Finding a Coach is pretty easy, there's a lot of us out there. Some have a qualification, some don't. There's a myriad of organisations training us and several registers. But there's no regulation, no governing body and it's a bit of a free-for-all. Anyone can set up as a Coach, Executive Coach, Mindset Coach, Life Coach or Well-Being Coach. You name it, someone out there will be coaching it.
From visiting a Coach's website you may be able to find out about their approach and what qualifications and experience they have - and even what their clients have said about them. You can see their photo, read their blogs or watch one of their videos. There's no doubt you can get an impression but there's no substitute for being in the room with someone, is there? It's an opportunity to ask the questions you need to ask, see if you feel comfortable with them and generally size your prospective Coach up to see if they're a good match for you.
It's likely your Coaching will take place over a significant period of time - anything from six months to several years. They'll be guiding, motivating and encouraging you to have breakthroughs in every aspect of your life. Trust is paramount. You're going on a journey together and that's why this first session really matters.
More than this though, it's an opportunity to share what's going on in your life and how you think and feel about it all. For me, it's mainly about listening. And that's a privilege. Offering this for free is really the least I can do, if we are going to work together over a longer period.
I always do this. It may take two hours and involve me travelling quite a distance to that first meeting. But it never feels like too much trouble and I have never regretted this way of working. The reason I always offer this is simple: It enables my clients to make a fully informed decision about working with me (or not) and it allows me to decide whether I'm the right person for them.
Some people have labelled this as a loss-leader but I really don't see it like that, because meeting people and listening to where they are at with their lives is always productive. It's about empathy and putting myself in their shoes. For me, it's a gift - as there is always something to be learnt from hearing someone else share. Maybe I should be paying my prospective clients for the first session?
Joking aside, I'm always happy to spend quality time with other human beings, going through their stuff. If they become a client then great, if not, then great. It's never wasted.
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
A client of mine told me recently "you're the closest thing I have to a business partner". We'd been working on increasing his revenue by 400%, troubleshooting his psychological approach to success and working on creating the causes of growth with a thorough and measurable strategy. He's the sole Director of his business and having a coach means he can amplify his own wisdom, get clear on what success really means to him personally and share the journey.
It's a common scenario for leaders. Having a key ally they can work with - someone that can challenge and help them gain deeper insights. Sometimes it's a business partner, consultant or a mentor. Sometimes this person is a coach. For my clients, having that indispensable partner means they get results in a way isn't possible on their own. Plus it's much more fun than taking that lonely path.
Not all leaders seem to be going far together though. The Harvard Business Review reported that half of business leaders feel lonely and that 61% felt this impeded their performance. They added that newly appointed business leaders are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of feeling isolated.
It's no surprise that this problem exists but it seems so avoidable - whether you have a coach or other ally or not. The main issue here is the thinking that keeps us confined within a narrow version of who we are and what others mean to us. A combination of fear, anxiety, and inhibitive beliefs can power our behaviour to such an extent that we end up feeling alone - even if we are surrounded by great people. Our own story within our heads is the biggest challenge we face and that's why sharing the journey with a trusted ally is such a powerful thing.
Amplifying Your Own Power
It seems that whenever we set about tackling a problem, some of our thinking gets in the way. "I can't do this", "what will they think of me?" and a myriad of other thoughts (often accompanied by crippling feelings) can really hold us back.
The one insight that can really make a difference is seeing that these thoughts are just thoughts, just a story. They're not real and they're not us. Once you see that for yourself you can ignore the unhelpful ones and get out of your own way. It's that key insight that can amplify your power in any situation - freeing you up to overcome feelings of isolation and start to improve the relationships that really matter to your business.
Having a coach that understands you and how the mind works means you'll always be on the right track and progress will be easier. It will supercharge your common-sense and make the journey infinitely more productive.
I was with a client recently who works for a large corporation. The dynamics of the organisation are complex and demanding and her experience of her role within it is understandably challenging and at times stressful.
In the session, she said "when I'm at peace with it all, I'm highly productive" and went on to describe how her entire experience of work changes when she's clear and calm. She flows, manages everything well and is able to clearly communicate to her bosses what she wants and where she wants to go.
This level of insight is so wonderful and powerful. When you recognise that the fundamental nature of the mind is clarity and peace you can tap into it at any time - and this is what she's doing, taking inspiration from Invisible Power and her own experience of meditation.
It's also great to see how when we relax and connect deeply with our own sense of calm that we can achieve so much more, make better decisions and reach goals almost effortlessly. This theme comes up a lot in my coaching and, for me at least, confirms the very beneficial relationship we can have with our quantitive (outer) goals and our qualitative (inner) goals - both of which are important.
Just grasping at outer goals is really not enough. It's often painful and feels somewhat meaningless. We may achieve more income, a bigger car or larger house, but still feel empty. We need to think about the kinds of experience that will leave us with a sense of fulfilment and that will help us develop our own wisdom about life. We need meaning and purpose.
Of course, we all need money and a comfortable home. But if the pursuit of those things comes at the expense of our quality of life then we perhaps need to ask ourselves where our happiness actually comes from?
Once you can gain an insight into the fact that happiness is an inside job, you can establish a better balance between your inner and outer goals. As a result, we begin to feel less anxious and more in control of our own psychological equilibrium.
When we have a peaceful experience - everything's ok. Doing a lot is ok. Doing little is ok. We can respond to the situation we are in much more effectively. It's easier and we, like my client, can become highly productive.