If you cringe a little when you hear the word “coaching,” you’re not alone.
In the last 20 years or so, the coaching market has exploded. Everywhere you look, there are executive leadership coaches, social media coaches, dating coaches, “life” coaches….
But are they really helpful? Could you benefit from hiring a coach?
The short answer: It depends.
The Baggage Around Coaching
Many of the coaches out there are highly qualified and experienced…and may even be certified in some way. But others seem to stumble into coaching—especially life coaching—when they can’t find another career path that works for them.
I’m a big believer in the magic of youth, but c’mon: does a 21-year-old with a BA in comparative literature and zero work experience REALLY have the wisdom to guide other people on their “life’s journey?”
Maybe that’s why coaching isn’t always taken seriously.
It’s a shame because sometimes the right coach can make all the difference.
What a Coach Can Do
There is no one-size-fits-all form of coaching, but generally, coaches offer some mix of the following benefits:
Provide a different perspective
This is one thing all coaches offer right off the bat. Sometimes simply having another person to talk is valuable when you’re feeling stuck. You’d be surprised how much clarity you get when you’re forced to articulate your challenges to someone else. As Charles Kettering famously said, “A problem well defined is half solved.”
Yet, unlike simply talking to a friend, a coach is paid to listen to your problems, so they’re more likely to be fully engaged…and to keep listening to you, even when you start to repeat yourself.
Share expert experience or insider information
Coaches can also help accelerate learning in a particular area. Take my friend Ryan Michler, who runs Order of Man. When he started his business, he knew he didn’t want to wait years before making a profit. So what did he do? Instead of blindly trying to “figure things out” he hired a social media coach. Then he also started working with a business coach. Tapping into that expertise helped him rapidly get up to speed and grow his channel at a phenomenal rate.
Help clarify your goals and plans
Sometimes we hatch plans for world domination, but once we try to execute on them, we feel like we’re hitting our heads against a brick wall. Often, that’s because we haven’t properly articulated our goals…or we’re focusing on the wrong goals entirely. Other times, our goals may be perfect, but our plan to achieve them is lacking or unrealistic. A coach can help spot where the trouble is.
Teach you how to communicate more effectively
Not surprisingly, many of our life’s problems come down to communication, pure and simple. Coaches can teach you ways of breaking through barriers you are having with others, by helping you become a better listener and communicator in general. But the more subtle way they can help is by changing the way you communicate with yourself. As world-class athletes know, if your inner voice isn’t aligned with your goals, then you have a long, hard road ahead.
Keep you accountable and on track
Finally, coaches are fabulous for helping you keep on track so you actually make progress. Anyone who’s had a workout partner or any other type of “accountability partner” knows how powerful it is when someone else is regularly checking in on your progress. When you’re the only one who’s paying attention, it’s easy to under-deliver or blow off a milestone. But when someone else is keeping you honest, it’s a whole different story.
Are Coaches Worth It?
Right about now you might be thinking, Okay this sounds pretty good, but is it really worth the money to hire a coach?
Again, the answer is, it depends.
In the best-case scenario, you’re hiring a coach because you anticipate that you will gain as much value as what you are spending on that coach. But it’s rarely an immediate yield with a dollar figure attached to it.
Sometimes that value can come in the form of expediting a solution you might’ve eventually achieved on your own (like the Ryan Michler example above). In that case, you’re paying to save time—years, in some cases.
Other times, that value could be completely intangible, yet intuitively you know it’s worth it.
Consider my friend Myke Macapinlac of Social Confidence Mastery. As a men’s coach, Myke helps people shy guys improve their social skills. Since social skills affect almost all aspects of our lives, the return is harder to pinpoint.
Are you going to get a check in the mail right after you finish Myke’s program? No, but how much would you pay to feel totally confident in romantic situations? Or, how many more lucrative opportunities could you seize in your career if you felt completely comfortable talking to anyone, anytime?
Often, the most elite coaches can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but that’s because they promise (and sometimes deliver) returns that are even greater.
Best-case scenario, you’re hiring a coach because you anticipate that you will gain as much value as what you are spending on that coach.”
Side note: coaches are particularly “worth the money” if you can convince someone else, like your employer, to cough up said money. Some companies offer executive coaching to their more experienced employees as a perk. Executive coaches can help you with all manner of business polishing, like public speaking, business writing, or leadership and communication…the list goes on.
How to Choose a Coach
Assuming you are hiring a coach on your own, finding the right coach can be tricky because there are a lot of options. Whether you are looking for personal life coaching, social skills coaching, entrepreneurial help or something more specific, here are just a few potential elements to look for:
Someone who has already achieved what you want to achieve
Again, this is one of the most clear-cut coaching arrangements. This works particularly well if the challenge you face is very specific. Let’s say you desperately want to become proficient at grooming Bernese Mountain Dogs and dressing them up in traditional German lederhosen. (I mean who doesn’t, right?)
Instead of flailing about on your own, you find the top Bernese Mountain Dog groomer/stylist and you hire them. Boom—Instant access to their expertise, and your learning curve is drastically shortened.
Of course, a coach’s expertise doesn’t always need to be as specific as this ridiculous example. Sometimes it’s enough when a coach has simply overcome challenges that are similar to what you’re facing.
Someone you resonate with personally
When it comes to one-on-one coaching, communication style and rapport are pretty important. You have to feel like you can be totally open with this person. More importantly, you have to feel like you will be heard. While you shouldn’t pick a coach just because you feel comfortable around them—maybe it’s good if you’re experiencing some nerves—that je ne sais quoi feeling when you just click with someone can’t be ignored.
Also, particularly with men’s coaches or relationship or mindset coaching, you may encounter practitioners who are too spiritual or metaphysical (or not spiritual enough, I suppose) for your tastes. Trust your gut on what works for you.
Someone who will be honest and direct with you
Sure, you might get a tiny bit of “cheerleading” from a coach. A little encouragement is always helpful, right? But if that’s all you’re getting, you aren’t working with the right coach. The best coach is not only going to celebrate your wins with you but also gently alert you when you are off track. One of the most valuable things a coach can do is help you identify your own blind spots. Because we’ve all got them. And sugar-coating them doesn’t help us get any closer to our goals.
How to Know if You Are Ready for a Coach
Not everyone will benefit from hiring a coach.
Timing is key. You have to be in a place in your life where you are willing to put in the work.
One of the biggest misconceptions about coaches is that they just tell you what to do. But a good coach is going to force you to dig deep to discover the path on your own.
Coaches support you and guide you, but ultimately you are the one who has to climb the mountain.”
If you aren’t ready to fully commit to taking action, coaching may be a waste of your money.
There are other baby steps you can take if you aren’t ready. Like doing group coaching, where you are one of many clients. Or joining a mastermind group, where you meet with other like-minded people who challenge each other and keep each other accountable. Or, if you are very lucky (and/or well-connected), finding a mentor who you can develop an informal relationship with.
These options obviously offer less dedicated personal attention, but they can be much cheaper if you’re not ready to make the investment in hiring your own coach.
Introducing The Distilled Man Coaching Program
If you are ready for one-on-one coaching, I’m excited to announce the launch of my own coaching program for men.
To start, I will only be working with a small number of clients who are serious about making big changes in their lives.