Don’t Get Hurt

 

You may argue that this isn’t a “Coaching” topic, strictly speaking, but it concerns Coaching and Coaches and so I’ve decided to feature it. If you’ve read last week’s Monday Sparkles, you’ll know that in my recent chats with some of you, I was shocked to hear of so many negative experiences with people who call themselves Coaches.

I’ve decided to speak out and give you a hands-on guide because I don’t want you to spend your money on dubious or even harmful self-styled gurus on the internet. Practically everyone can set up a website these days and claim to be an expert at something, and it can be very hard to tell the real deal from a narcissist who’s only out to make a quick buck. I also have a personal interest in people becoming more educated about Coaching, because the harm caused by some irresponsible people reflects negatively on the Coaching industry as a whole.

In the following, I’ll attempt to clarify some common misconceptions and give you a list of things to watch out for, as well as some criteria by which you can tell whether a Coach actually is what they say they are.

 

A roadmap for you

The problem is that the term “Coaching” has been watered down almost beyond recognition because it’s become fashionable in large companies to say an employee needs “coaching” when they actually need more training in a certain area. Coaching and Training/Teaching are two very different things.

Coaching and Teaching, as well as Mentoring and Advising, all have their place and are useful in different scenarios. It helps to know the difference, however, so you can tell if someone who offers “Coaching” is actually a Teacher or Advisor, and if that’s what you are looking for. Obviously, there are some grey areas and the boundaries between the disciplines are often a little blurry, but some general definitions do help, so here goes.

Teaching means passing on knowledge. A teacher knows a lot about a subject and passes on that knowledge to others. For example, if you want to learn how to drive a car, the most efficient way is to get a driving teacher who will show you how to drive and then help you practice until you feel confident.

Mentoring is similar to teaching in that it focuses on imparting knowledge, but it’s usually reserved for someone older or more experienced helping another person in their field. A CEO might mentor an upcoming associate, grooming them to take over in the future.

Advising is another form of teaching. A lot of so-called Coaches on the internet are actually advisors. Watch out for marketing along the lines of “I’ve learned the hard way how to xyz, and I’ll show you exactly how you can avoid the mistakes I made, and go straight to the top”. If you’re looking for advice, go for it! But this isn’t Coaching.

Coaching is a conversation between two people, in which a trained professional uses techniques and processes to help the client reach clarity and take concrete steps towards previously defined goals. There is such a thing as group coaching, but generally the group needs to be fairly small for it to be effective.

 

When are you not talking to a Coach?

A Coach will generally not do any of the following, and if they do, they’ll ask for permission first (I might say: “If I may make a suggestion…” to a client):

– Tell you what to do.
– Nag you to do something.
– Try to convince you of their way of thinking.
– Tell you you’re wrong.
– Tell you what you should want or aim for.

 

Finding a good Coach

In terms of effectiveness, Coaching is probably the most powerful and transformative of all those I mentioned, so if it’s change and/or rapid progress and development you are looking for, then Coaching should be for you. I’m not quite sure why this is so! Perhaps it’s the difference between “giving a man a fish” and “teaching him to fish”.

Signs of a good Coach:

– A recognised qualification. I can’t stress this enough. You can’t just be “naturally good” at Coaching; it’s a very specific set of tools and techniques which you need to learn and be trained in. You wouldn’t let someone perform surgery on you who hasn’t been to med school, would you? Then don’t allow anyone near your mind who isn’t a trained Coach.

– A Coach’s website will be more about you, and less about their own grand achievements. Someone bragging how they made millions, is going to teach you or advise you, but not coach you.

– Anything addressed to more than a few people (calls with 50 or more participants, etc), isn’t Coaching. Again, I’m not saying these things can’t be useful. I’ve been to webinars with hundreds of listeners, where I learned a lot. Just know that this stuff is firmly in the realm of teaching, not Coaching.

I hope this helps a little! Be safe, and never be afraid to question your Coach’s methods. If you’re not comfortable, you are probably in the wrong place. Trust your instincts and protect your interests. It’s your money, after all!

