Conferences and events provide opportunities to network, to attract potential clients and to see what people are up to in the worlds of small business and entrepreneurship.
At one recent event, I was surprised to find the Coaches Corner generating a lot of buzz. Three professional coaches were offering free mini-sessions to attendees who arrived early enough to get one of the coveted spots. As a coach myself, and as someone who has experienced coaching's positive effects, it was encouraging to see. One gentleman even interrupted my session to let the coach know he would be standing close by in case someone didn't show up.
Still, at 28, I noticed I was one of the youngest people taking advantage of the free sessions. It wasn't the first time I had noticed more interest in coaching among older generations. When I tell my peers what I do for a living, they usually cite several reasons why coaching isn't necessary for them.
Four reasons not to invest in a coach:
1. "I can do it all on my own"
Of course you can, but are the results as great as they could be? The saying "two heads are better than one" may be one reason older generations appreciate coaching and see value in it. They've been there: twentysomething with a fiercely independent attitude and wanting to carve their own path. Now they realize, "why do something on my own when help is being offered and might get me to my goal sooner?" Life is short. A good coach is an objective outsider working with you to tap into your endless potential, someone who can help you explore ideas you never knew you had.
2. "Coaching is too airy-fairy for me"
Coaching styles and approaches vary from non-directive to directive. There is no shortage of styles and niches to suit your needs, wants and personality. The vast number of coaches available has created a hugely competitive landscape, but it's great news for you. Most coaches offer a free introductory session, so take advantage of it, shop around, and find an approach that works best for you.
3. "I can't afford it"
Fair enough. Coaching can be very expensive. But for those with more limited funds, there are cheaper options. There are coaches looking to build their hours in order to become fully certified by the International Coaching Federation. They may offer discounted rates or trades for their services. Your coach doesn't need to charge $1,000 an hour to be effective. Your best investment is in a well-trained coach you feel comfortable with, and who you think will help you get positive results.
4. "I'm afraid to make changes"
You may be in a period of transition or feeling stuck. You know you need to make some changes, but you're not sure where to start, and maybe you're afraid to make the first move. Coaching provides a safe and supportive space to explore potential changes. Coaching challenges you to move beyond your comfort zone, leading to growth in your professional and personal lives.
Still a little skeptical?
Four reasons to invest in a coach:
1. Professional and personal development
You may hire a coach to improve your professional life, but the process often includes a focus on you as a person – your values and needs. It's impossible to separate you from where you want to be professionally. Coaching provides a balance between the professional and personal, helping you achieve even more.
2. Get quality results quicker
Who says you need to work yourself to the bone to get great results? In order to succeed you need to be clear and focused. Coaching helps you see beyond life's distractions and to get to the point. It assists you in developing well-defined goals and realistic action plans.
3. Develop accountability
When trying to do it all on your own, breaking promises to yourself is easy. A coach is someone to whom you verbally commit to taking actions each week. It is amazing how much more accountable you become to yourself and the goals you have defined when you articulate them in a coaching session.
4. Take some time out for yourself
When I was coached, I was able to talk about myself, and where I wanted to be in life, without having to reciprocate. As selfish as that sounds, in order to get where you want to be, you need to take some time out for yourself. Coaches are there to provide that space. The only thing they ask for in return is that you're motivated and committed to the process.
Should everyone go out and hire a coach right now? No. First of all, be aware that coaching is not counseling. It focuses on where you want to go and who you want to be, rarely addressing the gremlins of your past.
Second, it only works for those who are committed and think the process will work for them.
Katherine Clarke-Nolan is the founder of Life Coaching with Katherine, based in Toronto.