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15 Compelling Reasons Not to Hire a Coach

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Imagine the dinner party conversation. Room full of strangers and everyone is making polite yet slightly boring conversation. Hot topics range from the weather to upcoming holidays to what you do for work. Often, when asked what I do, I’ll say I’m a coach. Then I get the dog look. You know the one.

What do you coach people on? Like sports?

I coach people to help them show up more powerfully in their personal leadership and live a more fulfilling life.

Oh. A coach! Yeah. Sure. Totally. Cool. I always thought about hiring a coach. What do you think? Should I?

Freeze here.

There was a time in my business when bells would go off in my head. They want to hire a coach? Awesome. Let it be me.

I’ve learned. Now I pause.

Maybe sorta kinda wanting to work with a coach and being ready and committed are not always the same thing. Not to mention, perhaps it shouldn’t be me.

If you’ve thought that you might like to work with a coach, it takes more than dollars and an opening on your calendar on Tuesday at 3:00. While I, like most coaches, would love to partner with you to accelerate your happiness and success, there are signs it might not be right for you – don’t ignore them.

Maybe you’ve been told you need to hire a coach. Then again, maybe you just read an article or met a fascinating person like me at that dinner party. No matter what reason you’ve come to a decision, and before you move forward, check in to confirm that you’re ready to make the leap. Can doesn’t always = should.

Want to Hire a Coach? Here Are 15 Reasons It May Not Be Right for You

You prioritize cost over value

When you interview a coach and they tell you their fee, it’s not a starting offer. Coaches are professionals. Yes, different levels of experience and niches have different price points, but cheap shouldn’t be your leading criteria. Focus on value, your goals, and what you want to achieve from your coaching.

You’re not willing to be honest with yourself

Lots of people like to tell themselves stories. If you do too, you’re not alone. Still, if your MO is to deflect and defend at all costs, you won’t get what you need out of a coaching relationship. Coaching works when you’re willing to take a beat to find the nugget of truth you’ve been burying for too long.

You want to be liked 

If you want to pay someone to tell you how smart, fabulous, and good looking you are don’t hire a coach. You can’t waste your time worrying about how you come off or stressing about looking likable when you’re doing the hard work of self-discovery and uncovering clarity where before only existed fog and uncertainty.

You want someone to tell you exactly what to do

There are coach/mentors out there who are willing to give you recommendations and suggestions. They’ll even brainstorm with you on your next step and share their experience as a part of the conversation. Still, if you just don’t want to be the one to decide on your next step and want someone else to take control for you, look somewhere else. A consultant is probably a better fit.

You’re unwilling to prioritize coaching

If you can’t find the time on your schedule on a consistent basis for something that you’re paying for in service of your success and growth, what are you doing? Some people will bump their coaching session for just about anything, and there are others who treat that time as sacred. Which one do you think gets the most out of their coaching relationship? Not hard to guess.

You refuse to do any work outside of your sessions

When you work with a coach, there will be aha! moments. However, you’ll also walk away with some actions to take and want to reflect as you integrate new insights into your day-to-day. If you want all the work to happen during your 60 minutes, you’re missing out. Coaching is not about a single great conversation, it’s your springboard to transform your life and leadership outside of the session.

You don’t want to be challenged

Hate it when someone calls you on your crap, pushes you or challenges your way of thinking? Does it make you crazy or angry or shut down? If so, coaching is not for you. Perhaps what you want is a mentor to share their experience instead of someone who’s going to challenge you.

You just want to vent

Venting can be useful and has a place in coaching but if that’s all you really want to do, don’t hire a coach. You’re better off meeting a friend for coffee or dinner and letting it all out. In coaching, once you’re done venting, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on and design a plan to move forward, not wallow in your frustration.

You’re not sure why you want to hire a coach

I’ve gotten calls from people who want to hire a coach because their friend hired a coach and got a lot out of it. They don’t have any specific goals or things that they want to work on in our sessions but are sure that it will be useful. While you may stumble on things that are insightful for you, your coaching time won’t be purposeful and that matters. What’s at stake? What’s important to you?

You hate discomfort

Coaching is uncomfortable. If you want to remain in your comfort zone, don’t hire a coach to help you get out of it. You hire a coach to make a change; to move from where you are today to where you want to be in the future.

You underestimate chemistry

Not every coach should be coaching you. Before you hire a coach, have a call or meeting with them. Sure, they may have worked with your colleague down the hall, friend, or neighbor, but it doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Coaching can be intense and deeply personal. Not every style, personality or approach will be a good match for you. Take your time to find the right person.

You don’t want to set the agenda 

Each time you meet with your coach, they’ll likely ask you for the agenda for your conversation. It’s your time, you set the agenda. If you don’t have anything specific you want to talk about, work towards or explore, it’s not time well spent. Hate to set the agenda and prefer to let someone else take the lead? Get over it or at least question how you’ll get what you need from your coach.

Related: Is There a Secret to Work-Life Balance?

Silence drives you crazy

Here’s what happens: Your coach asks you a question and then waits for your answer. If you don’t have an answer immediately, they’ll give you a moment to reflect, process and respond. There will be quiet; palpable outer stillness while you wrestle inner turbulence. However, some people get so uncomfortable with silence they’d rather talk about nothing than letting it linger. If that’s you, either learn to be with the silence or find another mode of support

Unwilling to go deeper

When you start to get to a tender place, do you put up a wall? Coaching will take you deeper than you’d go on your own or could with a book. Going deep isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Especially in the social media era, people like snippets and quick fixes. Transformation and strength are beyond skin deep.

Expert vs. Equals

If you want to hire an expert who will give you steps 1-10 because they know more than you, hire a consultant. If you want someone who’s your equal in the coaching relationship, but an expert in coaching in specific areas like career development, business, leadership, etc, hire a coach. There is no room for a power dynamic in a successful coaching relationship.

So you still want to hire a coach? Make a powerful change in your life? Then make it happen. Good news is, you don’t have to go it alone.

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