Every coach and every coaching client struggles with the same…
Learning and self-improvement are life-long priorities – at least, they should be.
When most of us think of continuing education, we envision attendance and participation at training workshops, professional conferences, or other events designed to increase our knowledge, skills, and abilities. It might include taking classes or pursuing an advanced degree. Whatever continuing education means to you, we can probably agree on one thing: it’s about expanding knowledge and creating opportunities where they might not have existed before.
Continuing education, without question, is the lifeline that keeps us in stride with the inevitable changes that affect our work and every other aspect of our lives. But if you really want to experience continuing education at its best, allow yourself to be coached.
Coaching is continuing education on steroids. It is perhaps the only non-therapeutic learning experience where the client is both the student and the subject. But to enjoy the full benefits of coaching, there are a few ground rules that apply:
1. You must have goals for yourself
2. You must prioritize growth and the building of strength in specific areas of your personal and/or professional life
3. You must contribute, working in partnership with your coach to make the experience a beneficial one
4. You must be honest with yourself and your coach
5. You must be willing to confront unpleasant truths
6. You must acknowledge that you have room to grow
7. You must be willing to accept responsibility for things that may be out of your control
8. You must be curious about the possibilities that exist for you, no matter how much experience or stature you may already have.
One of the biggest mistakes people make while being coached is expecting the coach to do all the work. Yes, your coach works for you. But you are the one that brings energy to the coaching experience. If you don’t care, or if you feel that you are above being coached or thinking about better ways to work or live, then you are unlikely to benefit from coaching.
But here’s what I’ve learned: The characteristics or attributes that prevent a person from enjoying the benefits of coaching are the same characteristics that make people poor contributors to a team.
Yep, you heard me. If you can’t be coached, then you likely can’t function effectively as a valued and trusted member of a team. So, if you genuinely feel that you cannot benefit from coaching, don’t give up on it. It may be that coaching can help you see why it is so important, and it may help you soften some of the edges that cause you to not see its value. Make sure to let your coach know that you have ambivalence about being coached and that you want to open your mind to it. That’s a great place to start.
So does this mean that people need to be coached forever? Well, not exactly.
The need for coaching, just like all forms of continuing education, changes over the course of our lives. The longer we live and work, the less critical it becomes. The closer we get to mastery in whatever we do, the more responsibility we have to give back, to help others develop their own mastery.
In reality, nobody needs to be coached. The questioned is, can everybody benefit from coaching over the course of their careers or lives? The answer is an emphatic yes! The intent of the coaching may vary from time to time. But, at a minimum, everyone would benefit from meeting with a coach a few times per year. During those times when significant gains are desired in a short period of time, the frequency might increase to once or twice a week. It all depends on what the client is trying to accomplish.
If you are preparing to work with a coach, whether it is an executive coach, leadership coach, or life coach, begin by opening your mind to some possibilities that you might never have considered. The success you enjoy from the experience will depend on your level of desire. If you’re not feeling the desire, make that the initial subject of the coaching. If you feel the desire, then bring that energy to every part of the process. You might be amazed at how your life changes!
1. Take a few moments to imagine. Imagine that this coaching experience produces significant, positive benefits for you over the next year. If this were to happen, how do you predict the benefits of coaching would likely appear in your personal and/or professional life. Jot down your thoughts.
2. Now, for a moment, think about the people who know you best. Think about your closest friends, family members, and colleagues. Think about our direct superiors or the employees that report to you. What hopes do you think they would have for your coaching experience? In what ways would they want you to grow – as a person and professional? Jot down your thoughts.
3. If there are any factors that might prevent you from fully and freely engaging in the coaching experience, write them down below. Include any thoughts, feelings, or emotions that may be troublesome. If you can’t think of any, write N/A in large letters. Jot down your thoughts.
4. Sometimes people other than the coaching client benefit from the coaching experience. This happens as the clients’ behavior, communications, and decision-making improve, affecting others in a positive way. Who might benefit from any improvements you experience? Jot down your thoughts.