Four reasons, among others, coaching helps, whether you’re Michael Jordan, fresh out of school and first making life decisions for yourself, or some place in between:
A mirror: The one person you can’t see from another person’s perspective is yourself, yet you are the one you wish you could see the most. If you lead others, they react to your behavior they see, not what you think or want them to react to, which is most of what you observe of yourself. An effective coach tells you what everyone else sees but you don’t.
Accountability: When something you want to do ends up harder or takes longer than you expect, you can more easily relax your standards and finish less than to work harder or do what it takes to finish what you said you would. You might end up relaxing your standards just if the work feels harder when it isn’t — read my series, “Empathy Gaps — one of the most insidious barriers to getting hard things done” for how commonly you do so and ways to avoid the pitfalls. An effective coach helps you set goals and holds you accountable to them.
Listening to understand you: How often do you feel listened to or understood? How understood do you feel among important people you work or live with? I don’t think many people feel as listened to or understood as they’d like. We all want to feel understood. An effective coach puts your interests first, meaning listening to understand you.
Regularity: Meeting with a coach regularly imposes structure, which simplifies life and gives you regular updates, deadlines, and reviews.
A fifth, bonus benefit from my style of coaching, because I give exercises:
Experience: An effective coach sees what skills and experience you’re missing from what you’re trying to do and gives you simple exercises to develop them. I’ve found the best way to solve a complex problem is to solve a related simple problem, develop relevant skills and experiences, and then apply the new skills to the complex problem, which will now seem simpler. I assign my clients those simple problems, which simplify their once complex problems.