I believe everyone should have a coach, but the truth is you don’t need one.
There are zillions of books, programs, courses and tons of life experience to teach you everything you want to know. No one needs a coach.
OK, confession time…
I have an unhealthy relationship with books. Buying them, reading them, reading about them, even just looking at them. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on books—Kindle books, eBooks, and real books. (My version of heaven is an enormous bookstore where all the books are free.)
I’ve learned a lot from the books I’ve read, but here’s why I have coaches in addition to the knowledge I glean from books. A book doesn’t speak to me as an individual knowing my strengths and weaknesses, knowing what will be challenging or easy for me, or even knowing my preferences and opinions. I want a real-life person who can challenge me to do the things from which I hold myself back. Someone who can hold my hand through the parts that are hard or scary. Someone who has gone before me and can show me the way.
Which brings me to another point: If you’re going to hire a coach, choose one who has done what you want to do.
Are you building a business? Creating an extraordinary relationship? Staying fit in the midst of your busy lifestyle? Or just looking to keep it all balanced at a high level of performance?
Hire the expert that lives and breathes those things.
In COR, my coach training program, I talk a lot about coaches feeling the need to be perfect. While I don’t advocate that any coach needs to be perfect (which is not possible anyway), I absolutely insist on coaches that go through COR are true to their own message.
If you want to be a health coach and you’re sick all the time, that just doesn’t jive with me.
Coaching, for me, is like inviting my clients behind the scenes of my life. They get to see behind the curtain and learn how it’s worked for me.
Right now I’m working with a writing coach. Do I need him?
Well, no. I have an MFA in creative writing which is the terminal degree in that field. But there’s something that a degree and all the books in the world can’t offer. And that is the power of working with a good coach.
Yes, I have friends who want the best for me and encourage me to push past my limits. But they don’t have a vested interest in my success. They have their own lives and families to focus on.
The truth is that there will never be someone who is harder on me than me. But it’s a whole different deal when I can invite someone else into the conversation in my head. Then they’re able to see the crazy, call the bullshit, or see something beautiful right beneath the surface that I’d missed.
Many years ago, I read something by Martha Beck that helped me tune into my own intuition as a coach. She described how she would get a certain visceral feeling when her clients were on the verge of something big or clearly on the right track toward transformation.
For me, it’s a subtle tingling in my lower jaw, right along the edges of my cheeks. It happens every time, but I hadn’t made the connection prior to hearing it from her. I was able to learn about myself through Martha’s experience.
Ultimately, that’s what coaching is. It’s about teaching someone about themselves. It’s not to say that I know everything about my clients, but I can help them understand what it’s like to be a human seeking fulfillment. I can show them tools to use in the process. I can be an example of possibility. I can shine a light on their potential so that they themselves can see it more clearly.
I love coaching. I love my clients. And I love you for reading this.