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We live in a cold, cruel world. A world in which it’s not just survival of the fittest, it’s a blood sport with the mutilated carcasses of the dreamers and achievers lying in heaps upon the road to Utopia.
WHOA! That is one overwhelmingly negative sentence. And I’m not going to take it back. Because for many of us, that is the feeling we have about our jobs, our lives, and the simple every day interactions we have with our fellow humans. But it’s more than a feeling, MORE THAN A FEELING… (are you hearing that great song by Boston too?) It is more than a feeling – it is a reality that is bolstered by the voices inside our heads telling us that this is the way it is and the way it’s always going to be. And that’s a sad way to go through life – and I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.
So how do you find fulfillment in this cold, cruel world? One way is to read a lot of self-help books and try to figure it out on your own. Another way is to have drinks with friends and commiserate, and hope that makes you feel better. Yet another way is to work with a professional coach. That’s what I’d like to focus on, what it is like to work with a professional coach.
When you choose to embark on a coaching relationship, the expectation is that you have thought about where you are in your life, and realized it isn’t where you want to be. You’re fed up, worn out and at your breaking point. You’ve tried everything else, and it hasn’t brought you the level of satisfaction, fulfillment or happiness you long for. Another expectation is that you are prepared to do the work, to fight for your happiness and fulfillment as if your life depended on it – because it may.
The next step is to find a coach. Some people slam on the brakes right here. How do I do it? I feel weird telling such personal things to a total stranger. How do I know it’s worth it? It costs a lot of money! THESE ARE ALL YOUR SABOTEURS TALKING TO YOU. IGNORE THEM. THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO MOVE FORWARD – THEY LIKE YOU WEAK AND COMFORTABLE IN YOUR CURRENT STATE. (Yes, I know all caps means yelling – and I am YELLING THIS TO YOU!)
There are many ways to find coaches. There are coach referral websites like Noomii. You can Google coaches. You can call coach training institutes and ask for referrals. You can talk to people who have tried coaching. And on, and on. Here are my suggestions to finding the RIGHT coach for you:
1. Check their training and certification. Make sure it’s from a reputable organization. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the governing body for coach certification, check with them.
2. Contact at least 3-5 coaches and ask for a free sample session. This is a 30 minute session (may vary by coach) in which you get a taste of what coaching would be like. You also get a feel for what coaching is like over the phone, and for the coach’s personality. It has to resonate with you, or it won’t be a good fit.
3. Ask the coach a lot of questions that are important to you about the way they work. What is their coaching philosophy?
4. Ask the coach for references of clients they have coached – and call them.
Once you’ve found the right coach for you, enter into the coaching relationship with a clear focus on what you want to achieve – it might be one thing, it might be more, just make sure you know what you want. Professional coaches are really good at drawing this out, so if you are not certain about your goals, just have an idea of a general direction – after all, you know you want to make a change, just think about ways to verbalize what you want.
Once you begin your sessions with your coach – be patient with yourself. Coaching takes time. Like Dr. Gladys McGarry, alternative medical doctor extraordinaire used to say to me: “Honey, you didn’t get this way overnight, and you’re not going to be fixed overnight either.” Give coaching and yourself a chance.
Also crucially important is that you are honest. Coaching is not about making the coach happy – this isn’t school where you want to impress the teacher – this is about YOU and your growth. The more honest you are, the better your results will be.
Try to get comfortable quickly with the process and your coach. This is tough for a lot of people, but if you can accomplish it within the first session or two, it will be of great benefit, because you will be able to go deep and get to the root of your issue quickly.
Be ready, willing and able to do your “homework.” Yes, there is homework in coaching. The expectation is that the coach helps you find things to focus on with intention in-between coaching sessions, and you work on it to get to your destination, your goal. This is really important. Do it.
Celebrate your wins! Whether big or small, any forward movement is cause for celebration. Envision yourself as being in a multi-layered suit of armor that’s weighing you down, and each achievement is you shedding another piece of the armor until you are free to run and fly!
Be prepared for setbacks – it happens. Growth cannot happen from a place of constant wins. We grow best from places of defeat – so embrace them, learn from them and then move on and forward, ever forward.
Finally, honor yourself and your work. Making the decision to do the work to make the changes you need to find fulfillment, growth and balance is very courageous. So reach around and pat yourself on the back. Finding and hiring a coach is the most difficult step you will take on this journey.
Live long, and grow!