Questions about Coaching
In an effort to make this post as succinct as possible, I’m using a question-and-answer format. Feel free to skip around to the questions that really interest you!
Who does a coach benefit?
When I started my coach training, I thought the answer to this question was “people in crisis.” Those of us with untreated or unmanageable ADHD certainly fell into this category, as did anyone who was severely unhappy with life or unable to make a desirable amount of progress toward a goal. It sounded noble and gratifying to me to be heading into a career that I could describe by saying “I help people in crisis!” Ah, sweet, silly me.
As I later discovered by interacting with my instructors, peers, and my own coach, coaching can and DOES benefit almost EVERYONE. True, the results can be more dramatic for someone “in crisis.” But it’s amazing how much coaching can do for even someone who feels perfectly content with almost every aspect of life. In one 30-minute coaching session with a classmate, I was able to come to a firm conclusion about a decision that I had been TRYING to make for months. Had my indecisiveness been causing me pain or worry? No. Was the decision weighing me down and keeping me awake at night? Not really. I was unperturbed about the whole thing and was simply waiting for something to tip the balance. Still, I found that, even though the question in my mind hadn’t been a bother to me, it was exhilarating to become so certain about my next step. Additionally, acting on my decision catapulted a bunch of wonderful changes in my life that I could not have foreseen.
It may help to draw a comparison between a coach (as in life coach or ADHD coach) and the more widely recognized profession of an athletic coach. If someone with no sports experience whatsoever (so, someone in crisis!) wants to compete as a high school or collegiate high jumper, one of the first things he’s going to do is get himself a coach to teach him the necessary techniques. But let’s say this same person gets really, really good at high jumping and sets his sights on competing in the Olympics. Does he ditch his coach because he’s no longer a lump who can’t jump (no longer in a crisis?) No! On the contrary – he doubles down with his coaching. He may spend twice as much time with his coach, allow his coach to not only tell him how to run and jump, but also how to eat, rest, and spend his down time. He may even hire a more expensive, more experienced, more intense coach to take him as far as he is capable of going. Yes, he has moved out of his original “crisis” position, but he has also set his goals much, much higher and therefore will still benefit tremendously from the assistance of someone who will push him, teach him, and hold him accountable.
The same hold true for any human being who wants to continue evolving in some way. When you accomplish one thing – say, a satisfactory control over your ADHD symptoms, a solid career, or a loving, functional family, you start to want to do MORE. Fit art and music into your life. Build a non-profit from the ground up. Contribute to your community or your world. Get promoted to VP. Take your blog audience from 500 to 5,000. Make enough money to take a month-long trip to Greece. Your dreams get bigger, so your use for a coach who can help you get there remains constant. This by no means suggests that everyone NEEDS a coach, nor that they will all feel the benefits justify the costs. It only means that everyone could use one, especially if increased momentum toward a goal is desirable.
What is the benefit of hiring a coach?
There are many benefits to hiring a coach, and they tend to change depending on the individual. Boiled down to the very essence, this is how I would sum up the benefit of any good coaching relationship:
Coaches are CATALYSTS to success. They help you get WHAT YOU WANT, FASTER.
The “what you want” in the above statement could be almost anything. In most cases, it is NOT necessary that the coach be an expert on the object of your desire, only that they have the skill necessary to help you discover, learn, plan, and execute steps toward that object. Here are some of the specific benefits that I have witnessed people receiving throughout the coaching process:
- ACCOMPLISHMENT. With the help of their coach, clients set and REACH goals that are truly important to them, leading to a huge sense of productivity, contribution, and well-being.
- PLANNING. Clients receive guidance as they examine the past, think forward into the future, make rational decisions, and break down large, complicated projects into manageable tasks. With solid plans come solid results.
- INSIGHTS AND UNDERSTANDING. Because coaches are constantly seeking to understand the values and beliefs at the very core of their clients, they guide clients to discover the REASONS behind what they want, why they feel the way they do, and why they act the way they do. With this incredibly valuable, deeper insight into themselves, clients are no longer so confused by how they behave, and are empowered to make changes if they so desire.
