How Do You Pick a Coach?

You know how it feels when you slip on a pair of jeans you’ve had forever and they fit just right like a second skin?

That’s what you want when you pick a coach.

You want to feel a fit with the person, who they are, and what unique skills they bring. No matter what tools we use, we all have a unique background and experience that goes into shaping who we are.

I once had a potential client tell me she had been looking for a year for a coach that ticked all her boxes about what was right for her and her circumstances and yet we didn’t work together in a coaching capacity because the parameters I set for having a safe space, made it not a fit for that time.

I’m a feeler, so I have to feel like it’s a fit and I’ll be honest, I’ve worked with coaches I wasn’t quite ready for, I jumped into the feel before I was ready. They were a fit but I wasn’t yet ready to surrender to their leadership. It felt like wearing a pair of jeans I had recline in to get them zipped. A fit but not quite comfortable and I fought that discomfort.

I’ve been working a lot with the idea of surrender and how that can lead you to your own unique greatness. I’ve learned that surrender in coaching is necessary. It’s not that you have to do everything your coach tells you, or suggests, or even that you need to find a fit in every aspect of who they are.

What you need is to be able to trust the process and to surrender into your own greatness.

It’s true what Marianne Williamson said, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

This is what surrender is. Trusting and allowing. This leads you into the greater truth of who you are and allows you to let go of what stands in your way of your full expression.

When you trust the person leading you, you can soften into the support they provide and allow yourself to be fully witnessed. It’s a gift you give yourself. It isn’t always easy.

The truth is there will likely be a moment when you don’t like your coach. You may want to tell them off, leave, or even create a situation where your change stalls. This is the sweet spot. This is the place where you are meeting your own deeper issue and projecting it out.

Surrendering in that moment though, it makes things happen super fast. It’s a barrier to break through and it takes bravery to get beyond that moment.

If you are looking for a coach, take your time, watch them and how they are when they post or send emails. See how aligned they are inside and out.

The coach that worked for your friend, or your colleagues, might not be a fit for you.

Watch yourself too and see how you respond, what buttons get pressed, what your strategy is when things get tough. Let your awareness guide you and allow the timing to be right.

When you surrender to the process, things can happen at lightening speed.

My first breakthrough session took six hours. My second was only two hours and 15 minutes. Sure, I had learned a few things and approached it a bit differently, but the main difference was in the client and her ability to openly surrender into the process. We met each other equally and it was like sliding into a pair of well-worn jeans.

How long will a breakthrough take for you? I can’t say for sure but I feel roughly 10 hours of time together can lead you to a breakthrough. The truth is most of the magic happens in the first 3-4 hours. The rest is cementing the shift.

Three Steps to Find Your Perfect Fit Coach

  1. Get really clear on what you want to accomplish with a coach. The more clear you can be, the easier it is to find someone who is an expert in getting what you want.
  2. Follow different coaches on social media, get to know them through their content and approach to life.  Look at their webpage, watch videos, even join their email list. That can help give you a feel for the person.
  3. Book a discovery call. Get to know that person. Now, it’s true some coaches use discovery calls to push sales, but not all of us do. Know you can always say no and if you are forced to say yes on the call when you aren’t sure, that might not be the coach for you. I’d rather have a chat with someone who is curious but doesn’t become a client than to sign on a client and find out afterwards that we aren’t a fit. I’ve been the client in that situation and I don’t want that for others.

Strategies and Behavior

Did you know that you have a strategy for how you do everything?

You may not know this but I once had pretty severe test anxiety. I was always a pretty good English student when I was in high school but then I went to college and I failed my first English class.

We had a grammar test we had to take weekly and I failed it each and every time.

In fact, I got worse with each subsequent week.

I knew I had to pass to pass the class. It didn’t matter how well I did on the other tests, or how well I wrote. Passing that test was a requirement.

So, I thought about it a lot.

I pictured myself taking it and how nervous and anxious I would feel.

I imagined red marks on the wrong answers and big red F at the top of the page.

I saw my mind going blank. I told myself I couldn’t learn grammar, that I was stupid, that everyone else would pass.

My hands would get all sweaty.

My guts would tie in knots.

That was my strategy to fail my grammar test and eventually my first English class. It worked really well too although that wasn’t the outcome I wanted.

And the key is, it all happened beneath the surface of my total awareness. All except the resounding sense of anxiety, fear and dread of taking tests.

Don’t worry, I later found a class that didn’t require a grammar test and I got an A. But I had already left that first experience with a strategy for test anxiety that because I did not know I had the strategy, it took a really long time to overcome.So, why is it important to know about strategies?

Because normally they run unconscious in the background creating all kinds of behavior.

Sometimes we label that behavior with words, as I did, like anxiety, which then limits what’s possible. Test anxiety created a box around what I thought was possible. I ran my test anxiety strategy for a long time and eventually, I became anxious going into classrooms, which impacted my college experience. It created new labels I gave myself and those labels created limits. It impacted my self esteem and what I thought was possible.

Now I know different. I can unpack my strategies, learn how I do them and make changes not only in how I label and respond to them but the meaning they have and whether I run them or not. To be honest, just having the awareness changes everything.

