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The Misunderstanding About Coaching: Experience is Not Enough

Everyone who has stubbed their toe and recovered from it seems to suddenly have the ambition to become a coach from that experience. Unfortunately, overcoming a significant experience - stubbing a toe doesn't count - might make you an expert by experience, but absolutely not a coach.

The result is that the client might have a nice conversation, but rarely gets the help they asked for. Because in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, it usually takes a number of sessions before the client realizes this, and of course, there is no question of restitution.

How do you recognize a good coach?

The simplest way to see if someone is 'really' a coach is by determining if they are a member of the ICF. With approximately 40,000 members, it oversees that they all have the proper education, sufficient coaching hours, and that this coaching also has the desired effect.

But still, this does not say everything. Because just like with doctors, psychologists, gardeners, and architects, there is quite a bit of difference in approach and quality among them. Additionally, as a coach, there are so many specializations that as a client, you can't see the forest for the trees.

Therefore, you can use the following 3-point checklist as a rule of thumb:

Education: Does the coach make visible online which educations they have successfully completed? A short online course is of course quite different from years of intensive studying and ongoing education.

Specialization: Is the coach specialized in something? If someone is both a walking coach and a burn-out coach, then a red flag should really go up. Usually, these are people who themselves have come out of a burn-out through, in this case, for example, walking and think that this applies to everyone. Extremely dangerous! First of all, you are not a coach and secondly, every burn-out requires a different approach.

References: Does the coach have good references that resonate with your needs? If a coach has been able to coach many farmers from their village, it does not mean that they have the skills to help you as an accountant with a career question. Maybe the coach speaks the language of the farmers very well, but is not really a coach.

The reverse also applies. I have been coaching entrepreneurs and leaders within companies as an Executive Coach in and around Amsterdam, but also at an international level, for more than 15 years, but I have not done all the courses there are to do. But because I myself have been an entrepreneur for 30 years, have written books about this, my references show the results of these skilled people, and I specialize, this rightly creates the necessary trust. In other words, the position and skill of the client also say a lot about the skill of the coach.

What's wrong with a coach with little experience?

As a coach, you learn a certain set of skills, including diagnosis and asking the right questions so that the client themselves gets new insights and can transform. What a common mistake of many coaches (and psychologists) is that they do not let the client transform themselves, but play the role of mentor. A mentor tells based on their own experience what is good and not good and why that is so.

Especially in the case of a burn-out, the resistance and self-thinking ability of the client may be weakened so that this is accepted as true. Because this (un)truth is no remedy, the client thinks they are cured, while there has been no transformation at all, and the chance of relapse is enormous.

Coaching is a very delicate process in which the client gains insights themselves and through these insights, for example, loses a certain fear or can and will make better choices in life.

Telling someone why healthy eating is better and what it will yield for the person is mentoring. Asking the person how they would like to live, what is important within that, and what that would look like for that person is coaching. In this case, the client will come to the conclusion themselves that healthy eating is really what they want and will find it very important.

Why do many entrepreneurs have a coach?

Entrepreneurs and leaders within a company can experience significant work pressure. Employees who split into groups, one of which agrees with the policy and the other does not, maintaining a healthy private/work balance, financial setbacks, and internal changes due to shrinkage or growth are just a few issues they regularly deal with.

In addition, continuous decisions have to be made, and you want to feel good about them. Do you choose, for example, strict hierarchy or rather a holacracy? To make such decisions, you want to find out what you believe about them and you also want to gain knowledge about them. Especially in such cases, sometimes not only a coach but also an experienced mentor is the solution. A senior coach can often take on these roles very well.

One such person was Bill Campbell from Silicon Valley who was called 'the coach'. It is claimed that he was the coach of Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, but also of Jeff Bezos. I say here that it is claimed, because most coaches work in the shadows.

Sometimes that's because the leaders don't want it to seem like they didn't come up with something themselves, but in other cases, the coach is so good that the client really started to believe that what they suddenly started to believe came entirely from themselves. 🙂

How do you know if you could use a coach?

A coach appears in many forms and is usable for many issues. If you notice that you are encountering recurring problems, hiring a coach is usually wise. Even, or actually especially, if you believe that the recurring return of the same problem is not due to you, you would usually do better to start contacting a coach. You then have a blind spot that prevents you from seeing what you can do about it.

Another reason to approach a coach is if you get a lot of negative feedback that you don't always find justified, want to change things in your life but can't, or if you have many doubts about matters. The coach will not quickly give advice (That is the role of a mentor or sparring partner), but will ask questions so you can find your own answers.

There are few leaders in the business world who do not make use of a regular coach. These leaders realize that it is always good to have someone they can talk to without judgment and come to new insights.

Because a regular coach knows what you regularly deal with and reads and sees a lot themselves, a coach can also be a huge source of inspiration. The coach will probably ask you to watch a certain video or read a book or article. Just to inspire you and let you become the best version of yourself. Because that is what a coach does.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coaching

What makes someone a real coach?

A real coach possesses not only personal experiences but also professional training and certifications, such as membership in the International Coach Federation (ICF). This ensures that they are not only experts by experience but also skilled in effective coaching techniques.

How do you recognize a good coach?

A good coach can demonstrate which educational programs they have successfully completed and which certifications they have received. They should have a specialization that aligns with your specific needs and possess positive references from previous clients.

What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?

A coach helps you develop your own insights and fosters self-discovery by asking targeted questions. A mentor provides advice based on their own experiences and leads more by telling you what to do.

Can anyone with significant experience become a coach?

No, overcoming a personal challenge does not automatically qualify someone as a certified coach. Professional coaching requires specific skills, techniques, and ethical standards, typically acquired through targeted education and practical experience.

What are the dangers of unqualified coaches?

Unqualified coaches may mislead clients with advice that is not effective or even harmful, especially in complex personal issues such as burnout. This can lead to misunderstandings and unsatisfactory results.

Why is specialization important when choosing a coach?

Specialization is important because it shows that the coach has in-depth knowledge and experience in a specific area. This makes the coaching more effective and tailored to your unique situation.

How important are references when choosing a coach?

References are crucial as they provide insight into the experiences of previous clients with the coach. They help assess whether the coach has consistently delivered positive results that meet your needs.

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