"Everyone needs a coach."
Together, coaching and consulting make up a multibillion dollar industry. When it comes to making decisions, both individuals and organizations benefit from an outside perspective.
Why is that exactly?
Just think about it: When you're in the middle of a situation, it's difficult to see the big picture. It's easy to get lost in the details. You might consider how decisions affect certain people, but you forget about others.
And although habits and systems can be beneficial, "routine" easily turns into "rut".
But having a good coach helps you see things from another perspective. Good coaches provide:
Additionally, a good coach helps you to keep the big picture in mind. He or she reminds you of your goals, and keeps you honest in sticking to them. That's why even professional athletes and accomplished executives have coaches: so they keep getting better.
"Sure, that's great," you say. "But who has money to hire a coach?"
Surrounded by Opportunity
Here's the best part:
Good coaches are everywhere, and they're usually willing to work for free.
All you have to do is ask.
For me, my coach is my wife. She advises me on business decisions, helps me to see myself the way others see me, and keeps me balanced. She praises me for my accomplishments, lifts me up when I struggle, and helps me identify weaknesses or poor decisions before it's too late.
But you don't need a significant other to find a good coach. You simply need someone you trust.
Your coach could be a:
- current or former colleague
- former teacher or professor
- manager or supervisor
- great client
- close friend
- parent or sibling
In general, many of these people--who are already in your life--have a desire to help. You'd be surprised at how willing they are to sit with you and offer the feedback you desperately need.
Of course, you'll need to meet with your "coach" regularly. One hour a week is a great start.
Tell your coach what you're working on. Share your wins, as well as your losses. Talk about the choices you're having difficulty with. Communicate the decisions you feel are surefire successes, too--sometimes just saying them out loud to your coach will change your perspective.
The key is that whoever takes on the role of coach has the freedom to speak freely, without fearing that you will become oversensitive, or react emotionally. You'll need a relationship based on trust.
This isn't easy...and it takes time to get it right. Developing your emotional intelligence (EI or EQ for emotional intelligence quotient) can help; in fact, using EQ to benefit from feedback is one of the topics of my upcoming book, Emotional Intelligence: How to Develop the Ultimate Skill for Everyday Life. (Sign up here for free updates regarding the book.)
Above all, focus on the message, and remember that your "coach" is there to help.
If you do, the feedback you receive will broaden your horizons, help you to see situations more clearly, and aid you to make better decisions.
Putting It into Practice
Remember: Nobody's right all of the time.
In fact, the better you are at your work, the more important it becomes to have someone who will speak up and tell you when you're wrong...or at least, help you see the things you are missing.
Find a coach you can trust, who will tell you what you need to hear. Then, it's up to you to listen and learn.
Do that, and you'll keep getting better.