Career counseling used to be straightforward. You hired a counselor who administered tests, asked some questions and guided you to a dream career. Today’s job search model calls for hiring a coach. And you’ll find thousands to choose from. Here are some guidelines to make your selection.
Karen hired a “mentor” coach to help her business grow. She spent hours working on her website. She played with orange, green, and blue text in helvetica, geneva and garamond type faces. She added pictures. She took away pictures.
Karen’s coach cheered: “You’re doing great!” On a slow week, the coach said, “Clear clutter and learn to dance.”
After three months, Karen had a big coaching bill, a multicolored website, an empty house and a sad little business.
Every coach works with a model, or template, of human nature that explains what, why and how they coach. Karen’s coach believed people will unblock their businesses when they clear clutter and learn to move their bodies freely. It works for many people.
However, Karen needed information. A corporate manager turned entrepreneur, she needed a business-savvy coach who could help her transform minefields into meadows.
Karen hadn’t asked her coach, “What do you think I need?” And she hadn’t asked herself, “What do I need most right now?”
What is a model?
We work with models of human nature every day. For instance, Western medicine treats the body as a machine to be repaired; Chinese medicine believes sickness is caused by imbalance that can be corrected by herbs and diet.
Every model has limits. If you break your leg, the Western model makes most sense; if you suffer from insomnia, you might favor the Chinese model.
Which model do you need?
John’s business is hitting a rough patch.
Coach X says, “Clear your life of energy-draining relationships.”
Coach Y says, “I will teach you mental techniques to attract new business.”
Coach Z says, “Maybe your business does not reflect your life purpose.”
Coach Q offers, “I will teach you networking and sales techniques.”
Only John knows what he needs. If your website needs an overhaul, you can clear clutter till your house is bare and nothing will happen. But if everyday hassles are draining your energies, you can’t focus clearly on the website.
By the book
Let’s compare four best-selling books. Cheryl Richardson’s Take Time for Your Life exemplifies the “life space” model: people know what they want and how to get there; they grow by self-care and personal empowerment. Choose Coach X.
Lynn Grabhorn’s Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting, suggests that people will achieve goals when they focus clearly on what they want. Her techniques can help people change their thinking and feeling styles. Choose Coach Y.
Martha Beck’s book, Finding Your Own True North, argues that finding your essential self will bring fulfillment. Choose Coach Z.
Finally, a business book like Michael Gerber’s E-Myth series or Jay Levinson’s Guerilla Marketing will assume you are perfectly capable of applying sound sales techniques once you learn what they are. Yes — that’s Coach Q.
The key is to be very clear on what you want and to decode what the coach offers before you commit to long-term relationships. Karen got Coach X when she needed Coach Q.
Read what the coach has written. Ask if you can buy an hour or two of consultation before committing to a longer time frame. Ask directly, “What types of people do you believe you can help — and why?”
You don’t have to be friends with your coach. You don’t have to eat lunch together or trade birthday gifts. But the coach’s model of growth and change has to fit who you are.
You may not need a coach. You may need a mentor or you may need to learn to listen to your own intuition.
Ask yourself: How did you learn and grow during previous transitions? Have you benefited from paid support: therapy, groups, or classes? Or did you learn by reading, introspecting, journaling or talking informally with a friend?
Know what you need, both now and over a lifetime. Paying a coach may be the best investment you can make right now — or may be a waste of time and money. They key is to understand your own growth patterns so you can identify the most effective and enjoyable way to reach your dreams.
This article is based on Teach Your Intuition to Send You a Telegram, Not a Post Card: Using Intuition for Business and Career Decisions. Click here to learn more.