10 Ways To Get More From Your Career Coach

August 10, 2015

by Ravi Raman

Do you work with a career coach, life coach or business coach?

If you do, congratulations! You have taken a step to create and achieve something special in your life.

There is a reason the most successful people on the planet – in any field – work with a coach (sometimes several). It is hard to see yourself objectively. A coach’s role is to help you do just that!

If you are in a coaching relationship right now or are considering one in the future, be sure to apply these ten tips to get the most out of your coach. Working with a coach is an investment of your precious time and money. Make sure you are getting what you need out of it!

1) Cut to the chase

Don’t beat around the bush when talking with your coach. If you have a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) in your mind, don’t keep it a secret. Ensure that you and your coach are on the same page with what you want to achieve in the future. You coach should actively be checking in with you on your goals, but it is up to you to be up front with what matters most to you. As your goals shift and change over time, keep your coach informed!

2) Focus on your “Why?”

Simon Sinek has popularized the use of the Golden Circle as a method for storytelling. The truth is; the method is useful for much more than just telling a story. Knowing your “Why” will help you uncover the things that are intrinsically motivating to you. As important as the act of taking action is to produce results, make sure that every single action (the “What’s” and the “How’s”) anchors to a compelling reason “Why” to ensure commitment over the long term.

3) Be impeccable with your word

Words have immense power. Being impeccable with your word is more than just honesty. It is about seeing what is happening and being brutally honest in your coaching work. If you didn’t take efforts you committed to, be truthful about it. If you are feeling unsure about a direction the coaching relationship is taking, be honest about that. If you see success in your coaching arise, be upfront about that as well! Don’t sugar coat things. There is no success or failure in your coaching. There are only problems that are waiting to be solved.

4) Feel coached all the time

Coaching sessions for my clients typically last 45 minutes and are held 3-4 times per month. The power of coaching is that the real benefits arise outside of the coaching session, not within it. Whatever you learn during your coaching, apply it throughout the week. You should feel coached all the time, not just during your allotted session.

5) Take notes and do your homework

You may make plenty of progress without taking notes or doing any homework. However, if you are serious about substantial progress. If you are focused on solving your toughest problems, it pays to do your homework. Keep a notebook (I use Evernote) with summaries of every coaching session. Journal out homework exercises. Keep track of what is working and what isn’t. If you are working on building new healthy habits (e.g. waking up early, meditating every day) keeping a written log is a necessity until the habit becomes automatic (on average this takes 66 days).

6) Create the lifestyle you need

The most common reasons people don’t get a coach (or work with anyone to improve any part of their life) is that they claim that they either don’t have the money or don’t have time to invest in a coaching relationship. If money or time are holding you back from working with a coach, bring up those specific issues as barriers and see what your coach can help you do about it. There are strategies to gain back productive time or create a path of greater income. All it takes is your willingness to work on solutions to these problems with a coach.

7) Communicate clearly

There are times when things won’t work as you expect. For example, maybe your coach is not focusing on the things you want. Perhaps the coaching is heavy on the use of visualization exercises but not providing enough written and logical thinking tools that you find easier to grasp. Perhaps he or she is not clear on the logistics of your coaching calls or your regularly scheduled meeting time isn’t convenient. Whatever the issue is, be clear and communicate what is working and what isn’t. Remember, the coach is there for you, not the other way around!

8) Don’t take things personally

Whatever shows up during a coaching conversation is designed to support your highest purpose and goals. Sometimes that will require your coach to “call you out” if you are ducking and dodging your commitments. Remember, you are hiring your coach to be objective and support you. Most of the time that will require only encouragement, but sometimes it will call for some poking and prodding! Don’t take it personally.

9) Don’t just participate, commit!

Are you commitment in your coaching relationship? If you are merely a willing participant, you will not see significant results. There is a massive difference between participating and  fully committing. Dr. Steven Berglas relays the difference stunningly in his article in the Harvard Business Review:

“There’s a huge difference between participating….and being committed…; it’s like a bacon and egg breakfast. The chicken participates in the breakfast. The pig, on the other hand, was fully committed.”

10) Get out of your way

Coaching exists as a growing field because it works. Millions of people from all walks of life have transformed their lives and businesses by working with someone who can help them see what they can’t see on their own. Change is hard, mainly because we get in our way. Fear and resistance to change shows up regardless of how compelling your future vision may be. Doubt arises. The perspective of ourselves is limited.

Don’t believe me? Try closing your eyes for the next 5 minutes in silence. Notice how many thoughts show up without your prompting. How many of those thoughts are helpful? How many are not?

The more adept you can be at getting out of your way and going with the process instead of resisting it, the faster and more profound your success will be. Your inner voice, be it positive, neutral or negative (or more likely a mix of all three) will never totally go away, but you can cultivate a practice of hearing it objectively while still moving forward in your most empowering direction.

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