I speak to lots of people about coaching and find there is quite a bit of confusion over what exactly coaching is. This isn’t entirely surprising, coaching itself is a relatively new field and much of what people understand from the term coaching comes from sports where the use of the word is applied differently. So, in this blog I am going to clear up some of the most common misconceptions I hear about coaching.
Coaching is the same as Mentoring
Coaching and mentoring are often confused. Usually people think that both coaching and mentoring involve someone older and wiser giving you advice about what to do. This is often true in mentoring but not necessarily true for coaching. A mentor is usually someone who has achieved success beyond what you have achieved and is willing to provide you with advice on how to reach the same or similar goals. Often organisations implement mentorship programmes where senior staff can mentor more junior staff. The mentor can offer you advice because they have been where you have been and achieved what you want to achieve. They have been there and got the t-shirt. It is of course up to you if you take their advice or not. You could have mentors for different parts of your life – for example you might have a health and fitness mentor who has achieved success in their physical life or a wealth mentor who has achieved financial success. A mentor usually has a desire to see you succeed because they have a bond with you and believe in you. They should be someone who can fight your corner and might even use their connections to find opportunities for you.
Your coach on the other hand does not have to have achieved what you want to achieve. The coach can have a different background to you and may have no knowledge of your industry. This can often be an advantage in coaching as it helps the coach detach from the issues and focus on you and your behaviours. The coach is there is to question you, challenge you and get you to think creatively and learn more about yourself. They don’t need to know the technical of your industry in order to do that. Whereas the mentor is focussed on the content of what you say the coach is more focussed on the process. They are looking for shifts in you to see where your emotions are at, they are noticing your patterns of thinking to help you improve and spotting signs of beliefs that may be holding you back. They reflect back your parts of you that you might not want to see and challenge you in a different way to how the mentor will challenge you.
Both the coach and mentor are valuable and if you are serious about your success you should seek out both
A coach will provide ideas about what to do
People often come to coaching with the expectation that the coach will bring their own ideas and experiences to the table. This is not something you should expect from your coach. In coaching we work on the basis that all the answers you need are within you already. You are the person who knows the most about your life, work and relationships. Therefore, you are the best placed person to know what to do. The coach’s role is to help you think of things you hadn’t thought of before by asking probing and at times, difficult questions. The coach will reflect back to your aspects of your personality and behaviours that you might be blind to, this might include inconsistencies and flaws you choose not to see. A key element of coaching is helping people to take accountability and responsibility for themselves – the coach does not help you by giving you what they think are the right answers – after all they could be wrong.
I am too busy for Coaching
Some people are so busy churning away on the hamster wheel that they argue, they don’t have enough time for coaching. Coaching is an hour of your time once a month. In a month, think of all the other things you find an hour to do. Time spent on Facebook? Reading the news? Snacking on junk foods? An hour spent coaching is an hour spent brainstorming on your strategies to achieve goals, understanding why things haven’t worked out in the past and plotting new ways forward and figuring out how to work smarter not harder. Lots of people find 5 hours a week to spend at the gym improving their physical body but are unable to make an hour a month to sharpen their mind. We think this is a false economy. When you are busy the temptation is just to keep going, but do you take time to stop and reflect if you are working on the right things or doing things in the right way? Coaching provides some much-needed higher level perspective taking to make sure you are on the right track. When you are busy is the time your relationships and other parts of your life are more likely to suffer, and coaching can help ensure you attain balance in your whole life.
A coach is someone you have for a long time
A manager or a mentor may be with you and supporting you for an extended period of time. A coach is probably someone who you engage for a specific period of time. The coach is helping, you to meet some specific goals and there will be a clear start and end to the relationship. Of course, you may decide you want continued support from your coach but move to less frequent sessions. The coach is there to get you in the right direction and performing in a way that is propelling you towards success.
Coaching is for people with Problems
Coaching can absolutely help you if you are facing particular difficulties or challenges in your life or work. But that isn’t an essential. Coaching is there to elevate you to the next level in your life. Wherever you are starting from there is room for improvement. The extremely successful such as Tony Robbins and Bill Gates are just a couple of the advocates of coaching and say that everyone needs a coach no matter what their current level of success. If you are operating at an excellent level, coaching will take you to outstanding.
Did you hold any of these myths about coaching? Do you think coaching could help you to achieve your next level of success?
In celebration of International Coaching week we currently have a special offer on coaching – a free session when you sign up to any of our coaching packages.