I’ve been working with a coach recently. He lives in LA but misses the European landscape so I send him videos and updates when our walking my dog. Equally he reminds me what sunshine is like. I’m in the UK and don’t see it often.
Part of coaching is about accountability. But you won’t get yourself a coach unless you realise that it might be nice to have a shoulder to cry on, a person to celebrate with etc. If you are working as a solopreneur, consultant, freelancer, or on any major project undertaking, then a friendly (but firm) friend could be useful to have.
So how should you find a coach? What should you ask for from them and expect to do yourself?
I asked some good friends about their experiences of being coached and being a coach too.
Bekka runs the Curious Choice
Bekka says…. Being coached is a very active process and the right time to hire a coach is when you know what you want to get from that coaching, and you are ready to do the work. Then it is about finding the right kind of coach to work with.
Coaching covers a continuum of ways of working, from showing and teaching a specific thing for a specific set of circumstances, for example how to use specific software to schedule social media posts, through to unlocking someone’s potential by enabling them to explore a situation, articulate their thinking and decide what actions to take. Each has a place and potential benefits depending on your experience and circumstances.
Where the coaching you need, and indeed the right coach for you sit on that continuum depends on three key factors.
Firstly, on how much knowledge you already have in the area you are looking to work on, are you looking for new knowledge or how to better apply what you already know?
Secondly, how much you want the coaching to follow a set process and be told what to do next vs having flexibility and control of the agenda and decisions.
Thirdly, it depends on the level of challenge and support you want. Generally, the more experienced you are the more you are going to want a coach who unlocks your potential.
Counterintuitive as it seems often this kind of coaching is often cheaper than the more teaching based coaching, it is also certainly more targeted and time efficient, so when choosing a coach don’t equate price with quality, it’s not that simple, talk to a few coaches and look for who is going to work with you in the best way for you, bring out the best in you, and get you to the outcomes you want.
Lee Lam runs the UK Start Up Partner.
Lee put together a few thoughts on the topic and has a an article ‘Why use a Coach?’ [firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it to you].
Friends and family are in our lives for very different reasons than to support our growth. I know that sounds odd, but particularly for entrepreneurs, it is very common for them to struggle to find the type of support they need from those closest to them.. It makes sense really – they love us, so want what is best for us which to them typically includes a stress free, worry free, risk free life. That does not describe the typical entrepreneur lifestyle! So when things get tough, they are more likely to worry that you have taken on too much, or that you are setting yourself up for failure.
A coach is someone who absolutely believes in your potential, but is not so close that they worry about you in the same way – because they know that with the right type of support, you can do it. That objective but evangelical vibe that coaches give you can pull you through some tough times.
Don’t go for the first coach you meet – even if you love them or they have a great reputation! I see many people have bad experiences with coaches because their expectations and what they get are very different. Sometimes you just don’t vibe with someone the right way – however famous they are! Talk to several coaches and look out for how quickly they pick up on what you are saying well.
Leapers supports the mental health of freelancers and the self-employed. It’s a fantastic community and worth checking out at leapers.co
–We’re a free and inclusive community project for anyone who works differently–
Matt who manages the community at Leapers says
“Any chance to get the input from others is hugely valuable to me, as working on my own often means I don’t always have the chance to bounce ideas off anyone. But working with a coach is even more powerful, as the best are trained in asking great questions, putting structure to moving forward through challenges, and aren’t there to answer your questions but rather help you develop skills so you’re more able to answer questions for yourself, which is a skill anyone self employed can always invest in.”