a)plan coaching

Whole-Person Coaching: Greater than the Sum of Its Parts

Many coaching companies today distinguish one type of coaching from another. While you might be in the market for a specific coaching style or approach, consider for a moment that your decision to go too narrow might leave you wanting more.

A fully transformative coaching experience cannot and should not rely too heavily on one niche. Having coached hundreds of clients at a)plan coaching, we know that the different areas of a person’s life are never siloed. To focus on just part of the equation leaves you with a partial solution.

Fortunately, for those seeking a more complete solution, “whole-person coaching” has emerged as an excellent option.

What Is Whole-Person Coaching?

A whole-person coach is someone who works with clients in a holistic manner to unlock self-improvement, behavioral change, and progress toward goals. A whole-person coach understands that humans are complete systems. In order to achieve progress and success in one area of life, we often must optimize things in a completely different area of life.

Whole-person coaches ground their work with clients in the notion that we perform best when we feel good. When coaching takes a multi-faceted view (e.g. wellness and performance impact one another), we show up as our best. We have better, more collaborative conversations, we feel more engaged in our work, and we are generally happier.

Understanding Different Coaching Approaches

There exist dozens of different types of coaching. For decades and still today, many people assume that you hire a coach for a specific reason or need. At a)plan, we believe this to be a misguided approach.

What makes whole-person coaching unique is that many coaching companies and practitioners don’t fully embrace a holistic approach. Instead, you’ll find coaches specializing in a broad range of niches, from wellness, to performance, to confidence, to productivity, and more.

The truth is that any seasoned coach should be able to offer support in each of these common coaching areas. What nearly all a)plan clients discover is that, while they think they want a wellness or performance coach, for example, our whole-person coaching approach ultimately satisfies what they’re looking for most. That is, a balanced and complete approach to goal setting, planning, check-ins, emotional support, and more.

What We Can Learn from World-Class Athletes

Whether you’re searching for coaching for yourself, your employees, or your team, consider for a moment that top performers of any kind are no different than world-class athletes. Top performers understand how to access their zones of genius, how to reach new heights, how to learn new skills, and how to produce consistent results.

So, it follows that we can learn a thing or two from top-performing athletes and how they view their ability to take care of their whole selves. Let’s consider some popular Olympians as mini case studies.

Michael Phelps

One of the most decorated Olympians of all time, Michael Phelps hardly struggled when it came to performance as a world-class athlete. Racking up 23 gold medals and 39 world records throughout his Olympic career, it’s easy for onlookers to assume that he “had it all figured out” during his historic run.

In recent years, Phelps has revealed that, in reality, his wellness suffered dramatically in his peak performance years. “Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression,” said Phelps in a 2018 interview with CNN.

For a man who seemingly had it all, Phelps struggled to enjoy any of it under the surface, because he dedicated 100% of his focus to performance and 0% to wellness. With a better understanding for the importance of wellness, Phelps is now a leading voice in mental health awareness, not just for athletes, but for everyday people and employees. His message: Championing wellness is a strength. Performance often comes at a cost, and sustaining it requires intentional effort to embrace the inner game that is mental wellness.

Naomi Osaka

In 2021, 24-year-old tennis star, Naomi Osaka, unexpectedly withdrew from the French Open in order to prioritize her mental well-being. In this moment of courage, Osaka helped solidify a rising trend in sports that is inspiring others both on and off the court: Destigmatizing the decision to prioritize wellness equally as much as performance.

Osaka’s decision didn’t make her any less of a high-performance superstar. In fact, by respecting her own needs for mental wellness, she invested in her future ability to return to peak performance. We can all learn from Osaka’s awareness to listen to our own needs in relation to performance vs. wellness. There exists space for both, and it’s the job of a whole-person coach to help you discover and/or restore that critical balance.

How to Hire a Whole-Person Coach

By now it might be clear: hiring a great coach isn’t necessarily about finding a specialized niche within the coaching world. Instead, your goal should be to find a coach who understands the interconnected nature of humans. This holds true no matter your coaching goals or aspirations.

A coach’s only agenda is your success and fulfillment. As dynamic individuals, our needs change constantly. That’s part of the beauty of weekly one-on-one coaching. In working with a whole-person coach, there will always be opportunities to favor certain work from week to week. 

The best coaches can fluidly support you from one need to the next, recognizing that while the focus changes, the holistic nature of the client does not.

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Expert Whole-Person Coaches at a)plan

Whole-person coaching is baked into the a)plan coaching approach which was influenced by coaching methods that have withstood 50 years of testing. All our coaches are trained in a)plan’s proprietary coaching approach which helps clients go deep to discover how to optimize their lives for success and fulfillment.

That means no matter which coach you work with at a)plan, you will benefit from our standardized, whole-person perspective towards coaching. All our coaches aim to help you get what you want, no matter your situation or your goals. In helping you get there, they help you consider the holistic view.

Here’s a small sampling of expert coaches at a)plan who work with their clients every day on whole-person improvement. To work with coaches like Jill, Charles, Natalie, and more, start by taking our coach matching survey to reveal your a)plan coach matches within just 10 minutes.

I help clients show up as their best in the many different roles that they play—whether it be leader, employee, parent, partner, or friend.

Jill Johnson

Jill’s profile >

Coaching is all about building a holistic vision for your life and career, then acting on that vision one step at a time to make it real.

Coaching is powerful because it is about you choosing the right path for you. You get to define success in all areas of your life.

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