Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, once shared that the best advice he ever received was to get a coach. “The one thing that people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.” Even Bill Gates has said, “Everyone needs a coach…we all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
You don’t need to be a professional athlete or an accomplished actor to need a coach. Any business professional, from those in entry level positions to those who reside in an executive suite, can benefit from a coaching relationship. Even individuals who are seeking little more than improving their overall satisfaction in their personal lives can benefit from hiring a personal coach. What are some of the benefits you can expect to receive by entering into such a relationship?
Before getting to the benefits of coaching, it might be helpful to differentiate between coaching and consultation. Many can be found who are offering their services as a business consultant and before hiring a consultant or a coach, it is vital to understand the different services they provide. One is not necessarily better than the other – it depends on what you need and will best respond to.
Both a coach and a consultant work with clients on strategy, planning and problem solving. They may work with a client to assist in the development of a business model or marketing plan. The difference lies in their approach. A consultant gives advice, teaches skills, and offers guidance. A coach, on the other hand, focuses on leading the client through a process of self-discovery. Instead of providing the answers, a coach focuses on asking the client the right questions which enable the client to make better decisions for themselves.
This is where you have to decide which approach works best for you. Many, not all, find they have greater “buy-in” to plans they have developed themselves rather than plans that have been delivered to them by someone else. For this kind of person, coaching offers greater value than consultation because there is greater ownership of a plan that occurs through the coaching process compared to one that is delivered through consultation.
Far too many people who have hired a consultant receive a plan from the consultant at the end of the process then file the plan away. Soon it is forgotten and rendered useless. The coaching process involves much more personal input. That makes it more memorable, specifically tailored to your situation and something in which you are more vested. Coupled with the ongoing accountability provided in a coaching relationship, that makes it far less likely the resultant plan will fall by the wayside.
If you decide you are the type of personality that would respond more favorably to coaching than to consultation, then you’re ready to get back to the issue of the benefits you can expect to receive through the coaching process. An individual’s or a business’s success is contingent on three elements. Berry Fowler, founder of Sylvan Learning Centers and the Fowler School of Business and Executive Coaching, lists these elements as: “The dreams we have; The plans we make; and The actions we take.” Both a personal coach and a business coach will work with you on all three of those elements in order to assist you in achieving the success you pursue. The process will include:
1. Assisting you in clearly identifying and articulating your goals and desires. One reason people drift in their personal and/or business lives is they have no clear direction. They have no real concept of where they want to end up or what they want to achieve. A coach is going to probe your mind and heart to help you ascertain what is truly important to you. Depending on your current need, this could be either a short or long term goal. However, it will not be enough to simply recognize your predominate objective, your coach will guide you through a process by which you are able to clearly communicate that objective to yourself and to others.
2. Helping you to develop plans that will enable you to make progress in achieving your goal(s). Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is credited with saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Your coach is committed to your success. He or she will work with you to help you discover the specific things you must do in order to achieve your goal. Together, you will create a plan of action which will make it easier to experience progress and to be able to measure that progress. Your action plan will include specific target dates by when you will have completed each part of your plan.
3. Together you will anticipate potential roadblocks to your success and develop strategies to overcome them. You will face challenges as you pursue your goals. Theodore Roosevelt once quipped, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.” One key to overcoming obstacles along our road to success is to view them as opportunities to grow and learn. The other is to be prepared for them. Obviously we can’t foresee all of the potential pitfalls that may try to side track us. However, if we develop effective strategies to overcome the most likely roadblocks we will face we will have prepared ourselves for the greatest chance of success.
4. Your coach will help you identify and eliminate limiting beliefs. Oftentimes, we are our own worst enemy. Within each of us is an inner voice that speaks to us, especially in our most challenging situations. That voice has been programmed by parents, teachers, coaches and other influential adults throughout our developmental years. Oftentimes, even though well-meaning, those people have programmed us with limiting beliefs – “You can’t do that.” “Who do you think you are to attempt something like that?” “Step aside and let someone else do it.” Some were fortunate to have very positive influencers in their lives but most had more than their share of naysayers. The problem is, we are often unaware of how much of an impact our limiting beliefs have on our progress. In fact, we are unaware that we even have such limiting beliefs. An important serve rendered by your coach will be to help you identify the thoughts and attitudes that have been holding you back.
5. A good coach encourages you to step outside of your comfort zone. Too many people live by the creed, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” That verbalizes the belief it is wiser to deal with something or someone you already know – even though you may not like it/them – than it is to make a change and deal with something or someone even worse. Part of the problem with that kind of thinking is it is dependent on assuming the worst. What would happen if you decided to stop dealing with the situation or person that you are unhappy with and made a change which resulted in something so much better? Your coach is going to encourage you – and gently prod you if necessary – to step out of your comfort zone; To take measured risks. He or she will be there to help you deal with the results.
6. Your coach should be your accountability partner. Together, you have identified your goals and desires, created an action plan with target dates for completion and developed a strategy to overcome any obstacles which may try to stand in the way of your progress. Turning those plans into a reality is now your responsibility. No one else can do that for you! However, your coach will still be walking alongside you, providing encouragement and motivation to keep you on track. He or she will ask you questions at each session to see if you are following through with your plans. Together, you will celebrate your successes. If certain plans fell through, the two of you will conduct an evaluation to discover the reason and develop an alternative plan based on what you have learned. The coaching process centers on you and helping you to achieve your goals in life and/or business. If you’re ready to begin working with a coach, I hope you’ll visit the Contact page on my website and set up a time to discuss your free initial coaching session. During that session, we’ll get to know each other a bit better to discover if we can work together to help you achieve your dreams.