Elite athletes have them. Successful business leaders have them. Famous personalities have them. Everyone needs a coach from time to time.
So what exactly is a coach, and when do you need one? In this article, I am going to explain what coaching is and share with you the 8 common signs that you may need a coach and what to consider when choosing a coach.
What is coaching and how will a coach help me?
Coaching is the process of raising self-awareness and unlocking potential through collaborative discussion. Simply put, a coach will help you to:
- Identify and understand where you are and how you feel
- Gain clarity around your direction and its importance
- Set meaningful goals and commit to actionable plans
- Move forward and overcome counterproductive behaviours
A coach is many things to many people; a listening ear, a trusted friend, an objective and neutral sounding board, someone you can share your deepest innermost feelings with, someone you can rely upon to help you gain perspective, someone who will challenge you when you need to be challenged etc.
8 signs that you may need a coach
1. Being held back by self-limiting beliefs
I can’t do it. I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy. How I feel is not important. Do you feel like this or use expressions like this regularly? We all have self-limiting beliefs from time to time, and in some instances, these self-imposed shackles can be so strong, that they keep us stuck in the past and prevent us from moving forward. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting. This is where a coach will help you to identify the root cause of these beliefs, process how you feel about them, and help you to move forward by overcoming counterproductive behaviours.
2. Lacking direction and purpose
Do you feel like something is lacking or missing? Not sure what you are doing, where you are going, or what you are going to do when you get there? Do you feel like you are living your very own groundhog day? Welcome to the club. Everyone experiences moments in their life when they feel directionless and lose sight of what’s important. This is where a coach will help you to gain some clarity around your direction and its importance, to set meaningful goals and commit to actionable plans.
3. Feeling stagnant or stuck
Were you once at the top of your game, but are now struggling to find any form? Are things just not working out the way you planned? Do you feel like you are taking one step forward and two steps back? Do you feel like a shadow of your former self? Do you find yourself focussing on negatives or blaming others for the way you feel? You’re not alone. Everyone has highs and lows in their life. This is where a coach will help you to identify what has changed between the past and present, to visualise what being at the top of your game looks like, and identify what needs to change for that to become a reality.
4. Lost enthusiasm and passion
Why should I bother? I’m not in the mood. Does it matter? This will be good enough. Do you feel like this or use expressions like this regularly? Have you lost that passion or spark? Do you lack energy and enthusiasm? Do you feel bored or lethargic? Are you doing stuff just for the sake of doing it? Everyone experiences these destructive behaviours from time to time. This is where a coach will help you to identify what has led you to feel this way, to explore how you would like to feel and how that feeling translates into action.
5. Feel out of comfort zone
Do you find yourself in unfamiliar territory? Are you in a role, or about to move into a role that you’ve never done before? Do you find yourself worrying about every little detail and asking what if all the time? Are you constantly double guessing yourself and avoiding having to make decisions? Do you feel like you are in a sink or swim situation? This is where a coach will help you to identify what you need to do to succeed, the barriers that might get in your way and how to overcome them.
6. Procrastinate and don’t follow through
Do you have a habit of finding reasons for delaying or not doing something? Are you constantly starting new things but never finishing them? Do you know what you need to do, but aren’t following through? Do you need more personal accountability? This is where a coach will help you to identify the reason behind this behaviour, to gain some clarity around your direction and its importance, to set meaningful goals and commit to actionable plans.
7. Feeling anxious and stressed
Do you feel frustrated or nervous? Do you experience headaches or stomachaches? Do you feel fatigued or have trouble sleeping? These are signs that you may be stressed, and while everyone experiences stress from time-to-time, it mustn’t interfere with your life. This is where a coach will help you to identify what triggers your anxiety and stress, to recognise that you cannot control everything and generate actions for managing stress and maintaining a positive attitude.
8. Butting heads
Are you constantly butting heads with certain types of people? Are there certain types of people who frustrate and infuriate you? Do you go out of your way to avoid having to communicate with some people? Are you finding it difficult to relate to some people? There are always going to be people we struggle to get on with. This is where a coach will help you to better understand and appreciate yourself and those around you and identify ways to relate to them better.
How do I choose the right coach?
Engaging a coach is a highly personal decision, and whilst it may seem like a relatively simple task, finding someone who is right for you is not so simple. With this in mind, here's a list of things to consider:
One of the common mistakes that people make is that a coach will do the heavy lifting and instantly solve their problems. At the end of the day, only one person can solve your problems, and that is you. The right coach will help by challenging you to rethink your thought process and rationale. They will challenge you to look at issues from different perspectives. They will challenge you to assess your own performance. They will challenge you to see the things you need to see and act in the way you need to act.
- Change does not happen overnight. Changing behaviour takes even longer. Sustainable change takes even longer. The length of your coaching engagement will depend on the complexity of this change.
- The coach may act as an accountability partner, but you are ultimately accountable for ensuring that the change occurs and sticks. This requires courage, determination and discipline.
The Chemistry Session
Have a 15 - 30 minute 'Chemistry Session' to get to know one another. The purpose of the session is for you to ascertain if they are the right coach for you, and for them to ascertain if you are the right coachee for them. What does your 'gut' tell you?
- What sort of background do they have, are there any similarities to yours, and how might that background benefit or hinder your coaching needs?
- What sort of personality do you click with best, and how might this benefit or hinder your coaching needs? For example, do you click more with someone who is logic or people focussed?
- What do they value, and how might these values benefit or hinder your coaching needs?
Real-World Experience (Specific to Leadership/Executive Coaching)
Has the coach walked in your shoes? This may be a contentious point for some, but I strongly believe that the right coach should have a basic understanding of the challenges that you have faced or are going to face. It’s this real-world experience that will enable them to ask the right questions at the right time.
- What sort of positions have they held?
- What sort of responsibilities have they had?
- What sort of organisations have they worked for?
- What sort of industries have they worked in?
- How many reports have they managed?
- What level of reports have they managed?
- What achievements have they had in leadership roles?
- What similar experiences have they faced. etc?
Please note: The coach’s real-world experience can be as much an advantage as it is a disadvantage, in that, it can bias their coaching approach if they are not truly in tune with your specific needs.
Know What You Need
The coach and coachee relationship is very personal, so it’s important that you be very clear about the type of coach you need. Do you need someone who is highly energetic and expressive or someone who is moderate paced and less expressive? Do you need a 'yes person', or someone who will always push and challenge you?
- Do you need a coach who is logic/task oriented or people/emotion oriented?
- Do you need a coach who is fast-paced or moderate-paced?
- Do you need a coach who will kick your butt when it’s needed, or one that will be more understanding?
- Do you need a coach with lots of enthusiasm, or one with a very calm demeanour?
- Do you need a coach that will just listen to your thoughts or one that will challenge them?
Do they have the right coaching experience? Do they have a breadth of experience coaching different types of people? Do they have a depth of experience coaching people with similar backgrounds and challenges to you?
- How many people have they coached?
- What type of people have they coached?
- What type of coaching engagements have they had?
- What type of coaching do they specialise in?
It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, an elite athlete, partner or parent. Everyone experiences ups and downs, good times and bad times, highs and lows. Everyone experiences times in their life when they need someone in their corner.
Life wasn’t supposed to be easy, but it can be a little easier with the help of a coach!