How Do You Recognize The Right Coach For You?
Over X years of experience, PMD, SSG, FDR certified (yes, they are supposed to be random, sorry if I actually name a real one!) with an excellent smile in the profile picture – some could actually be in a tooth paste advertisement – or a deep thinking and profound look. Coaches have impressive professional profiles, especially due to the weight of the words they use: change, promotion, development, achievement, harmonious, fulfillment, success etc. These are heavy words and we’re usually having trouble with one at a time. Yet a coach seems to have a nonchalance in juggling with them, all at the same time if necessary. And to our benefit, if we decide to.
So one day you do, you decide you’re worth it. You know, that word you’re having problems with becoming tangible and real in your life. Maybe you have somebody who can recommend you a coach – though even so – or maybe you don’t. How do you recognize the right Coach for you?
Surely you ask around for recommendations, maybe search the internet, remember an add you once saw… then what? Do you go to the first name you hear or you’re told of? Sure you could but…
I’d reference check them. Just as you are reference-checked when you’re offered a job, so should you when entrusting a coach with your future projection. Of course there is the list of clients you should ask them to provide you with, clients that you can call. Clients that know they can receive such a call anytime and that have agreed to tell you about the coach because, well, because they like them, of course! But then there is the unofficial reference check, where you ask a person they haven’t indicated as a reference. You can find them in their LinkedIn contact list for example. Or maybe you know professionals working in one of the companies they mentioned as clients.
Before starting sessions, read a few books on coaching yourself. Even one should do, preferably one of the big names. If you don’t know who they are, ask the sales person in the bookstore. Familiarize yourself with the concept and principles; comprehend it’s logic. Then, when you meet the coach, overlap your insights with their discourse, promises or plan or whatever they have. The familiarity with specialty terms will prevent you from being lead on by big concepts that may fail to work.
Make a list of questions to ask. Hint: state your expectations clearly and ask them how will they get you get there. Observe their logic (if any). Ask general PR kind-of-like questions and see if they have the ability to capture and synthesize ideas and translate them into practical steps. Because so are results you want: specific and practical.
Some will say “Oh my, but coaching is about trust; suspicion is detrimental to the coaching process!” It’s all right, this is fear speaking, fear of not being able to deliver to your standards. But the coach you’re looking for wouldn’t mind, especially since they do the same when requiring services. The best coach for you is as picky as you are and wouldn’t work with just anybody simply because they value themselves enough to deserve more than just anybody.
I am assuming a good coach will only feel honored that he/she has been chosen. The difference between I searched the internet and you name was the first one that came upand I’ve had my own coach search project for a few months, asking around and reading and you are on my shortlist will make the difference between the coach thinking Ah, so that investment in google worked! Good tip from Cristi, I should thank him. What a cool guy, yeah, we should have a beer or something and So my hard work is paying off? People are recommending me? I’m happy I can help and hopefully I will do the same this time as well. Would you say that this first impact could make a difference in how your coach will relate to you during your collaboration? Would you say this could somehow reflect in the result of your work together, even if the coaching principles are the same?
Don’t let the coaching certifications mean more than they are. Remember, during University you had colleagues who majored the same as you but that you would never ever trust with your finances or health or whatever that was. And they have great looking diplomas. And nice smiles too. You get my point. On the other hand, in theory, a certification guarantees you’re not dealing with a very special category of “coaches”: the ones who have never really been good at anything, they have never really performed, never led a team, never worked hard, had no other joy in their “professional” life than dreaming of positions with authority and power but had no clue as to how to get there and what to do. So, troubled with so much potential and vision (you know, the power and authority), they stumble upon movies/books like The Secret/You were born to be rich and suddenly, as all divine revelations indeed do happen, they know: I am a coach! I’ve done such a good job on myself, it’s time I handle others as well! Because they don’t know it, they don’t know they suck, plain English. And they have this awful ability of inspiring other potential-and-vision-troubled-mates into “becoming coaches” too. And there you are, looking for a coach in a market full of individuals you wouldn’t hire on your team, let alone entrust with a very personal improvement related process, whatever the domain.
Look at how they present themselves. Do they simply say coach or is it Master of Coaches, The Best Of The Best, I’m Your Man, etc., not forgetting to mention how many people they know and had dinner with, how many business cards they have at home? Do they surround the title with stars, circles, arrows and other performance related elements? Maybe a cartoon, in case YOU DON’T GET IT! It’s your call. But just a quick note here: I know this guy who is very requested for coaching sessions. And he’s not a certified coach, he’s a trainer. A very good one, indeed.
Oh, and one last thing. When first meeting your coach, if they happen to look at you with big big eyes, inviting you to absorb their greatness and ask if you believe in the law of attraction, and how you two were meant to meet because you have a purpose together, run! For no other reason than the fact that you do believe in the law and there is no way you could have attracted this!
Remember the teacher you’ve learned the most from. Remember the feeling. Remember what you thought of them at the time (they weren’t your favorite, were they? I know they sure weren’t mine!) and how much you value them now as a grown up. I would say it’s the feeling of somebody challenging you. I wouldn’t look for acceptance or understanding or, even worse, chatting with the impression we’re discovering big theories. I wouldn’t go for somebody to tell me how great I am. I’d go for the challenge. For a coach intelligent enough, educated, funny and experienced enough to know that the game we are going to play together as seriously as we can is a challenge for him/ her as much as it is for me and that, in the end, I, the client, would turn out to be a coach for the coach. Which is why they end up on people’s coach shortlist, because they are also looking to be challenged. In other words, they practice what they preach.
(foto: Povești în jurul focului, Arthur Verona)