Not long ago, I was flicking through the Sunday Times magazine when I came across an article reviewing coaches – one was a ‘comparison coach’, another a ‘compassion coach’, a ‘menstruation mentor’ and a ‘gut coach’. You get the picture, people use coaches to help solve a specific set of challenges.

As an executive coach myself, I live by the mantra, ‘do for you what you do for others’. This is why I made the decision to hire my own coach, and these are the lessons I learned from my most recent experience.

Lesson One – Choose a coach to support your specific challenges

When I decided to seek out my own coach, I hired Cailen, a ‘Lifestyle Design Coach’, because I was specifically looking to design a flexible timetable with maximum productivity – THE holy grail for working mothers like myself.

“Success isn’t created in isolation,” says Cailen. “It’s created through clarity, community and consistency. The right coach can offer you all of these things and help you map out a perfect-for-you plan for forward motion and success,” she explains.  “Having worked closely with Stephanie as her mentor, I’ve been impressed by her strong ability to empower business leaders to rise to the fore” adds Cailen.

Lesson Two – Choose a coach who shares your philosophy

When you select your coach, you implicitly buy-in to their philosophy and their viewpoint. You enter their space, and Cailen’s space was one of quiet confidence, calm and positivity – and it was contagious. It was exactly what I needed.

Cailen was a good choice for me because of this shared philosophy. Her approach is similar to my own coaching style, which is inquisitive, nurturing and vitalizing.

I work with innovative business leaders to peel back the layers and find their core strengths, or their ‘zone of genius’. We then work together to release limiting beliefs and refuel on positive energy to drive peak performance.

Lesson Three – Choose a coach who enables you to be your GREAT self

Cailen is an organisational powerhouse. She masters the art of time management and offered me practical tools to help me focus my energy and limited time on delivering my top vision.  On top of my impressive new toolkit, I also learned how to manage the pressure we put on ourselves.

I must admit, I am brilliant at putting pressure on myself. I am amazing at telling myself I don’t do enough. Working with C-level leaders and start-up founders, I find they share this overwhelm. Rising above the day-to-day grind is one of the hardest tasks for a visionary leader, a driven executive, a change maker.

The key is to turn self-inflicted and external pressures into your best friends. Yes, think about it – increased pressure allows us to access tunnel vision and forces us to find more effective, faster ways to our destination.  

The more pressure we feel, the more focused we become. It’s almost like a positive trap – we are trapped to succeed. Using techniques including visualisation, role play and therapeutic questioning, my coaching sessions strengthen my clients’ inner resilience and help them keep their eye on the prize.

Lesson Four – Choose a coach who has your back

To deliver on your ‘big strategy’ or to reach your aggressive sales targets, while inspiring and motivating yourself and/or your team you need a support structure.

Good coaches, such as Cailen, offer tools to help you work through your challenges, but I also knew she had my back and she made me accountable to ensure my dream goals remained my top priority.

My coaching philosophy is that, just as a person is innocent until proven guilty, you can do it and you know it – until proven otherwise. Having a coach support you unconditionally is essentially empowering.

Truth is, sometimes it’s hard to know which part of our learning can be handed over to a coach and how much of our growth is down to us – what good coaches offer you is an experience: a memorable, transformational journey. They don’t deliver ‘stuff’ – they are a conduit for you to grow.

I am lucky and privileged to be able to allow clients to imagine a world of limitless opportunities. I take them to places they fear – not because they are bad places but because we all fear greatness. Once we give ourselves permission to be ‘great’ we have taken the first and most important step forward.

This the magic of coaching.