Everyone needs a coach

A COACHING PARTNERSHIP is a powerful tool for uncovering problems or needs at their root and is meant to help clients understand what they want, what they're willing to do, and how much change is needed in themselves or their organizations.

This KNOWLEDGE HELPS them use other disciplines more appropriately, especially during times of turbulent or discontinuous change.

Eric Schmidt (Executive chairman of Google)

Question: "What's the best advice you ever got?" [2009 Fortune Magazine interview]

I’ve received so many different kinds of advice I don’t know where to start. But one that comes to mind is to have a coach.

Our board member in 2002, John Doerr, said, ‘You need a coach’ and I said ‘I’m the company’s CEO, why do I need a coach – have I done something wrong?’

‘No, no, everybody needs a coach’. So, Bill Campbell became my coach and has served Google very well.

Every famous athlete, every famous performer has somebody who is a coach, somebody who can watch what they’re doing and say, ‘Is that what you really meant, did you really do that thing?’… to give them perspective.

One thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.

Bill Gates (Founder, former chairman and CEO of Microsoft)

Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player. My bridge coach says there are more pictures of the back of her head than anyone else’s in the world. Sorry, Sharon.

We all need people to give us feedback; that’s how we improve.

Everyone needs a coach

An athlete, musician, or some other performance-based professional would never say "I don't need a coach." But whether we like it or not, every area of our own lives is also performance-driven. Work, relationships, even our own health and fitness often have unspoken and unwritten performance criteria and if we fail these tests, we can lose our jobs, our marriages, or face potentially serious health issues.

The help of an external adviser, coach, mentor or role model can be invaluable in any area we want to improve. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in business, sports, art or in our personal lives. Sometimes the experience, a different perspective, or simply the encouragement from someone else can open up possibilities that we didn’t see or that we didn’t believe could be achieved.

But not everyone wants a coach

As a coach, I’ve heard a number of reasons that people don’t want a coach.
  • “I don’t need it.”
  • “I don’t need someone else to tell me what’s to do.”
  • “It’s too expensive.”
  • “I don’t have the time.”
“I don’t need it,” is a self-fulfilling prophecy and no one needs a coach is the same as everyone needs a coach. It depends on your perspective; whether or not you want to improve. Those who do can benefit from a coach (instead of need). And obviously those who don’t, don’t need a coach.

This also underlines a common misconception with coaching. Coaches are neither consultants nor counselors. When you see a consultant or a counselor, you want an expert and expert advice. On the other hand, when you work with a coach:
  • You’re more invested in getting guidance which will help you pinpoint limitations in your own internal and external perspectives and processes,
  • You’re looking for better strategies to do things that you hopefully already do well; you’re looking for more productive (efficient) ways of thinking about things,
  • You’re looking for a push to take action and follow through on your own goals,
  • You’re wanting to break out of patterns that aren’t working for you.
Obviously, there are no specific remedies or answers which can give you these results. They can’t be handed to you in the form of a report or downloaded to your computer. They involve a process of interaction between you and your coach.

“I don’t need someone else to tell me what’s to do” is just as true for us as adults as it was as children. But like the first reason, no one and everyone needs someone else to tell them what to do. It’s the same. Whether we want to improve in any area of our lives, or not, determines the truth of this statement. Those who are committed to improving their relationships, workplaces, knowledge, attitudes towards and direction in life, or anything else, will actively seek others who can give them insight or teach them something. It’s a matter of teachability (DEF. – the ability to learn by instruction).

“It’s too expensive” and “I don’t have the time” are really the same. It’s a matter of the cost/benefit analysis of our resources. Coaching is costs but it is not necessarily expensive. Expensive is relative to the perceived benefit. The same is true with time or any other resource.

Do you want a coach?

What can a coach do for you?
  1. Your coach is focused on you, your agenda, and your goals. Your coach cares about your success, as you define it.

  2. Your coach helps you clarify your goals, be inspired by them and what they mean for you, and maintain focus in your busy world.

  3. Your coach looks for your blind spots and helps you see the impact you have from a new perspective and see new alternatives to move you forward.

  4. Your coach is a source of ideas, knowledge, tools, cutting-edge thought, and a broad body of experience and perspective that helps you recognize challenges early, and discover new and creative solutions.

  5. Your coach helps you grow as a leader (everyone is a leader) by developing your awareness, thinking, knowledge base and vision for what is possible.

  6. Your coach will not judge you for what you say or do. You can be perfectly honest about your fears, doubts and concerns and your weak moments without repercussion. You can truly get out your feelings, worries and challenges and address them with your coach in a confidential manner. Your conversations are private so that you can tackle any situation – even those you don’t feel you can share with anyone else.

  7. Your coach supports you in taking action on your biggest priorities. When you take on a new habit, behavior, style of communicating or other change to your ingrained habits, your coach is your partner for making new habits stick and addressing obstacles as they arise.

  8. Your coach provides disciplined self-reflection on what you are doing and where you are going. You have structured time to take the larger view on your career, your business, your progress toward your big picture goals – and that is what will truly allow you to grow as a leader.

  9. Your coach is your objective external sounding board to help you try out new thoughts, behaviors and ideas in a safe environment and giving you feedback on what is moving you forward and what appears to be holding you back.

  10. Your coach encourages your progress and celebrates your achievements with you as you build confidence and accountability for your actions and decisions that move you forward in achieving your goals.

Do you need a coach?

Coaching may be right for you if you are ready to declare the following:
  • I am ready to make a commitment of time, money, and energy in my own development.
  • I am interested in coaching because I want to improve and NOT because someone else (my boss, my spouse, my colleague) wants me to change.
  • I am open to rigorous and honest self-appraisal.
  • I am humble enough to realize I’m not perfect, I don't have all the answers, and that someone else can help me be more effective (i.e. teachability).
  • I am willing and able to devote the necessary time and effort to work with a coach over a period of several months.
  • I am capable of trusting another person enough to talk candidly about my weaknesses and mistakes.
  • I am confident that I can proactively change my behavior.