What to Look For When Choosing a Coach

Talking - Martin Cathrae

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Let’s say you’ve done your homework.

You’ve taken the time to consider the things I talked about in my last post. You’ve gone for long walks and journaled and talked to your friends and your partner. You’ve thought about it from every angle.

Studied your business, and your Self.

You’ve asked yourself tough questions about whether you’re ready to work with a coach and hire a mentor for your business. And you’ve made a decision.

You’re ready.

“Let’s DO this!” you say to the person in the mirror.

Only now, you’ve got to find someone to hire. And not just ANY someone either.

Because anyone can call themselves a coach.

As helpful as I think a coach can be in your life, it is a completely unregulated industry. There are training programs, sure. But there are no state requirements, no licensure laws, nothing that says you have to meet any particular standard to call yourself a coach.

And just because someone tags the title “Coach” to their name, doesn’t mean they have ANY idea what they’re doing.

For that matter, even if they know exactly what they’re doing – that still doesn’t mean they’re right for you.

I’ve worked with coaches off and on since 2005, and I’ve loved and learned something from each one of them.

I’ve also been super picky about who I’ve hired.

Following a combination of left brain logic and right brain intuition, I’ve done well. Each coach has been exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed them.

And as I’ve grown, my choice of coaches, and the level of work I do with them, has grown as well.

So, if you’re ready to take the leap, do your research first.

And choose carefully.

Most coaching work is done by phone and internet, so you can literally work with a coach anywhere in the world. (My first was in Pennsylvania. I live in Tennessee.)

That’s a good thing.

It also means there’s a wide pool to choose from – and that can be a little overwhelming sometime. How in the world do you choose?

Maybe this will help. 

Here are five things to consider before you hire your next coach.

1. Is she successful in her own business?

Financial guru Dave Ramsey always cautions his listeners, saying “Don’t take financial advice from someone who’s broke.” As harsh as that sounds, he has a point.

When you’re evaluating a potential coach, take a look at her business first.

How successful has she been, herself?

Does she understand strategies involved in launching a successful start up? Does she work with businesses that are already well established?

Can she help you with mindset issues as well as strategy?

It doesn’t necessarily have to be about her financial net worth (though it could be.) What experience does she have, what have you seen her do, that tells you she knows what she’s talking about?

2. Does she walk her talk? Does she invest in her own growth?

If she believes in coaching as a critical tool for your development, she should practice what she preaches.

What coaches has she worked with in the past? Who does she work with now? How has coaching made a difference in her own growth and development?

And what is she doing today to make sure she’s still growing, just as she’s encouraging you to do?

3. What do her clients, customers or colleagues say about her?

Does she have any testimonials on her website or in her ezine? Does she share case studies in her blog or stories of her clients’ triumphs?

Would she be willing to let you talk to a couple of people she’s worked with in the past?

(To this day, my very first coach will occasionally ask me to talk to  prospective clients. But she was outstanding, so I’m happy to tell others about her work.)

If she’s just getting started, she may not have testimonials yet; we all have to start somewhere. So this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it’s worth asking about.

4. Do you resonate with the message that she carries? Does she speak to your heart?

This is HUGE.

There are thousands of coaches out there with something to share, sell, and celebrate. As with all preachers and teachers – and a coach is a little bit of both :) – they each have their own individual style, unique abilities, and core beliefs for how they practice their craft.

Some of those will work for you.

Some won’t.

I’ve listened to some of the biggest names in the field, and I’m struck by how completely flat they feel to me. On the other hand, my own coaches have all been people I admired personally and with whom I felt a deep connection.

I hired my first coach partly because she had 20 years of experience successfully doing what I myself wanted to do at the time.

But mostly, I hired her because she wrote a blog post that really spoke to me about finding a special stone in the river near her house. :)

I hired my current coach partly because I’d seen the massive amount of information she had to share and knew how good it was.

But mostly, I hired her because I saw the genuine joy and pride in her face when her own clients succeeded. She cared, and it showed. That spoke volumes to me.

What speaks to you about the person you want to hire?

5. Will she hold you accountable to the goals you’ve set for yourself?

A good coach will be able to teach you all kinds of things, from what to do to how to think.

A good coach will be your biggest fan, someone to help you stand strong on the tough days, and help you get back up and back at it when you crash.

But a really good coach will call you on your stuff. She’ll challenge you when you’re playing small, when you’re using an excuse or when you’re getting in your own way.

She won’t beat you up. (You already do enough of that to yourself, don’t you?)

She’ll call you up, and out, into a better version of who you are. Because she can see what’s possible for you, even if you don’t see it yourself.

Hiring a coach is a significant investment, so take the time to interview, evaluate, and select the coach who’s really right for you.

You’ll be glad you did.

Photo Credit: Martin Cathrae on Flickr

2 thoughts on “What to Look For When Choosing a Coach

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