10 tips to make the most of coaching
Interested in coaching but not sure where to start? Perhaps you're afraid or worried you won't reap the benefits. Don't worry, here are 10 tips to really make the most of coaching.
1. Trust your coach
If you don’t trust your coach, you won’t be completely open with them. And if you’re not able to be open with your coach, you’re limiting what the coaching can achieve. Think of the coaching as though you’re working on a problem together. If one of you is keeping some of the information to yourself, it’s going to be a lot harder, maybe impossible, to find a solution.
Here’s another way of looking at it - if you can’t trust your coach, maybe you’re working with the wrong coach.
2. Trust the coaching
Trust what your coach tells you. Not because it’s guaranteed to be ‘right’, or ‘the truth’, or because you have to believe it: it isn’t, and you don’t!
It may well feel uncomfortable, or even ‘wrong’ – it’s not what you’ve been doing until now. But you have to trust it enough to be willing to try it out. If you want things to change, you have to be willing to try out new ideas, new perspectives, new approaches, even if they’re uncomfortable. If you’re not willing to do that, why spend your money on coaching?
3. Challenge yourself
Your coach will facilitate your journey. They’ll ask powerful questions, but you have to be willing to do your own thinking, to explore, to question your ideas, beliefs and assumptions.
You have to be willing to ask yourself, “What if I’m wrong about this decision, that person, this relationship? What if I’m the one who needs to change?” “What would happen if I stopped doing this, or started doing that?”
You have to be willing to challenge yourself. Your coach can’t do that for you.
4. Do the work
Each coaching session typically lasts about an hour. You’ll come up with fresh ideas, new options, life-changing insights. But none of that on its own will change your relationships, your job, your health, your friendships. You have to do the work ‘out there’, in your life, to change your life.
That means actually behaving differently, thinking differently, saying different things. You’re unlearning old habits, sometimes the habits of a lifetime. Sometimes you’ll get it right, sometimes wrong. You’ll remember to do it, then you’ll forget for a while. That’s ok.
You can change your life if you’re willing to do the work.
5. Know what success looks like
That may mean precise, specific goals; it may mean having a particular job, or moving to another country, or ending a relationship, but sometimes it starts with just knowing that you want to be happy, or feel good about yourself or your relationship. It’s like any journey. If you want to arrive at your destination, you’ll need to know where you’re going.
6. Be willing to be pleasantly surprised
Coaching can be an amazing, life-changing journey. You may have profound insights that transform your world and allow you to completely reinvent your life. Time and again I’ve been astonished by what coaching has done for me, and by what’s happened for my clients.
I’ve seen my clients save their marriages, start a successful business, say they are happy for the first time in their lives, change careers, fall in love... If you’re willing to be surprised, it can take you in exciting, unexpected directions!
7. Be willing to be challenged
Coaching may mean confronting things that are hard to face up to. Part of your coach’s job is to ask you the difficult questions your friends won’t.
What if you’re the one whose behaviour needs to change? What if you’re holding yourself back? Avoiding the issue? Not facing up to things?
Being challenged often feels uncomfortable, no-one enjoys it. The good news is that when the coaching starts to be uncomfortable, that usually means that things are about to feel wonderfully different!
8. Be willing to move on
Coaching is a journey, and your coach is your guide. You can’t make the journey alone, but when the journey’s done, you don’t need the guide anymore.
Sometimes letting go of your guide can hard – it’s easy to get attached to having someone around who is reliable, someone you can really trust. A good coach will tell you when it’s time for you to stand alone, to own your learning, and to move on.
9. Be willing to come back
On the other hand, if you’re like me, when you discover what coaching makes possible, it becomes part of your life. There will be periods when you’re just getting on with things, where you don’t need any help or support; and periods when it makes sense to reach out.
When you encounter new challenges, when you’re ready for the next adventure, you’ll want to work with a coach again.
10. Own your success
Whatever you accomplished with your coach, big or small, you did it. Some people find that hard to accept; they want to give their coach the credit. The coach had a role to play, and it’s an important role. Your coach was your facilitator, your guide - but you did the work. You made the journey. You said you wanted your life to change, and it did. Congratulations. Own your success.
The good news is that a good coach will make sure this is all part of the coaching process. Enjoy the ride!