According to the International Coach Federation, coaching is defined as “Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” What’s not to like about that? Well, as it turns out there are several preconceived notions about coaching that prevent some from exploring it as a path to lasting change in their lives. I thought it would be helpful to address some of the most common misconceptions about coaching.
1. It’s too expensive.
Good coaching is not cheap, but it can be very valuable. You can keep plugging along doing what you’ve been doing and getting the same results, or you can invest in yourself and get serious about working towards your goals. Perhaps you would like to be promoted but can’t figure out why it hasn’t happened yet. A coach can work with you to identify what might be keeping you from getting promoted – whether it be gaps in experience or internal blocks that stand in your way – and work with you on a plan to address the gaps or blocks.
To provide a dollar-and-cents example, if you invested $3,000 to work with a coach for 6 months and were able to get a promotion and a $10,000 raise, you’d net $7,000 in just the first year. Over the course 5 years, your $3,000 investment could mean an additional $50,000 in income with an ROI of more than 15x the initial investment – and that doesn’t include other perks that might come with a promotion such as an office, bonuses, additional raises, equity, etc. Do you believe in yourself enough to invest in your future? If not, why should anyone else choose to invest in you?
Over the course 5 years, your $3,000 investment could mean an additional $50,000 in income with an ROI of more than 15x the initial investment
2. My friends and family give me good advice for free.
You know what they say, free advice is worth every penny that you pay for it. Okay, I’m only half kidding. No doubt you have wise friends and family; however, it’s very difficult to separate the interests of your friends and loved ones from your own desires. Often the advice that you get from those close to you is colored by their own biases, desires and fears. In contrast, Certified Professional Coaches are not attached to their clients’ outcomes.
Working with an objective third party frees you to explore all options and to listen deeply for your heart’s desire (even if it might not please your friends and family). Coaching is action-oriented – it’s not about asking friends what they think you should do or venting over coffee in order to tolerate the status quo. The coach’s role is to help you discover what you really want and then to work with you to develop a plan to achieve that goal.
Free advice is worth every penny that you pay for it.
3. I have a great mentor who helps me, so I don’t need a coach.
Mentors are great. Typically, they are experienced people who have already accomplished what you aspire to do. Usually you find them at work or within your network. You meet with them occasionally and fill them in on what you’re up to and get advice on situations you’re dealing with.
Mentors are typically not paid and may be very busy -- meaning that they don’t always have time for you when you could use their counsel. They have “been there and done that” and typically use their own experience as the road map for how to direct you on your journey. But what happens when your journey takes a different turn or when your needs conflict with the availability (or opinion) of your mentor?
Mentors often do not have the time or training to delve into identifying and removing the blocks that may keep you from getting to where you want to go. Coaches and mentors can both serve valuable roles, but they are not the same thing.
4. I can figure out how to reach my goals on my own.
If you can identify your goals, develop plans to achieve them (including identifying what might stand in the way of success), hold yourself accountable for the deliverables along the way, and hit the deadlines you set for yourself, then you don’t need a coach. My guess is that you wouldn’t be reading this article if you were able to do that, but only you know if that’s true.
5. Coaching is a scam.
There are many people in the marketplace who call themselves coaches who have not received training and who do not abide by the Code of Ethics set out by the International Coach Federation (ICF). When you work with a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) like myself, you are working with someone who has been trained through an ICF-accredited coach training program and has agreed to abide by the ICF Code of Ethics.
IPEC, the training program that I attended, requires completion of more than 300 hours of training and passage of a certification exam that demonstrates an understanding of proven coaching techniques to support clients as they work towards their goals. (Clearly, there are many coaches in the marketplace who are not CPCs and who are experienced and effective. However, it can be difficult to tell the difference between those who are legitimate and effective, and those who have simply adopted the title of coach without any training, experience or certification.) Look for the CPC designation when you’re shopping for a coach.
6. A coach won’t understand my business/situation/industry in enough depth to advise me.
It is true that no one will understand your situation as well as you do. Certified Professional Coaches are experts in coaching. You are the expert on you and I believe that you possess the ability to resolve any issue that may arise in your life. A coach’s job is not to advise you. Her role is to support you as you explore, identify and ultimately remove the blocks that hold you back from what you really want in your life. Your coach can be there to help you brainstorm, hold space as you consider options and develop plans, and hold you accountable as you put you plans into action. A coaching relationship is all about you and your coach is simply your wingman to make sure you keep moving in the direction of your goals.
Your coach is simply your wingman to make sure you keep moving in the direction of your goals.
7. I need to change right now – coaching will take too long.
Coaching is about lasting change. If you want a quick change, you may be able to find an expert who can come in and tell you exactly what you need to do now to make the changes you want in your life, but ultimately those changes will be what someone else thinks you need to do. You may find that once that guru has left you that you will revert to your old patterns because the underlying reasons for those patterns have not been addressed. It’s like when someone goes on a starvation diet to lose weight – they lose weight but after the diet is over, all the weight comes back because the underlying poor eating habits were not addressed.
8. I’ve been successful to this point without a coach – why mess with a good thing?
Kudos to you for the success you’ve had so far. If you are happy with where you are or with the pace of your advancement, then you don’t need a coach. But it’s very likely that what it will take to get to the next level is very different from what it took to get to where you are. If you would like to move forward or are not sure which direction to go in, a coach can be helpful. You may have blind spots in your awareness and as you try to move ahead you might keep running into invisible obstacles and can’t see what’s getting in the way. Experienced coaches have techniques to help uncover those blind spots and can bring them into your awareness so that the blocks can be avoided or broken through.
If you are happy with where you are or with the pace of your advancement, then you don’t need a coach.
9. I’m doing everything right – it’s the people around me who need to change.
For coaching to work, you must accept the truth that the only person you can change is yourself. Sometimes a happy by-product of coaching is that people around you change in response to your changes because you’ve altered the dynamic of your interactions. When that happens it can be amazing, but it’s not something that can be counted on.
Changing others is not a primary reason to pursue coaching. Coaching is about taking responsibility for your own life and stepping outside of your comfort zone to envision the life that you want for yourself, then making the changes necessary for it happen. Deciding to hire a coach and commit to change is a personal decision and an individual journey.
Sometimes a happy by-product of coaching is that people around you change in response to your changes because you’ve altered the dynamic of your interactions.
Coaching is not for everyone. It requires you to believe that change is possible, to acknowledge that you are responsible for your own actions and situation, for you to commit to do the work, to have a willingness to accept feedback, and to recognize that the coach is your partner during the journey but cannot do the work for you. With an understanding of these ground rules, working with a Certified Professional Coach can be a life-changing experience when pursued for the right reasons.
If you'd like to explore whether coaching could be beneficial for you, contact me for a free 30-minute discovery call.