“So, why coaching?” my friend asked between mouthfuls of carne asada.
“What do you mean?” I inquired, gulping down water between bites of my taco.
“Why would someone hire a coach, instead of going to therapy, or just talking to their family or friends about their problems?”
“That’s a good question.” I paused, set down my taco, and began fiddling with the basket of tortilla chips in front of me. I wanted to give the “right” answer, a compelling and convincing response, because I’m a coach, and what could be easier than explaining the value of my work? Except that sometimes, it’s hard to put that value into words, because the value is… invaluable. Also unquantifiable, immeasurable. But telling someone that your work is valuable because it just is, isn’t a tremendously effective selling point.
I took a minute to think about what I love about coaching – specifically, about being coached. “Well, the first thing is, coaching and therapy are pretty different. Therapy’s great to untangle past emotional issues, to see how they impact you today. Coaching starts with where you are today, and asks how you can get to where you want to be.”
My friend nodded. “But, why not just talk to your inner circle about where you want to be? They know you better than a stranger does, so they can offer better advice, right?”
“That’s the thing,” I said. “Coaching is great because the coach doesn’t know you well. They don’t have a vested interest in the choices you make, or the outcomes of those choices. They’re not biased by knowing and having relationships with the key players in your life, unlike your friends and family and partners. Because of this, they’re generally not afraid to give you their honest perspective, if asked. But coaches generally aren’t big on advice. At least, I’m not. I feel like the person I’m coaching knows themselves way better than I ever will, and has the insight to figure out solutions to their own problems. I just ask them questions to get us there.”
I could see my friend considering what I’d shared. “So, you know I work in the corporate world. What’s the value proposition of coaching?”
I smiled. This is why I love my friends: their unfailing honesty and directness. “I’d say that coaching gives a person accountability for actually making the changes they say they want to make. A coach is a person who checks in with them regularly, helps them set goals, and challenges them to dream bigger and do more than they might initially think is possible. There’s an element of action planning, but with a ton of support. For those reasons, I think coaching has the potential to help people be much more productive than they would be on their own. You just get more done.”
“Mmmm,” my friend replied, mouth full of burrito. “Makes sense.”
“But honestly, it’s really hard to describe how powerful coaching is. It’s just… really powerful. Big things can happen.” Not my strongest argument, to be sure, but definitely the most genuine.