- PERSONALIZED STRATEGIES. It can be difficult to apply an ADHD or thought-work strategy to an individual who is so incredibly unique and complex. Coaches make connections between their clients strengths (what they already do well, consistently, and joyfully) and the strategies that have helped others, creating individualized systems that will ACTUALLY WORK.
- CLARITY about what to do with a difficult decision, how to take a step toward a goal, and what clients TRULY wants.
- IMPROVED PERFORMANCE. Better results on the job, better grades, more organized, functional homes and offices, stronger, more fulfilling relationships, and smoother, more energizing daily activities. Coaches help clients achieve these things by asking powerful questions, teaching strategies, identifying and eliminating obstacles, and asking for progress reports.
- CONFIDENCE AND SELF-ESTEEM. Coaches are clients biggest cheerleaders. They stand by them, encourage them, believe in them, and reflect the many wonderful strengths that each client possesses. They also push clients to take chances and prove their abilities to themselves, which increases accurate self-judgement and worth. The power of such an ally should never be underrated.
- ACCOUNTABILITY. With a clients’ permission, coaches will ask them to give an account of whether or not they have done what they said they would do by appointed times. This slight, added pressure can be the difference between following through on a commitment, and letting it slide like so many times before. Even in cases where a client was unable to accomplish an agreed upon task, a coach can use an accountability check as a way to examine the clients actions to discover ways to make them more successful NEXT time they attempt such a goal.
While it is impossible for me to list all of the benefits of coaching, and while the above may be frustratingly abstract, I hope it gives you a general idea of what is possible with the help of a coach.
Why is coaching so expensive?
Yassss. Great question. While coaches vary widely in their pricing and packages, here are some reasons that some (including me, when I was getting started) consider the price of a coach to be a tad on the high side:
- EDUCATION. While NO coach is required to have any training whatsoever, I recommend hiring coaches who have undergone rigorous training and testing. These coaches will have been exposed to (and will have adopted) techniques designed to deepen their relationships with clients and help them achieve satisfactory results faster than someone who simply thought, “Hey, I’m a great listener. I should set up a website and be a coach!” Those coaches who really want to do it right will seek out and pay for education, the best of which will cost them tens of thousands of dollars (or more) and years of their lives. In the same way that a doctor with so much time and money invested will require a higher fee than your cousin Frank with lots of Googling experience, an educated coach costs money.
- VALUE OF RESULT. In America, we typically spend money on two types of items: products, and services. For products, we pay what they are worth, according to supply and demand (Kelly Blue Book says my car is worth a negative thousand dollars, for example). For services, we are accustomed to weighing costs and benefits on an “hourly” scale ($50 for 10 minute doctor visit, $75 an hour for a contractor, etc). In general, we tend to view coaches as SERVICES. Thus, if we hire a coach for $300 per month (a very common rate for life coaches, btw) and spend exactly three hours talking to that coach, we will say that the coach is “making $100 per hour.” For some, that seems pretty steep. But the steepness often starts to level out when we change our view of coaching as a “service” to coaching as a “product.” For example, if, by working with a coach, you were able to finally take the steps necessary to acquire your dream job, bump up your GPA to the 3.5 you needed to get into that prestigious grad program, or save your marriage, what would that be worth to you? A couple hundred bucks? A couple thousand? Let’s say you bought a coaching package for $6,000 (wut!) which gave you the knowledge, confidence, and accountability you needed to take your business from making $40,000 per year to $100,000 per year. Would you consider the cost to have been too great? Even if you accomplished something as small as finally getting (and keeping) your erratic, impulsive spending under control, can you imagine the value of that achievement over the course of the next 20, 30, or 50 years of your life? The value of coaching far exceeds the value of “talking to someone for an hour or two,” and that is part of the reason that the cost is surprising to some.
- RESEARCH AND REVIEW. Even if coaching WERE appropriate to measure by the hour, coaches spend a lot more time on each client than the simple hours they spend actually talking to them. After a coaching session, coaches review the notes they took during discussion to look for insights they might have missed during discussion. Depending on the coach, they may send their client applicable questions, worksheets, or ideas. Often, they open wide the doors of communication between themselves and their clients, permitting clients to freely text, call, or email them with questions or concerns. Responding to these moments of contacts takes time and mental effort. Coaches may also do research specifically for a client, or spend time thinking about ways to help them dig deeper. They often hire and spend time with their OWN coaches in an attempt to constantly improve themselves for their clients. When all of these (and more) factors are added to the mix, the hourly wage of a typical coach starts declining rapidly.
