Some of the most common misconceptions about coaching is that it’s for people who have ‘something wrong’ with them. Or that they are ‘weak’.
These were once my impressions as well. But they turned out to be quite different from what I observed – both in my professional practice as a life coach, and my experiences as a coachee. Seeking coaching is not a sign of weakness. Here’s my first-hand experience of these misconceptions.
There’s something wrong with you if you want life coaching
There’s nothing wrong with any of my clients. There is nothing ‘broken’ about any of them that I need to ‘fix’. I am not their doctor and they are not my patients.
In fact, the relationship between each client and myself is that of a partnership. I see them as equals. Honestly, I even feel humbled by some of their achievements and struggles. I truly think that I’m blessed to be able to work with them!
And like all of us, they each have suffered their share of hurts and traumas. But they acknowledge this fully and they are open to being supported in the healing and improvement they seek.
The point is, each one of my clients are healthy, ‘normal’ human beings who are capable of handling life on their own. They are creative, motivated people who care about their wellbeing and want to live out their full potential. They are good at what they do.
Then why do they spend time and money coaching with me?
Life coaching is for weak people
What does ‘weak’ look like to you? Conversely, what does ‘strong’ look like?
It’s very easy to imagine help being needed by those we think as weak. But has it ever occured to you that it is the strong of spirit who ASK for help? Yes, being open to support and asking for additional resources is a sign of strength, and emotional maturity.
Try this thought experiment, right now; offering help to others, or asking others for help – which feels easier for you? Asking for help takes courage and is an act of maturity. Can you see how seeking coaching is not a sign of weakness at all?
I’m very sure my clients are fully capable of reaching their goals by themselves. But how long would it take? And how much (unnecessary) pain might they experience on the way?
Good drivers use mirrors
I often cite the analogy of driving; do you realize that it is entirely possible to drive a car to your destination without the use of mirrors? It’s possible, so long as you’re prepared to experience lots of anxiety and risk getting into accidents, from trying to circumvent your blindspots (which we ALL have). But when you use mirrors, the act of driving can become so much easier… and maybe even pleasurable!
Similarly, you do not need to stretch out your time and extend your pain by going at your challenges alone. Being talented, capable and motivated doesn’t mean you have to figure it out all by yourself, all the time.
I might add that this could be of special importance if you are in a leadership position, or are accountable for others in some regard. Look at the most successful people you know of. Notice – do they work by themselves, or with teams and with advisers?
High performers use coaches
For Eric Schmidt (who was the CEO of Google for 10 years), the best advice he’d ever received was, “You need a coach. Everybody needs a coach.” In fact, he co-authored a book that detailed how much his coach helped him and his colleagues in the demanding world of Silicon Valley. Bill Gates echoes the same sentiment when he opened one of his TED Talks saying, “Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player… We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
Can you spot the essence of blindspots and mirrors in Bill Gates’ words? He and Eric Schimdt are only two of many other well-known high-performers who work with personal coaches.
Closing: complexity & courage
The world as we know it is too way complex for any one human to navigate, leader or no. The world was already VUCA enough, and COVID pushed it into overdrive.
In an environment of perpetual complexity, ‘knowing’ becomes less possible and much, much more draining. What’s valuable now, is the ability to sense-make and the courage to enlist resources. This is why seeking coaching is not a sign of weakness at all.
People who seek life coaching acknowledge that they do not know, and they release themselves from the burden of always needing to know. They ask for help to see things in the most useful ways.
Is there anything wrong in this? Do these sound like weak people to you?