Linda Hough - Life coach

Linda Hough believes she could tell you how to lead a happier and more satisfying life. And be paid for doing so. She explains to Patrick Middleton 

“People sometimes smile when I say I come from California and I’m a life coach. They imagine that over there in the Golden State I’d be part of everyone’s scene along with a personal trainer and a feng shui consultant. Well, not quite, but I’d argue that Californians have a lifestyle in which personal development is taken seriously and regarded as something you have to work at. I’m told a lot of people in this region are dissatisfied with their lives. That sounds like an opening for a life coach.”

“A decisive reaction to events”

How did Linda end up plying her trade on the Coast? “I was born and spent most of my life in southern California except for a few years before moving here when I lived in the Bay Area around San Francisco - a good preparation for Europe, I’d say. I’m an artist, a painter, primarily, but across the years I became more and more interested in the process of personal development, both mine and other people’s. I found I had a kind of gift, an intuitiveness, if you like, for understanding the path that lives should take. I went to London for a year’s training and began to work professionally.”

I tell Linda that when I talk to financial advisors I often wonder why they’re still working. Why don’t they take their own advice and - if it’s any good - retire to the Bahamas?  In Linda’s case I want to know if she’s happy and successful and how she got that way. “Fair question. First point: to do this job you have to have lived a relatively full life and be beyond the spring chicken stage. I’m fifty. Second point: you need to have taken charge of your life, not to have just drifted along, and so to be able to appreciate the need for a decisive reaction to events. For example, I got into a new relationship and we decided to move from the Bay Area to the Côte d’Azur. It was a good decision but it was carefully thought through. We’ve settled in Vence and it’s a great life. But to get back to your precise question: am I happy and successful? Well, for me as for anyone else the answer depends on what I understand as happiness and success. In my case the answer to your question is certainly yes.”

“Carefuly structured”

So how does life coaching work? “I find that the people who come to me are usually anxious, dissatisfied, feel that something is missing in their lives. I’m not a psychotherapist, I should say. My clients are usually functioning more or less normally but feel unfulfilled. So what can I do? I compare myself to a tennis coach. I get to understand how they play the game of life and try to show them how they can improve their performance. I work either face-to-face or these days often online which some people find more convenient or comfortable.” So if I asked Linda for help how would things go? “We’d talk a lot. It might seem pretty random to you but on my side it would be carefully structured. I’d look at the main aspects of your life - health, relationships, work, leisure, time management and then try to identify what happiness does mean for you. When I’ve understood that I can either help you realise those goals in terms of your current way of life or - as is necessary with some people - get you to redefine your ideas of what it is to be successful and happy.”

“People can be turned round”

And what’s the outcome? “Well, in every tennis club you get one or two people who are the despair of the pros. That’s true in personal development, too, but it’s rare. I’m genuinely amazed at how people can be turned round. What’s crucial is the input of the life coach as an outside observer of a person’s experience and whose advice can be totally objective.”

 

From Reporter 115 - June/July 2006

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