Why get a coach? The answer was obvious to me after my eight years as a self-employed creator of wearable art. I learned in those years that it was nearly impossible to simultaneously hold a vision, map out a path, walk that path and measure my own progress. I was so often distracted by the apparently conflicting demands of the marketplace and of my heart. Even my body seemed to throw obstacles in my path as tendonitis or other ills appeared to contradict my vision of right livelihood.
As I thought about the kinds of problems I faced I came to understand and accept that it would always be difficult to have both an overarching view of my long-term goals, a cogent understanding of my near-term strategies, and a confident and simple approach to walking my daily path. Once I thought about it the reason was obvious: each of these activities requires that I adopt a different perspective. And guess what, it’s hard to be in more than one place at a time, so often I would be conducting one activity from the perspective of another. No wonder I felt confused and overwhelmed.
Coaching offers a solution by providing objective recognition, validation, and reinforcement. A coach helps you to clarify your goals, test your plans against your resources and your intentions, and measure your progress. A coach asks you to live up to standards you set together while reminding you to enjoy the grace of being a human being and not a ‘droid. Coaching deals with the human condition: it’s not about being or even becoming perfect.
I think of the kind of business coaching and personal growth coaching which I practice as motivating, instructing, focusing, correcting and encouraging my clients to find solutions to their problems and to achieve a fundamental way of being in the world that flows organically and authentically from who they really are.
It’s easy to see that successful coaching requires a good match between coach and client. If you are interested in getting a coach, start by asking yourself these questions:
– What are my goals and expectations around hiring a coach?
– What’s my time frame for achieving them?
– What’s my learning style? What kind of person is likely to support that style?
– How much can I afford to invest in coaching?
Find at least three coaches to interview. The International Coach Federation has extensive listings of its members coaches. Another resource is The Coaches Training Institute. Ask around among your professional colleagues, inquire at the local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration or business schools.
Select two or three coaches to interview. In addition to the following sample questions, ask any that reflect your personal priorities and concerns. It’s a good idea to write out your questions in advance.
1. Ask about their experience coaching people who have goals and challenges similar to your own.
2. Do they work by phone, in person, by email? How long are the sessions? How frequent?
3. What do they charge? When is payment due?
4. What support do they offer between sessions?
5. Are you required to buy any support materials (books, workbooks, etc.)?
6. What kind of commitment do they require? Many coaches ask that you commit to a preliminary two or three month period after which you decide whether or not to continue working together.
7. Ask for a couple of references and follow up by calling them.
Coaching can introduce you to the self you were meant to be. The time you invest in choosing your coach will be amply repaid by his or her greater ability to recognize, nurture and evoke that self.