Coaching Model: A Backpacker’s Guide To Coaching – What Is In Your Journey?


A Coaching Model Created by Jennifer Roberts
(Transition Coach, UNITED STATES)

Sometimes in life, we need to reset our compass and find our true North. Find our “why” behind what we are doing or what we want to do. Being a coach that specializes in helping people through times of transition, I will help my clients find their true North. I will help them discover what direction they want to turn and focus on, or if they want to remain on the path they are already on. I will be a sounding board as they work through the challenges of transition and how it impacts every aspect of their life. To help my clients discover their true North, I will use some essential items for backpacking: a compass, a map, first-aid supplies, and matches. I will also help them keep their goal in mind, as we travel through the journey of coaching together: 

Not all those who wander are lost.- Bilbo Baggins 

Compass – Direction

What does every traveler need to start their journey? A direction to move toward. Sometimes deciding what direction to start in can be the hardest part. Through the process of creating the coaching agreement, the client will determine what direction he/she wants to take in the coaching journey. As the coaching process continues, the goal is not only for the client to determine the direction he/she wants in the coaching session but also life. A client going through transitions in life can question the purpose, relationships, goals, etc. Determining the starting point and the direction to work towards is a crucial part of the journey. It is the first step in finding and working towards the client’s true north. 

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.– Gandalf

Map – Path

When clients go through transition, there are innumerable changes they experience. Therefore, having a map of where he/she has been and where he/she is going is important. While looking ahead is vital in any journey, recognizing where a client has been being equally important. This could be exemplified by reflecting on years’ worth of school and hard work to earn a promotion he/she has finally received, or thinking about the months of training he/she did cross the finish line at the marathon that has been completed. Reflection is a necessary part of continuing forward. It involves the celebration of victories and learning from failures. Becoming wiser about oneself and what is needed to move forward. 

Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be.― Rick Warren

The map of coaching is used in both ways, reflecting to learn as well as looking ahead to plan. Upon reflection comes resolve for what is next. Through self-discovery and deep thought, the client will determine what is next for him/her to work towards. While working together, the client will choose points of interest, rest stops, and scenic viewpoints, all while on the road toward true North. Once the client has determined his/her true North and the direction in which to start the journey, the real work begins. 

I’m going on an adventure! – Bilbo Baggins

First-Aid Supplies – Tools

Protecting oneself is important in any journey, especially in a journey of self-discovery and growth. Protection from outside critics, self-limiting beliefs, inner thoughts, etc. is necessary for the journey to continue. This is why gathering tools is part of the client’s experience in life coaching. Throughout coaching sessions, the client will uncover what bumps there are in the road. For example, he/she can run out of motivation, turn down the wrong path, or be misled by faulty information. Having the right supplies to deal with these challenges is critical. One tool, for example, is being able to recognize when looking through a new lens could be beneficial to shade out what may be obstructing the client’s vision. Also, applying a protective layer of self-confidence could be useful when the client is preparing for a difficult situation or decision. These first-aid supplies (tools) can be used by acknowledging when things do not go as planned and using those experiences as learning opportunities. After these learning opportunities come moments of realization and breakthroughs to find alternative routes to take. Using the tools mentioned, as well as countless others, the client will prepare for his/her journey ahead toward true North and what it may entail. 

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.- Gimli

Matches – Motivation

The final item in the coaching backpack is a box of matches. These matches can be used in many ways. They can represent the fire that life coaching can start in the client’s life regarding his/her goal. This fire can be used to light a torch and support a client in times of darkness that may lie ahead. The matches can also light a fire to keep the client warm. A warmth that will come in the feeling of knowing he/she has a safe and judge-free space to speak about anything that comes up. A warmth of knowing there is a plan even when life feels a bit unstable. Brightness comes from enlightenment when the client realizes he/she is capable of whatever path lies ahead. That he/she is responsible for responding to what life brings, and is strong enough to face it. 

Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.- Aragorn

The Full Pack 

 Just as a backpacker has essential items needed to start a journey, the items above have laid out what is needed to go on a coaching journey. This journey is fluid. Ever-changing. Each client will have different needs, therefore, his/her pack may have a few more items added to it. And each item can represent something different for each client. All in all, the client/coach relationship starts with the discovery of where this journey will go: the goal. It continues by figuring out where the client is and what direction is next. As the client walks down his/her unique path, different tools will be used to handle what comes his/her way. As the client works toward the goal, momentum sets in and fire begins from within. This fire will be maintained through accountability and acknowledgment. It is up to the client to walk the path set out before him/her. It is up to the coach to assist in packing the backpack and supporting the client along the way. At the end of the journey, it is the client who has done the work and has earned the breathtaking view. So what is left to hold us back? Let’s pack our backpack and start the journey! 


J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Rick  Warren

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

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