10 Powerful Questions Life Coaches Can Use (Case Study)

Powerful questions are a hallmark of life coaching. In this post, we’ll review a hypothetical life coaching case and generate 10 powerful questions to ask the client.

This is part of my MCC coach mentoring through Carly Anderson, an MCC mentor coach and ICF reviewer. First, we’ll look at the case, which features a presenting issue from a client. Then, we’ll generate 10 powerful questions to ask. Simple!

The Life Coaching Case

Hi, I’m Jim, the Executive Director of a consulting firm. I’ve been recognized as a high performer over many years with the company. I have 52 employees in my team, with 10 direct reports spread across California, Idaho, and Illinois. I regularly travel to meet with clients and with team members. I’m often asked to speak at conferences around the country and internationally because of my knowledge, and I get a lot of positive comments on the creativity of my presentations.

I absolutely love my work and enjoy the national and international travel that comes with my job. I’m excited to visit with friends and colleagues in many cities and enjoy having dinner, especially with those that share my passion for tasting different wines from around the world. I love marathon running as it keeps me sane in my busy life.

My personal life is less satisfying. I feel disappointed that I’ve never reached the same peak of success as I have experienced in my professional life. At 61, I’m wondering whether I should get serious about planning for my retirement, although that thought scares me.  I’ve been divorced for many years and my kids are grown up. While I have had some meaningful personal relationships, I’m starting to feel the desire to have a more permanent relationship again. I’d really like to work through my thoughts about next steps, including the personal issues I’ve given you here.

10 Powerful Questions in Response to this Life Coaching Case Study

  1. What are your current thoughts on your next steps?
  2. What is it within you that’s inspiring the desire to have a more permanent relationship again?
  3. Regarding your personal life, you mentioned: the scary thought of retirement planning and a desire to have a permanent relationship again. Which of these would you like to explore further today?
  4. What would a peak of success in a personal relationship look like compared to a peak of success in business?
  5. What would need to change for you in order to make a permanent relationship possible?
  6. On a scale of 1-10, how important to you is having a personal relationship again?
  7. What mindset would be most helpful in working through your thoughts about next steps and your personal issues?
  8. I can tell you’re a successful, passionate, and multi-faceted person. Which of your inner resources would be most helpful in exploring these issues today?
  9. What are you seeking to gain from working through your thoughts and next steps today?
  10. What do you believe you need to learn in order to resolve your issue around both retirement planning and personal relationships?
  11. I hear that your personal life is less satisfying. How do you want it to be?

OK, that was 11 questions. Now, here are some crazy questions!

  1. What if every thought you’ve had about these issues has been misguided and not helpful? What new thoughts would you need?
  2. Imagine the man who has it all. Everything: Business success, meaningful friendships, interesting hobbies, and a fulfilling romantic relationship. What are the differences between him and you?
  3. Which part of your thought process is pure pollyanna fantasy?
  4. What if I said you’d have to give up something important to you in order to get what you want? What do you imagine that might be?
  5. How might your expectations in life be out-of-whack? (lol)

Now for Some Terrible Life Coaching Questions

  1. Who do you think you are that you can have it all?
  2. How can you expect, after so many years globe-trotting in the business world and basically living for yourself, to just manifest a committed personal relationship just because you’re getting lonely in your old age?
  3. What makes you think it’s not too late to have a great personal life?