- DEMAND. Some coaches, due to a long list of successful clients, a highly recognizable name, high level of experience, or excellent marketing, are incredibly sought after. These coaches increase their prices because they can (and some would say, should.)
- COMMITMENT. Basically, there is a theory that coaching should cost a lot because it will increase the likelihood that clients will take it seriously. Personally, I think that increasing prices to increase commitment sounds a bit ridiculous, but studies DO show that the more money or time a person has devoted to a cause, the less likely he is to give up or squander it. If this puts a bit of a sour taste in your mouth, then rest assured that my prices are driven by VALUE, EXPERIENCE, and DEMAND only, not by some desire to trick your psyche into paying attention. I think there are other (better) ways to increase your commitment.
What are the signs of a great coach?
Great coaches will be:
- EDUCATED. This does NOT mean that great coaches MUST be graduates of this program or certified by that group. It merely means they much have put serious time and effort into learning HOW TO COACH WELL. Generally, certifications can lend a coach a lot of credibility, but if you like a coach who is not certified, TALK to them. Get a feel for what they know and how they know it. Ask why they are qualified to coach you, and like their answers.
- NON-JUDGEMENTAL. Great coaches listen and respond to you without ever making you feel like you are doing something wrong, weird, or stupid. They do not try to change your values, convince you to do something you do not want to do, or insist that what you are trying to achieve is not worth it. Rather, they listen, respond, and suggest based on YOUR desires, YOUR gifts, and YOUR personality. Though a coach may make you feel uncomfortable at times (because growth is uncomfortable) he or she will never make you feel marginalized or judged.
- SOMEONE YOU LIKE. Coaches are as wildly different and individual as are their clients. Some clients and coaches connect quickly and solidly. Some don’t fit well, due to personality differences, style of voice, or ideology. While any coach might theoretically be a great coach, a great coach for YOU is one you actually LIKE, TRUST, and even ADMIRE. It is this kind of coach that you will be most willing to talk to with raw honesty about what you desire and how you want to achieve it.
- ACCESSIBLE. As I said earlier, most coaches open their communication lines to their clients so that they can offer help at any time. Some, however, might be a little harder to reach, due to demand or privacy preferences. A great coach for YOU will be available at the level that YOU need, and will also be able to help you evaluate that need.
- CAPABLE OF ASKING POWERFUL QUESTIONS. Not all questions are created equally. Simple phrasing can make the difference between a question that makes us feel judged and defensive (for instance “Why would you do something so violent?”), and a question that prompts us to explore, learn, and improve (such as, “Picture that moment in your mind. What were you feeling when you picked up the urn and threw it at your cat?). Great coaches will also wait for the right moment to ask you questions, knowing not to push you when you are still thinking something through, but also knowing when to move you along.
- WILLING TO WORK WITH YOU. Coaches are human, and they will occasionally do things that bother, annoy, or feel unhelpful to you. A great coach WANTS to be made away of any offenses he or she might have given and will work with you to repair and improve your relationship.
Can my spouse (sister, Uncle, buddy, mailman) be my coach?
Yes, absolutely. (What, you were expecting me to fight you on that one? You make me giggle.)
A patient, loving, intuitive relative or friend can be a fantastic (and free) coach. There are, however, reasons that I recommend extreme caution in choosing an untrained person to act in such a capacity.
- LEAPING TO ACTION. Friends and family love you, and often want to help you so fiercely that they will quickly start suggesting action steps for you to “try.” It is not very common for an untrained person to recognize the need for exploring deeper into your motivation and habits before leaping to the “action” part. In fact, this is one of the habits that was the hardest for my classmates and I to overcome during our coaching training. We all wanted to help so bad that we skipped a HUGELY important part in the exploration process. The problem with jumping into action is that the true problem is often never identified, and you are left feeling frustrated and unsuccessful.
