There are still a lot of misunderstandings around coaching — what it is, who it’s for and the types of coaches out there. Not all coaches are created equally. As you’re considering your first (or next) coach, keep these myths in mind about coaching.

In today’s virtual, work-from-home environment, agents are seeking training and coaching in entirely new ways. In August, we’re laser-focused on what defines good coaching today and how to get the most out of it.

A couple of weeks ago Hugh Jackman was interviewed on Tim Ferriss’s podcast. They touched on a lot of topics, including his favorite books, puzzles, meditation, the early days of acting, morning routines and more. One of the things that really stood out to me was how often Jackman referenced his life coach, Lauren Zander, when talking about some of the biggest personal (and subsequently, professional) gains he’s made over the past couple of years. Hell, if Wolverine, I mean Hugh Jackman, doesn’t inspire you to get serious about coaching, what could!? 

There are still a lot of misunderstandings around coaching — what it is, who it’s for and the types of coaches out there. Not all coaches are created equally. It’s essential to take the time to interview several coaches to decide who the right fit is for you, based on where you are in your life and career. As you’re considering your first (or next) coach, keep these myths about coaching in mind: 

1. Business coaches can only help you reach business goals, and life coaches can only help you reach personal goals

That might be true if you have decided to work with a very niche coach. However, I believe that the best coaches operate with a more holistic approach. Look, you’re one human. The stuff that you don’t like about yourself at home is bound to show up at the office. And the challenges you are experiencing at home can’t help but leak into your work.

Sure, they might show up differently, but the common denominator is you. Business coaches should absolutely look at the whole picture. Business is a part of your life, and it may require specific strategies, as does leadership, relationships, your health and energy, etc.

Can we really separate life from business? Or business from life? The principles of coaching transcend industry or life category. If you have a personal goal to own a beach house and spend summers there with your family, then you better have some great business coaching to help you get there.

And if you want to become a leader who attracts a higher level of talent to your organization, then you better have some great personal coaching to help you get there. You get the point! When you’re looking for a coach, make sure he or she is coaching the whole human, the whole you. The rest is just details. 

2. Your coach needs to be an expert in exactly what you are trying to accomplish

Some of the greatest coaches weren’t the greatest of players. Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots’ coach, played at a small university and never went pro. Vince Lombardi, coach of the Green Bay Packers, had a short pro stint and then studied law before getting into coaching.

These are only two of hundreds of examples of coaches who had enough knowledge of the sport to be dangerous but hadn’t made being the best player their mission. Their mission was to be the best coach.

Doing and coaching are separate skills. It’s tempting to want to be coached by the best “player” in the industry, but often times they have spent so much time honing their skills in sales, acting, football, etc., that they don’t actually have the skills needed to coach you to success.

Look for a coach who has broad knowledge in the industry or area you are looking to grow in. But more importantly, who has a track record of success helping other people reach their goals. That is more of an indication of their success as a coach than their own accomplishments. 

3. Coaching is a luxury 

Yes, sometimes coaching can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many different options for coaching: one-on-one, group programs or cohorts — all at varying price points. If you are committed to growing yourself, then you can find a program that fits in your budget — right now.

You do not need to wait to hit a certain income goal to get into coaching. In fact, investing into coaching now can help you fast track your personal, business and income goals. Regardless, of the cost, coaching is not a luxury. If you really want to grow as a person, break through limiting beliefs, rewrite the stories you are telling yourself and ultimately get where you want to go, then coaching can be the fastest way to get there. 

4. Successful people don’t need coaches. Coaching is just for people who have problems  

Nope. I would argue that the opposite is true. Coaching is about making positive changes, optimizing your life and becoming the person you want to be. And I’ll let you in on a little secret — successful people have “problems” too. Success and problems are not mutually exclusive. If you’re human, you’re going to have challenges. Embrace it!

Personal growth is for everyone. Even the most successful people have coaches — sometimes more than one. And what does success mean, anyway? Sure, someone can appear to be successful based on material possessions, but maybe they need leadership coaching.

Perhaps you have huge success with your family and relationships, but your business isn’t quite where it needs to be to hit your retirement goals — business coaching it is! Success is relative. Success isn’t what you are really after. Growth is. Progress, not perfection. Coaches guide you on your growth journey, no matter where you are starting from. 

5. Coaches only ask questions

It’s true that a key part of being a great coach is asking powerful questions, but that’s not all coaches do. I can’t think of anything worse than an hour-long coaching session where all my coach did was ask question after question after question.

Sure, I may find a few answers along the way, but a great coaching session is a conversation. Questions are asked and answered. Patterns of thought and behavior are reflected back at you. More questions are asked. Your thinking is challenged. Information and advice is shared. And action plans are developed.

Coaching shouldn’t be confused with training. Training is when information is shared on a specific topic with a pre-determined framework and lesson. Coaching shouldn’t be confused with consulting. Consultants provide an expert opinion, coupled with strategies, to fix a specific problem. 

Although training and consulting can show up in coaching from time to time, coaching is its own brand of personal and professional development focused on the individual at a point in time. Yes, coaches ask questions, but it is so much more. Coaches are your guide on your journey of transformation. The only thing that is specific to coaching is you. 

Let’s recap: Coaches do not need to be experts in the field that they are coaching in. Coaching is an investment, not an expense. Everyone can benefit from a coach, not just successful people or those with “problems.” Coaches do a lot more than just ask questions: They train, consult, challenge your thinking, hold you accountable, create action plans and more. A holistic approach to coaching will give you the biggest return on your investment. 

A great coach will create an individualized plan based on your specific goals to help you get where you want to go. Sometimes, the first step with your coach will simply be to identify what you want and why you actually want that. Then, along the way, there will be some tough love, accountability, mindset shifts, and a lot of uncomfortable conversations. I believe that business is nothing but a conduit for your personal growth. Coaches help you grow.  

Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s holistic approach to business here.

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