You got a coach. Congratulations! Whether as part of your own initiative or as part of your employer’s development program, you are about to embark on what could be a career-changing or even life-changing experience.
Your upcoming first session is set up, and you are ready to go. But do you know how to get the most out of this experience and not squander the opportunity to create real change in your life? Here is a list of ways you can help ensure that you maximize every minute of your coaching journey:
1. Take good notes.
Start a coaching journal. Take good notes during, right after and between sessions. This isn’t to capture what the coach has to say. Quite the opposite: It is to ensure that you memorialize your insights and wisdom that come to light during the coaching process.
While the “dots” often connect, they don’t necessarily connect immediately. What seems like something mildly interesting in the beginning of the coaching process may turn into a life-changing awareness later on. Having a record of your progress, important moments and discoveries will help you solidify the steps to take to achieve your goals.
Give it your best shot, and fully engage in the process. What does that mean in addition to taking good notes? Turn off email, instant messaging and phone notifications during coaching sessions. You are investing in yourself. Everyone else can wait. Follow up on any action items—“to think’s” or “to do’s”—after each session. Think about what you’d like to accomplish before each session. Share feedback on the coaching process with your coach on an ongoing basis.
3. Be transparent and direct.
In coaching, pretending to be anything you are not does not lead to productive outcomes. Unless there is a genuine reason you don’t trust your coach and don’t feel comfortable sharing (and if that’s the case, you need a different coach), be direct and honest about your motivations, fears, hopes, dreams and challenges. By doing so, you’ll accelerate your own opportunities for realizations and aha moments.
4. Stay open-minded and curious.
It is OK and, in fact, necessary to let your proverbial defenses down. The coach’s objective is not to judge you but rather to support your growth and development. It is possible to feel out of sorts and a bit outside of your comfort zone during the exploration of new ways of being, thinking, and behaving. Good coaches have the courage to notice the patterns and to call them out. Allow space for it. Stay curious about the process and open to what may show up.
5. Remember: It’s your life.
A coach’s job is not to provide advice or share their own experiences. Good coaches know that each person is unique and whole and has everything they need within themselves to thrive. According to the International Coaching Federation definition, coaching is “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” It is your life. You have the agency and prerogative to make your own decisions and choices while partnering with the coach to achieve your goals more effectively, faster and with a higher degree of confidence.
Ultimately, while a good coach can effectively partner with you to help you level up in many areas of your life, you are the one who needs to do the work. So take ownership of your coaching journey and make the most of this opportunity for real change and growth.