Can You Still Coach Even in Difficult Times?

November 1, 2020
Life Coaching
Originally published in April 2020, this post has been updated to include new resources.


We all go through challenges that rock us to the core. But how often does the entire world move through the same collective crisis alongside you? 

There’s no question that we’re living through a period of turbulence and uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with social and political unrest, has forced a reckoning. Many of us are looking at life from a different perspective now, navigating terrain we couldn’t have imagined just one year ago. 

Can you still coach at a time like this? 

Absolutely. Life and career coaching during times of crisis are both vital and necessary. What you have to offer as a coach may actually be even more in demand in the midst of acute change.

Should you? 

That’s a question only you are qualified to answer. As a helping professional, it’s important to put your own oxygen mask on first. To that end, we suggest taking an inner inventory before working directly with coaching clients. 

  • How are you emotionally and mentally managing what you, yourself are going through? 
  • Do you have the capacity to hold space for the fear and uncertainty of others in addition to whatever you may be carrying? 

Check in with yourself regularly when you're experiencing stress and upheaval. This is true whether there’s a global COVID-19 pandemic in play or not. Illness, trauma, the loss of a loved one, divorce, and other challenging life events can also send major shockwaves through our systems.  

There is nothing wrong with taking a pause when you need to. As life coaches, we help our clients develop an approach to their lives that is firmly rooted in self love. As mentors and role models, it’s imperative that we apply these same principles to ourselves.  

If you’re in a place of relative safety and have the capacity to be fully present with your clients, then by all means, coach! The world needs what you have to give, perhaps now more than ever. 

Life Coaches Hold Up The Light 

The call for life coaches is on the rise as people deal with unprecedented job loss, life changes, and uncertainty. With a nonstop media cycle turning out more bad news by the hour, it’s almost impossible to remain hopeful and positive every day. Couple this with increased isolation and loneliness resulting from COVID-19 pandemic-era precautions, and you have a perfect storm of discouragement.

As a coach, you have the skillset and training to help coaching clients reorient around their desired future state, and the tools to help them get there - one step forward at a time. You also serve as a steady touchpoint, week after week, in an otherwise uncertain world. 

It may be that the greatest value you bring to clients during difficult times is to simply show up with consistency, holding space for them with your coaching presence, empathy, and active listening.

Service Gives Us Strength

If you’re in doubt about whether or not to continue building your coaching business at this time, you’re not alone. The desire to be on the front lines can gradually wane in the face of fatiguing circumstances. And if you had just embarked upon your coaching journey in the months preceding the pandemic, recent events may be eclipsing the earlier optimism and excitement surrounding your launch into coaching.  

There’s no playbook for a year like this one, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. To counteract it, try returning again and again to the original motivation that drew you into coaching. Really call to mind the difference you’re here to make. Because here’s the thing: working with others gives us strength too. 

Recall those moments when the light bulb went off for one of your clients. What does it feel like to walk beside someone as they strive to achieve meaningful change in their lives? 

Impactful sessions with clients, and the victories they achieve as a result of your work together, are powerful affirmations of your ability to touch lives through this work. Your clients' drive to move forward also serves as a potent reminder of the importance of keeping your own dreams and ambitions alive.

You Don’t Need to Have All The Answers

Just because you’re a life coach doesn’t mean you’re expected to know how to navigate this (or any) situation. 

Coaching is client led and client directed. Remember what that means -- our role isn’t to advise. Instead, the job is to know how to show up, hold clients without judgement, ask insightful questions, and assist them in the process of discovering their own wisdom. 

How we each move through collective difficulties is going to be different. Even if you could offer a precise prescription for “Thriving in Times of Crisis”, it would not translate for everyone. The answer comes from exploring what will work for each person individually. And that is precisely where your expertise as a life coach lies.

Above all, be kind and gentle with yourself.

The world needs you at your best.

Want to show up more powerfully? 

Life coaching is a rapidly growing field that is continuously evolving. Even for seasoned coaches, there’s always more to learn and discover. If you’ve not already earned your ICF coaching certification, there’s no better time than now to get started! Come check out JRNI’s coach training program today.

JRNI Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.


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