Having been a qualified and accredited Coach for almost 15 years, I have seen the coaching industry go from an unknown entity to an industry that is over populated with coaches with diverse specialities, of all levels of skill, experience and knowledge. It seems today that everyone you speak to is a coach.
Why should you consider a coach? Coaching is a great process to move you away from any given situation and toward a new destination. You might say, well if I need to talk about anything I can do that with my friends or family ... the reality is that you've been doing that all your life and still you're where you are now, rather than where you want to be.
Coaching is really a process, it is truly simple, and with a skilled coach it can bring you to new realisations, help you untangle your thoughts and bring about clarity. There is also a lot to be said about the fact that when you speak to someone who not only does not have an 'agenda' for your life that you will be more honest, more detailed and when you hear yourself talking through these things, very often you will see the very thing that was blocking or holding you back. A coach's skilled questioning and other techniques can also help you stop fooling yourself, direct your thinking and altoghther bring about results more rapidly than you can do on your own.
However, like everything else in life ... not all coaches are equal. As I've said before the market is truly full of coaches and the difficulty is who to choose amongst them? I firmly believe that there is a coach for everyone and just like doctors or therapists not everyone gets on with the same coach. Here are some of the things I do recommend when you are seeking out a coach ... these are my personal opinions based on my many years of coaching and helping people.
- Be clear about what you are looking to sort out, solve, address, achieve. Then look for someone who specialises in that. I so often say to people ... "if you're facing criminal charges in court are you going to look for the best criminal lawyer or going to go with your friend's, cousin who is a divorce lawyer". You want to go with someone who specialises in your problem, issue, challenge not someone who is in the general vicinity.
- Check what kind of experience the person has ... while coaching principles apply across all areas ... I do believe that expertise in an area will deepen the experience for both the client and the coach. For example, I specialise in helping Entrepreneurs who want to move their business forward achieve success and clarity. I have been an Entrepreneur for almost 2 decades and I've done so across different businesses and in different countries. I believe that this not only gives me insight into business as a business owner but in the challenges, finances, opportunities, etc. Does the coach who has been in a corporate job all their working career and started their own business in the last year share the same experience ... unlikely. Not to say that they may not be well suited to helping people in a similar position. Personally I've worked with coaches and depth of experience is something to look for.
- Find out what your coach's style, look for what works rather than what keeps you where you are. Ask if they are
- a non-directional coach - in other words they will never tell you anything and only allow you to come to your own answers,
- a semi-directional coach - they may share insights along the way but won't interfere with your process
a kick-ass coach - they will let you follow your process but they won't let you delude yourself, tell yourself and others lies and hide from the reality of what you are doing. I'm a kick-ass coach but primarily because I work with Entrepreneurs and it's tough out there and they want solutions and answers as they don't necessarily have them themselves. This is really combined a lot with mentoring and not strictly coaching.
- Look for experience and testimonials, if necessary ask to speak to someone who has worked with your prospective coach before you commit. To me this is really as important as having credentials as a coach, I've known coaches with the best qualifications who can't coach worth a wit and those without who can. I think you want to look for someone who is qualified and accredited but also has done solid work with REAL people.
- ALWAYS have a conversation. Personally I don't offer an hour coaching session, although some people do ... you don't go to any other therapist or consultant for a free hour why would you expect coaches to do the same. I do, however, feel that the coaching relationship can be deeply personal and you do want to know that you are dealing with the right person and fit so look for someone who at least offers a 15-20 minute discovery session in which you can mutually agree to go forward, or not.
- Value, the value of a great coach is worth their weight in gold. If this one person could help you change your world, work, relationships, business, self-esteem for the better what is that worth to you? Don't undervalue your coach, unless you undervalue yourself.
Coaching is a simple but powerful process, get the right coach and you will be living a fuller, better life before you know it ...