Nevertheless, the question still gets asked. I've been asked it by friends, as well as by clients. So what does a Life Coach do that a friend doesn't?
Well, let's start with the fact that you seek a life coach when you don't know what to do, or you don't know how to do it. The reason for that is generally beause you're too close - that old chestnut of being unable to see the wood for the trees. Well, one reason a friend may not be able to coach you is that they - also - are too close.
What if the change you want is one they don't want you to make? Say it'll mean that you won't be as available to your friend as you were before, or even that you make such a large change that there is no part for them in your life - what then? Are they going to encourage you to make that change? Even if they know its what you genuinely want to do? Can they be that selfless? It's asking a huge amount of any friendship.
What if the change they can see you need to make will be hard, with a risk of failure? Could they encourage you to take that path, without fearing for your future well-being? Again, its asking a lot of friendship.
A coach has no personal involvement in what decisions you make or what changes you choose. Their only motivation is to help and support you, to ensure you have the resources to get through that process, to achieve your aim.
Finally, your friends are lovely. They like you, they see the best in you. They don't want to hurt you and they are more likely to tell you what they think you want to hear. Even if you ask them to be brutally honest, they are going to sugar coat that pill. And you know that. So, how do you treat what they tell you? Say your friend tells you they think you should be an actor - and its an opinion right out of left field. You cannot see how they came up with that idea. You might go away and think about it a bit, particularly if you value their opinion. But you might just decide that they're nuts.
However, if through a series of conversations with a coach, with well-thought out questions being asked of you, with you carrying out the requisite research, you come to the realisation that you could be an actor - its different. Now its something concrete, something tangible, not just your best mate's opinion. And let's face it, with that big decision, you need someone more dispassionate, less personally involved, so that you will believe its not just your mates being your mates and telling you what they think you want to hear.
I say again, a coach has no personal involvement or motivation - and you know this, because you hired them. They're not your friend, they've got a job to do.