Are you ready for coaching?

Editor's note: The Coaches Corner column appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

About a decade ago, my personal coach told me that for a coaching relationship to be successful, it required a competent coach AND a competent client.

Without taking that personally, I've observed over the past decade what happens when a client is not truly ready and willing to be coached, and I believe there are some important distinctions to consider when deciding whether working with a coach -- either me or someone else -- is right for you now. Coaching is not for everyone, and even highly coachable people have times in their lives when coaching may not be what they really want or need.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself before making your decision:

  1. Is this the right time for me to hire a coach?
    Here's the short of it: If you feel like you are ready to make some important changes, the time is right for you. If you are extremely busy and cannot imagine taking on another thing, then the answer is probably "yes." The first thing you and your coach may want to explore is what to remove from your busy schedule to make your life feel simpler, more balanced, and manageable.

  2. Can I afford coaching?
    Make sure to look honestly at your finances before entering into the coaching relationship. If you hire a coach, you will be making an important investment into your practice and your life. Are you able to pay the coach's fee for a minimum of six months without feeling as if you are overextending yourself? If not, you may still want to continue and work with your coach on improving your financial situation immediately.

  3. Am I willing to try new things?
    During your coaching, you will be invited to look at old situations in new ways. You will be offered new concepts and different ways to approach things. If you are willing to try out new possibilities and stretch your creative side, you will get a very large return for your investment. If you are a person who vigorously defends your old perspectives, you will still get much value from committing yourself to a specific course of action.

  4. Is coaching what I am really looking for?
    There are many other kinds of professional relationships, one of which might be more appropriate for you. Do you need an accountant, attorney, financial planner, or personal assistant? Your coach will certainly support you to find the right resources at the right time if you do. Just be aware that there may be additional expenses for professional services your coach is not qualified to provide for you. Are you experiencing chronic mental suffering or dwelling extensively on past events? If so, you probably want to talk to a therapist instead of -- or in addition to -- a coach. The idea is to build the kind of relationships that you really want and need.

Don Deems, D.D.S., F.A.G.D., known as the Dentist's Coach, is a co-founder of the Dental Coaches Association, an organization of dentists who are professional coaches committed to bringing professional coaching to the dental profession. Learn more about professional coaching by visiting

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2010

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