Coaching is a billion dollar industry and the corporate world is increasingly recognising the benefits of hiring coaches, particularly for their top performing employees. Meanwhile, those who work for themselves or who are in third sector organisations may, understandably, be less inclined to invest in professional coaching. When you are starting out in a small business or when you work in an organisation whose purpose is to serve others, it’s tempting to put personal development and support low on the agenda.
So I’ve been thinking about the reasons why people might think that coaching is not for them and what I’d say in response.
1 “Coaching is for softies”
On the contrary, people who hire coaches are typically people who aim high in their lives both personally and professionally. It’s a courageous step to enter a coaching relationship. A coaching alliance is based on honesty and asks you to be true to yourself and look your life square in the face. If you are ready to shake up your thinking and put in the work it is tremendously rewarding.
2 “I should be able to work this out myself, or just talk to a friend”
Expect to work on finding your own solutions because coaches don’t advise or tell you what to do – we leave that to mentors and consultants.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential."
A coach won’t give you answers – you hold these already. But coaching is a fast track to transformation and new ways of looking at challenges that we face. In this always-on hectic world it’s easy to find yourself exhausted, lost and lonely even when you are surrounded by friends and family. It’s rare to talk about the things that really matter with someone who will listen without judgement. My job as a coach is to help you to consider options that are hard for you to see when you are stuck in one perspective. While we do this, you’ll get back in touch with your own resourcefulness and creativity.
3 “I can’t justify the time and expense”
I love to coach people who are freelance or who are running their own businesses and I see this reluctance to invest in self development time and again. It also arises with leaders in NGOs and humanitarian organisations whose focus is on helping others. But if you are going to continue to thrive when you work alone or with minimal support, you need to invest in yourself. Coaching is one way to do that – and for many people it is a powerful way to gain perspective, to plan for an uncertain future and to find ways to keep the work in alignment with your values. The corporate world has a more pragmatic view on coaching and is increasingly recognising the return on investment that coaching brings: over eighty five per cent of companies in the Global Coaching Study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, reported they at least made their investment back.
4 “It’s self-indulgent and an admission of failure”
Asking for help does not mean you are failing. When we find ourselves in new situations without a map or a plan we need a guide to help us. Taking time to work on yourself helps you to be better able to serve others. I know from my own experience that when you work from a place of deficit, you are heading for burnout.
We live in times of unprecedented change and, whatever line of work you are in, it is likely you having to learn things for which there are no blueprints. I will listen to your challenges and prompt you to think through your own solutions. Our conversations will be purposeful and completely confidential. There may be laughter, there may be tears – it’s all good and just further proof of your humanity and heart. I will sit alongside you in your struggles and champion you in your successes.
5 “It won’t help”
There are no guarantees and you should be wary of any coach who promises them. The success of coaching lies in your hands. Coaching is a partnership of equals – especially in Co-Active Coaching – and the real work is what happens in between appointments, which only you can make happen. That said, I believe that Co-Active Coaching is a powerful and transformational process that can deliver extraordinary results when we co-create with an open heart and a willingness to take action. There’s a kind of magic that opens up when two people work together to dive deeply into what really matters. But if magic doesn’t do it for you – there’s a whole body of science that explains what lies beneath it. The Co-Active model itself draws on a number of different disciplines and, if you are interested in the science of coaching, this article from the Institute of Coaching (IOC) gives an overview.
6 “I am at a time in my life when coaching is not important”
This is the top reason cited by participants in the 2017 ICF Global Consumer Awareness study and set me thinking that this might actually be at the heart of the matter. As part of our own training, coaches volunteer to be coached by other coaches in training and I have never thought afterwards “I didn’t need that coaching”. Coaching is helpful at any age and stage of life and I always find value in the relationship. Of course, when we are parting with hard-earned cash we need to recognise a trigger for reaching out to a coach. A trigger does not have to be a crisis or a feeling of distress. Although it can often be this, a good time to work with a coach can also be when you are feeling motivated, when your life is in balance and moving forward. This may sound counterintuitive but it is often at these times that we see that, with support, we can reach for an even bigger life and use our strengths to reach goals that make a difference. And this, for me, is what coaching is about – looking after, and understanding, yourself so that you can bring your gifts to the world.