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Top 10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Coach

Do you work with a coach?

If you do, congratulations! You have taken a step to create and achieve something special in your life. There is a reason why the most successful people on the planet – in any field – work with a coach (sometimes several). It is really hard to see ourselves objectively. A coach’s role is help us uncover and unlock the best version of ourself, in alignment with our goals.

If you are in a coaching relationship right now, or are considering one in the future, be sure to apply these 10 tips to get the most out of your coach. Working with a coach is an investment of your previous time and money. Make sure you are getting what you need out of it!

1) Talk about what matters most to you

Don’t beat around the bush when talking with your coach. If you have a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) in your mind, don’t keep it a secret. Ensure that you and your coach are on the same page with what you want to achieve in the future. You coach should actively be checking in with you on your goals, but it is up to you to be up front with what matters most to you. As your goals shift and change over time, keep your coach informed!

2) Focus on your “Why?”

Simon Sinek has popularized the use of the Golden Circle as a method for storytelling. The truth is, the method is useful for much more than just telling a story. Knowing your “Why” will help you uncover the things that are intrinsically motivating to you. As important as the act of taking action is to produce results, make sure that every single action (the “What’s” and the “How’s”) is anchored to a strong reason “Why”. This will ensure follow through and commitment over the long run.

3) Be impeccable with your word

Words have immense power. Being impeccable with your word is more than just honesty. It is about seeing what is really happening and being brutally honest in your coaching work. If you didn’t take actions you committed to take, be truthful about it. If you are feeling unsure about a direction the coaching relationship is taking, be honest about that. If you are seeing success in your coaching arise, be up front about that as well! Don’t sugar coat things. There is no success or failure in your coaching. There is only problems that are waiting to be solved.

4) Feel coached during your entire week, not just during your session

Coaching sessions for my clients typically last 45 minutes and are held 3-4 times per month. The power of coaching is that the real benefits arise outside of the coaching session, not within it. Whatever you learn during your coaching, apply it throughout the week. You should feel coached all the time, not just during your alloted session.

5) Take notes and do your homework

This is NOT a necessity, as you can make plenty of progress without taking notes or doing any homework. However, if you are serious about making massive progress and solving your toughest problems, it pays to do your homework. Keep a notebook (I use Evernote) with summaries of every coaching session. Journal out homework exercises. Keep track of what is working and what isn’t. If you are working on building a new healthy habits (e.g. waking up early, meditating every day) keeping a written log is a necessity until the habit becomes automatic (on average this takes 66 days).

6) Use your coaching to create the time, income and lifestyle you need

The most common reasons people don’t get a coach (or work with anyone to improve any part of their life) is that they claim that they either don’t have money or don’t have time to invest in a coaching relationship. If money or time are holding you back from working with a coach, bring up those specific issues as barriers and see what your coach can help you do about it. There are many tools that can be used to gain back productive time, or work through a path to greater income. All it takes is your willingness to work on solutions to these problems with a coach.

7) Communicate what is working and what isn’t

There are times when things won’t work as you expect. For example, maybe your coach is not focusing on the things you want to focus on. Perhaps the coaching is heavy on use of visualization exercises but not providing enough written and logical thinking tools that you find easier to grasp. Perhaps he or she is not clear on the logistics of your coaching calls or your regularly scheduled meeting time isn’t convenient any more. Whatever the issue is, be clear and communicate what is working and what isn’t. Remember, the coach is there for you, not the other way around!

8) Don’t take things personally

Whatever shows up during a coaching conversation is designed to support your highest purpose and goals. Sometimes that will require your coach  to “call you out” if you are ducking and dodging your commitments. Remember, you are hiring your coach to be objective and support you. Most of the time that will require only encouragement, but sometimes it will require some poking and prodding! Don’t take it personally.

9) Learn the difference between participation and commitment

Are you fully commitment in your coaching relationship? If you are just a willful participant you will not see significant results. There is a massive difference between just participating and being fully committed. Dr. Steven Berglas relays the difference stunningly in his article in the Harvard Business Review:

“There’s a huge difference between participating….and being committed…; it’s like a bacon and egg breakfast. The chicken participates in the breakfast. The pig, on the other hand, was fully committed.”

10) Get out of your own way

Coaching exists as a growing field because it works. Literally millions of people of all walks of life have transformed their lives and businesses by working with someone who can help them see what they can’t see on their own. Change is hard, mainly because we get in our own way. Fear and resistance to change shows up regardless of how compelling your future vision may be. Doubt arises. Perspective of ourselves is limited.

Don’t believe me? Try closing your eyes for the next 5 minutes in silence. Notice how many thoughts show up without your prompting. How many of those thoughts are helpful? How many are not?

The more adept you can be at getting out of your own way and going with the process instead of resisting it, the faster and more profound your success will be. Your inner voice, be it positive, neutral or negative (or more likely a mix of all three) will never go away completely, but you can cultivate a practice of hearing it objectively and still moving forward in your most empowering direction.