What I've learned from working with a coach
We want someone to tell us exactly what to do, but that's not how it works.
It's not always easy, it's frustrating, it's a rollercoaster. Progress isn't a perfect graph up and to the right. It’s messy.
You can’t force the outcome.
First we need to make sure you’re solving the right problem. Often there is more than meets the eye. It can get messy, and it’s better to embrace that. Shying away from it won’t make it any easier or get you better results.
Having someone there to support you even when you don't always believe in yourself means everything. Sometimes you just need to someone to say they understand when things are hard. Or when things are easy to remind you of all the work you’ve done to get to that. And that you’re you’re own being and running your own show, not someone else’s.
Bringing in support.
I've worked with my coach since March. (It's September now.) We have 1 more session left (of 10). She's seen everything. Taking action. Not taking action. Launching. Failure to launch. Fears. Frustration. Joy. Tears. But we always keep it real.
That's the thing. If you don't show up for yourself and be honest, you're not going to get the results that you want.
You think that as a coach they may drive the conversation, but once it gets going, as the one being coached really gets to direct the conversation, even if it’s not always clear where it’s going.
I decided to hire a coach after I’d already set my own business pivot into motion, knowing that the momentum I had would probably need some backup support in the next phase. I couldn’t have planned the timing better. By the time we started, I NEEDED that support. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
You don’t have to go it alone.
Business is hard. There's so much that no one tells you. There's so much you can only discover along the way. That's kind of what makes it awesome too. (Spoiler alert: that's also how life works.).
Working with a coach is a reminder you don't have to do it alone. You have a built in accountability partner, cheerleader, and support system where you are the focus. Most of us don't like to be the center of attention and may not feel deserving. But we are.
As a business owner or someone with big idea you want to come off like you have your sh*t together. (Spoiler alert #2: EVERYONE is figuring it out as they go.). My sessions with my coach are often a word vomit that is not the most coherent thing I've ever said. I'm processing, and that's what coaching is for. Working through it all. The benefit of having an outside perspective is that they can see things that we ourselves cannot.
I can’t speak for other coaching experiences but after the first session I was surprised how much the sessions involved me talking. The coach’s role is to listen and observe. It’s easier said than done. Hence, I was drawn to a coach who wasn’t making over arching promises.
It's about showing up. I love how my coach describes "holding space" for her clients. She brings her full self and I sense this even if I can’t see her (my calls with her are through voice Skype). It's up to me to show up too. Most of the time I did, but in the hard times it was uncomfortable, but I learned to sit with that discomfort. That's how you get to the next level.
Often I'd want her to tell me what to do, but instead I'd get questions. We want the easy way out, but spoiler alert #3: there are no shortcuts to doing the work. Her enthusiasm and encouragement for my work never wavered.
But that's why I love my coach. She's not promising quick fixes or a 5-step program to earn 6-figures. She gets it. She gets reality. She shares her experiences when it's relevant. She puts me at ease. And reminds me I know more than I think.
Life isn't easy but that's what makes it fun. There's no one size fits all solution
When I tell people I’m working with a coach, they want to know who. It’s not a secret for me, but I often keep her name off (like in this post) not because she’s not amazing at what she does, but that once again people want someone that can make everything better. In order to make that happen, it’s up to everyone to figure out who and what is the right fit for their own needs.
Like me, my coach describes herself as a creative coach. In many ways we’re coaching creatives, but not solely. There are also life coaches, business coaches, negotiation coaches, burnout coaches, love coaches. Some coaches niche down more than others. For a first step I felt like I needed someone who could relate to what I’m doing in business, but already I can see myself opening up to different perspectives. In the process I build up my own personal tool kit of what I bring to my own clients.
Then there are group coachings and online courses. There’s an entire industry out there that I had no idea existed. There are some amazing offerings, but it is all to easy to fall down the rabbit hole of thinking you need to learn or master something before actually trying it for yourself. Nothing is better than learning by doing, and it gives you so much clarity along the way.
