Choosing a coach

Just like not all doctors are created equal, nor are coaches. Check out this list of points to be aware of before placing your trust into the hands of a stranger.

1. Certification

Certification used to be important, but not so much anymore. There are certificates available with minimal training instruction for as little as $20 online. Being backed by an international institute or body also doesn’t mean that the training adequately prepares the individual to be a coach.

Certification should be considered as the bare minimum and not in itself proof of competence. Look beyond the certificate and check for experience, references, or other evidence that they are skilled and knowledgeable at what they do. Most importantly, check to be sure that they are skilled in the specific area that you require assistance.

2. Establish rapport

Believe it or not, many coaches lack the emotional maturity to handle their own life’s challenges, let alone someone else’s. It’s not easy to determine how emotionally mature they are when reviewing their credentials, so check if they offer a free connect session. That is, a session where they allow you an opportunity to evaluate the suitability of their skills and approach in working with you towards achieving your goals or resolving your challenges.

Remember, this is about you, not them.

3. Are they empathetic or sympathetic?

Empathetic means that they can understand where you’re at, and they have a genuine appreciation for what you’re going through. Sympathetic means that they not only understand, but they also have an emotional investment because of their personal experience with a similar challenge. As strange as it may sound, you don’t want a sympathetic coach.

If your coach is sympathetic towards your state, they run a considerably higher risk of losing objectivity and developing a bias for your position. As comforting as that sounds, it could be the very reason that holds you back from overcoming the current obstacles in your path.

You need someone that is more empathetic and less sympathetic so that they relate to what you’re experiencing, but are insightful and objective enough to guide you towards understanding your contribution towards your current challenges.

Important! We cannot coach someone that is not in the room. So, if your coach is focusing on someone else’s behaviour and not dealing with yours, be very concerned. They’re stroking your ego, not helping you to recover.

4. What makes a good coach?

According to Coach the Life Coach, the following 8 points are key attributes of a good coach, and I agree:

  • They’re a great listener
  • They have an excellent ability to build rapport with their clients
  • They understand that they need to engage differently for different types of clients and are capable of doing so
  • They formulate questions artfully and skillfully aimed at guiding their client towards self-realisation
  • They are comfortable with awkward silences or time needed for their client to process what is being discussed.
  • They have broad experience and real life wisdom and don’t rely on textbook knowledge
  • They are visibly passionate about helping people

Your coach must also be comfortable with pushing the tough discussion and guiding you through it. Many coaches want to be favoured more than they want to be true to the client’s needs. For this reason, they avoid getting too contentious because they’re afraid of losing the client.

Your coach must want to help you more than they want to secure your business.

5. Affordability

A good coach could cost anything between ZAR350 to ZAR2500 per hour (US$25 to US$180). Or more. But it all depends on their client base, and their niche.

The only thing a rate should tell you is whether or not the coach is affordable for you. Everything else about them must be assessed independent of their rate.

6. What about NLP, CBT, and all of that?

NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), or even Hypnotherapy are simply methods or modalities that are used to create understanding or provide coping mechanisms. Like all methods, they have their place, but they also have their limitations.

Be careful of coaches that swear by one or the other, or take a textbook approach to responding to your questions or challenges. A sure sign to raise concern is if your coach constantly tries prescribed methods in every session.

The human condition is made difficult or easy depending on how well we understand what we’re experiencing. It’s not about rewiring your brain, or developing habits or coping mechanisms. Those will fail you when your circumstances change because by desin, they are only effective within the context of your current life stage or experience.

Roundup

An informed client adds to the integrity of the industry, and they keep coaches honest.

Coaches are human. We make mistakes, and we have bad days. The more informed you are as a client, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to correct us on those bad days. More importantly, the more informed you are, the higher the probability of finding a coach that is effective for you.

Remember, this is an investment in taking your life to the next level. Don’t compromise on that by looking for a coach that is going to make you feel comfortable with where you’re at.

Let’s build the life that you’ve always dreamed of.

Coaching should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. The moment your coach takes out a textbook or exercise sheet, know that they’re using someone else’s solution to solve your problem. We’re humans, not business processes that need to be solved. What worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Discover why coping is a sure-fire way to find yourself in a rut again, and discover why my unique approach results in fast and sustainable results.
This is important. You need to be going in with your eyes wide open. To make it easier for you to make a decision about this important step in your life, I’ve compiled a list of questions that I get asked quite often on first encounters. Just in case it wasn’t covered in the above sections. Get answers to when, where, and how often coaching happens by checking out these FAQs.

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