Things to know before hiring a coach.
“Coach the person, not the problem!” I saw this comment on LinkedIn recently, and it reminded me of how confusing the concept of ‘coaching’ can be.
What is it?
What isn’t it?
And how can you tell if it could help you?
Before I began my coaching qualifications, I was just as baffled as you are. I’d heard of sporting professionals and CEOs having a coach, and then I started to see and hear more and more professionals using coaching in their titles and services. What were they doing? Why did people need them? I was working as a Business English Trainer at the time. Was coaching for me?
Deciding on the definition of what coaching is has been explored since the early 1980s. However, it is constantly being developed as the ICF are continuously re-defining and coaching itself changes with the times.
The ICF ( International Coaching Federation) has provided us with a clear definition.
“Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximise their personal and professional potential.”
Having been coached myself, I ask myself the following question. “Who wouldn’t benefit from being inspired and getting the most out of life?”
If a lightbulb has just gone on in your head about what coaching is, you might be wondering what a coach does.
What does a coach do?
A coach works differently from a mentor, counsellor and consultant. In the two way process, sometimes described as a journey or even a dance, a coach within a coaching session helps people open up to new ways of thinking in a trusting and supportive way.
With its short term and general focus on helping identify and work toward a goal or a new insight, the process also enables people to use their full strengths.
It’s all about listening carefully and asking appropriate, well-placed, powerful questions, enabling people to have new ideas, practice, and then, with new attitudes, become part of their work and life. It’s about two-way communication, trust and mutual respect.
Coaching is a highly personal interactive process with a distinctive approach. It’s about making better goals, becoming the person it takes to achieve that goal, taking more inspired decisions and also acting with more courage in the world.
It’s also an incredible journey to fulfilment, happiness, sustainable personal growth and enables a considerable sense of well being.
There are several ways a person can become more self-aware, focused and understand themselves better, and coaching is one of these ways.
You are so much more than your job title and family role.
How do you define yourself?
You will have some beautiful facts and data about who you are. Your job title, role in the family, education and achievements are all a part of this.
People often place these facts and data above the water’s surface. It’s what we see, and people can describe it very readily.
Once we dive below the surface in a coaching session and get to know ourselves better (just like an iceberg or a water lily), a person can find a much larger supporting structure underneath the surface.
Often not spoken about (or even thought about) are our patterns of behaviour and our emotional responses. Within a coaching session, a person can become much more aware of these patterns and reactions. A coach is there to guide a person through becoming more aware. Encourages them to explore, be curious and finally question any assumptions people may have.
This experience can be challenging. However, once a coach has permission to stretch you to think differently and open up to answering powerful questions, this leads you to more self-awareness. So let’s now focus on the challenge and how challenge (sometimes known as stretching) can take a person out of their comfort zone.
Are you ready to step out of your Comfort Zone?
You’ll probably know that when you leave a comfortable place, the next zone or level feels a stretch that could be followed with some fear and finally, the risk may raise its ugly head.
Does this sound scary?
Well, let me try to put you at ease.
Once we remember that, we can often pop in, then back out of these zones, as this isn’t a linear process. There will be time for rest, reflection and perhaps reassessment.
Just imagine what happens to you, your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and your creativity when asked one of the following.
“How will things be in six months once you have implemented this?”
“When would it be a good time for you to take a good look at what concerns you?”
“What needs to happen here so that you can do the best you can do regarding passing your exams?”
These pretty thought-provoking questions and stretching you out of your comfort zone feels uncomfortable. There is then time for self-reflection to make sense of what these questions have helped you start thinking about. I can’t remember ever being asked about my future before I experienced coaching. All too often the reverse happened and I was given advice a long the lines of
“Well, if you don’t study hard enough, you’ll never get good marks.”
I remember this filled me with worry and anxiety. It also left me feeling without much hope. What was studying hard, and how will I know what is enough?
Which of these two ways of communicating stretches your imagination, enables you to get creative and doesn’t disempower?
It’s so much more important to focus on the now and the future and use powerful questions to empower people to become the best version of themselves.
I want to leave you with a quote from Brene Brown.
“Coaching is an art, and it’s far easier said than done. It takes courage to ask a question rather than offer up advice, provide an answer or unleash a solution.”
Are you ready to make a difference in your life and act with more courage by investing in that coaching conversation? If so, then please get in touch.