I’ve also participated in a handful of online business programs. I learned a ton. But at times felt overwhelmed by just how much I didn’t know. I have a feeling that with my coach I’m trying to unlearn some of those beliefs that got planted in my head at that time. (Also, be warned once you start looking into this stuff online your Facebook feed becomes a field of of sponsored posts trying to sell you the “latest and greatest” new program.)
I love the 1:1 structure of coaching, because I become the focus of the sessions, just as my clients take the spotlight when I work with them. I’ve also enjoyed the smaller online group coachings where the coach/teacher is present. It can be so tempting to only sign up for the “all stars” and big names in the coaching world who promise big results, but for me it’s been far more powerful finding the offers that are the right fit for ME, and offer me attention. (I also can turn to my Mastermind group that I helped start for support that’s completely free.)
It really depends what you’re looking for in an experience. I’ve just learned to appreciate the human connection and the opportunity to get some level of one to one feedback.
Bigger isn’t necessarily better.
There’s a huge trend for businesses to “scale” these days to help coaches and business owners earn more income. Personally I love that my coach values her time (it was probably the biggest investment I’ve ever paid for) and knows how much satisfaction she gets out of those 1:1 relationships with clients. She owns her path and what feels true to her. I also love all the free materials on her website she shares. For me it was important to work with someone who believes in the spirit of generosity, beyond just a marketing and money making machine. Because there’s always something else you can buy….
As my 10th—and final—session with my coach approaches next month I’m so grateful for the role she’s played in my growth. Much of the time she may not tell me anything I don’t already know, but oh, how quickly we forget the simplest things, so I’m grateful for what she brings out in me. It’s all been so helpful in calibrating what kind of support I need in the next chapter of business. (You don’t have to be glued to one person for support, and one can always return….).
The other secret to a positive coaching experience is realizing you’re not just paying for the sessions. Often the biggest growth happens between sessions. The coach can be that friendly reminder that you have done more than you think. They can serve as a reality check to get us out of our heads.
Tips for finding a coach.
We want finding a coach to be as easy as the outcome we desire. Finding someone who is the right for you is a key part of the journey. Even if it takes time, think of it as putting your intention into the world. Intention deserves to be cultivated too.
Take the time to search and look around. Check out their work. Read their writing. Subscribe to newsletters. Listen to podcasts they’ve been on.
Ask around to see if anyone knows any coaches they’ve liked working with, or know of any others. The name(s) that come up may not be who you work with, but may fall down the rabbit hole after you discover past people they’ve featured. (Even through a testimonial on their website!)
Ask yourself if the the coach’s approach align with your values.
Listen to your gut to see if it’s a right fit.
You don’t have to wait until you feel 100% “ready”. Some of the power comes from being vulnerable and open to possibilities.
So how did I find my coach? One of the women in my Mastermind group recommended a podcast (I’ve mentioned it multiple times on this blog). I didn’t expect to enjoy the podcast as much as I did, and I realized everything the hosts were saying was what I didn’t know I needed to hear. I particularly loved the perspective of one of the hosts and decided to sign up for her weekly newsletter, and very much enjoyed her blog posts. I knew I’d finally found my coach.
By the time I reached out, it was a clear fit. I’m sure if I’d had questions she’d have been happy to answer them. But because I did my homework, and loved her approach and style, the next steps were easy. She only opens a certain amount of slots each quarter, so I also knew that if I didn’t book soon, the opportunity may be delayed too. It was time to stop thinking about doing it and actually do it.
It still felt scary to sign the contract, and pay the invoice. I questioned it for a minute, but then reminded myself that not only was I deserving of this, but this was something I needed to do to get to the next level. We can have ideas of what coaching will be like, but sometimes it’s about diving in.
I also know that even though our last session is approaching, it’s not really the end at all. It’s more like a new beginning. Everything is a work in progress. The journey continues. New hurdles will arise. New challenges to conquer.
If you like my work and are interested in my own coaching offers, you can check them out here. I’ll be adding 15 minute clarity calls to my site soon for anyone who is on the fence about booking. In the meantime, if you want to make sure it’s the right investment for you, feel free to shoot an email to me at email@example.com and we can hop on a quick call.