At first glance, the concept of coaching is a bit insane.

Pay $100 to $1000 an hour to talk to an individual who asks you a bunch of questions, and you end up providing most of the answers. Rarely do they have an academic degree or any certification and your outcome is anything but certain.

So why hire a coach?

The reality is we are completely blind to many assumptions, scripts and points of view that are obvious to a total stranger or in this case, your coach.

A coach is someone who is gifted at understanding your blind spots, challenges and is able to dig far beneath the surface of any issue to identify a deeper root cause.

My two most recent coaches were game changers. You can read about my work with Taylor Pearson here. I hired my current coach Dena Patton shortly thereafter and I assumed we would jump right into Design Pickle challenges. After all, I hired a business coach so why wouldn’t we start with the business? Boy did she throw me a curve ball!

Practically the first two months we rarely touched on the business. Instead, she honed in on a very personal area of my life — the relationship with my father.

Never in a million years would I have tied that relationship to Design Pickle. Dena saw otherwise.

Turns out many of the foundational goals for my business and life were based on the script of me wanting to become someone different from my dad. Through our conversations, I realized I had been operating from the script, “Don’t be like my dad”. This script was having the exact opposite outcome! By focusing on not being my dad, I was simply placing him in my subconscious and attracting outcomes I wanted to avoid.

It is hard to encapsulate the epiphany I had from Dena’s persistence on this issue. I was able to let go of the dad script and build a new foundation centered on God and my family.

Another practical point around coaching keeps me committed to the investment.

Our brains are effectively large muscles. How we react to the world — be it consciously or subconsciously — is controlled by the muscle memory (aka neuroplasticity) within the brain.

When you touch something hot, you automatically react. When you’re faced with a business challenge, you automatically react. The only way to develop new reactions or change bad reactions is to retrain (or rewire) your brain.

A coach, in essence, is a personal trainer for the mind. They keep you aware of and accountable for the change you want to make.

I became committed to letting go of the emotional baggage surrounding my Father’s relationship, however, working with Dena helped me retrain my brain to not default to that script in the future.

Another example of this training comes from Dena’s favorite saying:

“Don’t live in Vague-Ville”

I had a tendency to generalize in challenging situations. For example, telling a vendor “there might be an opportunity down the road” when I fully had no intention of working with them. I was totally unaware of this habit until she called me out on it. I now catch myself in Vague-Ville and consciously readjust.

I’m not sure what the opposite of Vague-ville is. Perhaps Specific City?

One word of caution — if you believe there’s no room to improve then you’re going to find coaching rather uneventful.

No different from thinking you’re the best basketball player or a world-class husband. Only those with an open mindset for improvement can benefit from the experience.

Find a coach that works well for you and your learning style. I initially found Taylor from a private forum I belong to and Dena at a local leadership conference. Each coach runs differently.

Maybe they are more content driven and use a program like Gazelles. Maybe they are more empathetic and relational like my work with Dena. Maybe they are really cerebral and will blow your mind like Taylor did. Either way, shop around until it clicks, and then buckle in for the ride.

Relationships could lasts years or months — just make sure to give it enough time to reap the benefits.

For serious results, I’d recommend a minimum 6-month engagement and above all do your homework. The coaching calls are just the tip of the iceberg. The real results come from your efforts in between sessions.

This post was originally published on Medium

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