Do you really need a coach?

Career coach, Life coach, Business Coach, Success Coach, Fitness Coach, Happiness coach, Money coach, Relationship Coach, Leadership Coach, Executive Coach — and the list could go on, the world is full of coaches of all kinds and of all degree of expertise and in all price range. In the age of technology and the internet, there seems to be no shortage of expert(?) guidance on standby ready to help you regardless of whether you want to be helped or not. But the big question here is “Do you really need a coach?”

There is, without a doubt,  a coach for you if you’re looking for personalized attention from a professional who is qualified to help you realize your potential, get you ahead in the competition, and improve skills or a particularly desired outcomes in your life. But there are two dangers on the path – 1. You might not really need coaching. 2. The coach might not be qualified and you are in no position to know it in advance until you have spent significant time and money.

Therefore, the first question to ponder on. Is the coaching worth it, or is it merely a fashionable way of making you feel like you’re doing something about a problem that you could just as easily solve on your own?

Can you coach yourself?

If your objective is related to developing your knowledge or skills from basic to intermediate to advance. Pause and think over this. Three decades earlier, hiring a professional to help you learn something new might have been essential to doing that thing well. After all, the internet was not popular, and information (especially on niche topics) was not as readily accessible and widely available as it is today.

If you wanted to teach yourself how to do something or find a strategy to help you improve, it might mean spending long hours at a library/bookshop hoping to track down the knowledge you were missing. It might mean seeking out and connecting with people you could learn from, or developing a relationship with a trusted mentor.

Now, however, if you don’t know something, you can just ‘google it’ (or better, ask Siri) and get too much information in a fraction of a second. Then, you can join forums and online communities where even specialized knowledge is freely available. You can join MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) on a number of topics and learn for free.  Linkedin groups, Facebook groups, or other boards and forums dedicated to specific subjects are a rich and free source of learning. The information on essentially anything you want to learn is out there and accessible.

“Coaching” yourself to run a marathon, to start investing wisely, to develop a business as a side hustle, to find your soulmate (if something like that exists), to get higher scores on tests — it’s possible and rather advisable that you take a SELF LEARNING approach to just about anything you want to get better at.

So, when the purpose is to learn a SKILL, you probably do not need a coach. However, there is another aspect that makes it more complicate. The Internet has not only made information readily available but also it has increased confusion and fake news.

  • Just because you can find information on the internet doesn’t make it quality information — and when you’re not a professional on the topic yourself, it can be exceedingly difficult to pick up useful, true facts in all the opinions, misinformation and rumours.
  • Even among factual and quality info and data, it can be difficult to determine what applies to your specific situation and what might make more sense for someone in different circumstances.
  • When working toward a goal on your own, you have to do everything: you need to do the research, determine the strategy, make the decisions, take the actions, know when to course-correct or adjust your plan, stay motivated, hold yourself accountable, learn new information as it becomes available — all while doing everything else your normal life and regular responsibilities already demand of you. It can be a lot.

Again, it’s possible to achieve what you want on your own. But there’s a difference between what’s possible and what’s optimal. And that’s where there can be real value in hiring a qualified professional coach in the domain that you are looking at.

What a Coach really does for you?

If you’re only looking to answer the question, “do I need to hire a coach to be successful?” the answer is no, you don’t need to. But that might not be the right question to ask in the first place.

A better question may be, “Can hiring a qualified coach help me speed up the process of learning or unlock my potential?” And in this case, the answer is ‘most probably as long as you hire the right coach’.

So, the question now is how to know if a coach is suitable for your purpose and is a qualified one? Here are some tips:

  1. Have you determined what you need a coach for? If you are looking for ‘coach’ you probably do not need one. But if you are looking for a fitness coach or relationship coach or business coach, you are in the right direction.
  2. Does the coach has a proper background knowledge of the field he/she claiming to be a coach in. Someone who has worked all the years in HR administration and claiming to be a ‘life coach’ just because he has lived a life so far and has attended a 3-day programme or bought a certificate is not enough to qualify him/her as a coach. Look carefully at the background of the coach and compare it with your objective.
  3. If your objective is to be better at managing ‘psychological aspects’ or ‘people aspects of your life, make sure that the coach you select has proper qualification/training in psychology – at least a master degree and several years of supervised training experience. Be wary of self-styled relationship, life and leadership coaches who have no background in psychology, they might do more harm than good.
  4. Have you decided on the aspect of your life/work that you really need to improve upon? You can hire a coach for just about anything… but that doesn’t mean you should. Unless you’re looking to fully optimize some area of your life/work or perhaps feel extremely passionately about improvement (like fitness), doing things yourself or even finding less-intensive solutions like group coaching or support via apps might make the most sense.
  5. Are you clear on the outcome or result that you want? You won’t get much from any coaching relationship if you go into it without any direction or a clear understanding of what you hope to receive from the experience of working with a professional. Bring some clearly-defined goals to the table — or at least be prepared to discuss your desires and ideas if part of the coaching relationship includes guidance on setting those goals.

Working with a coach can pay off manifolds but if and only if you have a clear objective and select your coach carefully.

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