Executive coaching is still a relatively recent phenomenon, often shrouded in mystery and associated with the new age movement. Although coaching consultancy has taken off in the UK in recent years, it still dwarfs in comparison to the billion-dollar industry it is in the US.
Before I undertook my first personal development and coaching journey in 2010, I was sceptical about whether it was right for me. But now, looking back, there has never been a moment where I regretted beginning my journey.
Far from being mysterious, I found coaching to be incredibly practical in dealing with day-to-day challenges in my professional life. And in my experience, it does not matter how many traditional training courses you undertake if you aren’t doing the inner work too. While the external successes may be obvious, you will be left with a slight feeling of underwhelming with those achievements. Like something is missing.
Coaching made me realise just how many inner resources I have to deal with life’s challenges, something I’m sure we can all relate to right now. The responses to each challenge lie within each of us – we just need to find the right environment for this to be realised.
Empowered to take action and new found self-confidence
My first foray into coaching and personal development coincided with the death of my grandfather, someone from whom I took great inspiration. I went in as someone who was anxious and afraid to take risks. I came out as someone who was less constrained by negative beliefs, with bags of courage and a power to take action. While my grandfather’s death was still an incredibly emotional time, I was able to deal with it powerfully. I even gave a eulogy at his funeral in front of hundreds of people – something I would never have done before.
At work, it resulted in improved self-confidence and freedom to just go for what I wanted. I achieved a promotion and an increased income, and I created some really ambitious and successful campaigns. I eventually took the risk to work for myself as a consultant three years ago. I’ve not looked back since.
I loved the journey so much, in fact, that I trained to become a coach myself and started to give to others what I got for myself.
How do you choose the right coach?
It doesn’t matter how successful a coach is or how many testimonials they have from friends, colleagues or others. The coach for you will be an intuitive, very personal choice. Many coaches (myself included) will be happy to suggest others in their network, so if you don’t hit it off, don’t be afraid to ask them.
I have had some incredible coaches and mentors over the years. Each coaching relationship had its challenges, of course, and this is to be expected. Coaching, at its most profound level, can often shine a light on some very deep-seated beliefs and stories, which we’ve carried with us for most of our adult life, and even longer.
What made a difference to me was having someone who reflected that back to me in a way I was able to get and not feel bad about. And the more the coaching relationship develops over time, the more trust is built in the sessions. My current coach can be incredibly direct with his reflections, but it works because of the approach he takes and the trust we’ve built up over the past couple of years.
What does a typical coaching session look like?
In short, there is no ‘this is what a coaching session looks like’. How it looks will depend on a range of factors and of course your intentions from the sessions.
A coach, depending on their experience, will have an array of tools and techniques to support you achieve the most from your sessions. And each session will be tailored by them to fit where you are at in your journey, and what they think you’ll respond to best.
There is no better or worse method per se, but there will be methods that suit you more than others, depending on your current circumstances and goals. My coach offers meditation techniques to support me, for example, but a previous coach I had offered more advice and mentorship.
The barriers to coaching
For some it may be the uncertainty about what coaching looks like, while for others there may be a barrier around talking about one’s personal feelings with a stranger. Hence it is important to feel comfortable with your coach.
Coaching still has connotations of sitting in a circle talking about one’s feelings and naval gazing. There is always going to be a risk that we naval gaze and not take action, but if you truly want to bring about change in your life then the chances are you are going to make it happen.
Ultimately though, it might be that coaching isn’t for you right now, and you may want to look at more traditional development routes.
Coaching can offer a completely new perspective on how to progress in your career, deal with challenges, and live your life more fully.
For an alternative to coaching CharityComms offers a mentoring scheme. Take a look here.
Image: Joshua Ness on Unsplash