If you're reading this, you're probably someone who loves to learn. That's why you're probably pretty good at whatever you do, and why you want to get better at it. Reading is part of your educational program, and — obviously — I hope it remains so.
You probably also feel some frustration. You read. You learn ten ways to do this and seven steps to do that. And you make some progress. You've achieved some goals you've set, and some goals remain out there, even though you've been trying for ten months. Or ten years.
Reading can get you through some things, and not others. When you want to make a change, and reading hasn't helped, consider a personal coach.
Coaching styles and arrangements vary. In a typical program, you meet with your coach two to four times each month for from one-half to one hour, either in person or by phone. You can set up any arrangement that works for you. You're in charge.
If you're considering a coach, here are a few things to watch out for.
- Recognize that you'll do most of the work
- Being coached is different from getting a haircut. For a haircut, the haircutter does the work, not you. In coaching, depending on the style, the coach offers guidance, questions, wisdom, suggestions, support, encouragement, or even homework. But you do the work, not the coach.
- Pay a reasonable fee
- Being coached is different
from getting a haircut.
For a haircut, the haircutter
does the work, not you.
In coaching, you do
the work, not the coach.
- Suppose you find someone to coach you for an unreasonably low fee. While this might work for some people, most will have difficulty doing the hard work needed. Most of us need the motivation of having made a serious financial commitment.
- Know what you want to accomplish
- You'll have a much better experience if you have a clear idea of where you want to go. Then you and your coach will decide to work on some achievable goals, and with guidance from your coach, you'll achieve them.
- Choose a coach who doesn't know your organization
- You'll get more insights (aha!s) when you explain your work situation to someone who's ignorant of your organization. You're forced to explain things from the very beginning, and that's often where the obstacles appear.
- Choose a coach who isn't coaching anyone you know
- A coach who has as a client someone in your life has a conflict of interest. Some coaches believe that these conflicts are manageable. I disagree. Steer clear.
In the end, "chemistry" helps determine the outcome of a coaching relationship. Sometimes you can tell when you first talk to someone that he or she is not your coach. Sometimes it takes a few sessions to know. Notice your feelings and trust them, just like you would after a haircut. Top Next Issue
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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
- And on December 25: Disjoint Awareness
- In collaborations, awareness of how our own work might interfere with the work of others is essential. Unless our awareness of others' work — and their awareness of ours — matches reality, the collaboration's objective is at risk. Available here and by RSS on December 25.
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Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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