So You Want to be Coached?

Having just completed my NLP certification with Richard Bandler and coaching course with Jorge Coutinho, I am now in the phase of certification which requires that I find 4 people that want to be coached (or are happy to humour me).

It is so tempting to find people who are in need of help and thrust ourselves on to them as if people were “broken” and we now had special powers to fix them. We aren’t broken, just pretty fucked up, that is, until we start to understand how our mind works. Until we begin to truly know and appreciate ourselves.

So as I carefully chose the 4 founders I wanted to co-create with, I first went to lunch with each one and discussed what the process was, the commitment needed and my assurance that I would be professional, ethical and efficient with their time. The latter is so important.

I was humbled to see how easily they entrusted this process in me. Grateful. 

Just in case I missed something, here is what we should have covered.

What is a coach?

A coach is an individual that is trained in coaching, follows the highest ethical standards (you are going to be spilling your guts out to them), is a great listener, builds rapport and trust and helps you think, learn and feel, instead of instructing or giving advice.

It’s a process of co-creation where the responsibility of the result is shared. One where you are prepared to let go of all your baggage, scepticism and bullshit and surrender to the process. The more open you are, the more you commit, the more you’ll get out of it.

Contrary to what many claim, and beyond the necessary skills of coaching, I believe that a coach should have experience in business and life. You don’t want life coaching from a 20-year-old. You probably don’t want a business coach from an academic and you certainly don’t want an entrepreneurial coach that has never run their own business. The whole process is based on asking powerful questions - context, experience and wisdom gives you the ability to know what to ask and how to ask it.  

Then there are the mentors, therapists, experts, teachers, consultants, counsellors, etc. initially, I had some difficulty in adjusting from mentor to coach, having mentored over 150 start-ups in the last 5 years. There are times where someone just needs the answer. Most of the time, the real value comes from finding the process to the solution rather than the solution. The journey is always so much more rewarding than the destination.

So, a coach:

  • will help you get from where you are (actual state) to where you want to be (desired future state);

  • will take you on a journey of self-awareness supported by the premise (from NLP – Neuro-Linguistic Programming) that people have all the resources to solve their own (problems) challenges – isn’t that good news? You already have the resources, you’re just missing the manual;

  • will use a series of questions, exercises, tools and dynamics designed to get you from one point to another;

  • will co-create a plan with you, objective(s) and actions and more importantly, the way for you to actually follow through (execute).  

Do I need/want a coach?

More than needing help, you need to be at a stage where you want to be coached. This is worth repeating time and time again. You have to take full responsibility for the end result and not assume that you’ve paid for someone to hold your hand and give you the answer in the end.

These are the reasons I want a coach myself. In fact, I just finished a skype call with a friend I hadn’t spoken with for over a year – I ended up with 2 pages of great insights, a commitment and a big fat smile – as it turns out, he’s been a coach for years. We are going to start talking more often. 

  • You lose your mojo. Yes, as an entrepreneur, I often find myself isolated and previously had no one to discuss this with. More importantly, I had no idea why and it scared the shit out of me. An entrepreneur without mojo is like…

  • You get stuck. Ever procrastinate around your next idea or project during weeks or months unaware of why it just doesn’t flow out the way it has done in the past? I have.

  • You have no idea what to answer when people ask you “what’s your vision”. Worse, it annoys you that you have trouble defining it. Your future, your family, your work, your relationship.

  • You are facing a major thing. I started this journey in 2005 when one of my businesses was basically screwed. I was emotionally attached, and I suffered the consequences. I wanted to get out of the hole, just didn’t know how. Some have to deal with greater personal losses.

  • You want to get to the next level. Bored, hit a plateau? You feel it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and grow personally and professionally.

  • You are unhappy. I have become more grateful for what I have instead of thinking about what I don’t. I’m also learning to swim in my own lane, instead of comparing my weaknesses with others’ strengths. I feel more peaceful and am generally a lot happier. It’s a process. It takes time.   

“The riskiest moment is when you’re right.”
— Peter Bernstein

Before taking the coaching course, I had a coffee with my future instructor/coach and as an introvert, my biggest concern was how much group participation there was going to be. Actually, I ended up asking the most stupid of questions – “Is there a lot of hugging? You see, I’m not a hugger.”

As it turned out, I’ve never hugged so much in such a short amount of time. I am now a great hugger. This is a journey everyone should embark on, whether because they want to tweak their lives or radically change direction. Do it not because someone pushes you to it. Do it because you want to. You are going to be a big part of the final result, your result.

For the more business minded, you might want to read “The Road Less Stupid” by Keith J. Cunningham, an “expert at helping business owners turn fledgling businesses into highly profitable companies with explosive growth”, (recommended by a friend/mentor) that is based on his 5 core disciplines:

  1. Finding the unasked questions – create a question that will result in clarity and generate better choices;

  2. Separate the problem from the symptom – identify the real obstacle that is blocking your progress;

  3. Check assumptions – differentiate facts from the story you are spinning;

  4. Consider second order consequences – clarify the risk and possibility of cost of being wrong;

  5. Create the machine – create the executable plan and identify the resources (people and money) required to solve the real, core problem and make forward progress.

Sound familiar?