My Instagram feed doesn’t lie.
Coaches for this, and coaches for that. They are everywhere! Health coaches, life coaches, business coaches, fitness coaches, relationship coaches, wealth coaches. And I love this one: lifestyle coaches, e.i. undercover network marketers. Nothing against the network marketing business - when it’s done with authenticity and with the respect it deserves. But that’s for another article.
What is coaching? The word “coach” dates back to 1550’s and is derived from Hungarian small town called Kocs where wagons, carriages and wheeled vehicles, powered by horses, were designed to carry people between Vienna and Budapest.
Eventually, the French began to use these vehicles and called them “Coche.” In 1830, Oxford university started using the word “coach” as slang to describe a tutor who “carried” a student. Eventually in 1860 the word was used in the sports world in England.
Peak performance was determined a difference maker between winning and losing athletes. Hence, the athletic coaching profession was born. Sports coaches are essential to any sports team or individual athlete. The USA has numerous coaches who became legends in the world of sports: Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, and Pat Summit, to name a few.
Professional coaching dates back to 1830’s and transcendental movement, led by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson spoke of one higher and one lower mental state. In the lower state, an individual could not separate himself from being identified by his profession or other daily mundane activities. In the higher state, the individual must think for himself and become a man of thinking instead of conforming to societal influences.
The first notable transition from sports to interpersonal coaching was created by W.T. Gallwey who wrote the book The Inner Game Of Tennis. Gallwey found himself lecturing more to business professionals than sports pros, even though the book was written about the world of tennis.
Since Gallwey, coaching has extended to many different fields and is focused on each client’s individual needs.
Coaching comes in as many different forms as there are coaches. Coaching is not counseling or therapy, but effective coaching doesn’t exist without a coach's extraordinary psychology and ability to influence change.
Fundamentally, coaching is the process of improving a coachee’s condition or position. This is done by creating the desired results through improvement of behaviours and performance, while holding a client accountable and raising their standards.
There are countless coaching success stories. I certainly have many of them in my own practice. Coaching is also not a luxury or a frivolous indulgence. Coaching is a necessity if you want to accelerate your success in business and your personal life. Coaching can take you where you can not take yourself.
As legendary NFL coach Tom Landry said: A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you always knew you could be.
Finding a right (or real) coach can be tricky today. As I’m writing this, coaching is an unregulated industry in the U.S. There are no coach-specific training requirements and no code of ethics to follow. Everyone has the freedom to call themselves a coach. All you have to do is include “coach” in your bio, throw up some quotes on Instagram and poof! You can call yourself a coach, work for yourself and charge the big bucks.
But this is where the integrity stops. Too many so-called “coaches” we see on social media are posers who’ve never had a single paying client.
So, what makes someone a real coach?
Before I tell you the rest, it’s important to note that social media presence, a beautiful website, blog, a book or any other form of marketing is not a necessity for building a successful coaching practice. I know coaches earning seven and eight figures who don’t have a website or an Instagram account.
Here are 6 things to help you sift through the sea of fronting coaches and find the one who has the integrity, the heart and the skills to be your coach.
1 - Find a coach who has a full practice. The best coaches are not struggling for clients. A coach can not help you if he or she hasn’t figured out how to help themselves. If they are in the struggle zone, they can not help you get out of yours.
Building a successful coaching practice, as any business, requires an extraordinary mindset. If a coach is struggling to get clients, they haven’t mastered the mindset required to get out of the struggle.
Of course there are exceptions. As with any business, a coaching business takes time to build. Every great coach started somewhere. But, be aware of the desperate coaches who will coach anyone just to get paid. I call this the commission breath. You can smell it right away.
Best coaches are not desperate for clients, even in the desert dry times of building their practice.
2 - Find a coach who has a coach. A coach can only take you as far as they have gone. A coach who is not invested in their own improvement, will not be invested in yours. You want a coach who understands that she doesn't have all the answers and is committed to being the best she can be. If coaching is so effective, a coach who is walking their talk, has a coach! At one point, I had 2 coaches at the same time.
Great coaches eat their own dog food.
3 - Great coaches don’t coach for free. Imagine you met a doctor at a dinner party. You told him about your sprained ankle and he asked you to roll up your pant leg right there by the table.
What would you think? No self respecting doctor would do that.
A professional would tell you to book an appointment and go in for an exam. Same goes for coaches.
Stay away from coaches who are eager to give you free (and especially) unsolicited advice. Great coaches have a full practice of clients who pay them top dollar for their coaching. They do not give away free sessions. It’s not a greed thing, it’s a respect thing.
Great coaches know, if clients don’t pay, they don’t pay attention. Great coaches are highly invested in their client’s success and coach only those who are more invested in their own success.
I have never done a “free 20 min consult”, as a result, my very first client paid me the highest rate in the industry and is happy he did. Much too often free advice is just that, free of responsibility and free of results.
4 - Having a great story is not enough. Many of us have been through adversities and have come out on the other side. Inspiring stories are everywhere. As much as I love them, a great story is not enough to be a coach.
You need a coach who has done something noteworthy with their story and has been where you want to go. If finding or keeping a soulmate is your goal, only a coach who has done that for themselves can help you do that. If you want to open a restaurant, a business coach can not help you. A coach who has been a restaurateur, can. If financial abundance is your goal, a coach who has not achieved that himself is not a coach for you.
5 - Google is your friend. It is important to note, a beautiful website (or any kind of online presence for that matter) is not a necessity for a having a successful coaching practice.
I had clients way before I had a website. I know many other successful coaches who still don’t have a website and don’t do online marketing.
In 2017, the era when even pets have their own websites, google the coach! What you see can reveals many things about him or her. A website that’s stuck in the 90s, for example, screams amateur and ineffective.
Great coaches stay up with the times. A social media profile with overused motivational quotes and fuzzy pictures taken with a phone from the stone ages are not an indicator of a respected expert.
Automated messages and self promotion before offering value scream commission breath. Following more than having followers can seem phony and desperate. The best coaches use their online platforms to actively engage and provide value to their audience.
6 - Interview the coach. Once you’ve found a coach you are considering working with, don’t be afraid to ask challenging questions.
After they’ve asked you about your decision to seek out a coach, ask them: Why are you the best coach for me? In what ways can you best support me in reaching my goals? Listen to their answers and challenge them when you need to.
Remember, great coaches have an innate ability to listen and bring out the meaning and emotion behind your words. Overall, the conversation should leave you in the realm of possibilities and give you a sense of confidence in yourself and in the coach’s ability to support you.
Also, make sure there is synergy between you. Whether you’re a visual or auditory learner, a great coach will communicate in the style that is best for you to understand.
Remember, a coach is a partner, a dear friend and a professional who maintains clear boundaries, all at the same time.
Every winner has a coach. So, go get one!