Potential is such a great word. It is full of promise and possibilities. Potential sums up all the success we could have in our career and hints at the amazing things we could do.
The fastest line from potential to success is a coach.
There are all kinds of coaches in life, sports coaches, teachers, great bosses or mentors. They might inspire you, challenge you, support or encourage you. All of them share the same desire to unlock your possibilities and help you jump forward on the game board of life.
If you have the chance to work with a coach, of any kind, take some steps to insure you get the most out of that opportunity.
You can make life changing progress working with a coach.
To do that it takes an open mind and a desire to change. What you gain from that coach is totally up to you.
1. Set the table
The first step is for you to set the table. Think about the things that bog you down or the feedback that shows up job after job.
Look for areas where you feel you are stuck or things you’re confused about (that might include what you’d really like to do.) Think about what you dream of and what would make you proud of yourself.
Write a list of things you’d like to change or achieve, to set the table before you start coaching.
2. Check your attitude
Your coach isn’t going to change you, you are the only one that can do that. Are you willing? You have to want to do things differently.
You’ll be in control of what and how you make those changes but without the desire, nothing is going to be different. Einstein is supposed to have said “the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” You’ve got to be willing to try something new.
If you don’t have the desire or interest to make some changes, you are wasting your time and money on a coach. So check in with your attitude and make sure you’re in the right frame of mind.
3. Prepare for the Ah-Ha
Be as honest and open as you can with your coach. Share the things that intimidate you, your fears, your hopes, your struggles…That’s when Ah-Ha moments happen, because you’ve looked something in the eye.
Set aside the time and headspace to focus, your coach will offer you support, encouragement and some healthy challenge to your thinking.
This makes ripe territory for a break-through. That may be new ways to approach things, a new solution, ways to inspire or a recognition of things you want to leave behind.
4. Create your agenda
Your coach won’t choose what you change or how you go about it.
You’ll choose the subject, it’s your agenda.
A coach will help you figure out how to do it your way. Unlike training where they might prescribe an approach, your coach will help you find a way to do something new that feels right to you. They may make suggestions or offer alternatives but you are the one who will decide what you want to put into action.
5. Take a tour
Let your coach be your tour guide. Your coach has covered this territory before – helping people explore new thoughts and develop their potential.
Don’t let your insecurities become a blocker.
Sometimes you have to suspend disbelief and try to imagine your coach’s suggestions. They may ask you to “Imagine if…” Responding “That will never happen” gets you no further in your thinking.
Your coach wants to change the lens you look through so you see something at a new angle, try it, even if it doesn’t make sense to you at the moment.
If it’s not effective let your coach know, but if it works, you’ll both be pleased with the result.
A note on that, your values are the parameters you live by. If your coach is encouraging you to do something that is not in line with your values, make this clear. Don’t hesitate to tell them they have suggested something you don’t feel is right.
6. Practice, practice, practice
We don’t become good at anything without doing it several times. It takes time to master something new.
It will feel a little awkward. It won’t be automatic, you’ll forget sometimes. Expect that, it’s natural, just hang on to what you’re trying to achieve with this new approach and keep working at it.
7. Don’t be afraid of feedback
It is a rare opportunity to get honest feedback from someone whose only goal is to help you succeed.
If there are things your coach can observe and reflect back to you, take it as an opportunity to build on a strength or become aware of something that is holding you back.
In sports, coaches do this naturally; observing what you are good at and offering up areas to practice on. Your work coach has the same role, to help you improve.
You can then decide if you want to accept, ignore or adapt what you do, with that information. Whatever you decide, you will be more informed than you were before.
8. Keep the feedback flowing
You can offer feedback as well. Your coach isn’t psychic. Tell them when they use an approach or technique that’s helped you.
We learn in different ways; verbal, written or experiential. Help them understand what is most effective for you.
If you’d like your coach to challenge more, let them know that. Equally, if they are too challenging or directive, let them know that too, so they can tailor their approach.
9. Take time to ponder
The thinking and discussions in your coaching sessions are just the first dominos to fall, if you allow yourself time to let your thoughts sift, the rest will be even more productive.
Don’t be too quick to make a plan just after your coaching session, you may go on to find more fruitful thoughts that follow.
10. It’s good to talk
Share with others. If you make people aware of what you are trying to change, two things happen. It holds you true to your intentions, if you’ve said you are trying to be less critical, you might bite your tongue rather than leap into a critique.
Also, people will look for and acknowledge when they spot you doing something differently, this makes you feel great and helps bed in your new approach.
Learning about yourself
Learning is one of the most motivating things in life. Trying something new or being trusted with a new challenge gets us out of bed in the morning.
I love this quote from Doris Lessing “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”
Your coach can give you that new perspective, it’s up to you to make the most of it.
If you haven’t got a coach in your life, it’s easy to get one. Ask your HR team if they can recommend a coach and if your company will pay for it. You can get a series of coaching session or just a single session, either way it will help move you toward your potential.