- QUESTIONING. As I stated in the section on great coaches, powerful questions are incredibly important. Most untrained persons will not have given much thought to how to ask questions in a way that opens your mind to possibility rather than closing it with defensiveness.
- KNOWLEDGE. Coaches, trained and untrained alike, speak and question from experience (whether personal, or researched.) It is especially important that, should you be seeking a coach to assist you in dealing with your ADHD, he or she has extensive knowledge on the topic. Often, friends and family simply haven’t done enough research to identify when ADHD is rearing its head in your life, ask you pin-pointed questions, or offer suggestions that are truly relevant to YOU.
- UNWILLINGNESS TO HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE. Friends and family might struggle to offer you the accountability you need, as they will want to maintain a good relationship with you and will hate to see you uncomfortable or as you questions that might cause you pain. On the other hand, coworkers or unrelated persons might not be invested enough to check up on you when you could really use a little backbone. Coaches walk the fine line between caring about you and your success, but also being willing to push the boundaries of your comfort.
- DISTANCE. It can be hard to open up to someone you will continue to see and interact with, for fear that they will be unable to think of anything but your flaws and mistakes when they see you next. A coach is removed from your life and not someone you need to worry about interacting with on a daily basis. This can be extremely comforting and allow you to really progress, rather than protect.
How is a coach any different from a therapist, counselor, or consultant?
There is definitely crossover in some of these professions. All of them involve a professional helping to facilitate something for a client, generally through discussion-heavy means. These descriptions may help you differentiate.
THERAPISTS – Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Psychotherapists. Focused on HEALING THE PAST. Often the primary resource for clients who are attempting to deal with depression, PTSD, abuse, trauma, and unresolved psychological issues. Goal is to lead clients toward wholeness and improved daily function.
CONSULTANTS – Often specific to a certain goal or project. Paid to give advice based on their experience and what has worked for them and their previous clients.
COUNSELORS – Typically a cross between therapists and consultants. Counselors listen and provide advice for steps that can be could be taken to improve function. Often sought after for troubled family relationships and marriages.
COACHES – Focused on the FUTURE, not the past, although the past is often looked at as a way to tweak plans for the future. Goal-oriented. Coaches treat the clients as the experts of their own lives and seek ways to draw out client experience and strengths in order to tackle obstacles and goals they set for themselves in a way that fits the individual. Creative and often humorous in approach.
How is ETC coaching different from “typical” coaching?
- I’m an odd duck. A very intelligent, very compassionate odd duck. The reason I think this works in my favor, rather than against it, is that my clients can know they are coming to someone who will not only resist judging them on the basis of eccentricities and strange behavior, but also, most likely, surpass them in these areas. It can be a huge relief to know that you are opening up to a human who is just as likely to embarrass herself in public as you are.
- The most common coaching package I see offers X amount of sessions (usually 3) in Y amount of time (usually a month) for Z amount of money (varies). I want to offer my clients more contact and flexibility than that, and, currently, I have the time and ability to do so. Thus, though I offer a traditional coaching package, I also offer a coaching intensive that features a more in-dept introduction period (to really get to know you) and more flexible session choices (a certain amount of hours that you can split up and use in any way you like.) I’m also available almost constantly by text, frequently by email, and daily by scheduled “quick calls.” What this boils down to is this: If you want a more intense, more connected coaching experience, I can give you that.
- At ETC, I place a strong emphasis on the fact that our thoughts (NOT what happens to us) creates our feelings, and our feelings create our actions. Because of this, I do a lot of work with willing clients to discover (and change) the thoughts that are causing them to be unmotivated, dissatisfied, unhappy, and unfulfilled. I call this side of my business “thought-work” and belief it to be a powerful way to speed progress.
- I live my life (as much as possible) to serve and honor the God of the Bible. While I will not include references to my faith to any clients who do not SPECIFICALLY request it, and while I respect and honor the beliefs of ALL people, spiritual or not, Christian clients may be encouraged to know that I am willing to offer insights, questions, and suggestions that stem from a lifetime of following Christ if they desire.
For articles on this topic NOT written by me, check out the following:
Something I left out? Please let me know below!