Start an arts and humanities degree at American Public University.
By Bethanie Hansen
Faculty Director, School of Arts & Humanities, American Public University
April 29th through May 5th is International Coaching Week. This week, coaches and organizations focus on helping people learn about the coaching profession and how a coach can change one’s life. This may be the right time for you to work with a coach to identify and achieve your own personal or professional goals.
What Is Coaching?
Coaching is a growing profession focused on helping people develop areas of strength, overcome roadblocks, reach goals, or focus on a specific area of personal or professional performance. You may have heard of coaches in sports and related fields; coaches in other areas of life are similar.
A coach helps individuals improve their performance in a desired personal or professional area. For example, I coached a woman who struggled to manage time in order to take action on her daily plans to clean up her apartment. Through our coaching work, she quickly became more aware of her own negative self-talk, which had been the primary obstacle to her taking action and moving forward. She was able to recognize strengths and change her inner dialogue, and she began to view herself as a capable and action-oriented person.
In my own life, I too have benefitted from a professional coach who encouraged me to overcome writer’s block and finish the book I struggled to finish. The goals people might want to achieve by working with a coach vary, but they might include:
- Finding purpose in life
- Improving health and wellness
- Making life changes or career transitions
- Developing strengths and talents
- Setting limits
- Improving performance on the job
How a Coach Can Help You
A coach will support your self-discovery and awareness, helping you find clarity and confidence. One of the most important parts of the coaching process is developing an increased awareness of yourself and your goals.
With greater self-awareness, you can better see how your situation is, what you value and what you would like to achieve. Increased awareness leads to more meaningful goals. Through the coaching process, you may come to see yourself in an entirely different light, making your personal and professional growth much more possible.
A coach may use a variety of assessment tools to help you see your values, strengths, abilities, interests, personality and other life areas more clearly. For example, a coach may use the “Wheel of Life” to help you see the balance of your time and energy.
Another coaching tool is the 16 Personalities test to help you see who you are and understand why you do the things you do. Assessments enable you to see yourself more clearly and to make decisions based on the details revealed from an assessment.
A coach works with you to identify and articulate your goals. Having a clear idea of where you want to go makes it much easier to get there.
Most coaches help their clients find the answers within themselves that are often difficult to see and realize alone. Through a coaching process, you commonly discover your most important priorities when you answer thoughtful questions posed by a well-prepared coach.
Also, a coach will acknowledge and validate your ideas. Trained coaches know that creativity and idea generation only occur in a judgement-free zone, so the coaching relationship is built on respect and positivity.
Working with a coach means that you will be able to partner with someone who wants you to succeed. He or she will help you identify self-defeating thoughts and roadblocks in order to determine a way forward to achieve your goals.
A coach will encourage you to go beyond your comfort zone and take action. One of the best assets of working with a coach is that he or she will ask you to be accountable for your goals and check in on the steps you take.
Remember setting New Year’s goals in January, only to find those goals faded by the end of February with no accountability? A coach will work with you to determine how and when you will report your progress, so that you are not alone as you move forward.
Where to Hire a Coach
Coaches typically have credentials, education and training to support their work. A coach may be credentialed through an organization, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF) or the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).
Credentialed coaches have specific training that guides their processes. Credentialed coaches also comply with ethical requirements and have additional credibility. Some coaches also have graduate certificates in coaching, such as the Life Coaching and Executive Coaching certificates offered at American Public University.
If you would like to hire a professional coach but are not sure where to find one, try the referral service provided by the International Coach Federation. This resource provides a list of credentialed coaches for both business and personal areas, as well as success stories to illustrate what coaching has already done for others.
How to Hire a Coach
When you decide that you want to hire a coach, here are a few tips to guide you in the process:
- Consider what you want to work on, overcome, achieve or pursue. Knowing what you want to work on helps you find a coach who specializes in that area and who can best meet your needs. For example, if you would like to have a more organized household, you may seek out a life coach or an organization coach. But if you want to move in a different professional direction, you will need a career coach instead.
- Find more than one coach and learn about them. Does the coach have a credential to give him or her added credibility? Do they have a track record of clients and testimonials of what their clients have gotten out of coaching? Don’t be afraid to look up a credential on the ICF or CCE website to validate the credentials a potential coach provides.
- Ask questions to determine whether the coach you may hire is a good fit for you. Although many coaches have special niches, some of these same coaches also generalize in life or career coaching. If you really want to work on something particular, learn about the areas and niches your potential coach most often works with and determine whether your potential coach meets your needs.
- Seek to build a personal connection with your coach. Coaching is a partnership, and you want to be able to build rapport and trust with your coach. If you feel uncomfortable with the potential coach you are considering, that coach may not be the right fit for you.
- If desired, consider group coaching. Group coaching can potentially provide the coaching you want, coupled with the added benefit of peers who are participating in a coaching session along with you. If the benefits of a peer group appeal to you and work for your situation, group coaching could be ideal.
Who Controls the Process?
Although a professional coach gives you increased self-awareness and helps you strike out in new directions, remember that you are in the driver’s seat. A coach should not promise to give you all the answers, solve your problems or achieve seemingly impossible results. If you decide now is the time for you to try working with a coach, you should find the opportunity a positive and motivating one with a clear understanding of the coaching relationship and process.
About the Author
Dr. Bethanie Hansen is a Faculty Director and Certified Professional Coach for the School of Arts & Humanities at American Public University System. She holds a B.M. in Music Education from Brigham Young University, an M.S. in Arts & Letters from Southern Oregon University, and a DMA in Music Education from Boston University. She is an educator, coach, manager, writer, presenter, and musician with 25 years of experience helping others achieve their goals.