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How to Choose a Coach

There are literally thousands of coaches around the world, so once you’ve decided to invest in coaching, how do you choose who to work with? Here are my insider tips to help you decide.

Deciding to invest in your development by hiring a coach is a great move, but how do you pick the best person for you? Here are some practical tips to help you choose:

1. Stalk them online

Not in a creepy way, of course! Take a look at their online presence, if they have one. You’ll get a feel for their approach and whether they seem like a good fit for you. If you can, look for details of:

  • experience and credentials
  • areas of interest and expertise
  • client testimonials
  • coaching approach and style
  • pricing and packages 
  • location and whether they coach in person and/or remotely
  • complimentary consultations 

Once you start looking at different people you’ll begin to get clear on who resonates with you and why. Then you can contact them to:

2. Have an initial conversation

Most coaches will offer a free consultation to find out more about you so you can both determine if you’re right for each other. (Yep…coaches can be selective about their clients in the same way you can be selective about your coach!) 

This is a great opportunity to check if you have a connection, and it’s also a chance for you to ask them questions about their style and approach and coaching logistics (venue, times etc). You could also ask things like:

  • what can I expect to get out of coaching?
  • what kind of people do you most like to work with?
  • how will we set/agree my coaching goals?
  • how will you hold me accountable for success?

3. Talk to two or three coaches

Every coach is different, so having conversations with two or three people will give you an opportunity to understand what style and approach feels best for you. 

Ideally, limit this to no more than three coaches so you don’t become overwhelmed by choice. And of course, if you’ve already checked them out online – or if you know them/have been following them for a while – you might only need to chat with your preferred candidate.

4. Look beyond the price tag

Of course you’re going to want to know how much the coaching will cost, but it’s important to consider the value, not just the price.

Coaching is an investment in yourself, in your continued development and growth. You’re not simply buying a portion of time from your coach; you’re buying personal transformation.

Imagine this scenario:

You’re unhappy in your job, feeling unfulfilled and wishing you knew what you really wanted to do. You’re feeling dissatisfied and disillusioned, perhaps stressed, and maybe your confidence has taken a knock.

You hire a coach to support you with this and within three months you’ve achieved clarity on what you really want to do, developed ways to feel happier and fulfilled, taken action to build your confidence, and found a job you love.

How much would you pay for that amount of transformation in your career, life and wellbeing?

What’s the cost of staying where you are now?

Remember, the value of the transformation is usually far greater than the price of the coaching, so resist the temptation to see it as an hourly rate cost. 

5. Check your heart and gut as well as your head

As with any decision, it’s important to tune in to your gut instincts and what your heart desires as well as listening to your logical mind. Choosing a coach is an important decision but it doesn’t need to be one that you agonise over. Often your heart or gut will give you a strong indication of which coach to work with.

I know that people often want to talk to two or three coaches, and I always tell them to call me back if they’d like some help to make their decision. I know not everyone will select me as their coach, and it’s important that they are able to choose the person who is right from them. I’d far rather help someone make a decision that feels good (even if the decision is to work with someone else), than have them stay stuck in indecision.

6. Notice if you start to talk yourself out of it

I’ve had many conversations with people who told me they were really keen to start working with me…and then they disappeared off the radar. I follow up, and check in, and often I don’t hear from them again.

Now obviously I don’t know everyone’s circumstances or thoughts, and there can be many valid reasons that someone changes their mind about going ahead.

However, I know a wee bit about human nature and how good we can be at talking ourselves out of something and unwittingly self-sabotaging. The prospect of change can be daunting, so our self-preservation kicks in and provides us with a list of plausible-sounding reasons not to proceed.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • Deciding it’s too expensive.  Sometimes this is true. Other times people have the money, but have never invested in themselves in this way. And sometimes they haven’t considered it in light of the value they will receive and/or the cost of staying where they are (see my earlier guidance on this).
  • Deciding they can figure it out alone. Maybe so. But if you could have figured it out on your own, the chances are you would have done so by now. Plus, coaching will accelerate the process and give you insights that you wouldn’t necessarily have got on your own.
  • Allowing someone else to talk them out of it. I’ve seen this happen most commonly when another person (often a spouse) gets involved in the decision-making. Chances are, your spouse wants what’s best for you…which might mean protecting you from something that might be a bit challenging, even if it would ultimately lead to greater happiness and impact.
  • Deciding that now isn’t the right time. Other than in very limited circumstance (you’re about to have a baby tomorrow, for instance), now is just as good a time as any to start coaching. Look, I understand you have a lot on. I also know that you could find an hour in your week if you really were committed to doing so. Remember, if you’re feeling overworked and overwhelmed, you’ll gain insights and skills from coaching to help you navigate this busy period – right when you need it the most.

7. It’s all about the chemistry

In my view this is the most important thing. You have to be able to connect with your coach and trust them. You also need to be open to the idea of being vulnerable in order to get the best from coaching. Your coach therefore needs to be someone who you feel comfortable with and who resonates with you.

I think it’s great that there are so many coaches in the world, because you’re bound to find someone who feels like a good fit for you, and whose offering is exactly what you need to make the positive change you desire.

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