Often in life, we hit roadblocks or have questions. We may not know exactly what to do with our career, our finances, an exercise program, our health, or a business decision. Sometimes we can find help in books, blog articles, or courses. Other times turning to a mentor or coach to help answer these quandaries can be invaluable. Mentors and coaches can:
- Encourage and stimulate our growth.
- Provide knowledge and information to help us find our direction.
- See areas for improvement when we often cannot or will not.
- Inspire and motivate us to keep going.
- Provide experience and accurate advice.
- Work with us to create necessary boundaries that we often fail to set for ourselves.
- Connect us with others to further our goals.
- Provide unfiltered opinions on ideas we want to flush out.
- Share what they’ve learned from other experiences, which we can then use to prevent us from making the same mistakes made by others.
Perhaps there is someone in your immediate business or social circle that can fill this role for you, if not look within your extended circles. Ask for recommendations and assistance from those you trust.
Before you get started with a mentor or coach, there are some things to know. First and foremost, life-changing results from any coaching experience is a team effort. You won’t be “taught” by the expert: The two of you work together to create a paradigm shift in your life that can significantly transform your career, health, finances — your life for the better.
“The terms mentoring and coaching are often used interchangeably, and that is misleading. While similar in their support of someone’s development, they are very different disciplines in practice.
Mentoring is a long-term relationship where the focus is on supporting the growth and development of the mentee. The mentor is a source of wisdom, teaching, and support, but not someone who observes and advises on specific actions or behavioral changes in daily work.
Coaching is typically a relationship of finite duration where the focus is on strengthening or eliminating specific behaviors in the here and now. Coaches are engaged to help correct behaviors that detract from one’s performance or, to strengthen those that support stronger performance around a set of activities.” ~ F. John Reh
The ideas below can help you do what many coaching clients fail to do: Wring the most out of the dollars you are paying, the time you are spending and the time of the expert you’ve found to mentor you or the one you’ve hired. Spend quality time on these before you and your coach or mentor even sit down for your first session.
Identify What Question You Really Want to be Answered
You need to establish this first, so you will be able to fit the type of coach or mentor you need accurately.
If you are hopelessly stuck on what you want to do with your work life, you don’t need a lifestyle coach or a business coach—you need a career coach. If you struggle to establish a fitness routine or need help performing exercises correctly, you may need a personal trainer or health coach.
Knowing precisely what you want to achieve in your business but encountering obstacle after obstacle every time you set yourself to a task (and we’re not talking about procrastination here), points to your need for a business coach.
If your biggest questions involve you wondering why you don’t care about anything in life anymore or how to get your spouse to stop belittling you, you most likely don’t need a coach but a psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage counselor or trauma counselor
Sitting back waiting for your coach to point out areas of your life, personality or business habits that need to change is not the best approach. Instead be ready to start achieving results, without having to spend time trying to decide what isn’t currently working for you.
Not doing some candid self-assessment before investing in coaching or meeting your mentor will only make it harder and more time-consuming for the both of you. Know what your bad habits are, know where you need help. Attempting to eat healthily and even just going for a brisk walk every day will be helpful before meeting with a nutrition coach.
Ask others for input, if your ego can handle this. If your coaching is strictly for your business, ask them: “What do I most frequently complain about?”
If you are trying to change personal habits, ask your family questions like: “What one thing do I do that you wish I would change?”
Focus On Your Health, Prior to Hiring Any Coach Other than a Wellness Coach or Personal Trainer
If you are considering hiring a career or business coach, performing the previous self-assessment can be especially insightful. For example, you might realize that the central issues you’ve identified are really more in the realm of a counselor or psychologist—in which case, set up an appointment with one of these professionals before you go near a mentor or coach.
If you realize, however, that you live too much in your “head” and that you are addicted to internalizing and self-analyzing, a better bet may be not to buy into old patterns by continuing to explore your inner demons, but instead—hire a fitness coach!
Exercising your body releases endorphins. Physical activity can be a fantastic release for emotions. Additionally, it can elevate your energy levels, and when you start to feel physically energetic, you can also boost your confidence.
Identify Your End Goal
You will achieve far more if you know what your desired end result looks like.
Be realistic and ensure you are specific about what you hope to achieve. Answers like “I want to make more money” is not a goal—it’s a daydream. Ditto for “I want to be the president of the company this time next year,” when you are only two years into your career. While there may have been someone who has achieved the latter, it’s not a realistic goal for the average person.
An accurate, realistic, and measurable ending might look like this:
“Within six sessions, I want to identify my food sensitivities, understand what a balanced meal is, be able to design a quality weekly meal plan, and know how to cook the meals at home, to aid me in losing weight and achieving greater health.”
Interview Your Mentor or Coach Candidates
Choosing the right mentor or coach is part chemistry and part process. Make sure you and your potential coach fit together well by asking pointed questions. You don’t have time for coaches who behave as if you are lucky to sign up with them. Along the same lines, a mentor with too big an ego will not benefit you in the long run.
