'Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.' ~ Marcus AureliusClick To Tweet
Unless you already have it all ‘sussed’ (in which case, lovely to meet you, but why are you here?) chances are my recent posts about finding your mission and realizing your potential might have been a bit intimidating. Today I’d like to share how coaching can help you access the answer within, enabling you to grow and transform from an authentic place… a place that is unique and meaningful to you.
I’m particularly going to focus on how to find a great coach – a coach that is perfect for you – and hopefully put to rest some of your natural and understandable cynicism.
The coaching industry…
If you Google “coaching” there are literally hundreds of millions of results – from sports coaches, to music coaches, to language coaches, to acting coaches, to business and life coaches. And unlike regulated professions (lawyers, engineers, architects) anybody can call themselves a coach and charge you for the privilege of spending some time with them.
That’s good news and bad news. It means that coaching has grown in prominence since the seventies, with the rise of self-help books. And let’s face it: life’s pretty complicated – who wouldn’t want somebody else to carry some of that load! But the bad news is, it really means that you, the potential client, have no idea whether what someone is offering will be good… or even what ‘good’ looks like.
It’s a bit like open-mic night at your local comedy club. It might be funny…
So where do you start?
Look for professional accreditation…
There is a body called the International Coach Federation (ICF) who provide a few things that are pretty neat…
They provide a framework for accreditation of coach training, which means that there are training programmes with ICF accreditation that you can be confident have undergone rigorous scrutiny and meet the ICF’s exacting requirements. Coaches who graduate from these programmes will be on track to meet the ICF’s standards for Coach Accreditation
The ICF offers a graduated series of recognised coaching credentials – essentially providing assurance that a coach has undergone extensive and regulated training, gained significant experience and demonstrated the ability to deliver effective coaching through either one-on-one or group coaching methodologies. They have undertaken an exam, agreed to abide by a stringent Code of Ethics, had their coaching practice externally reviewed, been mentored by a more experienced coach and committed to ongoing professional development.
Ongoing Professional Development
You don’t want a coach who trained 30 years ago and has done nothing to maintain their knowledge since then. New understandings about how the brain works, the benefits of positive psychology, and high performance is emerging all the time.
To maintain membership of the ICF, professional coaches must meet stringent criteria around Continuing Coach Education, including ethics. And for early career coaches, this must include mentoring from a more experienced coach.
How coaching can help you find the answer within
'We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.' ~ Galileo GalileiClick To Tweet
Your brain is a complicated place. It’s often noisy, complex and counterintuitive. There can be little voices in there, telling you what you can and can’t do. You can be holding beliefs and values and systems of thinking that feel exactly like facts but that are actually old habits or programmes of thinking that are holding you back from achieving your potential.
A professional coach can help you make sense of it all. Not by telling you the answers or teaching you what to do, but by helping you access the tools and knowledge you already have within you to gain new insights.
Why can’t I just do it myself… if I already have the answers
Often the things that are holding you back are subconscious – you aren’t aware of them. Some people are able to develop tools and techniques that enable them to access these insights without the assistance of another person.
But an effective coach enables you to hear what you are saying as an objective independent person. By reflecting back to you what you are realising, and by asking questions that take you deeper inside your own story – or even take you right out of your own story. Free from the lenses that you apply within your own thinking.
An effective coach can help you become aware of what you want, and what’s holding your back.
And perhaps more importantly, can help you decide what you are going to do about it.
So how do I find the right coach for me?
If someone you know and trust has a coach and recommends them to you, that’s a pretty good starting point. Then your only question is whether that coach’s approach is right for you.
Are they accredited? Are they credible? Are they qualified? Do they have testimonials on their website from satisfied clients?
Simple but powerful questions…
Most coaches offer a first meeting for free. Not every coach is right for every client… and not every client is right for every coach. Have a chat. Be prepared to talk a little bit about what you are hoping to achieve, and how you like to be supported. Ask some questions of the coach, like how does she work, what motivates her to coach and what type of results has she achieved.
Finally, make sure that you understand what is involved. A credible coach will have a contractual arrangement for you, that will include important things like confidentiality… and the limits on that confidentially, what will happen in the event you need to cancel a session at short notice, what guarantees they offer (if any) and so forth.
Concluding thoughts on coaching…
'People are like stained - glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.' ~ Elisabeth Kubler-RossClick To Tweet
Eventually you have to make a decision… and that will largely be about intuition. Does this coach feel right for you? Did you feel a sense of partnership when you were talking.
Because ultimately, coaching is a partnership between the client and the coach. The coach is the expert on the conversation, and you are the expert on ‘you’.
Together you can find the answer within and accomplish phenomenal things.
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