Whether you’re expanding your leadership at work or making the leap to start your own business, working with a coach is a great way to support your growth as you emerge into new territory.
Here are a few tips to make the most of your coaching investment:
1. Set aside 10 minutes for yourself before your session.
If you’ve booked a session during your work day you’ve probably got it in there between lunch, meetings, and that presentation run through. If you have control of your schedule, block 10-15 minutes out on your calendar before your session starts.
To declutter your mind and space. Maybe your desk is already neat as a pin, but your mind is swimming with the emails that are waiting for replies and that conversation you have to have with Gene in finance later today.
Holding on to these cluttered thoughts takes focus away from the coaching time you’ve carved out for yourself. Instead of getting to the topic at hand, you might spend the first 10 minutes of your session just sifting through the flotsam of what’s going through your mind before it settles to what’s most important.
If you’ve taken some time to settle your thoughts beforehand, it will help you to separate the wheat from the chaff, and you’ll be able to share what’s pertinent with your coach, and allow the rest to wait for when you’re ready to address it outside your coaching time.
And maybe go ahead and clear away that collection of coffee mugs and yesterday’s lunch dish while you’re at it. (Or is this just my desk?)
2. Mute/silence your phone and your computer. Take notes.
This is pretty obvious for in-person sessions, but it’s just as important for digital connections. There’s nothing like incoming texts or calendar reminders pinging on your desktop while you’re in the middle of a profound insight with your coach. Do yourself the favor of muting and silencing all your devices. Show respect for yourself and your coach to have focused, uninterrupted time with one another during the session.
Also - take notes by hand in a dedicated notebook during your session. It doesn’t have to be a fancy special notebook (though no one here will stop you if that’s your jam), it could be one of those yellow legal pads you use just for your coaching notes. The point is to have a dedicated landing place for what you work through so you have an easy go-to resource for reflection when you want to revisit something. Looking for the scratch sheet of paper or flipping through pages of notes from your “everything” notebook can be a distraction to you getting what you need when you need it.
Why by hand? Because studies show that writing by hand has more impact on our memory and creativity than by typing. We could all use the practice these days anyway.
3. Have clear goals for what you want from coaching, and be prepared for them to possibly shift.
Moving forward with diversity, equity and inclusion at work might be top of mind as you set forward to work with a coach. You want to motivate your team in all the right ways, and identify the best practices to encourage your team to step into the discomfort that you know big cultural change work takes. So you decide to work with a coach well-versed in culture change and diversity, equity and inclusion to support you on your journey.
However, what comes up during coaching might not directly relate to leading your team forward with diversity, equity and inclusion. What might come up is fear of being seen as “not being the expert”, especially when you are a leader. Other points of uncertainty and discomfort might arise through the coaching journey calling upon you to confront aspects of your leadership. You might be looking suddenly at what might not be working for you now, that used to in the past. What new ways would you like to explore? Are success and failure mutually exclusive, or is there space here to widen how you show up as a leader, that gives both you and your team more room to grow as well? While it’s not the reason why you hired your coach, it is what came up, and a good coach will go there with you. This shift in focus may ultimately help you be more successful in navigating the big changes before you that were your original goal.
Or you may be certain that you want support talking through a career transition. Leaving one field of work to really dive into work that speaks to you. One client I worked with came to me originally for thinking through leaving communications and transitioning into work on climate change mitigation. What came up through working with her though was ultimately work/life balance, time with her high school aged daughter (soon to be on to college), and getting her health in check. She was already at burn-out with her current job and looking for the shift in focus to help her to be in a better place, when really, a number of other aspects of her whole life needed attention and focus so she would have the reserves to transition in her career to another field.
Goals can shift and often the real goals, (I like to call it “the goal beneath the goal”) will emerge through a coaching process. These deeper goals will very often support the original goal, but a client’s growth and expansion will be affected in a more profound way.
4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Any coach worth their salt will eventually hit a point with their client where they start to noodle in on a few processes, patterns, or behaviors that present themselves as hindering the client, though the client may not be acutely aware of it.
Now, a good coach will absolutely be sensitive and compassionate in addressing something like this with their client, but if the process, pattern, or behavior is the proverbial elephant in the room getting in the way of progress, it has to be named. And everyone knows that naming the elephant can be very uncomfortable for the person naming it, as well as those who have been complicit in ignoring its existence.
But what happens when you name the elephant? The facade is dropped and the truth is laid bare. Now you can really get to work. And I promise, from experience, it is uncomfortable for both the coach and the client, but it is worth working through the muck to find the treasure covered beneath it.
Here’s the thing to remember in the discomfort. It’s never personal. No one likes having their foibles highlighted in the light of day, these are the things we like most to keep hidden, tucked away in the night like the sweet kid who’s hidden the candy bar wrapper under their mattress.
It’s okay to have wanted a candy bar, it’s okay that you hid the wrapper. But let’s go ahead together now and put the wrapper in the trash can and talk about what this all really means.
Knowing that discomfort is a part of the confronting process of coaching is a good thing to know going in. Be ready, be willing, sit with that discomfort when it hits, name it, and then work through it with your coach.
5. Put things into practice.
You may feel tons of movement forward during the sessions, but if you don’t put any of your insights into action, even if it isn’t “perfect” or “100% ready” you will not get your investment worth from your coaching.
Coaches work with clients typically for 3 months to a year or more. The time frame is NOT to hook you for your patronage forever, but it IS there so that you build practices that turn into new ways of being. Studies show that it takes 12 weeks to build a habit. 12 weeks of consistent practice doing something new to turn it into a behavioral pattern integrated into our day to day without a thought.
Just showing up for your coaching sessions and then not practicing any of the insights or homework between sessions means it will just be that much longer before you get from where you are to where you’d like to be.
Think of how long it takes to learn to play an instrument, or teach your body to learn a complicated yoga pose as a brand new yoga student. These things take practice. Coaching is so much about the mind and how it’s focused. If you don’t practice what you create with your coach in sessions, it will be a great understood concept, but not a complex lived experience. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the lived experience of a beach in Hawaii over understanding that beaches in Hawaii exist. ;)
Bonus tip: Don’t procrastinate
If you’re ready, you know you’re ready.
And then, there will be this sneaky little voice that pops in and says:
“Well, maybe just a little longer until I really do this. I need to make sure...”
Here’s the deal. Did you get itchy feet thinking about making a move forward in your life while you read this? Did you think: “Dang, if I’d done this two years ago I’d already be where I want to be right now.”
Then for real, don’t delay.
Just do it. Just start. Now.
Here’s some incentive:
Get 50% off your first month with me when you sign up for my initial 3-month coaching package. Mention this article during your consult to get the deal.