It’s your life; you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money or precious time investing in someone that’s not the right fit. Explain to your prospective mentor or coach what you want to achieve, and ask what he or she can do to help you attain it.
Most of all, ask about their coaching philosophy and core values. If you hear anything there that doesn’t fit, he or she is not the candidate for you.
Build Trust and Get Personal
You’ll need to reveal parts of yourself and share information with your mentor or coach so that they can learn the real you.
Where do you currently spend your time and money? What daily habits help you and which ones get in your way? What growth methods have you tried in the past? Do you have a support system?
The more they understand what makes you tick, the more they can help identify strategies and the action steps to help propel you forward.
Reap The Most From Each Session
Your time and funds for coaching are not limitless. So, once you’ve identified your primary goal for coaching, look to what you want to accomplish each session. Estimate the number of meetings you need or can afford.
You may not have a clue, really, but attempting to plan your sessions, with one specific mini-goal per session, can aid you in discussions with your mentor or coach at your initial consultation. You may ask for feedback and learn how realistic your expectations are.
Working towards specific goals for each session can laser-focus the process. For example, if you’ve decided to deal with your biggest habit – say “procrastination” – in session three, you won’t need to talk endlessly about it in session one or two.
Know that Coaches Do Not Come With “Get Rich Quick” Guarantees
Rather, a coach can help you remove blockages so that you are free to proceed towards your financial goals without further obstruction. She can help you strategize, analyze and come up with a viable plan you can put into action.
Remember, coaches do not do it for you: They help you free yourself up to achieve goals by yourself.
Identify Your Communication Preferences
Are you more comfortable with telephone, Skype, or in-person sessions? Do you prefer hard copy online or audio information?
Whatever your learning and communication preferences, make sure your coach is on board with them.
Learning in a way that feels natural to you—one that stimulates your brain and helps you retain maximum knowledge—is essential to getting the most out of your coaching sessions.
Go For Big Things
You’re investing a significant chunk of your time and possibly your money into your sessions. Don’t think in terms of “tweaking” or “fine-tuning,” think in terms of making transformative life changes.
Your coach should guide you in a systematic, realistic way, so every step feels manageable in this approach.
Don’t scramble at the last-minute before each mentoring or coaching session. Ideally, at least a day in advance, review the topics you would like to discuss.
Tap into your thoughts and feelings from your last session. Were you elated? Frustrated? Dismayed? Determined?
Consider how you are currently feeling. Did you achieve or make progress on your goals from the last session? If not, what got in the way?
Make a list of your desired discussion topics and highlight your absolute priorities. Identify what can be tabled to the next session if you run low on time.
Be ready for each session, arriving a few minutes early if an in person meeting. Get yourself comfortable. If you’re using physical aids like notepads and pencils, make sure your pencil is sharp or that your pen is working.
Review your list of topics and questions and be ready to make the most of your meeting.
Align Your Body and Mind With Your Goals
It’s not enough to turn up for your sessions (even if you’re there early, pencil in hand). You want to make sure your body and mind are at maximum sharpness, alert, refreshed and well-rested.
Make a serious effort to get at least eight hours sleep a night. Start drinking more green tea instead of always reaching for the coffee pot. Eliminate processed foods from your diet and eat more real food.
Even if the type of coaching you are investing in has nothing to do with lifestyle or health, be proactive and take your health into your own hands, so that you have a body and brain that will support your goals and transformations.
Work Your Plan
You can analyze and strategize endlessly. If you don’t take action on your mentor or coach’s suggestions, you’ll just be throwing away time and money. Remember, the work is up to you. Your mentor or coach doesn’t do it for you.
If you find yourself procrastinating, discuss it with your coach or mentor right away. Figure out if there is something he or she can help you with: For example, perhaps something is not clear to you, or your old fears are getting in the way.
These things can be dealt with; it doesn’t really matter what’s causing what, you just need to commit one hundred percent to taking action. Then put your nose to the grindstone and do the work. You’ll reap the rewards.
Taking charge of your life includes taking charge of your own learning and growing. Be prepared to fire your mentor or coach if he or she is not helping you do that.
A couple of other points to keep in mind:
- You want a mentor or coach who will aid you yet hold you accountable, not a buddy that will let you slide
- A mentor that tries to control you or a coach that makes you feel bad about yourself is abusive, not helpful
The reason to find a mentor or hire a coach is so that you can spread your wings and move out of your comfort zone with assistance from someone who has experience in the area and knows what you need to do. Locate someone you are comfortable with who is willing to guide you and be proud of your development.
Mentoring and coaching can help you become who you want to be. Prepare yourself to make the most of every opportunity and gain everything you can from each and every session.
Have you worked with a mentor or paid coach before? Are you considering finding one now? Please share your thoughts and experiences below.
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