is not unusual for people to seek coaching for these kinds of pragmatic, or surface, issues, only to discover something deeper needing to be addressed; the core level, or “below the water line.” That’s where the opportunity for real breakthrough occurs. If you stay above the water line, you may find temporary victory, but will usually find yourself back where you started. My job as a coach is to call you deeper.

2. Six categories

In a coaching relationship, I am always exploring six categories to help us determine what’s going on below the water line:

  • Transitions and crossroads: the in-between times, new directions, life-events, life-stages, etc.
  • Direction and calling: addressing things like, “Who am I called to be?”
  • Contribution and roll: addressing things like, “What do I offer? How do I do it? How do I deliver who I am?
  • Strategic: proactively taking steps to maximize potential
  • Renewal and mentoring: how to find balance, go deeper in relationships, and learn from the more experienced and mature
  • Character processing: processing past issues, forgiveness, limiting beliefs, inner work, integrity, and spiritual formation

During the appointments, I will ask you questions and deploy a number of tools that help determine where you are, who you are, and equally important, who you are not. I will listen carefully to what you say, are trying to say, and not saying. My job is to be three steps ahead of you, yet be with you.

I aim to encourage you toward the expression of your unique calling, skills, abilities, gifts, passions, and purpose; the you that is often trapped under the water line by stuff that no longer serves you. Once we have discerned those kinds of things, it becomes much easier for you to answer the more significant questions like:

  • Do I stay in this job, career, situation, or relationship?
  • Do I want to make this work? Can I make this work? Should I make this work? Does it really fit?
  • What’s working? What’s not?
  • What needs to change? What’s missing?
  • What do I need to be fulfilled? How do I find it?
  • How do I communicate what I really want, need, and desire to those around me?
  • What’s next?

Great coaching helps you sift through all the coulds, shoulds, false expectations of self & others, and other self-limiting beliefs, to draw out and release the best version of you possible. Success at this level is where you find breakthrough for lasting change. It leads to a paradigm shift from doing the right things for the wrong reasons, to doing the right things for the right reasons.

Because of my path and life experience, I have a particular affinity with people who want to work on core level issues like:

  • Discovering and embracing their life purpose, passions, and core values.
  • Clarifying calling.
  • Determining “who they really are” and what kind of career makes the most sense; should they consider being self-employed?
  • Improving their relationships and communication strategies (significant others, family, friends, boss, peers, etc.).
  • Giving and/or receiving forgiveness; letting things go.
  • Navigating mid-life angst while avoiding the mid-life crisis.
  • Understanding and overcoming self-limiting beliefs and behaviors.
  • Fostering dignity, integrity, and character.
  • Developing and maintaining spiritual health.

3. Four relationships

Lastly, as a coach, I am always aware of, and encouraging, the cultivation of four relationships:

  • Your relationship with God
  • Your relationship with yourself
  • Your relationship with others
  • Your relationship with your environment

I will help you understand how your thoughts and actions impact these relationships, positively and negatively. I believe you will find that when you focus on improving at the core level, in any category, these relationships will improve as well.

4. One very big assumption

I do operate with one very big assumption…that we all have a purpose, and life, including the good, the bad, the extraordinary, and the mundane, slowly reveals that to us. Since it is your life and your story, I believe you are the expert, already knowing and possessing all that you need, just requiring a little help with clarity. We all do. We rarely find it alone.

5. My goal is your success

As I mentioned earlier, coaching is more of an art than a science, and there is certainly a fair amount of overlap between the two levels, six categories, and four relationships. But, having this type of grid in the background helps us get to the heart of the matter quickly, and ultimately to lasting change and the authentic life.

In any level, category, or relationship, my goal is to help you decide, out of all the good things you could do, the best thing to do, and then help develop a personalized action plan that supports new or modified thinking & behavior, creates new circumstances, and leads to the success that you seek. I will walk with you all the way through the process providing encouragement, feedback, and accountability.


Charlie Vensel an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Certified Spiritual Director, speaker and ordained minister. His mission: to help you discover who you were meant to be and how to get there. Subscribe to this blog via RSS or click here to “start the conversation.”

Originally published at charlievensel.com on March 20, 2015.

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