How to Find Your Coach

“You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be.” — Andy Stanley, The Next Generation

I’ve been on a journey of looking for a “coach” most of my adult life. Most of my life I had this vague notion of a “mentor father figure guru dude” who would help me become a superman, but for some reason was never able to find that person. I know tons of other people who are also searching for this elusive guru figure. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned in the process.

What a Coach is NOT:

  1. A coach is not a guru to magically transform you
  2. An Übermensch who is great at everything (a combination of Steve Jobs, Tony Robbins, Michael Jordan, and Jesus Christ)
  3. A counselor — if you need psychological counseling, trauma counseling, or if you have some unhealthy habits or thinking that you need to work through, find a pastor or a counselor. A coach is for healthy people looking to get better at something.
  4. They are not someone who is better than you are — this is a myth. Tiger Woods’ golf coach has never been better than Tiger Woods at golf. What his coaches have been are experts at teaching golf, not necessarily at playing golf.
  5. A coach is not a mentor, an advisor, a Dad, or a friend, or a consultant — they might end up doing some of these things, but this is not what they are supposed to be. You should have lots of mentors and advisers in your life (heck, a mentor could be a book you read or someone on a podcast). A coach is not just a mentor.
  6. Someone who has to spend hours and hours with you every week — it’s a myth that a coach has to be at your beck and call at any given moment

What a coach is:

  1. An expert at teaching something very specific (again reference #4 above) — key word “teaching”. There are many people who are great at certain things, but they are TERRIBLE TEACHERS.
  2. Someone who will watch and listen.

Before you start, have the right mindset:

  1. Be specific — decide exactly what it is you want coaching for.
  2. Be ready to hear what you don’t want to hear.
  3. Be ready to act on the advice, to do.
  4. Be ready to pay.

How to find your coach:

  1. Don’t ask just anyone — ask the most successful people you know who their coach is, and go talk to that person.
  2. Look outside your circles at who are the best coaches in the field you are looking for help with.
  3. Interview them, and have them interview you — don’t enter into the relationship lightly. Make sure your values are aligned, and make sure they have your respect so that they can call you out and tell you hard things.
  4. Make sure they have a framework and a process — it could be a very loose process, but I’ve found that if the coach is just shooting from the hip it isn’t that helpful.
  5. Pay them what they are worth — we tend to appreciate what we sacrifice for, and this ensures commitment on both parties. Plus, the good ones usually have all the business they need, so it will have to be worth their time. A great coach is probably more expensive than you might think. That’s OK, they’re worth it.

I truly believe in the power of outside input. Studies have shown that our friends know us and rate us more accurately than we rate ourselves. Someone outside our own head often has the distinct advantage of being able to see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Tap into that power, for personal growth.

I’ve had many coaches in my life. I’ve had baseball coaches, basketball coaches, sales coaches, business coaches, a life coach, a golf coach, and even a running coach. They were all hired professionals, who got paid to do what they do (with the exception of little league). It can be an incredibly rewarding, and life-changing experience if you have the right expectations.

A coach is someone who is in your life to intentionally help you maximize your potential in a certain area. Could be life, sports, business, public speaking, leadership, anything. They are not your own personal Übermensch. That “superman” is like the Yeti. I’ve heard that people have seen him, but I’ve never seen one. They are not necessarily better at anything than you are, other than coaching. They come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes an unassuming, humble, listener who doesn’t look like much on paper can teach us things we never imagined. Keep an open mind when looking for this coach.

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