From Military Service to Life Coaching: Leveraging Discipline and Leadership to Empower Others
When we think of the military, what comes to mind are the values that define the lives of servicepeople: discipline, leadership, teamwork, and resilience.
As dedicated members of the armed forces, veterans and military personnel have acquired a variety of unique skills and experiences that are valuable and highly sought after in civilian life. And, as a service member making that transition, you’re probably seeking a meaningful role that aligns your skills with your values.
The good news is that the discipline, resilience, and leadership cultivated in the military are directly applicable to the work of coaching. As a coach, you'll channel your ability to motivate, inspire, and guide individuals, helping them recognize their potential and break down barriers as they work towards their goals.
Professional coaching stands out as an emerging career path where skills honed in the military can truly shine and be of service to others.
Personal Reflections on Making the Jump from Military to Coaching from Lumia Alumni Jeanie Manibusan
“One of the hardest aspects of military service is investing personal and professional time, effort and resources into the development of others only to be reassigned to a different unit, hoping someone will continue the journey with as much dedication as you have. It’s the one constant in the military – change.
After retiring from the Army, I reflected on what brought me the most fulfillment over the duration of my 20 year career. What stood out amongst the deployments, missions and training were the people. The late night phone call to support a buddy that was in a bad space or helping another achieve a long deserved promotion. I knew what called to me was the service of others. Instead of Soldiers coming to me for advice, I realized it would mean more if they realized the answers they sought lived within themselves.
And that’s what brought me to Lumia. I learned how to enhance the skills the Army taught me about active listening during counseling sessions as well as altering the way I thought about setting and achieving goals as a collaborative partnership. The military is more prescriptive (well, in everything). While this benefits the overall organization, it can sometimes leave the individual craving attention in pursuing personal pursuits – such as creative expression, prioritizing relationships, even just the space to experience what life could be like as themselves, minus the military mask.
There’s now a freeing sense of purpose that comes with coaching that is so refreshing. Encouraging the client to determine what is right for their lives, helping them to see potential limiting beliefs and address them so that they can achieve their greatest vision and version of themselves is even more rewarding than I knew was possible.
Military service sets the groundwork in connecting with people and having the discipline to create something bigger and better than ourselves. For me, coaching was the next logical step forward along this path. The lessons I’ve learned from Lumia not only make me a better coach, but allow me to show up as a better person in all aspects of my life.” - Jeanie Manibusan
What are the similarities between life coaching and military service?
At first glance, life coaching might seem to be a big departure from the routine and responsibilities of military service. However, both are roles that center on leadership and guiding others. Similar to military duties, coaching requires strong communication skills, a great deal of empathy, and the ability to guide clients as they work towards their goals, much like leading a team in a military context.
Let’s look at just a few of the skills that transfer to the work of coaching:
Leadership: Both military personnel and life coaches lead by example and are guided by a strong sense of duty and ethics.
Problem-solving: Addressing challenges head-on and finding solutions is essential to both roles.
Commitment: A strong dedication to the mission or goal, whether that's a matter of national security or a client's personal development.
Teamwork: Both roles understand the value of working collaboratively and maximizing the strengths of those on the team, whether that’s an entire military unit or you and your coaching client!
Mentoring: The military often involves mentoring junior personnel, which is similar in some ways to guiding coaching clients.
Adaptable Communication: The ability to communicate effectively across diverse groups and building understanding is essential in both fields.
Confidentiality: Just as military operations require discretion, life coaches prioritize client confidentiality and privacy.
What are the differences between coaching and military service?
While there are many parallels between professional coaching and military service, there are also significant differences that distinguish the two.
Both roles emphasize leadership and the development of individuals, but their methods, scopes of operation, and sometimes even their core principles can be radically different. Military service often involves structured discipline, a chain of command, and less focus on the individual, whereas life coaching is more about personal growth and individual guidance.
Here’s some differences at a glance:
Less Hierarchy: Military personnel often work in structured, hierarchical environments that require obedience, while life coaching is client-centric and more flexible.
Setting: Coaching can be done in various settings that you can choose for yourself – group coaching, private practice, working within an organization, online platforms – unlike the specific deployments in the military.
Tools and Techniques: While military training focuses more on tactical and strategic skills, coaching employs questioning techniques, active listening, and goal-setting methods.
