We are living through challenging times. And that was true before the COVID-19 crisis only compounded matters. The reality is that living a good life and a life of good health aren’t givens anymore.
They have to be worked at.
A good life and a life of good health must be pursued with both intention and effort. These are not subjects valued by our “educational” systems, nor are they outcomes prioritised by any of the societal systems that shape most of us from the moment we are born.
With insufficient nutrients in our food, the sedentary and artificial lifestyle our environments encourage, our longer and ever demanding work hours and the collapse of social communities, life and health outcomes in industrialised nations are on the decline. That may surprise many, but the data is there. Life expectancy in America has fallen for three years in succession due to a terrifying surge in deaths of despair and chronic disease like obesity and diabetes. The much-debated Millennial generation, soon to be if not already the largest percentage of the global labor force, may in time be remembered not for tropes of entitlement and participation trophies but for being the Sick Generation with mortality rates more than 40% higher than the generation before them. Disease is only trending up. In the past 30 years the burden of disability, or more simply the burden of disease, has exploded globally by 52% thanks to digestive diseases, neurological disorders, mental health and musculoskeletal disorders.
The modern world does not operate a health care system.
It operates a sick care system.
And what marks the troubles of today different to eras gone by is that whilst it was the viruses, parasites and bacteria that use to get us, now it’s environment and lifestyle. It’s diet, inactivity and bad habits.
But this isn’t a story of doom and gloom. Good health and living a good life are increasingly being accepted as a multifaceted puzzle that requires a holistic approach and often enough simple yet effective interventions. Health and wellbeing is an illusive and incredibly hyper-connected network that requires all aspect of one’s person and one’s lifestyle and environment functioning correctly individually but more importantly working in concert collectively. This is the mind, body, spirit connection that not long ago was mocked as crystal healing woo woo. Now the connection’s secrets are coming to light in cutting-edge fields like epigenetics, quantum mechanics, biohacking and psycho-neuro-endocrine-immunology. The ‘sorry, bad luck’, ‘you are your genes’, ‘take this tablet’ narrative is on its last legs.
The time is now to take back control of your life and health because the state of wellbeing is an expression of choices and actions.
Enter coaching. This holistic, dynamic and personalised process returns to people the agency and responsibility taken away from them by traditional sick-care systems. Done in partnership between the coach and the coachee, coaching co-discovers, co-explores and co-creates. Instead of the quick fix, coaching supports, guides and when appropriate challenges over a journey of real and lasting lifestyle and behaviour changes that at its best culminates in optimal health, wellbeing and performance.
That’s what we do here at Made To Thrive. Harnessing the powers of our Seven Pillars to Thrive, coaching moves people from just surviving to thriving. And just like the data is in with respect to disease, the data is in for coaching – it works.
In an interesting 2016 review of the scientific literature conducted on the efficacy of health coaching with respect to chronic disease prevention and management found “statistically significant positive change reported in at least one of a variety of physiological, behavioural, psychological, and social outcomes in 85% of studies included.” Another 2016 study concluded that “findings not only show that coaching and training effectively enhance performance, but also emphasise the beneficial effects of coaching on clients’ goal attainment”. And these are just one of a growing host of studies that show coaching works.
Think about it this way – why doesn’t it make sense to be coached to live a good life and a life of good health?
Life is complicated. It’s hard, and it’s only getting more complex and challenging. None of us get through this thing alone, not well at least. We all need help, guidance and mentorship – somebody to talk to, somebody who listens, someone with knowledge you don’t have, someone to stand by your side when the going gets tough, someone who has your back. Someone who cares, who understands, who wants the best for you.
Think about trying to improve or master any skill or vocation. If you want to learn an instrument or be a skilled athlete, you get a teacher/coach, right? Same thing with coaching with respect to life and living. Somehow society perpetuates this fantasy that once we’re 18 and done with school and spent some time with our parents somehow we’re sorted, and ready to get out there on our own and excel at life. It’s delusional. So really, what’s so crazy about this idea that you need to be coached to live life well?
Guidance for that is minimal to none. The systems we live in don’t provide it. They may even discourage it. That’s not what we learn in school or university. That’s something a fortune few of us get at home. How to life a full, healthy, meaningful, connected life, that’s something we’re apparently suppose to master on our own. How? It doesn’t make sense. And even with a supportive spouse/partner, real friendships or remaining close to family, which are not givens in many lives, that these people have the relevant knowledge and skills is by no means a sure thing and that’s without even yet mentioning the tricky emotional milieu involved.
Simply put, two heads are better than one. Committing to a coaching process provides an outside, objective, impartial perspective in a supportive and empowering space with somebody who has skills and wisdom to share. Making impactful, lasting behavioural change is difficult business, and a coach undertakes the mission to take that journey through thick and thin.
We all have a story,
and coaching is at its core about partnering with someone
as they start to re-write that story.
And it doesn’t matter where that story starts. Coaching meets everyone where they actually are and simply asks, “okay you’re here, tell me where you want to go from today”. And that could be in any arena of life. That’s why whether its called life coaching, health coaching, wellbeing coaching, performance coaching, it’s going to take a multi-pronged, dynamic and holistic approach. Performing better at work is not merely about only what happens in the office. Changing habits and behaviors is about more than the habit or behavior itself. It’s about the part everything else in your life plays in facilitating and enabling that habit.
And at the end of the day, we’re all just people – humans – and none of us can do this thing called life alone. Any and all support should be welcomed and leveraged to live a good life and a life of good health. It’s like they say here in Africa…
If you want to go fast, go alone.
But if you want to go far – go together.
Here at Made to Thrive, we’re ready to take people far.