I recently re-discovered a 2016 article from Inc. magazine that was entitled “Do You Need a Coach?” The introduction ended with a question one should ask when vetting potential coaches: “What are you trying to fix?”
We’ve all experienced times in our lives when we feel confused, stuck, or wondering if we’re on the right path. We wish for a clear direction, validation, or relief from our unhappiness.
I was in that spot a few years ago when I found myself in the throes of a life change trifecta – selling my home, exiting a long-term relationship, and wishing desperately to leave my job. Why am I in this mess? Why don’t I have it all figured out by now? Why can’t I just think my way out of this situation and into a better one?
Why can’t I fix everything?
I wanted some answers and I thought a coach might help. I had become curious about coaching as a practice that might complement my work in design leadership and creative challenges. Perhaps hiring one could help me explore my current self as a coaching client, as well as my future self as a potential coach.
What I learned from working with my coach is this: there is nothing that needs to be fixed. What we believe when we’re feeling rudderless or stuck is a narrative of our own creation. This does not mean the feelings and emotions associated with that narrative are not real. They are very real. But they are the product of the stories we tell ourselves based on our beliefs, and our beliefs are our way of making sense of the world so that we can navigate its complexities on a daily basis. The feelings are real, the stories are not.
This is at the heart of what coaching can reveal. It focuses on helping us be true to who we are, and use those truths to reframe our stories and make room for real change.
So instead of asking yourself what you are trying to fix, consider these alternative questions:
- Do I enjoy collaboration? Coach and client work together as partners, and co-design a relationship in which the coach creates space for the client to address some specific goals.
- Do I have a desire to learn new things? Coaching is an opportunity to recognize what’s most important in the client’s life, to be curious and to explore things from new perspectives.
- Do I prefer action over endless reflection? Coaching creates a safe environment for experimentation, and incorporates accountability for taking small steps into the future.
The truth is, no one actually needs a coach. But great coaching can be the difference between a passive approach to life that perpetuates the status quo or yields only incremental shifts, and an active approach that enables transformative change.
If any of this speaks to you, then you may enjoy speaking with a coach.