If you are considering working with a coach, Congratulations! It can be a big step forward to decide to work with someone outside yourself, your friends and your family in order to achieve your goals. You have recognized the value inherent in working with someone outside of your immediate social circle. Now: how can you get the most out of this new coaching relationship? To help you get as much as you can out of this experience, let’s look at some of the obstacles others have encountered and explore how these might be resolved. We’ll examine two broad categories of potential issues: “client-centric”—relates to how the client approaches the process of coaching, and “relationship-centric”—issues the client may experience in relating to and communicating with the coach.
- Not being ready for coaching: Being coached requires a desire to invest the time, energy and money needed to attain personal growth. It can be hard for the client to be ready to put in the work if they are not ready for these. It can also be difficult if they are not freely choosing to seek coaching. If you’re not sure you’re ready or if someone else is pushing you to be coached, let your coach know up front and have an honest conversation about whether coaching is right for you.
- Lack of desire to “do the work” between sessions: Coaching sessions are an enabling tool for achieving successes and positive improvements. While there can be a breakthrough achieved within the session, the end goal is to achieve sustainable improvement. Part of this comes with additional work outside of the sessions. No one is looking for a reason to have more “homework,” but knowing this is coming before starting will help you mentally prepare and assist you in achieving your goals. It may help to tell yourself, “This isn’t homework; this is lifework!”
- Not fully investing in the process: As you may expect, results from coaching are mostly determined by the amount of effort and commitment each client brings to the coaching engagement. Coaching relies on deep personal exploration and success rides on the willingness of the client to do the inner work—to invest in yourself. Coaches are dedicated to creating an environment where our clients feel safe and ready to choose to do the necessary work. However: we cannot do the work for you. As your coach, I will invest in you and you must also invest in yourself.
Let’s assume that those three issues either weren’t problems for you or, if they were, you have now dealt with them successfully. Before going any farther let’s look at where you are:
- You’ve recognized that you have goals which you want to attain
- You’ve seen the value of working with a coach to help you get there
- You’ve established that you’re ready for coaching
- You’re prepared to do the work
- You’ve chosen to invest in the process
Way to go YOU!
The second set of potential issues is clustered around the client-coach relationship. For some, opening up to another person can be difficult, especially when discussing sensitive or emotionally charged topics. Let’s look at what other coaching clients have experienced and a few ways to begin working on them.
- Fear of being judged: Judgment is about forming and rendering an opinion. Coaches are trained to stay curious, ask powerful questions and share observations. We do our best to steer clear of judgment; it is not our role to provide our opinion. Coaches work to be aware of our own biases and, as humans, we all have biases that may lead us to judgment unintentionally. If your coach ever says something that makes you feel like you are being judged, please raise that with your coach immediately. You will be helping the coach’s self-awareness as well as ensuring that this does not become a barrier between you and your coach.
- Fear of a secret getting out: Another reason clients may hold information back is concern about confidentiality. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) requires all members to adhere to the ICF Code of Ethics which requires coaches to maintain strict confidentiality in the coaching relationship. This should also be part of the coaching agreement that you accept before engaging with a coach. I am a member in good standing of the International Coaching Federation and commit to maintaining each client’s strict confidentiality.
- Lack of personal connection and trust: When starting the coaching relationship, it might be hard to open up to your coach; you might feel quite vulnerable. This is natural, and please know there is great power and freedom in being vulnerable and authentic. As Brené Brown writes in her book Daring Greatly: Vulnerability is not weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.
When you lean into coaching and embrace the process, those ordinary moments of conversation can yield extraordinary results.
- Hiding hard truths: An issue related to holding back from the coach is holding back truths from yourself. If something seems too painful to face, or you feel somewhat resistant to change, you might be hiding the truth from yourself. This is one reason that you have a coach. Coaches are trained to help you look within and confront your hard truths in a safe and compassionate space. As a coach, I want my clients to succeed. Sometimes the inner work is hard and as your coach, I will be with you every step of the way.
The four issues just discussed can be summarized in one word: trust. I will work hard to earn your trust and I do not take that trust for granted. I will endeavor to keep your trust by always being honest with you. There will be times when I “push” you out of your “comfort zone”—this is where growth happens—and you will always have a choice about whether you are ready to go there. I always want you to feel safe in our conversations. It is an honor to be invited into the sacred ground that is shared between a coach and client.
At Prism Coaching and Consulting, I know this has the potential to be an intimidating process, especially when you’re just starting out. I was once a first-time coaching client too. I want all my clients to feel welcome and safe.
What I want for you, is for YOU to reach your most desired goals. “If you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”
* “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards