“The test of a good coach is that when they leave, others will carry on successfully” – Anonymous
Probably one of the greatest lessons I have learned, is the importance of having a coach.
In fact, if it was not for the people that I have brought into my life over the years to refine existing skills and learn completely new ones, while allowing them to challenge my mindset, I can honestly say I would not be where I am today.
Sure, you can hack away at most things yourself and over time you can make progress. But as many golf pro’s would say, you can pick up some bad habits which if not identified, can significantly limit your performance of which these bad habits may take years of re-training to un-learn.
This also translates across to other fields as well, not just in sports but relationships, wealth, health and of course business. You can go at it alone, or get a coach.
But what area of your life should you seek a coach for and what criteria should you use to select the right coach? Finally, how should you interact with your coach?
Firstly, let me say that when I use the term “coach”, I am using it very broadly. I include mentors, role models and other individuals who you may look up to or seek out, for the occasional advice, or in a more formal relationship of mutual obligation where you are paying for professional services. The important thing though is that you understand the role and circumstances that the relationship is based upon.
For instance, I recall a time when I was assisting a friend with her career. However, I realised that because of our relationship, emotionally I was too close and possibly not objective towards her needs. Hence I suggested a professional coach / career counsellor would be more suitable. So while you may think that you do have your personal network, there are several other factors to consider.
In one area of my life I am currently seeking to improve, is in public speaking and I have engaged a coach to assist me in that. The boundaries are very clear, both in time commitments, financial commitments and when there are tasks or activities to be done, I do them! Just prior to the start of the engagement, I was asked by the organisation as to what “style” of coach would I prefer. I do not recall the exact phrasing but I had a choice between more gentle, or direct. I chose “direct” as this is an area I want to improve rapidly – so in other words, I need somebody very firm so it is very clear for me what I need to do!
Whereas during my academic journey, where I was required to identify a supervisor or supervisors, I decided that what I needed was expertise on “methodology” and not on the specific expertise that I was researching for my doctorate. Also I wanted people who I enjoyed being around considering this would be a five-year journey!
So reflecting on these last few years, where I have made rapid and significant changes in my life which have been the direct result of engaging with coaches, I thought I would share my list of considerations as to how you can also get what you want fast with a coach!
Identify What Help You Require
You need to be clear at the start as to what areas of your life you are seeking assistance. Then, you may be able to further re-fine this into specific niches or specialities. For example, in business you may be seeking some marketing and advertising guidance, but what it is specifically, is for somebody who can coach you around writing great copy with calls to action.
Determine If Your Prospective Coach Has What You Require
Simply, if you a seeking ballroom dancing coaching, can your coach tango?
Are they walking the talk as we say? What results have they achieved? Are they considered an “expert” in their niche?
In some areas where you are seeking formal professional coaching, you may want to check out their credentials that could include certifications and professional memberships. This may not always be required, but it is nevertheless an important consideration.
Will You Get On With Them?
Again, be clear on your motivations for coaching, but there has also got to be mutual respect and likeability for both of you. Life in my opinion is just too short – so you do have choices and it might be that your first potential coach has all the skills but for some reason your personalities do not hit it off. If this is the case, find somebody else.
Do They Have A Track Record?
Are you able to determine whether your prospective coach has achieved similar results that you are seeking with other clients, or at minimum with themselves?
What Is Their Coaching Approach?
Do you understand how you will be working with your prospective coach and does that work for you?
For instance, my public speaking coaching is conducted via Skype with scheduled in-person meetings throughout the year. This is perfectly OK with me because the tasks I undertake between sessions are video recordings of me speaking which we then review together online.
So consider how technology can enhance your coaching experience and also open you up to the greater opportunity of accessing some of the best coaches from around the world!
What Are You Getting?
Now having gone through the previous questions, give yourself a checkpoint and ask yourself as to what you are getting?
Be specific here as it is important that before you sign off on the relationship, there is alignment around expectations between both parties. What are your mutual goals or milestones that you will work towards together? For example, in another area of my business, I am working with a successful entrepreneur and our mutual goal is a product launch. While this is benefiting me, we are both committed towards this goal of which includes the why, what, who and when.
Make sure you do this too.
What is Your Coaching Investment?
Also make sure you understand your investment upfront so you can plan. What you do not want to have happen that in the middle of this relationship, there is a money issue that comes up and can actually be quite toxic to the momentum that had already been achieved – to both parties.
At the same time, understand that if it is not working out for some reason there can be a discussion, or mechanism around a guarantee or refund.
Are There Ethical Consideration You Need To Be Aware Of?
Unfortunately, in this day and age, there are many scammers out there, or there are services being offered that perhaps are not as professional as they should be. For example, this could extend to having your coach share your email or personal details to others. Its these sort of things that could arise, but if you do your due diligence, then they can all be avoided.
Getting Carried Away At Events!
OK, many of us have attended conferences or events where various programs are on offer. This often gives you a chance to acquire some excellent programs. For myself, I have made some of the best decisions in my life at these types of events which have then taken me down new paths. Tony Robbins for example over twenty years ago resulted me going to Maui on several occasions and establishing some of the distinctions that I live by today.
Yet, as the Latin saying “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” suggests, make sure you are investing in these programs for the right reasons. It is easy sometimes to get caught up in the energy and excitement of others.
So there you have it! While I am sure there are many other considerations and questions others could think of, perhaps these will do as a start when seeking your first “coach”.
Remember, asking yourself whether that what are you seeking, can this person help you with that? Or if you are still unsure in what you are seeking, still ask yourself the question but as to whether this person can help you with finding clarity.
I wish you well!