Some strategies can be helpful but others, like my test anxiety aren’t. Imagine if you overspend and could identify your shopping strategy. Or maybe you want to spend more time being creative and finish your novel or paint that painting but you find you always put it last on your list. There’s a strategy there keeping you from taking action.

This is one of the powers of coaching; unpacking unconscious strategies that are impacting your behavior and leading you away from what you consciously want for your life.

What is a Breakthrough?

When seeking coaching, one of the things you will notice is how different coaches approach and package their work. Some coaches work with a time commitment such as you may commit to a three month process. This could be either individual or group coaching.

Another option is to approach resolving a particular problem. This may happen in a singular session of several hours, or perhaps over a few sessions. One way to describe this is with the term Breakthrough.

In a Breakthrough a singular issue or problem is addressed and resolved. There is a thorough intake where the coach listens, not to the content, but to the structure beneath the content.

You see how you talk about a problem you are experiencing can be more important than the content. The way we use language gives hints and clues.

During a Breakthrough, it’s the structure that is most important. Say for example, you struggle with consistency in working on your business, or in following through on exercise, or maybe it’s how you relate to money.

In listening to how a a client answers questions about the situation, I listen for what is underneath the presenting issue, the thing the client may not be able to see themselves.

That’s where the real issue lies. It’s the part they can’t see, the unconscious part that is driving the behavior and the results they are getting that have become a problem in life.

Maybe the inconsistency issue, or not following through, or how the client relates to money really has to do with being seen, or showing up in the world, or even how the client sees their own value in the world.

Example of a physical breakthrough
when I learned to break a board with my hand.

When that reality shifts, changes happen throughout life.

When you have a problem, something you just can’t see your way through, a Breakthrough might be just the answer.

When the structure is changed, your whole world shifts.

The rest is clearing up emotions from past experience, eliminating limiting beliefs, integrating parts and coming to wholeness. Once you know the real problem, the rest has ease.

Then setting some goals to move you into your future.

This is why I am offering Breakthroughs in my coaching practice. Identifying the problem underneath the problem, addressing the subconscious, and changing the pattern, changes the behavior. It changes the need for ongoing support and accountability, although that can happen too if desired.

The Breakthrough though is where the deep work takes place and it can happen over a few hours and/or weeks. There is usually a quoted amount of time in which a Breakthrough can occur. It may be shorter or a bit longer and there is an opportunity for follow up with in a certain amount of time.

Accountability in a Breakthrough comes in the form of homework between sessions, or sometimes even before the work begins. It can be intense but the results are worth it as the shift in your life becomes apparent.

Coffee and Boundaries for Codependents

Boundaries are very important and often we think of setting boundaries as protecting ourselves but knowing, sharing, and enforcing our boundaries, no matter how small, can actually help to create safe space and trust for others.

One of the things I like to know about my friends is how they take their coffee. Having coffee with another is an intimate experience of getting to know someone that I truly enjoy and it warms my heart space.

“I will build your coffee but I won’t sit and drink it with you,” he said.

I’ve known him for ten years and this finalizing statement at first triggered some fear in me. If he wouldn’t have coffee with me, how can we stay friends? What if he was telling me that the long phone conversations we sometimes shared were no longer a fit for him? How could I fix this? What could I do to make this different?

All these messages, these stories I had about what he said and what it means happened in an instance. Almost too quickly to identify in the moment but I felt it in my body; the freezing and the tension.

But in the midst of my tense response, I also heard, “He goes for a walk.”

Oh yes, he does. I might sit and sip my coffee while we talk and he goes for a walk. I can hear the scuff of his boots and the crunch of leaves. He’s done it for a long time now. I felt myself relax in a new way, it wasn’t just the physical tightening of my body in response to the stories I had, I realized I could relax more because I could trust him to take care of himself.

It wasn’t my role to fix, figure it out, or decide how to make things different. I realized that his not wanting to have coffee with me wasn’t about his not wanting to spend time with me, in fact, it meant he really valued our conversations enough to find a way for it to work for him. It meant more that he was willing to do that than if he had capitulated and done something that was wrong for him just because it was correct for me.

The automatic messages I had from my mind were a result of my own filters and conditioning. It had nothing to do with his needs or desires. Had I acted in response to them, it may very well have hurt our long-standing friendship as I tried to make things better, or control, the situation.

I’m so grateful I have learned the skills I need to navigate my own behaviors and have had the realization that the only person I can change is myself. I’ve learned I can allow others to have their experience and that rushing to take care of things doesn’t always get me the response I desire. I value that I can help my coaching clients heal in a way that they can learn to do the same thing.

When we trust those we care about to take care of themselves, even if it doesn’t work out, we give them the opportunity to find their own way; to overcome challenges, to shift, and to grow. They also have to stop relying on us so much, which means we are free too. Change yourself and you change the world.

Today I was making my own coffee and as I waited for it to settle into my cup that says Trust on it. I texted him, “I was thinking of you while making my coffee and I thought about your coffee boundaries. I think I would take a clue from Ford for mine. I’d love to hear about your coffee preferences and I’d gladly make it for you, just the way you like it, as long as it’s black.”

“That sounds about right,” he responded.