This past summer, I decided to embark on a journey of self-discovery and growth with the help of a coach. Like me, I’m sure many of you have heard about coaches and maybe even know a few people who have used one. I honestly didn’t know what a coach did and what benefits could be had from the experience.
I decided to give coaching chance for a few main reasons:
- I knew my coach from another area in my life so there was a level of comfort right off the bat
- I’m always looking for opportunities for growth and development both personally and professionally
- I was intrigued by the idea of having a professionally trained third party look at my life, personality, decision making and perhaps push me to think a little differently
So, what is a Coach and what do they do?
That’s exactly what I asked during one of our first sessions! The relationship between a coach and client can be many things which I learned very quickly along my journey. On any given day they can be a sounding board, confidant, trusted advisor, accountability partner and so much more. They are really there to listen but focus on hearing things that you may not necessarily be in tune to.
My coach described the role of a coach like this: “to help the client reconnect to who they are at their core so they can show up in their lives in an authentic and genuine way that honors their values and their purpose.” I’ll dive a little deeper later on, but my coach really helped me define and connect with my values and gave me clarity on what I wanted my life to look and feel like. He then helped me create and take actionable steps to start bringing that vision to life. Yes, there was homework involved in this relationship!
How does the relationship work?
The one thing I’ll say about the relationship between a coach and client is that both parties, especially the client, need to come into the process with an open mind. Some conversations can get really uncomfortable (which is part of the job of a good coach) and it’s easy to become defensive or closed off. But you have to remember, that the role of coach is to challenge you and your current way of thinking to help you GROW. It’s important to set aside judgment, your own personal bias and be open to someone helping you see your path in a different way.
You have to be willing to do the work. Similar to a personal trainer, a coach will support, champion, challenge and push you. They will be beside you every step of the way, encouraging you, spotting you but they will never lift the weights for you. The client has to put in the time, the effort and do the work. You will only get out of it what you put into it.
What I learned from Coaching:
There were so many incredible moments I had during my sessions with my coach and things that I learned about myself that I will undoubtedly take with me for the rest of my life. Here are just a few things that I walked away with from my experience:
- A clear sense of my values – do you know what your values are? Inherently I felt like I knew what they were, but I was never able to articulate them or at minimum, even write them down. My coach not only helped me understand what values are (which was so different from what I thought they were) but he actually helped me crystalize my big ones and I was finally able to create a list. Once I had this list it was like a path opened up. Being able to make decisions that are rooted in my values is so much easier now that they are clear.
- My inner voices – not the voices you think I’m talking about! I learned how we all have different voices inside of us, either pushing us, motivating us and quite often, making us doubt ourselves. The ability to recognize these voices, to characterize them, gave me the ability to not only understand when they were showing up but how to actually lean into them and even draw them in when I need them.
- Being intentional about my choices – there were numerous occasions where my coach was able to show me how and why I was making certain decisions. He made me dig deeper into why I do certain things and how I feel when I engage with certain people or activities. By helping me understand the “why” it gave me more clarity in how I can approach decision making in the future and how my choices should be a reflection of my core values
- Visualization – this was probably one of the harder exercises for me, but my coach did a fantastic job of helping me visualize the things I wanted. By being able to see them for myself I could then pinpoint how I was feeling, who was around me, and even pick out sights and sounds. This exercise was huge in being able to better articulate goals for myself.
So what should you keep in mind when looking for a coach?
When looking for a coach there are a few things to keep in mind and ask yourself:
- The fit and chemistry between the coach and client is extremely important, probably the most important thing. You’re going to be sharing personal, powerful and vulnerable moments and experiences with your coach over time and the trust required to show up in this way just doesn’t happen with somebody you’re not feeling it with.
- The monetary investment – there will be coaches who charge on all ends of the spectrum but when it comes to investing in your own personal and professional growth, you should spend as much as you’re comfortable spending.
- Credentials and training – there’s a wide range of opinions on this. Coaching is still a very new industry. There are thousands of coaches selling coaching services who have never been trained and don’t hold credentials with the ICF (the global body that oversees coaches). Credentials don’t guarantee that a coach is great, and no credentials doesn’t mean a coach isn’t. Having credentials and training is an indication that the coach is committed to their own development. They’ve invested in themselves and uphold a minimum standard of skills and ethical standing.
- Walking the walk – similar to the point above, a coach who is paying to work with a coach of their own is demonstrating a commitment to investing in their own growth. If someone is going to sell coaching, they should want to do the work for themselves too.
So, you’ve reached the end of the post and know a little bit more about my journey with coaching. If the process interests you at all, I will leave the contact information of my coach below. He’s an extremely warm, open, progressive and SUPER smart human who has helped me discover and reconnect with so much about myself over a short period of time. He would be more than happy to have an introductory conversation so you can ask questions and find out more about coaching and if it’s right for you.
Alex Bunyan, CPCC, ACC