a)plan coaching

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

Many coaching companies today distinguish performance coaching from wellness coaching. While you might be in the market for one or the other, consider for a moment that your decision to work with either a performance coach or a wellness coach might leave you wanting more.

A fully transformative coaching experience cannot and should not separate performance and wellness. Having coached hundreds of clients at a)plan coaching, we know that these two focuses are inextricably linked. When performance improves, wellness improves, and vice versa. To focus on just half the equation leaves you with a half-complete solution. Fortunately, for those seeking a more complete solution, “whole-person coaching” has emerged as an excellent option.

Understanding 3 Key Coaching Definitions

Below, we define performance coaching, wellness coaching, and whole-person coaching. For decades and still today, many people see these types of coaching as separate from one another—a misguided perspective that we unpack in our third definition of whole-person coaching.

What Is Performance Coaching?

Performance coaching is a form of coaching used by entrepreneurs, managers, executives, and more to unlock higher levels of performance in their fields of expertise. A performance coach may focus a client’s sessions around topics like productivity, time management, prioritization, and skill development.

What Is Wellness Coaching?

Wellness coaching is a form of coaching used by anyone seeking to improve or commit to mental, physical, and/or spiritual well-being. A wellness coach may focus a client’s sessions around wellness-related work, like breathing, mindfulness, stress management, shifting perspectives, self-acceptance, and gratitude.

What Is Whole-Person Coaching?

Whole-person coaching represents the intersection of wellness and performance and views them as part of the same system. A whole-person coach grounds their work with clients in the notion that we perform best when we feel good. When coaching focuses on both wellness and performance, we show up as our best. We have better, more collaborative conversations. We feel more engaged in our work. We are generally happier.

No review of performance coaching vs. wellness coaching is complete without mentioning the broader perspective explored through whole-person coaching. What some a)plan clients discover is that, while they think they want a performance or wellness coach, our whole-person coaching approach ultimately satisfies what they’re looking for most.

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 perform in relation to wellness. 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.

To Hire a Performance Coach or a Wellness Coach?

By now it might be clear: the question isn’t whether to hire a performance coach or to hire a wellness coach. Instead, your goal should be to find a coach who understands the interconnected nature of both performance and wellness.

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. 

One week might prioritize building high-performance habits at work; the next might focus on wellness on the weekends and evenings. In this example, you’d want a coach who recognizes that a strong, fulfilling work week empowers you to prioritize wellness on the weekends and evenings. Your ability to prioritize wellness, in turn, fuels you for another productive work 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.

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—whether that means more wellness, better performance, or both. 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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