“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful,
the planners, the doers, the successful people
with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground.
Let their spirit ignite a fire within you
to leave this world better than when you found it.”
How to Find the Right Coach for You
This information is based on my own good, and not so good, experiences of being coached and of course from the standards that I hold myself to. Although the process described is primarily geared towards finding the perfect writing or public speaking coach to empower the way you express yourself, it is also relevant when searching for other types of support from life coaching to business development… who knows, it may even help you find a great hairdresser!
I hope this helps you find the right person to walk with you on your journey!
Quick Overview: Take an Analytical and Intuitive Approach
Know what you want from coaching. Research coaches. Trust your gut. Experience several sample sessions. Evaluate. Mull it over.
Commit… strap your rocket boots on!
BEFORE the Sample Session:
When looking for a coach, it’s extremely important to find the right fit so that both coach and client can work to their full potential. Ideally, talk to at least three coaches before you make your commitment. Having an idea of what you might like to ask them can help you during an introductory call. (Make sure you also have a chance to chat and do allow yourself to be coached!) The best question to ask yourself:
Why do I want a coach?
I know it sounds like a ridiculously obvious question, but it can be a great guideline to keep in mind. Take the time to write a brief paragraph about what you want to get from the experience. Your answer might change as you do research which is awesome as it means you are already opening to new ideas.
Look for clues. Trust your vibes
Notice the clues. For example, over the years, whenever I’ve needed to shop for a hairstylist, I’ve paid attention to the feel of their salon, how the stylist presents themselves, their willingness to answer my questions, their expertise with what I do need and their honesty about what I don’t. (I have doubly thick, often wonderful, curly hair that on its worst days can rival burst bed springs – not for the faint-hearted!) When I was first thinking of giving up my blonde highlighting ways and going short to give my hair a fresh start, a friend suggested I email a new stylist some styles I was considering. I wouldn’t have thought to do that! I was surprised that she willingly took the time to reply regarding why some wouldn’t work and prepare me for what would. She seemed genuinely knowledgeable and passionate about her work; I had a great experience when we finally met. On the other side of the spectrum, I once ignored my intuition and immediately regretted it when a new stylist answered his phone and entered into an irate call while still madly chopping away at my curls!
Is their own voice authentically shining?
Just as you can walk into a salon and know it’s not quite right for you, there is a lot to be found from walking into a coach’s online life. Look at the online presence of several coaches in the field. Consider: website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. Listen to the voice and personality that comes through in their writing.
Do you feel you could really connect with them?
Are they able to offer a free introductory call or at least answer some questions via email?
Are their testimonials inspiring?
Do you think you would recommend them to a friend?
DURING the Sample Session:
Have they always been interested in personal development?
Whether they started coaching straight out of school or spent thirty years leading culinary cycling tours through the South of France first, the best coaches have a personal and professional back ground that shows a genuine life long fascination with personal growth, emotional intelligence and the learning process. They understand how and why when left to our own devices we sometimes do and sometimes don’t create change.
Do they understand the process of inner development on a theoretical and practical level?
How have they experienced it?
How have they raised their own awareness?
Do they know how to coach?
It sounds like a ridiculous question… but you would be surprised how many coaches don’t fully understand the learning process. A coach (indeed any expert) who spoon feeds knowldege basically fosters learned helplessness and two-way frustration. In my opinion, the best coaches have studied not only their area of expertise, but also the art of how to share it through skills such as non-directive questioning.
Many coaches also cause frustration by confusing the difference between coaching and consultancy. If I were to boil down the essence of both I would say that coaching is the art of helping someone find their answer from within while consultancy is the passing on of specific expert knowledge. Both are equally valuable, but everyone needs to be clear about which service or combination of services is being offered.
Do they have formal training in helping people change?
A great coach will have trained through a coaching course or through more formal academic schooling in a related field such as facilitation, counseling or education. (Be aware that coaching has only recently developed into a more independent discipline and so many coaching courses have wildly varying accreditation and training standards. For example, some courses involve a weekend’s worth of work, others several months or years. I even heard of a course that only required a DVD download!)
How open are they?
In order to be able to work with your coach, you are going to have to be open, honest and willing to receive feedback. Are they themselves able to be that? Here are some tough questions:
Are they willing to share examples of their “misses” as well as their successes?
Do they have systems in place to gather feedback and inform improvement?
What are their professional development plans?
Are they willing to share their personal growth plan?
How they respond to these challenging questions may be as revealing as the answers themselves.
Most importantly of all, if you are not sure if they can help you…. ask them. You’d be surprised how they might be able to offer suggestions of areas you may benefit from support. They may also be able to offer referrals to other coaches who might be a better fit or resources for self-directed learning. A great coach will also be honest about the areas you don’t need support.
AFTER the Sample Session:
Is this someone I know I can trust?
Did we connect and on what levels?
Am I excited at the thought of working with them?
Do I believe in their ability to help me reach my goals?
Was this sample session a worthwhile time investment? What did I learn?
If you’ve done all your research and you still can’t bring yourself to sign up, ask yourself if progress in this area is more of a “should” for you. Are you pushing yourself too far and fast because you feel you SHOULD work on this area right now, rather than you NEED to? Eventually, we always make time and space for things our souls really need. Making a committment to nurture your deepest dreams should feel exhilarating and not exhausting.
The next step?
Make your decision. Follow up with the coaches you spoke to.
Commit to being coachable… commit to yourself and follow Julia Cameron’s wonderful advice from The Artist’s Way:
I have learned, as a rule of thumb, never to ask whether you can do something. Say instead, that you are doing it. Then fasten your seat belt. The most remarkable things follow.