“We are on the right course, because the North Star is on our portside near the stern!”
You can almost hear the faint sigh of relief from the captain’s crew. You can almost see the moonlight glistening off of the waves and hear those waves gently brush across the side of the ship as it smoothly slices through them.
Unfortunately, there is no North Star for your life or business. The closest approximation is hiring a coach who’s already done what you’re looking to do in that area of your life or in your industry. This is an inconvenient truth so many business owners won’t to admit to themselves or invest in. But why not?
Warren Buffett had early investment luminary Benjamin Graham to coach him. Mark Zuckerberg had Steve Jobs. Michael Jordan had Dean Smith and Phil Jackson. Bill Gates has Warren Buffett. These four billionaires all had innate talent and a superior drive to work on improving those talents daily. They also knew they couldn’t get there alone. They needed both a team around them and coaches who had been to the promised land these ambitious men sought.
Each of these men overcame hurdles and plateaus in their careers -- many times because of the help of a coach. Whether you are just starting out or have a successfully operating business you’re looking to grow to a higher level, the right coach could provide the answers and strategy you’re seeking.
So what do you look for when considering a coach? Are you adventurous enough to stop at a restaurant with no cars in the parking lot compared to one across the street that has quite a few cars in the lot? You might experiment with a restaurant but probably not with something unproven when you’re talking about your business and livelihood. As my coach David Martin says, “That choice is uniquely yours.”
Three big keys Joshua and I look for when considering a coach are as follows:
1. Do you feel a fit?
The first factor in whether it’s a fit is the coach’s background. Have they achieved a level of success in their own life or business in that area they’ll be coaching you on (vision, health, relationships, business) that you’re looking to achieve? Does their background include experience in that area as well as coaching other people to their desired levels in that area? Are they 10 years ahead of where you are currently?
You don’t want an overweight health coach teaching you to be fit, just as you don’t want a broke business coach teaching you how to be wealthy. The relative health of a fitness coach is apparent (though the outside doesn’t always betray the inside). It’s tougher to tell with a business coach, but the straightforward way is to see if there is proof their company generates profits at a higher level than yours.
Finally, there’s a metaphysical or intuitive level involved. When talking with them via Skype or in person do you feel aligned with them? Are you inspired and confident that by their coaching you’ll be able to achieve your desired outcome? No coach is perfect but if you feel something big is off, then go with somebody else.
Related: How I Became a Life Coach...Sort Of
2. Are they in high demand?
There are two layers to this. Josh and I like our coaches to be in-demand, whether it’s group coaching or one-on-one. This one can be tricky to verify. It’s important because it offers evidence people have gone or are still going through their programs and have achieved actionable results. Talking on the phone with a couple of their clients or if the coach has updated video / audio reviews is a great way to gauge this.
The second layer is whether the coach’s schedule isn’t full because they’re desperate or haven’t clearly defined their ideal coaching client. If the coach just needs the money or has a hard time saying ”no,” that’s problematic. That means they’ve almost certainly got clients on the roster that weren’t the best fit and are underachieving because of this.
Again, this one is hard to verify, which is why you have to refer back to your evidence from point number one and your overall feeling about this coach to rate whether it’s a good fit.
3. Is the coach selling us or flipping the script, making us sell them on why they should take us on as a client?
When the coach is authentically compelling you to sell them, it’s a great sign. This means they are both in demand and also have a clear idea what type of client and character traits that client has that the coach can help.
You’ll get a feel for whether it’s authentic, or that potential coach just read a few psychology and persuasion books. You can verify by asking to talk on the phone with a few of the coach’s clients. If you take three or four days to connect with these clients live, but in the interim the coach magically has a slot open up, that could be a red flag. Consider that in the overall rating you are building about whether or not to hire this coach.
Hiring a coach is a very personal decision that can affect multiple aspects of your life and livelihood. Go into a meeting armed with these principles and specific pieces of evidence you’re looking for. Having clarity and a plan beforehand means you can be in the moment to see if you feel a fit. Weigh that feeling with the evidence so you can make an educated decision. Coaching is a time-honored tradition that has worked throughout the ages, still creates billionaires and can work for you if you allow it to.