Introduction to Coaching + FAQs
Updated: Jan 22, 2019
"So, what do you do?"
Here we go again.
I'm going to (eventually) reply by briefly describing my profession, as I'm expected to. But that isn't what the gentleman who asked the question is going to hear.
To him, my answer will provide an insight into my character, my values and, most importantly, my status relative to him.
Don't believe me? Try it for yourself!
Next time you ask someone, make yourself consciously aware of what you've essentially programmed your brain to analyse and categorise in the background based on the answer they're giving!
Because, whether we like it or not, "what do you do?" has become a subtle, less-intrusive (and much less-accurate) version of "who are you?" - albeit with the many-gaps in the answer being filled in by your own personal beliefs and experiences!
So in the context of the question, it matters less what you actually say you do, and more how your answer is interpreted based on how the person asking the question perceives the world around him...
...yeah, I hated answering the question.
But when others would answer, I would listen with ears open and eyes aglow, feeling like a kid in a candy shop with pocket money to spare...
Some went straight for the facts, almost as if reciting a prepared answer - short, sweet, no extra toppings. Others liked to answer with a tint of self-deprecating humour - keep the mood light, discreetly shift the attention away from themselves and the question. And a few launched into passionate tirades - definitely the 'marmite' of the party (for non-Brits - you either love it or you hate it)!
Me? I was the self-deprecating diverter.
I'd smile lightly and mumble that I was a management consultant (so many options for self-deprecating jokes!) before quite assertively switching the question back towards the enquirer. And then as soon as they finished their sentence, I'd be poised to pounce with a flurry of further questions!
...and inevitably, they'd soon realise that the conversation had slowly evolved into an inquisition, and would politely redirect some of my queries back towards me.
And I'd always respond with the same answer that, "I enjoy the intellectual challenge of consulting, but in the future, my plan is to go into life/performance coaching".
My sincere smile was never enough to conceal the lack of conviction in my body language.
But, of course, they would respond politely, commanding their facial muscles to construct an expression of interest before wishing me the best with my 'fulfilling venture'.
I wasn't deceived. I was just another enthusiastic newbie, harbouring big dreams that they knew (and sadly, I inwardly believed also) would never become reality.
Fortunately, something changed, and now the dream is being translated (slowly, but surely!) into the real world!
And amidst the challenges of making it happen, there is one thing I'm particularly grateful for.
Now, when people ask, 'what do you do?', I can reply wholeheartedly that I'm running my own performance coaching business.
And as I say it, I take a moment (mid-conversation) to bask in a feeling of warmth and gratitude as I realise that I'm fortunate to be in the position I always wanted to be in, striving to bring my dreams to life...
...until I'm interrupted by questions. Lots of questions! (The nerve, right - how dare they try to make conversation during a....conversation?)
This happens often - and each time, the same questions are being asked...
"Okay...so what does a performance coach even do? Is it like sports coaching?"
"Wait, so how do you tell a good coach from a bad coach?"
"But you're so young! Shouldn't a coach have experience in the industries related to their coaching fields?"
"Haha! Alright, sell me on it! I want coaching. What makes you a better coach for me than someone else?"
Now, I'm yet to be convinced by the 'passionate tirade' approach (answering a question with a motivational speech is just a tiny bit too far, even for me!) - and as a coach, I'm here to listen, not speak - so I've decided to cheat!
I've created this FAQ blog post (which will no doubt be expanded upon in the future) so that when we do meet, some of your more pressing questions will have been answered, and the focus can be where it needs to be - on you.
Let's get to it.
What does a performance coach do - and what don't they do?
Simply put, a performance coach is the catalyst to helping you get the best out of yourself when you feel your current level isn't where you desire it to be.
However, what makes coaching so potentially powerful is that you, the person being coached, is in control. You own your journey.
First of all, a coach doesn't tell you what you need - a coach listens, understands, and asks the right questions to help you identify for yourself exactly what is stopping you right now. It is up to the coach to ask the right questions. But it is up to you to give the answers.
During coaching, a coach will offer and utilise appropriate tools to expedite your progress - but it is you who decides how you can make the most of each of these tools!
And once you've identified your target or goal, a coach will aid you in composing a plan of attack to conquer it - but it is up to you to actually make it happen!
A coach will hold you accountable. We're not here to hold your hand and gently walk you towards your goals - sometimes we'll need to push, challenge and confront you. When you pay for a coach, you've invested in yourself - and we're going to make sure it pays off!
A coach is a facilitator.
Not a teacher. Not a motivational speaker. Not a mentor. Not a councillor. Definitely not a psychotherapist.
If you want someone to lecture you on how to accomplish your goals as you sit and take notes, that isn't me. If you want someone to guide you from their own experiences, that isn't me. If you want someone to help you deal with deep psychological issues rooted in your past, that isn't me. If you want someone to deliver a motivational, Hollywood- style monologue to inspire you to get the best out of yourself... well, that can be me... but certainly not in my role as a coach!
