Hugely successful public figures from Oprah Winfrey to Bill Clinton, Leonardo DiCaprio and Hugh Jackman to Bill Gates all work extensively with a life coach. But why? In my experience there are 6 factors that bring high achieving people to coaching. In an interview with Fortune magazine, Eric Schmidt, chairman of Alphabet (formerly CEO of Google) said: “everyone needs a coach.” I don’t agree. While there May be several factors that bring successful people to coaching, there are also good reasons why certain people should not hire a coach. Let’s start with these.
Why Not To Hire A Coach
1. I want someone to fix what’s wrong with my life
The right coach will ask questions, listen, and reflect what they hear. They will challenge you to think in new and more resourceful ways, but a coach will not “solve” anything for you.
Maintaining balance in your life takes a huge commitment on your part. A coach can bring some great tools and resources for success, but this isn’t enough. If you’re not prepared to commit to doing the heavy lifting yourself, even the best coach can’t help you.
2. I need help with deep-seated psychological issues
Most coaches are not therapists. A coach will focus primarily on looking toward your future, finding new ways of acting and thinking, rather than dealing too much with your past. If you are dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, or mental illness, you need a trained therapist.
3. I’d like a wise friend
Family and friends have great intentions, but they are not impartial. Being too close to your situation can limit their vision to see areas you may need to improve on. So a good coach is not your friend. If you’re looking only for collusion and affirmation, coaching may not be right for you.
And now for the factors that bring high achieving people to coaching.
Why To Hire A Coach
4. Something wonderful has happened
Change, even for “the better” can be exciting and challenging, terrifying and disorientating. A decision in one area of your life inevitably causes ripples in others. A new job, for instance, could affect your health, relationships, where you live and how you spend your free time.
Transitions often challenge us to re-examine our sense of who we are or the capabilities we’ve taken for granted. It can be painful to let go of what you know, especially if you feel you “should” be incredibly happy and you aren’t. Working with the right coach can help you examine the constructs and inner worlds you’ve created in the past.
5. Something terrible has happened
Whether you’ve been fired, your business has failed, your kids have left home or you’re going through menopause, most of us want to avoid grief at all costs and attempt to force our way through these times, only to end up living with an undercurrent of resentment and depression for much longer.
Taking the time to grieve traumatic changes in your life can lessen the amount of time you spend in despair. A qualified coach can provide a compassionate and safe place for you to grieve.
If you are dismantling the structures of home, marriage or career a professional coach can help you learn from your struggle to expand and move forward.
6. Nothing Is Happening
“Something bad has happened to everybody on the planet. But if you continue to tell that story to yourself, that that is who you are, it will continue to be true. But it doesn’t have to be that way” - Hugh Jackman
Perhaps you keep trying to improve your situation and nothing seems to be working.
To achieve the results you want, you will mostly need to change your attitudes or underlying beliefs. The beginning of a new coaching relationship is an ideal time to strip back accumulated layers of identity.
Fear of failing is the biggest killer of plans and ideas. More than a lack of knowledge or skill, more than the lack of a clear strategy or action plan, the biggest obstacle in the way of progress is the paralysis caused by the fear of failing.
Few people are willing to knowingly risk failure. Yet failing at any action, even failing to take action, is a rich learning opportunity.
When you feel stuck in a loop, the right coach will help you dissolve self-limiting patterns and beliefs, break out of self-defeating assumptions and re-frame the competing drives which hold you stuck.
7. I want to make it happen
“Everyone needs a coach. We all need people that give us feedback. That’s how we improve” - Bill Gates
There is something in your life you desperately want but you are frozen by the enormity and implications of making such a monumental change.
You may feel like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff where it feels impossible to either keep hold or leap off. Often self-limiting behavior shows up strongest just when you need the courage to take risks for the sake of change.
A great coach can work with you to stay on track and overcome actions that sabotage your desires, plans, and dreams. They’ll support you through the fear, resistance, and panic that can arise when you are creating something exciting and new, especially when it comes to your primary relationships.
8. I’m stuck
“Coaching helps you stop the crazy mind chatter in your head that tells you all the time that you’re not good enough” - Oprah Winfrey
You may see yourself as blocked, at a crossroads or out of options. You may feel defeated, resigned or confused and your point of view is often the main contributing factor to the blocked, stuck, or stalled way you’re feeling.
Learning how to identify and dissolve painful beliefs that are running in the background can move you out of helplessness and clear up a lot of confusion.
A trained coach will work with you to get clear about what fulfillment would be for you. In the big picture, fulfillment is about living a life that is valued, purposeful, and alive, and balance is about choosing a life that is in action, aligned with a compelling vision.
9. I need help figuring out “What’s next?”
Perhaps you’ve just walked out on the wrong job or ended a bad relationship. Congratulations. You may not have figured out what’s next but letting go of empty bragging rights and defining what you don’t want is the first step.
An expert coach will lead the discovery process and support you in re-organizing around a larger sense of self as you prepare for a new passage of your life.
Because a coach is on your side in this exploration, they can ask powerful questions that breakthrough your old defenses. When you learn to be curious about your life, you will become more willing to look in the dark places and take on challenges that once seemed scary.