Why do you need a coach?
Do I need a coach? If you are asking this, you are in the right place. There are two answers; the quick and easy is no, you don't need a coach. No one truly needs a coach. You live your life, and there are no right or wrong answers in life, just different paths. So why would anyone hire a coach if they don't need them? Because with a coach, you can make the impossible possible.
When you hire a coach, you aren't hiring someone to walk in front of you and show you what to do. You are hiring someone to walk beside you and help you understand what you need to do. A coach's main job is to listen to you from an unbiased standpoint and ask you questions. Make you think about your problem from different angles. Help you figure out why this issue matters for you. Only after that can a coach break the problem down into a doable first step for you.
Usually, when someone hears this, they immediately say, "oh, like a counselor or psychologist!" to which the answer is "kind of." A counselor or a psychologist listens to you, but the biggest difference is that they both work with your past. Seeing your past struggles and helping you overcome them sets you up for success in the future. In coaching, your coach isn't concerned with your past. While your history and struggles have shaped you and how you interact with the world, your coach is only interested in one thing: your future.
To dive into your future, on your first session with your coach, they will want to know "what do you want more of," "what is your dream for your future," and "what obstacles do you need help overcoming." Suppose you have answers to these questions already; excellent! If you don't, don't sweat it. That's why you have a coach to help you figure this out! A good coach in your first session will help you focus by sifting through your priorities. In doing this, you can identify the one area that will create the most significant effect in your life. Only once you have figured out which area to focus on can coaching begin.
Now by sitting down and creating that focus, you might expect your coach to tell you what to do. But even if you think, "my goal is to start a business, and I know next to nothing about business," your coach will never tell you how to proceed. See, the thing that makes coaching unique to consulting or mentoring is that coaching believes you have all the tools you need to accomplish your problems. While you might know nothing about business, coaching will show you the skills you already have that will help you to get the skills you need for your business. Kind of hard to wrap your brain around, eh?
To illustrate this, let me tell you a story of a client that we will call Amy. Amy was confused about a term she had heard, "deliberate reflection." She thought she understood the concept but had no idea of how to integrate it into her life. When she sat down with her coach, she wanted answers and, more importantly, she wanted to know how to use this skill in her daily life. Through a one-hour session, she was able to drill down into what being deliberately reflective meant to her and why it was so important to have it. From there, Amy identified the deliberate reflection skills that she already had. More importantly, she recognized talents that she would need to learn to become more deliberately reflective. When Amy left her session, she felt confident in what she was doing and why she wanted to do it. She had taken her first step to becoming deliberately reflective.
Coaching, however, does more than show you your talents! For many people, the idea of dreaming about a future is impossible. They have never thought beyond what they have now. In this case, the coach will sit down with them and explore their values, who they are, who they want to be, and ultimately help them dream of their future!
A quick story about a client we will name Mark. Mark was a middle-aged man; he had a wife, kids, a degree, and everything he wanted from his life. He, however, wanted more! For Mark, the last time he had dreamt about his future was when he was 18 and deciding what degree to get. When he came to coaching, it became apparent Mark hadn't thought of his future for a long, long time. His first session was all about looking at Mark's core values or what drove him. His second session was all about expanding Mark's identity and looking at who he wanted to become. The third session was dedicated to how what he was becoming would impact those around him and what he truly wanted out of life! After this was all done, Mark articulated what he wanted and knew what he would need to get to his destination! By the time he left coaching, he was ready to face the world with renewed vigor!
For some clients, they use coaching to help them overcome obstacles to their dream. Some know their vision but are now stuck in the mud, not going anywhere fast. When this happens, your coach will focus more on where you are stuck. Help you see the problem from all angles and let you decide which course of action is the best for you.
A client named Sam had a problem with her boss. He was treating her poorly and was exceedingly critical of Sam. This had the knock-on effect of Sam feeling undervalued and depressed. In her coaching session, it became clear she wasn't ready to leave her job but needed more respect at work to do this, and Sam realized she would need to talk to her boss. The major obstacle to confronting her boss was a feeling that she wouldn't be supported by friends, co-workers, and family. Knowing this, Sam devised a two-part plan. The first part was to garner the support of her friends and family, and the second was to get the help of her co-workers. Talking to these two communities would increase her confidence, allowing her to email her boss and sit down with them. At the end of her time in coaching, Sam had talked to her boss. While he still wasn't pleasant to work with, her working conditions had drastically improved! Her boss was much less critical of Sam, and she felt closer to her family and co-workers!
Getting a coach sounds pretty good, huh? So how do I figure out which coach is right for me? The first question you should ask about any coach is do they know about the International Coaching Federation? Coaching's most recognized licensing body is the International Coaching Federation. They dictate what a coach is and isn't, what a coach must know as a part of their training, and the necessary qualifications to be a coach. If a coach doesn't know about the International Coaching Federation, beware.
The second question is, do you and your coach connect? Do you feel heard during a session? Do you feel comfortable talking to your coach? Do you feel like you can trust your coach? If the answer is no to all these questions, then it's time to find another coach. How much benefit you get from a coach is dependent on the relationship you have with them. You can have the best coach in the world, but if you don't feel safe and comfortable talking to them, it will be all for naught!
The third question to ask is what kind of coach do you need? There are many different coaches out there with many different titles. It can be confusing trying to pick one. The easiest way to see if a coach can help you is to look at the content they are creating on their website. Seeing a coach's content can give you an idea of the issues they work with and can be a great place to start your own self-improvement. Most coaches will also clearly articulate their specialization and how they can help you. If you like the vibes a coach is giving off, give them a call and book a coaching session. See if it is a good fit, and if it's not, that's okay. There are a million different coaches for a million different people. Find one that works for you!