How do I tell a good coach from a bad coach?
As with every industry, there are always unscrupulous organisations or individuals trying to take advantage of those who are poorly informed. In general, it is in your best interests to have your 'bulls**t radar' turned on when dealing with any industry you're unfamiliar with.
After all, just as a good management consultant ensures that the data driving his hypotheses comes from a credible source, you must do the same when it comes to anyone offering you personal development services.
But here's the thing.
You are the ultimate judge of the impact that a coach has had on you.
I know a few people who have hired 'life' coaches specialising in 'Law of Attraction', 'Numerology', and other esoteric niches.
For a lot of you, alarm bells might be going off upon hearing that.
After all, how do you judge the credibility of the coach? Is it by how many testimonials they have? Is it by how 'sales pitch-like' and overly cheesy their website is? Is it how they smile and make you feel good in a coaching session? Is it the number of qualifications they have? Is it because they offer a full-refund policy?
In my opinion, it comes down to one major factor - the sustainable impact of the coaching on the individual being coached.
Which, in the case of the people I mentioned, has actually been very positive - they still speak highly of their coaches and the profound effect it had on their life!
That doesn't mean that I should hire them - their coaching style doesn't resonate with me, and I wouldn't get the same benefits from it as a result.
But no matter how unconventional the method, if the coaching they're doing is having a positive, sustainable impact on their clients, then they have my respect as a coach.
Now, where does my type of coaching come in?
Thankfully - far away from this debate!
Performance coaching is about results. In most cases, there will be a tangible goal to aim for. You'll either achieve your result, in which case you'd likely consider the coaching to be a success. Or, for whatever reason, you won't.
At this point, you have to be the judge - was the journey towards the eventual outcome (positive or not) valuable for you, or was it a waste of your time?
My clients thus far have gotten the results they sought. And they still claim that the insights they've gained from the journey and the sustainable positive habits they've built have been more valuable than the outcome itself.
But that's their view. And that's the beauty of coaching.
At the end of the day, you're the judge. You are in control. You own your coaching journey.
(And yes - I do have a refund policy. Check it out here.)
Shouldn't a coach have experience in the industry relating to their coaching field?
The simple answer is - it depends! Let me explain what I mean by this:
There are several cases where it helps to have a coach that is experienced in a specific industry, for example:
1) If you're looking for advice to go along with coaching, someone with experience in your industry may be more likely to offer valuable insights tailored to your situation.
2) For many people, experience is synonymous with credibility and respect. When you perceive that a coach 'understands where you're coming from' or 'recognises how to succeed in this field', you're more likely to resonate with them and therefore accept them as a respectable coach (regardless of their coaching skills!). As a result, you're more likely to have confidence in their coaching ability and the positive impact they can have on your life, hence will be more inclined to commit to a greater degree. This will often translate to positive results!
Cases where experience doesn't make a difference:
1) On a fundamental level, coaching is a skill-set. As such, it matters less what you did before becoming a coach; rather it matters how effective you are at this moment in time as a coach.
2) In many cases, a fresh perspective is immensely useful - this is why external consulting firms are often hired by companies. Once they research and attain a general understanding of an industry, they're able to leverage their 'newness' to the industry to approach a problem from different, creative directions that may previously have not been considered, often with positive results.
3) Empathy and passion alone will not solve your problems - but experienced or not, it would be to your advantage to find a coach who possesses both of these traits. The desire to make a difference in your life, combined with the ability to view the problem from your perspective (or as close as is possible), is a potent foundation for helping you identify and achieve your goals.
Am I the right coach for you?
(Yes, I agree - if this was a sales pitch, it wouldn't be a very good one...)
This is about you. This is about adding value to your life.
I will happily turn away a client whom I feel won't benefit from my coaching.
After all, sometimes, you need a coach - but the right coach isn't me. Other times, you'll need someone with a different set of qualifications entirely.
Coaching has limits. I have limits.
I love coaching too much to disrespect it as a profession by selling myself as something I'm not, or by accepting any client simply because they're willing to pay!
And I respect you too much to take your time and money if I'm unable to replace it with an (at minimum) equivalent amount of added life-value.
If you really want to get the most out of coaching, you have to be committed. A coach will help you get the best out of yourself and aid you in achieving the goals you set - but only if you're committed to the same!
If you are committed and ready to take ownership over your performance, and are simply looking to make that process as quick, effective and sustainable as possible, coaching may be for you, and I may be the coach you're looking for.
That's it for now!
Thanks for reading! I hope that this post has been both entertaining and useful in answering some of your questions (and even clearing up some misconceptions) you may have had about coaching.
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Until next time...
Keep growing. Keep striving. Keep shining!