Put Me In, Coach? Consider the 4 Cs to Help You Decide

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Lawyers are a self-sufficient lot, which is why they are generally averse to asking for help. However, that may be a mistake that can affect their ultimate success.

Engaging a coach is a great way for some attorneys to maximize their success, but not all — and the decision can be a difficult one to make, for various reasons. The "Four Cs" below represent some of the most common hurdles that people encounter when considering a coaching relationship.

  1. Cost

    Many shy away from coaching because of the perceived expense. Instead, look at coaching as in investment — an investment in yourself. Like all investments, weigh cost with potential return; risk with reward. For instance, ask yourself: "How much is it worth to me now to potentially increase my earnings later, or reduce my level of stress as I go?"

  2. Commitment

    Before pursuing coaching, here's another question to ask yourself: "Am I prepared to make the commitment for success?" Many people never reach the level of success of which they are truly capable because they're not willing to invest (that nasty word again) the time, versus the money, in themselves. There is, of course, the issue of "life balance," and the maximum portion of a life that one can dedicate to work varies from person to person.

    But success undeniably has a price: the time required to do the things necessary to build your skills and education, to be known to the community that you want to serve, and to run your practice as a successful business. If you're not prepared to put tin the hours to get these things done, don't waste your money on a coach.

  3. Compulsion

    A good coach is not a buddy, an assistant or even a mentor. A coach can only guide you, not do the work for you. A really great coach will be a member of your team, someone with whom you work closely, and someone who will compel you to be better. I recently read a musing by someone who, after years of exercise on his own, decided to begin working under a firm but skilled coach — and soon, despite the toughness of the sessions, he felt better than ever. Like a Patriot in the midst of a tough August training camp, he hated the work involved, but the payoff (like a Super Bowl run, perhaps?) was great.

  4. Communication

    Some people feel that they have to establish a personal relationship with a coach in order to take the coach's direction. But this is not an attorney-client relationship: Meeting the coach face-to-face is nice, but not necessary. Communicating by telephone and email can provide greater convenience and faster feedback time, while bridging geographic distances.

    My clients contact and interview me by phone, and we conduct our coaching sessions by phone as well. These are the very same folks whose revenues have increased by five and six figures as a result of the coaching process.

Don't expect to achieve everything a coach suggests, even with a full commitment. Concentrate your efforts so that the goal is not to reach some broad "optimum" level, but to improve in an area that you feel is lacking and carries great importance to you.

When coaching works, it's the result of wisdom and willingness coming together. So jump over those hurdles that are preventing you from entering the realm of coaching and reach the finish line as a winner.

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