4 lessons learned during my personal coaching journey

I have been wondering for years, how would it be to have a personal coach. You read about it, you see it on TV/in movies, or you hear others talking about it. Long story short, coaching is trendy and fancy (at least in my environment). So I said to myself: “Sandra, find someone you will like and give a try!”. And I did.

It all started in April when I met the right person. We agreed that we would start our adventure in June, wonderful time of the year to start something new, isn’t it? Last Friday I had my last session so I thought I will share my experience with you. Why? Well, first of all, it is a great opportunity for myself to put together my thoughts and build a summary (I like summaries). But this is not the only reason. A lot of friends and work colleagues were asking me about it. What do I do during these sessions with the coach? What are the results? Why did I decide to do it? That helped me realize that my initial curiosity wasn’t unique and there are more people wondering about giving it a go. Therefore, for myself, and. anyone who is interested in the subject, here are some of my reflections.

Simon Sinek says, “Always start with WHY”. My “why” for finding a coach was pretty simple: CURIOSITY and willingness to try something new. Of course, there was also a bit of hope that I will discover something amazing about myself that will help in my career or personal life.

To be honest, I think that my desire was met. I will tell you about it some other time. Now first things first, what I have learned during my personal coaching aventure. Remember, this is an extremely subjective point of view.

1. All or nothing — in the middle you will find shit!

Yep! You are reading this right! I found out that there are only 2 desirable extremes in personal development. I think both are hard to reach/remember or perhaps impossible: KNOWING NOTHING or KNOWING EVERYTHING about yourself, your needs, pain points, strengths, weaknesses… you name it. Why? Well, if you are not self-aware at all you don’t give a shit and move on. If you start discovering yourself you will get to know that as soon as you answer one question, a new one will pop up like mushrooms after the rain (this is a well-known polish proverb, I have no idea if it still makes sense in English but it is worth trying, so please let me know if it makes sense to you if you are an English native speaker).

ADVICE: If you decide to dig deeper into yourself be ready for some tough time and frustration. After some time it will get better and better. I am not sure what is at the end of the tunnel as I am still walking through it. But believe me, it looks like there is a light at the end of it. And if not, I am ready to light it by myself.

2. The magic happens in between coaching sessions.

If you hope that the face time with your coach will solve all your problems you are wrong! Coaching is not about the 60 or 90 minutes you spend with your coach. The real work and magic happen in between your meetings. Well, yeah! I understood it after 3rd or 4th working session. Indeed, the face time is very intense and you will be asked many questions. You will do your best to answer her and put on your poker face in front of a coach, whom you haven’t known for too long. The trust is new or still being developed. You will need time to reflect on what have been discussed during the meeting and digest all the outcomes. How will you know that the magic is happening? Ha! I don’t have a universal answer for you. In my case, I realized it suddenly, in some random, unexpected situation when questions from the coaching session were coming to my mind and I was paying attention to details which in the past I would have missed.

ADVICE: Be observant and focused! This is magic, not a Rammstein concert or a Divali festival. You need to be mindful to hear and see it.

3. Create physical artifacts.

Now that my coaching journey is over, I do appreciate physical artifacts that I created during this engagement. Why? Well, for example, thanks to that I am able to have this final reflection and share some thoughts with you. My very first post on Medium was about taking notes and here I would like to remind you of this message. Our memory (for the majority of us) is not as good as we think. Trust me, one day you will be so thankful that you took these notes and you can review them.

ADVICE: Sometimes you will create physical artifacts during the session together with your coach. However, if your session doesn’t contain such element, spend some quality time reflecting on your session and taking notes. Do not wait for too long, if possible, do it straight after the meeting so your thoughts are still fresh when you are writing them down.

4. Keep the momentum.

This is an overall reflection from many learning experiences I had in my life. Once the official training, study, assignment, or coaching is over, you need to develop a routine in order to continue practicing the skills you learned during the formal part of the experience. Yes! Taking a couple of hours of cooking classes won’t make you the next Ferran Adrià or Massimo Bottura. You need to practice and ask for feedback (if you don’t believe me, I encourage you to see Angela Duckworth’s TEDtalk or read her book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”).

ADVICE: I know it is easier said than done. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a final and tested recipe now. I can tell you what I did and in the future, I will share the update. Basically, I build a little plank for a new daily and weekly routine of self-reflection. I used materials provided by the authors of the “Designing your Life” book. Check this out.

Was it worth it? Hell yes! I have no doubts it was. I see a transformation in myself and this article can be only one proof of that. A couple of months ago, I wouldn’t dare to share my thoughts on the Internet. So if you are considering working with a personal coach, stop hesitating and give it a go! There is no better way to see if it will work for you than trying it out.

Good luck! :)

I am passionate about solving complex problems, driving organizational change at scale, and helping people in building their creative confidence. My views only.