Coaching has been around for some time, many decades: the term is usually very common and well understood when talking about sports coaching. At the same time definitions like life coaching, personal coaching, business coaching and executive coaching are much more recent in history: many people fail to recognise the term or have a very vague, often incorrect, idea about what that mean. While in the US the concept of personal coaching has been around for 20 years or more the in UK and the rest of Anglophone countries people with 10 years of experience are considered absolute gurus.
The sport coach is usually not the super expert or the retired champion: he is somebody that surely knows the sport but also has the right knowledge, techniques and personality to inspire and motivate the people he/she is coaching. We know of football, tennis, rugby or other sport coaches and some of them are real celebrities: behind a great champion or team is always a great coach.
A professional personal coach is an individual that usually mixes a broad background of experiences with one, often several, coaching qualifications that allow him/her to coach effectively a range of clients. Some coaches specialize in very specific subjects like career or self esteem while others tend to have a more general approach. In my experience business and executive coaches need to have the right management background, in order to have a common language with their client when coaching is centred on business.
Coaching, in its simple definition, is about asking questions, the right questions to help the client doing the appropriate thinking around his/her situation that often involves a dilemma his/she is trying to solve. For these reasons a coach should refrain from giving advice. Advice is my solution to your issue: you might like the advice and take it on board but it is proven that in the long term real solutions are the ones you identify by yourself. Once the right solution or direction has been identified then coaching is about action, getting the client to commit to a set of actions that will help delivering the results and achieving the goal.
So if you have a friend, a colleague or a relative that says “I would (should) really loose weight (or do more exercise, or socialize more or sell more) but…I cannot (I don’t have time, it’s the wrong moment)” then the right suggestion might be: “sounds like you need a coach”.