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The One About Goals

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where…”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

A friend posted this except from “Alice in Wonderland” on Facebook, of all places, and when I saw it, it hit me like a brick. You see, I’ve always struggled to explain to Coaching clients, friends, and acquaintances why goal setting is so very important. People tend to yawn and roll their eyes at me, the “self-improvement nerd”.

Sure, there have been studies which found that the 2% of people who have written goals are the ones who reach their goals, but hey, there are so many studies about so many things… It’s easy to simply dismiss it and continue as before. What I love about the example from “Alice” is that it’s so wonderfully graphic. It speaks to your mind and your imagination alike.

In a way, having no goals is like turning up at the train station and asking for “50 miles straight ahead” at the tickets counter. It just doesn’t work that way. If you don’t know your destination, or if you are unclear about it, you won’t make any progress as there simply are no tickets to “somewhere in the North of the country”.

Life, of course, always moves ahead and changes. We get older, we experience things, every day passes and becomes irretrievable the next morning. In other words, we are on a moving train anyway, but in order to get on a train of our own choosing, we must be clear on our destination.

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Doing The Work

Back in the “supermodels” era in the early 90s, Cindy Crawford was asked by one interviewer, whether she felt lucky to be so beautiful. Crawford replied along the lines of: “Genetics only play a small part. Don’t you realise I work 8-10 hours a day to look like this?”

I often remember this when people comment on how “lucky” I am to be such a positive, happy person. Really it’s nothing to do with luck, it’s continuous work, vigilant selection of the input I’m allowing into my brain, active clearing up of negativity, lots of Self Care, and working on processing my emotions. I get sad, frustrated, and morose just as much as anyone else; more than some, actually, because of my high sensitivity and intense emotions.

At times, I have succumbed to negativity so I know how easily it can happen. The conclusion from this is not, however, that being positive is very hard. True, it requires discipline and continous work, but this work is fairly easy to do.

Why, then, aren’t there more people doing it? Because it’s just as easy NOT to do it.

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If Only I Knew…

If I only knew, I thought, what my purpose IS.
If only I knew, whether I’ll really stick with this new hobby/person/job I’m crazy about right now.
If only I knew whether to invest in my dreams now, when they might no longer be my dreams a year from now.

It’s hard to know sometimes, isn’t it? It used to drive me crazy. I did courses and workshops, read books on commitment, and worked on myself. And still I wondered when I would find the answers.

It took me many years to understand that I was asking the wrong questions.

During those years, I pursued the dreams I dreamt then. Relationships blossomed and then broke up, dreams changed. But I finally realised that the outcome didn’t matter; it wasn’t a “failure” and I hadn’t wasted the time, money, and energy I had invested.

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What If?

Every now and then, I write an article asking the big questions. You know, the REALLY big ones, the ones that make you stop and go, “hmmmm…”, the ones which have the power to shake someone up to the extent where they’ll make changes and end up being happier. It’s been at least a year since the last one of these articles, so I guess it’s time for another one! Here goes.

As always, the article won’t just make you think but also attempt to get you into action mode. I don’t believe in just pep talk, or “motivational” articles; these are lovely to nod along to, but are lacking in measurable effects on people’s lives. It’s always up to you, of course, but if you do realise there are adjustments you’d like to make, I’m going to point you in the direction of the next steps to take.

With that said, let’s ask the first question:

 

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

This one’s a classic, of course, but I don’t think many people realise its true power. It is not meant in the sense of a three-wishes fairy-tale or movie, where you’ll wish you could win the olympics in figure skating at 55 just because you can. No, this is aimed at something more serious. You could call it your inner core, your deepest life wish.

What WOULD you do?

Would you start that business? Go freelance as an artist/writer/dancer? Blow your savings on travelling the world? Do take some time to think about it; most of us have “reality” drilled into us so deeply, we can’t simply switch it off and truly contemplate what things would be like without the restrictions of possible failure, bankruptcy, injury, or worse.

To continue reading, sign up for Monday Sparkles 100% spam free! You will receive:

A weekly newsletter with free Coaching magic every Monday
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A free worksheet and the valuable “One-Year Goals Workbook”