I was coaching a client yesterday, and he said something that stopped me cold, and then I burst out laughing so hard I almost fell off my chair. There was a pause on his end of the phone, and then I heard him laughing along with me. The penny had dropped, and he heard exactly what he had said and had connected with how an old habit was sneaking into his new plan of action.
We collected ourselves and started coming up with a revised plan of action steps to incorporate his new awareness. I could hear how psyched he was—real energy driving his plan, and it relied upon strengths that he had already identified in previous coaching sessions. It was a useful and doable and somewhat challenging plan for him to keep building the career changes that he had been working on for the past five months.
This is point No. 1 in my book—you have to connect with your life coach well enough to laugh together. Not a silly kind of messing around humor. I’m talking about the type of relationship where there is mutual respect and admiration for what each of you knows and a view of life that supports being called on your BS and being able to laugh together about it while doing the work to create change.
A good life coach is all about your growth. She is there to support you in building the life or career you want. She is also there to shine a light on the things—old habits, limited perspectives, underused strengths—that are holding you back, and this means there has to be a rapport between the two of you. You need to like your coach on some level, and you need to trust your coach to help you get where you are going. This is all about you and your growth
Which leads me to point No. 2, it is all about you! Seriously, coaching is a process that should lead to self-generative capabilities. This means that you and your coach are always focused on what you want to create, what goals you want to reach, what habits you need to shed in order to live unstoppably. If your coach isn’t helping you to reach the goals you set or seems to be more interested in being “right” in your coaching sessions, then get a new coach.
Point No. 3. Keep in mind that not every coach can coach every person. So you’ll want to interview a few coaches when you begin looking. I recommend talking to at least 3 or 4 to get a feel for which ones you connect with best. Most coaches offer a free 20-minute discovery call to do just this. You talk and see if both of you feel it might be a good fit. Then the next step is to do a paid coaching session with the one or two whom you really felt connected to. Get a real feel for their coaching and how it works for you. A good coach will also tell you if she doesn’t think it’s a fit after the discovery call. Often they will have a recommendation for a colleague they think would be better for you to work with.
Point No. 4. Once you have found a coach, you need to commit. Commit to doing the work it will take to create real, sustainable change. Remember, it took you how many years to build whatever habits or perspectives you are seeking to change, so it’s not an overnight fix. It also doesn’t have to be a long and tiresome process.
Most clients work with a coach for about 6 months to a year or so. They do the work and are able to make real changes and then take that on for themselves. Occasionally clients will come to an event or a workshop as they keep doing the work of self-creation. Sometimes they come back for a few months to receive coaching on a new topic that has presented itself; birth, death, job change, etc. The big life events that can induce a rethinking of our lives can be useful times to return for a few months of coaching work to adapt and really soar during these times.
Point No. 5. Keep doing the work even after you are finished working with your coach. Sure, you might not be doing it everyday, but the process of creating your best life doesn’t stop when you finish your coaching interactions. Coaching is the start of your new life. Keep doing the work as you build and grow and change. Keep exploring what helps you create the life you want, what helps you live into being totally unstoppable.
Amy Kosh is a life coach based in Asheville, N.C. She is also the author of An Unstoppable Life. For more information about life coaching and Amy’s services, visit www.anunstoppable.life.