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Choosing the right local Political, Personal or Business Coach
By Ramona Creel - Reprinted with permission

Coaching has become a very popular way for people to get the ongoing support they need to accomplish their goals. However, choosing a coach can be tricky. There are so many METHODS, models, and approaches. Coaches come from every background possible -- from counseling to consulting to corporate America. And each individual has a PERSONALITY, communication style, and temperament that is going to match well with some people and clash with others. So how do you choose someone who is right for you?

DIFFERENT APPROACHES
You first need to make sure that the personís PHILOSOPHY is appropriate for what you want to accomplish. There are over 30 different ďmethodsĒ that a coach can use to help you, and itís important that you find someone whose approach resonates with you. Some coaches emphasize feelings, while others focus more on specific action steps. Many use traditional counseling methods to help you overcome obstacles, and others come from employ a more ďcorporateĒ training model. And all coaches will have particular strengths and preferences in their approach.

Itís important to recognize which type of coaching you RESPOND to best -- and which will fill in the GAPS between your own personal strengths. If you are very sensitive, you may flourish under coaching that is supportive and nurturing. If you tend to become overwhelmed by your goals, you may need a coach who can take vague, nebulous ideas and turn them into concrete actions. And if you have a hard time crossing the finish line with your projects, you might do well to hire a coach who can keep you on track and make you accountable to your deadlines. Talk to your coach about his or her philosophy toward the coaching process to get a sense of where he or she is coming from.EXPERTISE.

EXPERTISE
The next step is to look at a coachís area of SPECIALIZATION. Remember that each different circumstance might call for a different approach. It isnít always a good idea to use the same coach when working on different areas of your life. A good football coach isnít necessarily going to be successful coaching a basketball team or a group of baseball players. And the same is true for personal coaching.

While many coaches sell themselves as ďholisticĒ in their approach, most have one or two areas that they focus on more than others. You might find one coach who is great at helping entrepreneurs with the art of selling, another who specializes in creating healthy lifestyles, and a third who works almost exclusively with folks who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. Certainly, one size doesnít fit all in this case. Be sure to select someone who has EXPERIENCE in your particular area of need -- donít be afraid to ask for references from clients who have worked with the coach on similar issues.

PERSONALITY
Coaching is often a lengthy and very intimate relationship -- you will be sharing your innermost fears, dreams, and ambitions with another person and asking for a supportive and non-judgmental attitude (thatís more than many of us do with our friends and family!) You need to feel a RAPPORT with your coach, or you will never achieve the level of success that could be available to you. If you feel constantly on your guard or resistant or uncomfortable, think about using a different coach. You can tell a lot about your future relationship with a coach from your initial INTERVIEW -- how does this person make you feel? Would you be comfortable sharing your secrets with this person? Do you have any reservations about working with this coach?

CREDENTIALS
While coaching is still a relatively unregulated field, there are some standard CERTIFICATIONS you might want your coach to have. Coach University (http://www.coachu.com) offers two designations -- the Certified Graduate (CCG) and Certified Master Coach (CCMC). The International Coaches Federation (http://www.coachfederation.org) also offers an Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC) certification, a Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC) certification, and a Master Credentialed Coach (MCC) certification. You can visit these sites to review the requirements for each certification. While these kinds of credentials donít guarantee a good fit with your coach, they do indicate that he/she has completed study of core coaching COMPETENCIES -- itís not just some ďJoe SixpackĒ off the street who decided to hang a shingle out.

In addition, find out what your coachís prior BACKGROUND is. Someone who has an MBA and has worked as a sales director for a Fortune 500 company is probably completely competent to coach you on sales technique and business growth. However, he/she might not have any experience working with people on health and wellness issues. Ask your coach what led him/her into the FIELD -- many times, coaches will have experienced their own challenges and epiphanies and wanted to share their techniques and successes with others. Make sure your coach knows what he/she is talking about before you sign on.

YOUR COACHíS ROLE
There are three main roles your coach can take in your relationship:

- Mentor (one who supports your ideas, gives you a safe place to stretch your wings, and nurtures your goals as you develop them)

- Visioneer (one who helps you to see beyond your boundaries, suggests new approaches, and helps you view the world from a different perspective)

- Taskmaster (one who turn dreams into action steps, helps set and meet deadlines, and keeps you on track as you move forward)

Every coach will display a bit of each personality -- but, of course, some will lean further in one direction than in another. You need to have some idea of what you WANT from your coach before you start working together. Do you need someone to support and affirm and validate you -- or someone to help you brainstorm new ideas and push beyond your current limits -- or a coach who will make you accountable to and responsible for your goals? Maybe some of each? COMMUNICATE these needs with your coach upfront so you can insure that you will get what you want from your coaching relationship.

WHAT DO YOU WANT HELP WITH?
This can be an incredibly tricky question for someone who is thinking about hiring a coach. Many times, you donít have a clue what you want -- besides the vague notion that you want your life to improve somehow. Thatís okay -- let your coach know that you that you need help CLARIFYING and PRIORITIZING your goals. Or you may have a solid idea of the end result you desire -- you want to make more money or feel healthier or create more balance between your business and personal life -- but you donít know how to begin or what steps to take. Tell your coach that you need help creating an ACTION PLAN -- breaking your large goal down into manageable steps and finding the resources you need to succeed. If you are feeling frustrated because you have tried over and over again to accomplish your goal -- letís say losing weight -- but you never seem to get there, let your coach know that you need help finding the right path, staying MOTIVATED, and making it to the end. But whatever your reason for hiring a coach, donít be surprised if you find yourself working on other areas of your life during your sessions. Coaching is a very integrated activity, and you will find that success in one area tends to spread to the others.

Your coaching relationship has the potential to be one of the most rewarding of your life Ė if you choose the right person to share it with. Be sure to INTERVIEW several coaches thoroughly before making a decision. And if you end up with the wrong coach, donít suffer in silence. Many people think that they are UNCOACHABLE, when they are simply working with the wrong person. Donít be afraid to walk out of a relationship that isnít working (thatís just what a coach would tell you!)


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Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of OnlineOrganizing.com -- offering "a world of organizing solutions!" Visit www.onlineorganizing.com for organizing products, free tips, a speakers bureau -- and even get a referral for a Professional Organizer near you. And if you are interested in becoming a Professional Organizer, we have all the tools you need to succeed. If you would like to reprint this article, you may do so as long as you include this full resource box. (Copyright Ramona Creel)
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