I read an article in the New Yorker that I’ve never forgotten, “Top Athletes and Singers Have Coaches. Should You?” Written by one of my favorite writers, physician Atul Gawande argues forcibly that even when we are at our best, a coach can help us in many ways. Top tennis players and musicians use coaches throughout their careers. They are always striving to learn.
The article left me wondering if I would benefit from a coach. The possibilities were endless. I could use some help with my fitness program. I could see where a life coach might be useful. The essay stirred something in me, and I did what I often do when faced with potentially life-changing information, I filed it away.
One thing about change is that it occurs when we are ready for it, and not a moment sooner. In my case, it took nearly five years from reading that New Yorker article to committing to working with a coach. But when I was ready, change happened easily.
What Does a Coach Do?
There are many types of coaches, such as life, business, financial and health coaches. Coaching begins with an honest assessment of where you are in the moment. A coach asks the right questions, and in the process, encourages clients to see where they are and what they want. A coach can help you move beyond your limitations, and embrace what you want from life.
Why Use A Coach?
I fought the idea of working with a coach. I was afraid and I made up stories. What if I learned that the only way I’d be happy is by living in a monastery? Or worse, if I had to take up running? What if coaching was time-consuming, or costly. Besides, couldn’t I just make some goals for myself and then make them materialize, despite the fact that this has never worked for me before?
In time, I found someone who could work with my budget and my fears. The experience was profound and it was fun. The coach didn’t tell me to do yoga and plant kale. She helped me discover what I could do. The accountability and companionship of a wounded healer were enough for me to make genuine change.
Choosing a Coach
Look for a coach that fits your needs, preferably a certified one. There are varieties of certification programs. Spend a little time reading the credentials of the person you are considering, and see if their style resonates with you.
Ask for a free introductory session. Many coaches offer this; it’s a good way to explore if that coach is right for you, and if coaching is really what you need.
Look for a coach who is focused and concrete. You should see results. Your coach should be helping you assess, plan, and reach your goals. If you aren’t getting anywhere, either you aren’t ready or you haven’t found the right coach. In either case, don’t waste your time and money.
If money stands between you and working with a coach, find out if there are any webinars, group sessions, or ways to work with your budget. I am famously frugal on most things, but when it comes to my health, it makes no sense to be pennywise, pound-foolish. If health is truly my foundation, then that foundation better be a solid one.
My only mistake was not doing this sooner. But as I said, we change when we are ready.