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Can The Right Life Coach Really Help You Succeed?

Yes, says this author and coach. (But still, he makes some good points.)

Okay, let’s just say it; there are those who think hiring a coach for their lives is a ridiculous concept. They might say things like, "Why do I need someone to tell me what to do?" and "How can somebody know more about my life than me?" Well, if coaching is a ridiculous concept, it sure is a popular one—the Harvard Business Review says the coaching industry generates $1 billion dollars a year.

Of course, the real question is—how profitable is it for coaching clients?

Meet Deborah Gaines, who had a life coach hired for her by a friend who thought she needed one. Gaines was a freelance writer with an unemployed husband and a couple of kids to take care of; she was desperate to earn more money to save her household from drowning in red ink. Her coach saved the day. Even better than that, he bet on her success—by linking how high his fee was to how much she earned as a result of his advice. Ten years later, she’s still working with him because he pushed her to a new level of success that she still enjoys today.

Yet some are put off by the potential expense of hiring a quality coach. Well, according to an ICF Global Coaching Client Study, individual clients experienced an average ROI (Return on Investment) of 3.44 times their coaching fees they paid.

Why does the right coach make such a big difference?

Because he or she can provide the insight and inspire the motivation you yourself may have been missing. Most people can’t even see the roadblocks they’ve got in their mind that stand in the way of their own success stories; the right coach can see through your self-imposed limits and push you through them, enabling you to reach such all-important goals as improved performance, higher productivity, increased profitability and the ability to engage in more philanthropy.

Here are a few ways a life coach could (and should) challenge you to reach greater heights:

•Setting Priorities and Creating Action Plans

When you’ve got a lot on your plate, it’s hard to know what to stick a fork in first. But setting priorities and taking tasks on in the proper order is a crucial part of success. The right coach can help you get focus on what you should be getting done, instead of what maybe should be down at the bottom of your list.

Tackling Your Top Issue

Speaking of priorities, you’re probably aware of the number one thing that, once resolved, would have the biggest positive impact on your business and your life. It could be an internal issue. (Here are four common ones) that you can’t get past, or it could be a large project that you can’t seem to get around to accomplishing. If you’re at a standstill when it comes to something that could improve your life, a coach has several proven methods to help break down whatever’s blocking you—no matter what age you happen to be.

Asking High-Impact Questions

High-impact questions are questions that are designed for you to come at an issue from a different angle—and create an urgency that leads you to take action. They are never questions that can be answered with a yes or no, nor are they questions that don’t really have answers. Instead, they are worded to prompt real grounded thinking about whatever aspect of your life you’re concerned about. A trained coach will ask those questions and look for you to come up with answers that make sense.

Here are the three elements of a high-impact question:

  • It’s simple and direct, and it deals with reality instead of speculation.
  • It encourages creative thinking at a deeper level.
  • It requires self-reflection.

Performing Root Cause Analysis

When there’s a family of skunks living under your home, you can spray all the Febreze you want into the air, but, trust me, that smell isn’t going away for long!
Similarly, in your personal or business life, you may be trying to attack a symptom (smell) rather than the cause of that symptom (skunks). For example, maybe your sales are down, so you lower the price—when it turns out the real reason for your revenue downturn is the fact that your competitor has suddenly come out with a better product or a stronger advertising campaign.

Root Cause Analysis forces you to look at the skunks and not the smell. You may be reluctant to tackle the real problem, perhaps because it seems too large to solve. Well, one way or another, it has to be addressed—or it will usually grow and grow until it actually is too big to solve.

By the way, Root Cause Analysis doesn’t just apply to negative situations—it can also be used for positive ones. When things are going very well, it’s good to note what’s causing better times so you can leverage that base strength in the future.

No matter how far up the ladder you happen to be, you still may have the nagging feeling you’re not realizing your full potential. That’s when a coach can really come in handy, helping you to identify your strengths and weaknesses and to modify circumstances that may be holding you back.

There’s a reason why the top athletes hire teams of coaches to improve their skills—because they require somebody else’s trained, objective eye to see what they themselves can’t.

[Image: Flickr user Foxcroft Academy]

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  • Paul Tracy

    Thank you for the fair representation of my profession! I'm a professional performance coach and a member of the International Coach Federation. The question you brought up regarding cost versus return is very common. The analogy I use is that anyone can go to a gym and get in shape. Some people, however, will also invest in a personal trainer because they want direction and want to see progress more quickly. Hiring a coach is the same; an investment towards greater results in your career or life in general.

    Every coach has a different style and it's important that anyone interested in hiring one spend some time getting to know their potential coach before signing up. A coaching engagement can be a long-term commitment and if you can't form a collaborative relationship with your coach, then you won't see the expected return.

  • The Crazy Trucker

    ` Great article Ethan.  I definitely got a lot from getting certified as a life coach and even more from helping others using some of the concepts that I learned in the process.  People who dismiss the benefits of a using a good Life Coach are probably prime candidates that would benefit the most.

  • Ethan Hale

     Thank you for reading and commenting. It means a lot to me and I thought others in this field, or contemplating hir ing a coach, might gain some real value from it. I know it is a bit self serving but I thought it was worth sharing.

  • Mark Edward Brown

    Ethan, I truly enjoyed your article and agree that "High Ipact Questions" are critical to being an in demand coach.  Thanks for your insight!

    ~Coach Mark Edward Brown