When is the Right Time to Invest In Coaching?

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Developmental coaching can effectively advance your approach to work, life, and relationships. 

But when is the right time for you? It really depends on what behaviors are getting in your way, and their impact to you.

-The thing we do that gets in the way of our success-

Many people are able to name that thing they do that most gets in their way – their barrier. In a coaching program, that barrier is carefully examined and becomes the coaching topic. If you cannot name your barrier (but have the sense that you are doing something that gets in your way), that in itself can be a powerful coaching conversation. 

I see as many coaching topics as I see clients. Each person battles their own unique barriers to success. 

-Some examples of barriers-

  • I get caught up in the details in my pursuit of perfection and miss the big picture. 
  • I struggle to enforce boundaries and take on too much. 
  • I have great ideas, but I wish I was more assertive in sharing them. 
  • I am afraid to make mistakes and that prevents me from pursuing opportunities.
  • I am too worried about what others think and I struggle to follow my own inner compass. 
  • Conflict makes me uncomfortable and I don’t hold others accountable or give my leadership quality feedback. 
  • I do not know what is enough and just keep pushing for more, and I still do not feel fulfilled.
  • I struggle to inspire commitment on my team and we are not reaching our potential; my team experiences high turnover. 

-Feeling stuck. The approach that serves us the most also limits us-

The thing that gets in our way is usually the same thing that has historically brought us success! That person in the above example who gets caught up in the details? That commitment to detail has probably served him really well throughout his life, but now it is getting in his way and that will get worse over time. The individual who cares too much about what others think is really attuned to the needs of her team, and supports her people; but now, she struggles to connect with herself and act on the things she believes are most important. She wishes she was more bold.

I’m reminded of a former military officer that I worked with several years ago. When she left the service and got an MBA, she set the world on fire…for a while. She immediately climbed the ranks in a Fortune 200 company and made a name for herself. And then she stalled.

She realized that she was very good at driving compliance on her team. She got results. It had worked for her in the Army, and it worked for her during her first several years outside of the service. But then she plateaued as a leader. She realized that she really longed to inspire commitment on her team. That became her topic. She achieved her goals and began to show up for her team in a powerful new way. She not only received recognition from those above her in the organization and new responsibilities at work, she felt more fulfilled in her role and in life.

Driving compliance on her team yielded results…until it didn’t.

This is when we get stuck. This is where we are limited. We have been cruising along doing that thing that works for us. It can feel confusing and frustrating when that thing is not working as well anymore. And when we try to change it, we find it is difficult to adopt a new approach. 

-The impact of our current way-

What is your current approach costing you? That is a question that you are best prepared to answer. What is the cost to your team if you keep showing up the same way with the same barriers? What is the cost to your career advancement? How does your current approach limit your capacity to enjoy life and the things that you have earned? What is the cost to your relationships if you keep showing up the same way? How is your current way limiting your potential to create meaningful change in this world?

-Common times that people seek coaching-

I believe that professional coaching can benefit us in nearly any phase of adult life; however, I typically see new clients who are experiencing at least one of the following events:

  • Advancing from a tactical (front line manager) perspective to a more strategic leadership role.
  • Feeling stagnant at the same level within an organization or career field.
  • The situation has changed (market, organization, leadership, competition).
  • Assumptions about life and fulfillment have not panned out.
  • Underperforming teams or high turnover are limiting outcomes.
  • High performing teams that can achieve even more are falling short of their potential.
  • Preparing for the next phase of work or life.
  • A sense that one’s potential is unrealized.

I had a client who was a successful business owner. When he was young, he dreamed of owning a designer home on a hill overlooking nature and surrounding himself with family. He achieved that. But it wasn’t what he imagined it would be. He encountered a misalignment between his expectations of fulfillment and his reality.

The same demands that allowed him to achieve success in the first place, also prevented him from enjoying it. He struggled to separate herself from work or perceived obligations long enough to truly sit in the beauty that surrounded him and appreciate it.

When he learned to do so, he found his capacity for presence and contentedness growing, and he was surprised to learn that he had become a more effective leader too.

-Are you considering coaching? Some questions to ask yourself-

  • Do you feel stuck? 
  • In general, what is your barrier to achieving the things that are most important to you?
  • What is possible if you create a new approach to work, life, and relationships? 
  • What do you wish you could do better?
  • Why?
  • What is the cost to your team, your career and your relationships if you do not make a change?

-When you answer and reflect on those questions, what do you notice?-

Sometimes investing in a coach is a simple cost/benefit calculation – I see a lot of promotions and bonuses for my corporate clients. But more often the choice around coaching is about a sense of tension in our lives. The right time for coaching is when we feel the frustration in our current approach coupled with a longing for a new way. 

While many people can name that thing they do that is getting in their way, very few are able to do anything about it without assistance. Lurking beneath those behaviors is a belief – and it is generally one that we struggle to identify by ourselves without help.  Coaching creates a new way of being that gives us choice. The choice to take a fundamentally new approach, driven by entirely new beliefs and new behaviors and new metrics for success.

Some people believe “that’s just the way I am”. In response, I’d suggest that life is a journey, and we all have the potential to profoundly evolve our ways of being. You can transform your approaches to life by building new assumptions which create new behaviors which will yield new outcomes.

As a coach, and as a regular coaching client, I can confidently state that an investment in coaching can help you reach your new way, effectively and efficiently.

In my next three articles, I will explain the difference between coaching, mentorship, therapy, and consulting, describe some characteristics that I believe contribute to a successful coaching program and finally I will offer tips on finding a coach that is right for you.

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