An exciting prospect called the other day. He was looking for a coach who could help him resolve some of the interpersonal challenges he faced the past few years. In his words, “my inability to make things work with the people around me have set me back by at least 4-5 years, and it’s demotivation and demoralising.”
Upon some exploration, I realised that he’s fully aware of what’s keeping him from overcoming his challenges as he’s had some experience with another coach previously. So, I asked what he wishes to achieve by yet another coaching engagement that he couldn’t get from the previous one? He said, “I need some guidance and direction on what I should be doing. I know the basics, but I need more.”
This wasn’t a good sign. I explained what coaching is, how it works and how it’s different from training, mentoring, counselling, and consulting. Out of curiosity, the prospect asked how will I solve his inability to negotiate with suppliers and other partners as they seemed to give him a hard time. I asked him what makes him think he’s getting the wrong end of the stick? He mentioned that others might perceive him as “naive” and “immature”, but that’s not the reality.
I’m so glad he had the realisation. So, I asked him again, “what needs to happen to bridge the gap between people’s perception of him and reality?”
“Well,” he said, “that’s why I’m looking for a coach.”
“Very well, but what needs to happen at your end to bridge this gap?”
“Hmm… I don’t know, Sunil; I think I need some more hand-holding than a pure coach. I need a trainer who can tell me exactly what to do in these circumstances.”
“Very well; I’m glad you have an understanding on whom to work with.”
“Thanks for your time, Sunil. I shall be in touch.”
We know all how that goes, don’t we?
But that’s beside the point. We all know that a gap exists, but mere awareness doesn’t help, nor does dumping more information on tips, tricks, and tactics help, taking action does. And the challenge with “taking action” is that it’s way easier said than done because our inhibitions and self-limiting beliefs get in the way of progress.
Addressing these internal factors is what helps you unlock your potential. Sadly, you can’t get that off the internet, a book, a consultant, a mentor, or a trainer. You need a psychotherapist for issues relating to the past and a coach to take on the present and the future.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for our challenges. Hiring a professional, particularly a coach, is no different. Since coaches believe that their clients are fully resourced to resolve their life’s biggest challenges, “hold-holding” will be the last thing they would do.
Sure, coaches stay with their clients every step of the way, but they won’t tell them which foot to put forward at the next turn. If that’s what you expect from a helping professional, you probably are too naive to be accountable to yourself.