Every Superstar Needs a Coach
One of my most vivid memories from junior high school was walking in the doors the first day and not knowing where the heck I was supposed to be or how to find out. My parents had moved me from a one room, 30 student private parochial school to a bustling public junior high school that must have had at least 500 students.
I was a shy, gawky twelve year old and felt like such a baby standing there as streams of much cooler kids with their shellacked, feathered hair and upturned collars streamed past me in my pigtails and jumper. I would have given anything that day for somebody to take me by the hand and help me figure the whole thing out.
If you’ve started freelancing or own your own business, you probably experience that first day of junior high school feeling more often than you’d care to admit. It’s hard asking for help when everyone around you already seems to know the answers and besides, you’re not even sure what the right questions are anyway.
Of course, we can and regularly do figure things out on our own but not without paying a hefty price in time and blows to our self esteem. The question is, why do we feel like we have to do it all on our own?
How a Coach Can Help
There are dozens of different kinds of coaches available to help you with your business and personal growth. There are coaches that can help you launch a product, get unstuck, balance motherhood and business and even storytelling and personality brand coaching. While they all have a different focus and different approaches, in general a good coach will help you:
- Identify areas of strength and weakness
- Ask yourself the right questions to develop your own game plan
- Work through negative or self defeating thought processes
- Help find ways to get and stay motivated
- Give you assignments that are designed to get you closer to your goals
By enlisting the help of a coach, you’ll be able to work more productively towards your goals and waste less time going in circles, trying to figure out things on your own as you go. No matter how smart or talented we are as individuals, we all have blind spots and places where we get stuck.
Think about how much easier it is to back out of a tight spot if we have somebody who is good at giving signals to guide us out. We’re still the ones doing the driving but having that help makes it less likely that we’ll hit something and gives us more confidence in going forward.
There is a reason that athletes and performing artists hire coaches. It’s not because they lack natural ability and talent, it’s because with the help of a coach they can develop their talent to the fullest potential by having somebody who can show them mistakes in their technique and give them productive exercises to improve their performance.
How to find a coach
Before you can find a coach, you need to decide what kind of coaching would give you and/or your business the most benefit. You might decide that hiring a personal coach to help you with general self improvement is the best investment. Or perhaps there is a specific problem that you need to solve, like a difficulty with communication or you want guidance before you dive into a new endeavor or take a big step.
One of the best ways to find a coach is through word of mouth. This is one of the many ways that having a strong network can come in handy. Get the word out that you are looking for recommendations for a particular kind of coach and before you know it, you’ll have a strong short list to start interviewing.
If you’ve yet to develop a network, an Internet search can help you find a coach. Be sure to specify your location plus the kind of coach you want to work with if you’d prefer to work with somebody local.
Once you have a list of coaches, you’ll want to figure out which one is best suited towards your personality or communication style. That doesn’t mean you’ll want to find somebody who is just there to tell you “You’re awesome! Get ‘em tiger!” rather that you’ll get better results if your coach’s style challenges you in a good way, rather than repelling or offending you.
Many coaches have a blog which is a good way to get a sense of their personality and approach to coaching. Reading a few posts can help you decide if it’s worth taking the next step and getting a consultation. You may also be able to read testimonials from former clients, although it’s to be expected that these will be uniformly positive, you can also use them to get a sense of the approach the coach takes. You could also contact the people giving the testimonials to get more information, but be mindful and respectful that their time, like yours is limited.
Of course, the ultimate test of whether a coach is a good fit for you is to simply talk to them. Most will offer a free consultation to allow you to ask questions and get a better picture of the approach they take and their personal style. Be upfront about your expectations and concerns, this will help save your time and the coaches if it turns out that he or she can’t deliver what you want.
I’ve hired a coach, now what?
All of the coaching in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t put forth the effort to put the advice into practice and do the exercises/assignments. It’s a common human foible that we often consider taking the first step towards improvement, such as hiring a coach or joining a gym, as being just as good as completing the entire process. This is simply not good enough and to get the most out of coaching, you will have to make following through a priority.
Schedule specific time on your calendar to work on your assignments rather than assuming that you’ll just fit them in as time allows. Don’t rely on having time in the evenings and weekends to catch up on coaching work, the fact is we’re all tired and need the downtime. Make appointments with yourself to work on your assignments and honor them just the same as you would an appointment with a client or meeting with a colleague.
Don’t be discouraged if you hit a wall or you feel your enthusiasm waning. This is a natural part of the process and you can work together with your coach to make a plan for how to handle these situations. Remember that progress isn’t always even and you’ll have periods of rapid ascent as well as setbacks and plateaus.
Give coaching a fair shot, but if a particular coach or method isn’t working out for you, don’t feel like you have to stick it out no matter what. Don’t let sunk costs convince you to continue investing your time in something that isn’t paying off.
The following is a brief and by no means comprehensive list of sites and blogs by well-respected coaches that can give you a fuller taste of what coaching is all about.
A Daring Adventure: Life coaching with Tim Brownson (disclaimer: I have worked with Tim Brownson professionally in the past and consider him a personal friend)
Jonathan Fields: Conversations at the crossroads of work, play, entrepreneurship and life
Johnny B Truant: The internet made awesome
SuperWAHM: Expert business planning
The Mogul Mom: For moms running a business, raising a family and rocking both
The Launch Coach: I get people to buy what you’re selling
Productive Flourishing: Strategies for thriving in life and business
Escape from Cubicle Nation: From corporate prisoner to thriving entrepreneur
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