What are Durable Skills vs. Perishable Skills for Life Coaches?

Explore the changing landscape of skills focusing on durable skills vs perishable skills. Learn how coaching certifications boost your durable skill set.

The language we use to talk about skills has been quietly shifting. It used to be common to label abilities as either “hard skills” and “soft skills.” However, a new way of discussing skills has emerged that centers on the idea of durability versus perishability.

Durable skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, and adaptability, remain relevant and useful regardless of your job position or context of your work. On the other hand, perishable skills — for instance, being able to use a specific software that may become outdated — tie your abilities to a certain time, place, or context.

As it turns out, coaching skills are all durable skills and they’re very sought after these days. Consider this when calculating the impact of a coaching certification or credential on your future employability. Coach training gives you the skills to coach humans, but also prepares you for any role with a highly desirable durable skill set that is in-demand from employers. 

Durable skills such as effective communication, leadership, and self-awareness are all invaluable, whether in your current role or any future career changes. At the same time, the value of perishable skills should not be underestimated. As coaches, we need both to remain current, adaptable, and ultimately, more effective in a constantly evolving world.

What are Durable Skills for a Life Coach?

Every life coach needs a foundation of durable skills – these are long-lasting and form the backbone of the coaching practice. Businesses and organizations all over the world rely on individuals who have these skills to move forward. So what are those durable skills for coaches and how do they translate to the world of business?


Active listening and effective communication are non-negotiables for coaches and in business. This involves not only verbal communication but also understanding non-verbal cues, such as body language and tone. What your client is telling you in their silences can communicate volumes.


As a coach, you are used to directing efforts and delivering results for your coaching clients. You’re also well aware of what true leadership looks like – guiding the best efforts of others to accomplish big things!


Coaching is, at its core, a collaborative partnership between coach and client that highlights all the best aspects of working together. Creating and maintaining a close connection is essential for the process to work.

Critical Thinking:

Strategizing and making a wise use of resources is one of the most desirable skills that exists. Similarly, a life coach should be able to critically assess a client's situation, challenge assumptions, and help the client see different perspectives.


Asking questions allows for creativity to flourish. A good question asked within a safe space can spark untold creative solutions. The human mind is working at its highest capacity when engaged in creative thought and coaching creates the foundation for that to occur.

Self Awareness:

Through the process of appreciative inquiry, coaches help a client to achieve self-understanding and an increase in the awareness of one’s own biases, triggers and stumbling blocks.

Growth Mindset:

Coaching assumes that change is possible and that growth is a given if we partner together and create a plan to move forward. A coach's positivity can be contagious and can inspire clients to maintain a positive outlook, even when faced with obstacles or setbacks. A coach's ability to model a positive, growth mindset is a valuable skill within any organization.


It’s perfectly normal to be temporarily discouraged when faced with setbacks. Resilience is the ability to try again, to never give up and to cultivate mental strength within yourself. A coach is the perfect partner in building resilience, discussing setbacks and making plans for a different approach as you go.


The ability to understand and share the feelings of others is a vital skill. This allows the coach to connect with their clients on a deeper level and build trust, seeing things from different perspectives.


While coaching is not about giving advice or solving the problems of others, this is still a skill that comes to life within the coaching relationship as you help your clients identify obstacles within their own lives and develop strategies to overcome them.


A crucial part of successful coaching is helping your client set achievable, realistic goals. This includes understanding the steps needed to reach these goals and how to motivate clients to follow through.


A key part of a life coach's role is to help a client identify and source motivation from within in order to make changes and achieve their goals. While there are outside methods that can provide motivation, intrinsic motivation is something that can be built like a muscle. 


Every client is unique, and a good life coach can adapt their approach to meet the needs of each individual. 

Emotional Intelligence:

This involves the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, and those of others. Coaches with high emotional intelligence can navigate difficult conversations, manage stress, and empathize with their clients' experiences.


Coaching is a process that takes time, and it often involves helping clients through difficult changes or decisions. Patience allows a coach to provide steady, ongoing support even when progress is slow.

What are Perishable Skills for a Life Coach?

In addition to the highly desirable durable skills that come from learning the art of coaching, life coaches also need to develop and maintain relevant perishable skills. These skills can become outdated or forgotten if not regularly refreshed. 

1. Technology Use:

As technology evolves and changes, so do the tools life coaches use to communicate with clients, manage their practice, and stay organized. One invention that’s making waves is AI – while it can make life easier for coaches, it’s important to understand the implications of using it and use it responsibly.

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2. Knowledge of Current Trends and Research:

Knowing what different options are available to serve your client makes you a trusted partner along the coaching journey. This can include trends in mental health, wellness, career development, and other areas relevant to life coaching. As new research emerges, it's important to stay up-to-date to provide the best possible coaching experience to clients. 

Bonus Lumia Blog: 2023 State of the Coaching Industry and Coaching Industry Trends

3. Continuing Education:

Many coaching certifications and the ICF (International Coaching Federation) credential require ongoing education to maintain your standing as a professional coach. This is because new methods, techniques, and theories are constantly being developed in the field and it’s important to learn and change with the latest advancements.

Bonus Lumia Blog: Learn all about coaching credentials -- What's the Difference Between Coach Certification, Accreditation and Credentialing

4. Cultural Awareness:

As society becomes more global and diverse, it's important for life coaches to understand different cultural backgrounds and experiences. This understanding can become outdated if not regularly refreshed and expanded. If it feels daunting, consider it an opportunity to better serve your clients.

Bonus Lumia Blog: Self Awareness: The Coaching Super Skill

5. Regulations and Ethics:

While ethics don’t change as quickly over time, regulations and laws that govern the practice of life coaching may change. It's important for coaches to stay current with these changes to ensure they are practicing ethically and legally.

Bonus Lumia Blog: Legal 101 for Life Coaches

As you can see, the durable skills far outweigh the perishable ones in coaching. Coaching is a discipline built for the long haul, and the skills associated with it continue to grow and develop the longer you practice as a coach. Remember this the next time you’re looking for a new role or to move up at your current job – you have skills that are in high demand!

Considering A Career in Coaching?

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