By Professor Dr Brian To
All over the world, athletes and sports teams are being coached daily. There is good reason for this necessary function, which is simply that it’s difficult to coach yourself and to motivate oneself to higher levels of performance, whether it be losing weight, supervising your children’s academic path or managing your own career and life choices.
Coaching is not about surrendering your life to your coach, but helping you navigate through life’s often difficult choices without bias in both productivity and professional effectiveness. In those who are coached, the percentage gains are impressive with many studies putting the extent at over 33% in productivity gains.
Coaching is also about more than mid-career coaching or life coaching. An entire industry segment exists for coaching high school students to prepare for college. Other more focused coaching programs prepare prospective students to enter Ivy League universities both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, particularly those executives who want to brand themselves with prestigious schools and access networks which would otherwise prove prohibitive.
Personal life coaching is beyond popular. Whether to leap frog your career or prepare you to assume greater leadership responsibilities, coaching can inspire you to have a more fulfilling, more meaningful and richer life.
One study reported in The Economic Times found that coaching returned an ROI almost six times the program cost as well as a 77% improvement in relationships, 67% improvement in teamwork, 61% improvement in job satisfaction and 48% improvement in quality. Impressive indeed – particularly since the study was on Fortune 500 executives!
Historically, coaching was employed to assist those who underperformed. Today, according to the Harvard Business School, coaching is also employed for high performance executives and professionals.
Consider that coaching is an investment in yourself and in your future. In a time when there is much uncertainty in the economic and commercial environment, it’s sometimes wise to look at engaging a coach. An additional benefit, depending whom you engage, is the possibility of networking opportunities and access to markets given that the coach has a business track record and hopefully profit and loss experience too. This is why it is important to be careful when you go in search of a coach. They should, ideally, be one with advanced credentials, not one who became a self-endorsed coach because they were recently retrenched.
In preparation to get your mind around the subject, there are of course key questions before you run off searching for your coach. They include:
• Are you presently achieving optimum performance?
• Are you motivated to accelerate your career?
• Are you preparing to engage the future?
• Are you ready to listen and be honest with yourself?
• Are you truly focused and prepared for change?
Given that we only have one life in this human form and that we generally invest our time in the here and now, doesn’t it make sense to harness the best of ourselves both personally and professionally? In a sense, having a coach should be like having a mentor, albeit keeping in mind the clear difference in definitions between the two. Nevertheless, both focus on the individual and can prove very helpful if you are contemplating a life or work change either voluntarily or involuntarily.
Which begs the question – when was the last time you were coached or thought meaningfully about your personal and professional effectiveness plans?