Have you ever felt like you are trying your best to accomplish something in life, like get a promotion, or lose ten pounds, only to feel like you never make any real progress? Have you looked at your role models, and desired to be more like them, but are unsure of how to become more like them? I can honestly say I’ve been there. I have worked a job that really felt like a dead end maze, struggled with my weight, lacked self-confidence, and focused on survival while I secretly desired to have a life I was excited to live. That was, until I learned about the field of coaching.
Someone hires a coach because they desire change. They want a promotion, a new job, a healthier lifestyle, to create a business or to achieve any goal that feels out of reach. The first and most important thing in a coaching relationship is the desire for change. By having an honest desire for change, you are willing to put your energy into doing the work it will take to achieve your goal.
What the coach brings to the table depends on the type of coach you hire. There are a variety of styles, skills and experiences that are unique to the coach. This can range from a consultant who will provide a prescriptive method to support you to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. A great example of this would be a health coach who focuses on a specific diet and exercise regime. They provide their clients with all the steps and tools to follow, while the client’s responsibility is to follow through the instructions. The opposite side of the spectrum would be a coach whose focus is on helping you find your own ways of achieving your goal. They use the tools of asking powerful questions and skilled listening to help you uncover your own truth, and dig through the stories and false truths that can often impede a person’s understanding of what they desire. This type of coaching is common for a leadership coach to practice. The coach won’t have the detailed understanding of a business in order to give a CEO guidance on how to run their business, so they serve the CEO by helping them break through fears and anxieties that hinder decision making.
I started working with a coach in August regarding my own career. At the time, we had a long discussion digging into what I was struggling with in my engineering career. Near the end of our discussion, she asked me the question “who do you want to be?” The question seemed so simple, and it is deceptively so. At the time, I was so worried about what everyone else wanted me to be, at home, and in my career. I was trying to balance the desires of those around me. The voice I couldn’t hear in that place was my own. My coach was able to see that, and asked that question to help me recognize what I was avoiding. After that, we were able to discuss my own answer to that question and begin to create plans to take my statement of who I wanted to be, and work towards making that a reality.
The biggest impact for me has been my new willingness to take risks at work and share my own ideas. A month after that discussion, I was in conversation with my manager about a new potential product that had been in development for over 5 years. In the conversation he shared with me his fear about the long term profitability if we brought the product to market, due to some unique market forces at the time. I felt that he was giving up, but I wasn’t sure how to offer an alternative view. I then took the time to write up a reasoned response to him, arguing how we could change the profit model of the product, and potentially add other services into the package that could make the product profitable over the long term. Those suggestions were never implemented, but I felt that I had done my best to offer a new way to look at our business. It felt great to find the courage to speak my mind to my manager, to offer him potential options from which we might make our business better. Letting go of my fear of being my full self at work was a huge change that I would have never asked for at the start of my relationship with my coach.
The great thing about most coaching relationships is that they are there to support you through your goals, and you get the benefit of personal transformation throughout the process. You learn that you have the strength to achieve your goals, and have the ability to become the person you want to be. Many coaches offer a free introductory session giving you the chance to test out what might be possible if you had a coach in your corner. So I encourage you to consider – what are the biggest goals you have at work that you feel you cannot accomplish on your own? How might a coach help you achieve those? ICF’s coaching directory offers a great resource to help you find the coach who can help you achieve your goals. Take a look – you might find someone who can help you get to the next level.