When I first introduced the concept of coaching to lawyers it was a completely foreign concept to them. Is it because lawyers are not accustomed to having other people focus on their goals or personal and career development? Or is it because lawyers are generally a competitive group of professionals that don’t require assistance or coaching?
At the end of each of my sessions it became apparent to me that lawyers are the group of professionals that require coaching the most. Many lawyers are dissatisfied with certain aspects of their career decisions or progression and often question their desire to attend law school and practice law. They are working long hours and have little work-life balance. This is the exact reason why coaching is so important for this group of professionals.
So what exactly is coaching and how are coaches different than mentors, therapists, or consultants? Coaching does not focus on your past issues (like therapy) but takes you from your present or current state and moves you forward to a more desirable state. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been in your past, a coach can help move you forward. Coaches do not have an agenda and are not there to achieve a specific result (similar to consultants), rather they derive the answers and the desired outcome directly from their client. As a coach, I ask general open-ended questions and use intuition to determine what issues are concerning for my client. Through the responses to these empowering questions we produce an action plan to move forward in the most optimal direction for the client. Although I am a lawyer myself and can coach lawyers (similar to a mentor), I can also coach doctors, dentists, or any other person because I am not required to have walked in their shoes to move them forward. I have the requisite training as a coach and can provide them with results.
Most clients walk away from the initial coaching session surprised at the outcome and that they derived the solutions to most of their issues on their own. They are also astonished at how quickly they can focus on the most important aspects of their life. Most of us are proceeding through the motions in life without spending time focusing on our priorities and what truly makes us happy. Through coaching, we are able to raise people’s consciousness and awareness of their current situation and move them forward into more affirmative action and a more desirable state.
Some reactions from clients after a coaching session include: “This has changed the way I looked at my life”; “I now think differently about how I behave and view the world”; “I was able to define my life priorities and develop a plan that puts me on the path to success”; “the insights helped me break through some inner roadblocks and initiated greater action”; “I have improved my sense of control and well-being on a personal and professional level.”
For some clients, it takes only one session to derive benefits from coaching or to impact their lives; whereas for others it may take several sessions or months of regular sessions for them to become more aware and start incorporating the actions into their daily life to see improvements. Coaching is similar to other development tools — you get out of it what you put into it — the more open and honest you are with your coach the more likely you are to derive benefit.
This is why it is extremely important to find a coach that you can relate to and you feel comfortable with. Very often coaching will open up doors that you may not have anticipated and you want to ensure that you are discussing these items with someone who you feel comfortable with. Coaching may also uncover other internal obstacles that may need more attention and your coach may have to refer you to a therapist or other professional before you can fully reach your maximum potential.
If you haven’t experienced coaching first hand, I highly recommend that you try it. Even coaches can be coached and I have seen the benefits of coaching firsthand and can attest to the fact that it will help you find your true potential in life — both personally and professionally — that is of course, provided you are prepared to discover it.