October 26, 2017

How to Find a Coach

As a friend said to me recently, it seems like everyone and their neighbor is a life coach these days. So one option is to throw a dart and hire the person you just mortally wounded. I wouldn’t, though. Chemistry matters, and a good match between you and the coach’s philosophy and methodology. It helps if they make you laugh (or maybe what I mean is, it helps me when they make me laugh). Similar energy levels matter. Some coaches are soooo…mellow…and some are SO UPBEAT and some are constantly giving affirmations and some talk a lot.

The upshot is that finding the right coach for you is, no surprise, a nuanced combination of art, science, and dumb luck.

There’s the question of what you’re hoping to achieve through coaching. Again, not surprisingly, we have niches. Lots of them. Perhaps needlessly long lists of them. Finding a coach specializing in what you’re hoping to achieve can be useful. I say “can be” because frankly, I think good chemistry beats a niche every single time. As they say, no matter what you start out coaching about, after the third session, it’s all “life coaching.”

Sure, but how do you actually, physically, find a coach? Where’s the list of coachesThe International Coach Federation has a searchable database of ICF-credentialed coaches around the world. There’s apparently a thing that kids use these days called Google, I think I got that name right. Your employer or a funder will perhaps have their go-to lists. All of these options: cool. To a point, and then…limited.

As in pretty much all other services of such a personal nature, your best bet is to get a referral from someone you trust. Ask around, post on social media, notice whose name keeps coming up, you know the drill.

And then once you have those referrals, ask good questions. CompassPoint’s tips for hiring a coach is on point. This fellow thinks therapy is better than coaching, and even though he’s woefully mistaken about that in my thoroughly unbiased opinion, he still makes a lot of good points.

And finally, trust your gut. And post-finally, know that regardless of who you decide to work with, you’re the one who’s going to do the work. Coaching ain’t for the faint-of-heart. As long as the coach is nominally qualified and follows a process, it almost doesn’t matter who it is, and anyway, the vast majority of real work happens between sessions when you’re ruminating and practicing.

And there you have it, the ultimate answer: somewhere between “it’s vitally important that you do the research to hire a coach who you’re truly in sync with” and “in the end it doesn’t matter who you hire, TBH, as long as they follow the process” is the answer to how to hire a coach. You think I’m joking, or at the very least, exaggerating. I’m not.

Stay tuned for an elucidation of the above principle in a follow-up addendum.

In the meantime, up next!

What to expect from coaching.

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