When I attended the 2017 Global Leadership Summit, I was amazed at how often the topic of coaching came up. This wasn’t a conference on coaching, but when talking about personal development and leadership, many of the speakers mentioned coaching. The rise of coaching is a global phenomenon. You may have noticed it yourself. In its 2017 State of the American Workplace study, Gallup reports that today’s employees expect some form of coaching at work.
With the rise of something new, there are always myths. Here are six myths of professional coaching:
The majority of today’s professional coaching is done via phone or video. You don’t have to sit across from your coach in his office or coffee shop. You can be coached in the comfort of your own living room from anywhere in the world. In some ways, coaching by phone or video is better than coaching in person. It’s more convenient, you have more choices among coaches, and you can really focus on the conversation.
If you consider the value of a good coaching session, then coaching isn’t expensive at all. How valuable is changing your life? How valuable is removing your obstacles, learning more about yourself, considering new perspectives, or creating a plan of action? The cost for coaching does vary from coach to coach. If you find a coach you can’t afford, keep looking until you find a coach you can afford. Professional coaching should be affordable and accessible to everyone who wants it. What you can’t afford is to not take the coaching journey.
Many coaches offer a free discovery or inquiry call as the starting point. Through the call, you can meet and decide if there’s a fit. If not, just keep looking, that’s the beauty of the discovery call. Once coaching begins, there’s no long-term commitment. Some coaches offer coaching packages for a series of sessions, but they don’t obligate the client to complete them. Try different coaches out. Just because someone calls themselves a life coach doesn’t mean you’re in it for life. Stay in it as long as it’s helpful.
Counseling often focuses on the past to relieve pains and heal wounds. On the other hand, coaching focuses on the future to realize goals and remove obstacles. While the goal of counseling is healing, the goal of coaching is fulfillment. Both approaches have the client’s needs at heart. However, coaching isn’t the same as counseling. Sometimes coaching is put on hold while the client works through counseling, then returns to coaching.
In mentoring, a mentee comes alongside a mentor to gain wisdom, learn skills, and adopt some part of the mentor’s life. The mentee asks questions so the mentor can pass down her specialized knowledge to the mentor. But coaching is different. It is the coach who asks the questions in order to spark insight from the client. Plus the coach need not be an expert in the client’s topic of interest; she need only be an expert in the coach approach.
Consulting is similar to mentoring—the expert offers advice in a specific domain in which he has expert knowledge. However, often the expert observes the client first to see what's not working. That's consulting. Coaching on the other hand, makes the client the expert. Who knows the client best but the client herself? The coach is there to observe, but mostly to point out what's right.
I encourage you to try out coaching and get past these myths.