Working as a personal and career coach, I've learned more about human nature than is likely revealed on a therapist's couch or in psychology textbooks.
The most profound epiphany for me is how people will pay good money to prepare for positive change, but when it comes to actually changing, only a few can walk through the door.
Those who do walk through are the people we observe and think, “I wish I could do that. How were they able to accomplish so much and be so successful?”
You can be one of those accomplished people, and I'm going to tell you how.
But first, a plug for the work of coaches. I'm a coach, so of course I'm going to be biased. However, I didn't even know what coaching was until the last few years when I went back to school and got my coaching certification. I have friends who think what I do is new age malarkey. That's fine. They have never been coached.
When I discovered the power of coaching for myself, I wanted to become a coach. I wanted to offer others what had been given to me.
If you don't know about coaching, here's a very brief explanation. Most importantly, coaching is a partnership.
The client has a goal or issue they want to work on. They want to move past something that's holding them back, and/or they want to achieve something that propels them forward. Usually it's a combination. The coach is the facilitator of self-discovery, massive transformation, and action for the client.
The coach asks the probing questions, offers challenges, fosters mind shifts, and serves as an accountability motivator. Think of it as a personal trainer for your life or career, but where you are determining the roadblocks, strategies and goals.
With a coach, you can achieve great things much more quickly and effectively, because someone is helping you stay on the path.
If you don't take the actions, the coach is going to ask you to explore why and challenge you to dig deeper.
I have had clients who have gotten to that point. They have determined what they think they need to do to get where they want to go, but when the time comes to take the actions, they stop dead in their tracks. What's up with this? How can we move past the “I should be doing this” mindset to the “look what I've accomplished” declaration?
Here are some surprising things that I've learned about personal growth and change and how to move past what's holding you back:
1. Inertia is the most common roadblock. People just don't like to get out of their metaphorical cushy chairs and take action. I guess another word for this is laziness. We don't want to be lazy. We know we want to lose weight, find a more fulfilling job, clean out the garage, or whatever we dream of achieving.
- Unless we are suffering or there is some huge motivating factor, most of us just accept the status quo. A coach doesn't let that happen.
2. Fear is the next most common roadblock. Inertia can happen all by itself, but fear is often the culprit. Change creates anxiety. New situations, actions and behaviors are uncomfortable until we get accustomed to them. Sometimes fears arise when the coach helps the client uncover and address hidden limiting beliefs or past hurts that have been crippling.
- A coach can help a client dissemble limiting beliefs and safely move beyond them.
3. Some fears need therapy. If fears arise for a client that are deep-rooted or related to past trauma or issues, a coach will refer a client for therapy. There is a difference between limiting beliefs and psychological wounds. A coach can help a client challenge limiting beliefs to see a situation in an entirely new way. But a trained therapist must work with a client who needs real healing.
- If you are someone who has issues that need resolution, seeking the support of a good therapist is the most forward-moving step you can take — before you work with a coach.
4. Sometimes what you think you want is not what you really want. I can't tell you how many times this has happened in a coaching scenario. A client comes in wanting to make, say, a career change. They are convinced they need a new career. Through the process of coaching and the self-discovery involved, they ultimately realize they don't want to change careers, but perhaps desire more flexibility in their current job or they want more responsibility, or whatever.
- A coach helps you uncover what you really want before you take action, so you don't start down one direction, only to discover a dead end.
5. You don't have to bite off more than you can chew. One of the main reasons people stop taking action is that they over-commit themselves. They say they want to lose weight and start with a drastic celery stick and carrot juice diet. After a few days of that, a juicy hamburger is far more motivating than your skinny jeans.
- A coach helps you decide what you can realistically accomplish in between sessions. There isn't pressure for huge goals, just steady forward movement.
6. Everything is easier when you have a partner. Whenever you do something challenging, it is always less stressful when you have a friend or support person there to help you and cheer you on. Imagine having a support person who is trained not just to cheer you on (though that is a big part of coaching), but also to ask questions and listen in a way that helps you know yourself better so that you can create the perfect strategy and actions for growth.
- A coach is someone who gently holds your feet to the fire and encourages you to take those actions.
7. One thing leads to another. When a client goes through the coaching process for one goal or issue, they almost always open doors of self-discovery for other areas of their life and work. I've had a client come to me with a career goal, and during the coaching process they discovered their relationship was preventing them from moving forward. The coaching shifted from work on the career passion to working on relationship intimacy, and then back to work on the career.
- So many areas of our lives are tangled and interconnected, and a coach can help you examine all of the pieces.
8. Your own intuition is more valuable than any outside advice. This is one of the premises of coaching. You won't find a coach giving advice during a session about what's best for the client or what actions the client should take. A coach trusts and knows that the best decisions and ideas come from internal motivation, not external prompts or suggestions.
- Coaches expect their clients to be fully responsible for themselves, their lives and problems, because responsibility permits choice and authentic action.
9. Weak, helpless people don't hire coaches — strong people do. There is a perception that people who can't do things for themselves hire a coach to help them. This couldn't be further from the truth. Generally, people who hire coaches and stick with them are those who are eager to seize life by the horns and make profound, positive changes for the better.
- A coach is not a crutch. Hiring a coach is a big, bold, fearless decision.
10. Coaches want to work with coachable clients. Perhaps there are coaches out there who work with anyone and everyone, even if the client isn't really coachable. But for most coaches, this is not acceptable. People get into coaching because it is their passion to help others move forward and make extraordinary, life-altering changes.
- Trying to coach someone who isn't willing to take action is like being on a treadmill — you get nowhere fast. Most coaches have the integrity to let go of an uncoachable client.
Does anyone really need a coach? The short answer is “no.” Coaching is for achievers who desire to be coached. It's for those who are tired of fence-sitting, equivocating, and stagnating.
Coaching is not for those who can't bear a little discomfort, a little stretching beyond limits. It's not for those who are clinically depressed, unable (or unwilling) to take action, or who are distracted by a serious life challenge.
A coachable client is one who is ready, willing, eager, and excited about the coaching journey and the amazing outcomes it produces.