Choosing The Right Coach

Coaching has become a very popular way for people to get the ongoing support they need to accomplish their goals. However, choosing a coach can be tricky. There are so many METHODS, models, and approaches. Coaches come from every background possible -- from counseling to consulting to corporate America. And each individual has a PERSONALITY, communication style, and temperament that is going to match well with some people and clash with others. So how do you choose someone who is right for you?

DIFFERENT APPROACHES

You first need to make sure that the person's PHILOSOPHY is appropriate for what you want to accomplish. There are over 30 different "methods" that a coach can use to help you, and it's important that you find someone whose approach resonates with you. Some coaches emphasize feelings, while others focus more on specific action steps. Many use traditional counseling methods to help you overcome obstacles, and others come from employ a more "corporate" training model. And all coaches will have particular strengths and preferences in their approach.

It's important to recognize which type of coaching you RESPOND to best -- and which will fill in the GAPS between your own personal strengths. If you are very sensitive, you may flourish under coaching that is supportive and nurturing. If you tend to become overwhelmed by your goals, you may need a coach who can take vague, nebulous ideas and turn them into concrete actions. And if you have a hard time crossing the finish line with your projects, you might do well to hire a coach who can keep you on track and make you accountable to your deadlines. Talk to your coach about his or her philosophy toward the coaching process to get a sense of where he or she is coming from.EXPERTISE

EXPERTISE

The next step is to look at a coach's area of SPECIALIZATION. Remember that each different circumstance might call for a different approach. It isn't always a good idea to use the same coach when working on different areas of your life. A good football coach isn't necessarily going to be successful coaching a basketball team or a group of baseball players. And the same is true for personal coaching.

While many coaches sell themselves as "holistic" in their approach, most have one or two areas that they focus on more than others. You might find one coach who is great at helping entrepreneurs with the art of selling, another who specializes in creating healthy lifestyles, and a third who works almost exclusively with folks who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. Certainly, one size doesn't fit all in this case. Be sure to select someone who has EXPERIENCE in your particular area of need -- don't be afraid to ask for references from clients who have worked with the coach on similar issues.

PERSONALITY

Coaching is often a lengthy and very intimate relationship -- you will be sharing your innermost fears, dreams, and ambitions with another person and asking for a supportive and non-judgmental attitude (that's more than many of us do with our friends and family!) You need to feel a RAPPORT with your coach, or you will never achieve the level of success that could be available to you. If you feel constantly on your guard or resistant or uncomfortable, think about using a different coach. You can tell a lot about your future relationship with a coach from your initial INTERVIEW -- how does this person make you feel? Would you be comfortable sharing your secrets with this person? Do you have any reservations about working with this coach?

CREDENTIALS

While coaching is still a relatively unregulated field, there are some standard CERTIFICATIONS you might want your coach to have. Coach University (http://www.coachu.com) offers two designations -- the Certified Graduate (CCG) and Certified Master Coach (CCMC). The International Coaches Federation (http://www.coachfederation.org) also offers an Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC) certification, a Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC) certification, and a Master Credentialed Coach (MCC) certification. You can visit these sites to review the requirements for each certification. While these kinds of credentials don't guarantee a good fit with your coach, they do indicate that he/she has completed study of core coaching COMPETENCIES -- it's not just some "Joe Sixpack" off the street who decided to hang a shingle out.

In addition, find out what your coach's prior BACKGROUND is. Someone who has an MBA and has worked as a sales director for a Fortune 500 company is probably completely competent to coach you on sales technique and business growth. However, he/she might not have any experience working with people on health and wellness issues. Ask your coach what led him/her into the FIELD -- many times, coaches will have experienced their own challenges and epiphanies and wanted to share their techniques and successes with others. Make sure your coach knows what he/she is talking about before you sign on.

YOUR COACH'S ROLE

There are three main roles your coach can take in your relationship:

- MENTOR (one who supports your ideas, gives you a safe place to stretch your

wings, and nurtures your goals as you develop them)

- VISIONEER (one who helps you to see beyond your boundaries, suggests new

approaches, and helps you view the world from a different perspective)

- TASKMASTER (one who turn dreams into action steps, helps set and meet

deadlines, and keeps you on track as you move forward)

Every coach will display a bit of each personality -- but, of course, some will lean further in one direction than in another. You need to have some idea of what you WANT from your coach before you start working together. Do you need someone to support and affirm and validate you -- or someone to help you brainstorm new ideas and push beyond your current limits -- or a coach who will make you accountable to and responsible for your goals? Maybe some of each? COMMUNICATE these needs with your coach upfront so you can insure that you will get what you want from your coaching relationship.

WHAT DO YOU WANT HELP WITH?

This can be an incredibly tricky question for someone who is thinking about hiring a coach. Many times, you don't have a clue what you want -- besides the vague notion that you want your life to improve somehow. That's okay -- let your coach know that you that you need help CLARIFYING and PRIORITIZING your goals. Or you may have a solid idea of the end result you desire -- you want to make more money or feel healthier or create more balance between your business and personal life -- but you don't know how to begin or what steps to take.

Tell your coach that you need help creating an ACTION PLAN -- breaking your large goal down into manageable steps and finding the resources you need to succeed. If you are feeling frustrated because you have tried over and over again to accomplish your goal -- let's say losing weight -- but you never seem to get there, let your coach know that you need help finding the right path, staying MOTIVATED, and making it to the end. But whatever your reason for hiring a coach, don't be surprised if you find yourself working on other areas of your life during your sessions. Coaching is a very integrated activity, and you will find that success in one area tends to spread to the others.

Your coaching relationship has the potential to be one of the most rewarding of your life - if you choose the right person to share it with. Be sure to INTERVIEW several coaches thoroughly before making a decision. And if you end up with the wrong coach, don't suffer in silence. Many people think that they are UNCOACHABLE, when they are simply working with the wrong person. Don't be afraid to walk out of a relationship that isn't working (that's just what a coach would tell you!)

Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of OnlineOrganizing.com -- a web-based one-stop shop offering everything that you need to get organized at home or at work. At OnlineOrganizing.com, you may get a referral to an organizer near you, shop for the latest organizing products, get tons of free tips, and even learn how to become a professional organizer or build your existing organizing business. And if you would like to read more articles about organizing your life or building your business, get a free subscription to the "Get Organized" and "Organized For A Living" newsletters. Please visit http://www.OnlineOrganizing.com or contact Ramona directly at ramona@onlineorganizing.com for more information.

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