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Five Tips for Picking a Life Coach

Sometimes we get a gut feeling about something and we can't necessarily explain it. I think coaching is a bit like that. It's about getting a gut feeling and following it.

And so picking a coach is a tough job. There are a lot out there who all sound very similar but are somehow different and you don't really have the time to try out everyone.

Having been on both sides of this equation, I'd say there's a couple of things to bear in mind. Here is my view on things:

Training and/or qualifications

It's an accredited industry but not a regulated one. This means that training and subsequent training in life coaching is optional and not mandatory. If you're looking to avoid Jeremy from Peep Show experiences, I suggest you ask or check if they've got any accreditations or relevant experience. There are a lot of coaching schools and each one has their own process to certification. After that, coaches can take additional training courses in specific focusses or go on to get their ACC with the International Coaching Federation or join another professional body like the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. Theses are badges they are likely to promote on their sites or socials or can be fact checked!

Summary - there's a lot of ways a coach can be trained and so find out if they have had any training.

Try it first

Most if not all coaches offer a version of their coaching for free in a discovery session. This is a free, no strings attached amount of time where you speak with them so that you can meet and experience their coaching for yourself. Rapport in coaching is important. If you do not vibe with or enjoy talking to this person, it is unlikely to be a good space for either of you. Be aware of what you feel in this time and listen to it - coaching sessions are hard. They contain a lot of challenge and growth and for this to work, you have to be open to this person working with you.

Summary - try it for free as you need to have good rapport so you are happy to open up and take subsequent action.

They aren't a mentor

Coaching is a space created by you and the coach so that you can explore what is going on for you and come to agreed action(s). They are not going to tell you what to do or necessarily how to do it. They will listen, spot patterns in what you say, reflect and ask challenging questions. It is a partnership and so you are expected to take that action between sessions! This means that the answers come from you (yes I know that can be annoying) but it also means it is more effective.

Summary - they won't tell you what to do and you will have to do things.

Experience is personal

I have found that a coach having relevant experience to what you are going through is more of a personal preference than a requirement. Coaches are neutral - they will not 'get in the sandpit with you' their job is to figure out how you want to get out. Someone who hasn't got your experience may ask more curious questions that you may not have considered. Someone who shares in your experiences may be familiar with patterns specific to it. There are pros and cons to both - in my experience, I have found a values match to be much more valuable.

Summary - if they have a similar lived experience to you, it is up to you if that is important.

"It is a partnership and so you are expected to take that action between sessions!"

What's their focus

We are all lead by our values to some degree. I care about finding joy for people. Other people talk about balance or confidence. Each of these coaches could work with you but their guiding light is likely to come back to their core value. Being aware of this can be useful so look out for their terminology as this will give you clues around what to expect in their coaching.

Summary - does their core value match yours?

So to summarise, the above is all optional but good to be aware of for your next coach search. Coaching is an investment and so picking the person that's a good match for you is worth the hunt. Book in some free calls, listen to your gut and hit start when you know you're ready to dedicate some time to making change.

When Iooking for a coach:

  1. Find out about training or qualifications

  2. Try it for free so you know if you have rapport

  3. Don't expect them to be something they aren't

  4. Decide if relevant experience is important

  5. Know what their driving value is

Let me know your experiences of looking for a coach. Or, if you want to put me to the test, you can book a call for free here.

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