A good percentage of my new clients have spent time, effort and money trying to ‘reform’ themselves with seminars, tapes, books and the like. They have tested the proposition that coaching is something that they can do for themselves. Most of them have come to the realization that working with a coach is a lot more effective than self-improvement books, training programs and seminars.
Most of them have come to realize that money that spent on motivational seminars, training programs, self-help books, and business books is not money well spent at all. Coaching is kind of like Chinese food – just after you eat you feel full but in an hour or so you are hungry again – the experience is not cumulative or life changing. By attempting to self-coach, they forgo the objectivity and perspective that is required in order to see more clearly, as clearly as someone can see you from the outside. They also write themselves exemptions from being accountable. Both of these are severely self-limiting.
Self-help books have many limitations. They are inherently one-size-fits-all. Crafty authors write in a style that leads the reader to believe that they are talking directly to them – but, particularly with the best authors, there are thousands of readers participating in the same illusion. Most readers get a short-term high out of reading these books but little or no long-term change.
Of all the books that you have read on self-help, how-to business, career planning, leadership development, management, personal growth and wealth, how many have you finished reading from cover to cover? Have you taken notes on anything that you have read in those books or have you ever done any of the exercises? If so, have you applied the exercises and advice to your own life in a meaningful way? Remember, in managing change it is change – implementation – not comprehension that matters.
Self-help books about advice suffer from the same problems that a book about ‘how to play football’ does. Football is not so much about understanding the game intellectually as being able to play it effectively. The understanding of the game might make you a fan – but not a player. If you are going to get good at the game, you need a coach and a chance to play. You need someone hovering around you and charting your actual progress – someone who will call you when you make excuses or procrastinate – a coach who will teach you the finer points of the game.
Since these self-help books, seminars and tapes do not have built-in accountability, follow-up, reminders, and neither goal setting nor the power of two human wills, they often do little more than take a dozen hours to read and then only about a day to forever forget.
Books have been around for a long time and they are an integral part of self-understanding and conducting the groundwork for positive change within your life. However, it is good to keep in mind that the most successful executives have always used trainers, advisers, and coaches. Just as you can probably teach yourself another language, you will soon forget it if you do not practice with someone else who is familiar with that language and can help pronounce the difficult words.
With a coach, you are utilizing your own personal power of commitment to create change within both your personal and corporate lives. Your coach will have the same commitment.
Even though you may have read dozens of self-help books or attended numerous business coaching and training seminars, none of these will offer you the kind of personal attention and commitment you would get through finding and working with a coach. A coach will take a personal and extended interest in your situation and will provide you with the necessary tools that will increase your own personal growth and leadership development. Besides being committed to your success, your coach will also hold you accountable for your actions in achieving your goals.
Many of my clients have told me that they made more progress in the first month that we worked together than in all their years of reading self-help books, listening to tapes and attending seminars. If you want to talk about how coaching can benefit your life and career, send me an e-mail and we will arrange a time to talk.
© Dr. Earl R. Smith II