When starting fresh and young after completing our formal education, the first thing that we usually have in mind is to look for a job. We have debts to pay or, in the best case, no money at all. Therefore, getting a job, and being initially paid for what we have learned after all of those years, becomes our first priority. Coaching is not.
Whether the first job we get is the one we ever dreamed of (very unlikely), or a temporary, low-paid, boring one (the most probable scenario), we are happy we got it, and we can start thinking ahead with a different perspective than when we were just broke-students.
This is the general process many people go through. What have we been studying for anyway if it’s not to get a job? To get money and start planning our future with a sense of independence that we have not had before?
Generally, we don’t have, at that moment, a clear picture of what we want to do. Except for remarkable exceptions, we keep taking decisions along the way, many times based on the circumstances around us rather than based on our true wishes and desires.
And we keep learning from our mistakes, getting distracted from our initial dreams and using too often words like ‘can’t’, ‘difficult’ or ‘impossible’. And more importantly, the people we turn to for guidance, either our parents (who belong to another generation/reality) or our friends, are at the same level of awareness of the problem as we are.
I think it was Einstein who said
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when created them”
Therefore, we do not find easy answers to our questions or doubts and keep trying and failing as we grow.
Consequence: progress in our life is hard and slow.
I fully subscribe in first person to that scenario. We all know people in our environment whom we consider more ‘successful’ than us and less ‘successful’ than us (whatever our definition of success is), but I observed that almost everyone followed the pattern described above.
Many years after I walked that above-described path I discovered coaching as being the alternative.
Very commonly used in the sporting world, it’s still in its infancy in the business world.
Among the benefits of using a coach, we will find
- Significant improvements in our performance,
- More clarity in what we do and why we do it,
- Better organization and the effectiveness of our actions,
- Improvements in self-confidence, relationships, communication skills, and life/work balance.
And all of this will translate into faster results and higher satisfaction with what we do and with ourselves.
It’s difficult to see the ‘investment’ in a coach at the beginning of our careers. We rather see it as a ‘cost’ we cannot afford. A slight shift in our thinking can provide amazing results in whatever we do.
But, even though we have heard or read or been told of these advantages many times, there is still resistance to reaching out and looking for a coach. Maybe we do not fully understand what a personal coach is.
A coach is nothing more (and nothing less) than a person who will keep you moving in the direction of whatever end result you would set for yourself, providing support, confidentiality, honesty, and an environment to explore possibilities that you may not see walking alone.
This is my personal definition. You can get hundreds of them out there.
We have to understand that coaching is not:
A coach IS NOT a person who will tell you what to do.
A coach IS a person who:
1. will help you discover what to do and what not to do,
2. will support you in your decision,
3. will encourage you to keep going, and on social media to ensure he or she has the proper expertise, background, and professional experience to fit your requirements.
4. will make sure you are consistently and persistently moving in the direction towards what you want to be, to achieve, or to have.
If you think about the fact that the most successful people (and again, we can turn to sports, but also applies in business) work with a coach, you can agree that it looks like they (the successful ones) cannot be so wrong.
But still, many people resist working with a coach
Despite the explicit advantages of working with a coach (and this is the reason why the growth in this industry is so significant: in the US only, the coaching industry represented more than $1 billion in 2017), many people are still concerned about the benefits of working with a coach.
Out of so many reasons why people resist hiring a coach, I would point out three of them:
The coaching profession is unregulated, unlike most traditional professions.
There are many ‘schools of coaching’ with different approaches which award coaching credentials, ranging from top-rated and high-standard courses to other than handing over a coaching certificate to you after a weekend of training. This is the biggest challenge coaches face today: the number of incompetent and untrained coaches that are damaging the reputation of the industry.
Although any person with the right personal qualities, attitude, and professional ethics and standards could provide you with great results when working together on a coaching relationship, you want to make sure this person has some world-class organization behind, assessing his or her qualifications and aptitudes.
2. Sharing personal stuff with a stranger is uncomfortable.
This is not usually the reason we hear. We usually hear things like:
Nobody knows me better than me
I cannot afford to pay a coach
I can manage without help
I know someone who had a terrible experience with a coach
We do not use these ‘excuses’ when we go to a doctor, lawyer, or tax advisor, even though they cost money, we have to tell them personal details or someone had a terrible experience with doctors, lawyers, or tax advisors
Maybe a good similarity could be why many men do not visit their urologist to talk about sexual problems (it feels very uncomfortable) and only visit them when it’s related to kidney stones.
3. The coach is not an expert on anything other than coaching.
Why do CEOs of Fortune 500 companies work with coaches?
Why do world stars in sports work with coaches?
Do these coaches know more about leading business than our CEO? Do they know more about tennis than the current #1 ATP player?
Of course not, but there is one thing coaches help them with, which give them a tremendous advantage: they point out areas of improvement, blind spots, that the CEO or #1 player cannot see. And this changes everything.
The role of the coach is not to be an expert. The role of the coach is to help you to get beyond your current limitations, beliefs, and level of awareness so you can change your current reality.
An unfair advantage to improve your situation
Having a coach gives us a tremendous advantage to move beyond our current situation faster and achieve our goals.
This profession did not exist when I finished College and started my career. I had to figure everything out by myself, by trial and error, by learning from people who had an aptitude to explore my potential that was not comparable with today’s professional coaches.
My recommendation, therefore, is for you not to repeat my experience.
Do your research and hire a coach.
When searching for a coach, look at two different aspects:
As per the school: A worldwide renowned school of coaching.
Although their certification process differs, all of them have made great progress in creating and developing the most comprehensive, standardized, and internationally-relevant models for accreditation in coaching.
Having all of them a specific approach, they all strive to meet ethical guidelines and high professional standards for their coaches to follow.
2. As per the coach: Make a little bit of research on social media to ensure he or she has the proper expertise, background, and professional experience to fit your requirements.
Unlike other professional disciplines, like, for instance, consultancy, a professional relationship with a coach, to be effective, is usually much longer. For this reason, selecting the most appropriate coach for you becomes a critical success factor.
Many coaching contracts extend for a minimum of one year and many coaches refuse to engage in coaching relationships if the period is below six months. It has been proved that these periods are the most beneficial for the client to experience significant improvements.
For that reason, do not rush. Take your time. Do your research, read what they post or write, interview them and choose the one you feel more comfortable with. The relationship will be long.
And after experiencing a coaching relationship, I would love to hear from you and have your personal opinion shared with us so that many others could benefit from it.
To your success,