Regulations: The military operates under strict laws and regulations, whereas life coaching, though guided by bodies like the International Coaching Federation (ICF), has no direct “governing body” and has a wide variety of certifications and credentials that practitioners can get.
Client Relationship: Military leadership has a clear chain of command that must be obeyed, while coaching is a chosen joint partnership between equals.
Outcome Measurement: Military objectives are often tangible and immediate, while coaching engagements can be subtle and the results seen over a longer term.
What is the difference in salary for military personnel vs. a life coach?
Average pay in the military
Like many salaries, these vary widely based on factors such as rank and years of service. In the United States, military pay is determined by rank and years of service, with additional allowances for housing, special skills, and hazardous duty, among others.
Here's a general overview, according to the basic pay table from the Department of Defence:
Starting Salary: Enlisted members start around $1,800 to $2,000 per month. Officers start higher, usually above $3,000 per month.
Mid-Career Salary: Enlisted members can earn $2,500 to $4,000 per month. Officers can earn $4,000 to over $6,000 per month.
Senior Salary: Senior enlisted members and officers can earn from $5,000 to over $10,000 per month.
Military personnel can also receive additional pay for specific duties (foreign language specialties, flight pay, combat pay) and allowances for housing and food, which can increase their total income.
After a certain period of service (often 20 years), military personnel are eligible for retirement pay, which is a significant long-term benefit.
Keep in mind, these figures will change based on the branch of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard). And it’s important to note that military benefits like health care, housing, and education assistance add value beyond the base salary.
Average pay for a professional coach
The rapidly changing coaching and wellness sector means that there is a wide range of numbers on salary and income for coaches. The Global Coaching Study by the International Coaching Federation, updated every five years, is a reliable source for this information.
According to the latest 2023 results from the ICF, the average salary for a life coach is $67,800, with many coaches earning well above $100,000.
Coach practitioners generated approximately $4.564 billion in annual coaching revenue/income in 2022. In North America, experienced coaches with over a decade of practice charge an average of $300 per hour.
The type of clients also affects income levels. Business coaches focusing on executive clients typically earn $330 per session, while life coaches working with individual clients make an average of $130 per hour.
Several factors influence earnings, including the coaching niche (like business, executive or relationship coaching), experience, location, client base, and whether the coach is part of a larger organization or operates their own private practice. Certifications and credentials, such as those from Lumia or the International Coaching Federation, also impact earning potential.
How to use your existing military skills in new ways
Transitioning from military service to life coaching involves a shift from structured environments to a more individualized approach. You'll be focusing on:
Empowerment: Equipping clients with tools and strategies to take charge of their lives.
Goal Orientation: Helping clients set and achieve personal or professional milestones.
Perspective Transformation: Using your experiences to help clients see challenges as growth opportunities.
Is working with military and ex-military personnel a good coaching niche?
Yes, there are many opportunities and this niche is growing.
It's important for professional coaches focusing on this niche to have a deep understanding of military culture and the specific needs of military personnel and veterans.
Unique Challenges: Military personnel face unique challenges, such as transitioning back to civilian life, coping with the aftermath of combat, and adjusting to military culture.
Transition Assistance: Coaches can help military members and veterans navigate the transition to civilian life, including career changes, educational opportunities, and personal development.
Stress Management: Military life can be very stressful! A life coach can offer strategies for managing stress, improving mental health, and maintaining personal relationships.
Career Development: Life coaches can assist military personnel in identifying skills acquired during service that are transferable to civilian jobs, and in setting career goals.
Large Potential Client Base: There are millions of active military personnel and veterans who could benefit from life coaching services.
Personal Growth: Military members may seek personal growth and self-improvement opportunities, areas where life coaches excel.
Training and certification
While military training has imparted invaluable skills, it's beneficial to undergo specialized coaching training. Accredited programs offer tools, techniques, and methodologies unique to coaching, enhancing your credibility as you transition into this new role.
Your time in the military has uniquely prepared you for a career in life coaching. The leadership, discipline, and resilience you've developed can be channeled to guide, inspire, and empower individuals in their personal and professional journeys.
As you embrace this new role with dedication and passion, you'll find many awaiting the unique perspective and guidance only you can provide – an exciting new adventure.
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