How to choose the right coach for you

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Choosing someone to guide and support you to make the changes you want to make in your life is a big decision.

I’ve put together some ideas that I trust will give you an insight into how you might choose the right one for you.

Let’s start with 3 critical concepts.

  1. One size does not fit all.  Someone who worked well for a friend or colleague may not be right for you, so trust your instincts when they’re saying ‘not this person’.
  2. Value not price. The rate the coach charges is not a reliable indication of their level of skill or expertise, rather see it as an indication of the ‘value they intend to bring to the coaching relationship’.   And ‘value’ is something that is judged by the transformation or result that is achieved by you.  So look for testimonials that attest to the result or transformation.
  3. What coaching is and what it is not.  Coaching is not helping you be better than others because you could be better than everyone else but still not be YOUR BEST.  So coaching is helping you be THE BEST YOU CAN BE.

So how do you choose who to help you be the best you can be?

Imagine 3 pictures.

  1. a sailing dinghy
  2. a yacht – about 38’
  3. an ocean liner

What have 3 pictures of boats got to do with hiring a coach?

A dinghy is easy to manage; it’s small, not many pieces of string and rope to pull and not too many moving parts (I am talking about an optimist or similar not an Olympic starling!).  Almost anyone can jump into a dinghy and sail it around the harbour without getting into too much trouble.  Quite often you’ll find there are people around who can rescue if you get into trouble.

A yacht is slightly more complex it might have some machinery, an engine and generator and complex navigation equipment, more than one sail, maybe complex steering systems and wind vanes and self steering systems and usually several crew are involved.

So quite complex but also designed to go a lot further than the dinghy, not always with the greatest comfort – not always plain sailing but a whole heap of fun.  Often out of reach of immediate help.

The ocean liner is a huge complex set of systems and the captain of an ocean liner needs to know how all the systems go together and all the roles and accountabilities of the people involved.  This captain needs to be very competent at juggling navigation systems, structures and people all at the same time.

Life can be like a dinghy, or it can be more like the yacht going further, with more happening at once, more people, more complexity.

Or more like the ocean liner.  Very complex with multiple structures, lots of people and systems that all interconnect and have to function and work together – or not as the case may be.

You can run your life like a dinghy, yacht or ocean liner.   It’s not always easy to see that you have  choice in the matter.   That’s where a coach comes in. Each requires different skills, new ways of thinking and behaving.  If your life is like an ocean liner and you’re trying to operate it with systems designed for a dinghy you’ll sink your liner!  They just don’t change direction or stop as fast as dinghies do for starters.

Yachts and ocean liners have rules and regulations and tests and exams you must pass before you’re allowed to take them offshore.  Life’s not quite like that.  There isn’t an operating manual to follow as your life gets more complex

That’s why a coach is particularly helpful at these transitions.  When you know there are new challenges and opportunities that will require new thinking and different behaviours and actions.  Especially if you’re so busy pulling on all the bits of string and you’re not sure which one is making any difference, or if any of it is helping at all!

How to choose the right coach for you

A great coach guides you with not only what to do, but also how to do it and why –  they can teach you the actual doing because they’ve learnt it and applied it before.  But most importantly they can help you understand how you are thinking about your situation.  It was Einstein who articulated for us that in order to get a different result we must change the way we think.

Thoughts —>  Feelings —->  Actions —->  Results

In a coach look for these qualities:  They understand what it’s like to be in your shoes, they have a working understanding rather just a theoretical one?

I have had a very full life, with periods when I had so much going on it was overwhelming.  I have been at breaking point and that caused me to search out structures and systems to be in control, at the helm of my life.  I’m not saying I’m perfect but I have worked out what causes stress, overwhelm and how to continue creating the life that I want and love, every day.

To end here are some thoughts and questions designed to assist you make a decision and take action:

  • Clarity – does the coach use language you relate to and understand? Do they use metaphors or stories that you connect with?
  • Resonance – do you like this person? Do you think you will be able to follow this person’s advice and guidance?  Do you think you have similar values?  A great question to ask is – “Who were you coached by?”  “Who are your mentors?”
  • Empathy – will this coach really be able to understand where I am right now, will he/she be able to help me pinpoint what’s holding me back, keeping me stuck?  Read as much as you can about them and ask them about their lives.  Have they taken wrong turnings in their lives from which they have learnt, are they willing to talk about them.  Personally I have always chosen to be coached by someone who has taken a wrong turning or two and found the way into the driver’s seat than someone for whom the road has always been smooth.  I think they understand what it feels like to be lost, to stumble in the dark, and are better equipped to support me.
  • Action – are you energised and inspired by this coach?  You want someone who will lead you to take aligned action towards what you want and do what you need to do.
  • Track record – You want someone with a track record of success in their life.  Find out what they have done, what challenges they have overcome.
  • Effectiveness – what results have they achieved with their clients?  Read the testimonials and ask about client success.
  • Success – how do they talk about success?  Does their concept of success align with yours?  Do they model the kind of success you’re seeking?

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope you’re clearer on how to choose a coach and what to look for to help you take on the challenges showing up in your life so that it will turn out how you want.

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