Coaching: Be Prepared

Many coaches do sample sessions that are demos. It’s the same demo every time, with every one who wants to try it out. I’m sure it works for them, but it doesn’t work for me. My sample sessions are real coaching sessions–a full hour of coaching, real questions, and real follow-up work. (I used to call it homework, but too many clients feared it.)

It’s a hard hike from rim to rim of the Grand Canyon. But worth it!

And yes, I charge for that sample coaching. It’s real work, and I charge a fee that is refunded if the person becomes a client. That way, everyone wins. A sample costs less than a regular coaching session. I get paid for my time, and the client gets a deal for the first month of coaching.

I used to do free samples, but one month, when I crunched the numbers, I had spent 20 unpaid hours coaching. Free coaching sounds like fun, and people who had no real interest in coaching tried it out without the intention of changing their lives or doing the work.

What most people don’t understand is that coaching is hard work. For me, sure, but I meant for the client. The first session is often a huge relief–the first step, the admission that something is wrong, the rush of possibility. It’s easy to think that initial excitement will happen every time. But it doesn’t. Pretty soon you are setting goals and figuring out how to get there, how to overcome your own resistant, how to get out of your own way. And it takes work. While you are supported and encouraged, it’s still work. Hard work. And that takes courage.

Of course, the results are satisfying, too. Hard work shows up as moving ahead, getting unstuck, and enjoying your creative work. But there is hard work ahead, and a lot of it.

I’ve been coaching for almost 10 years now (just three months away!) and I’ve seen the most amazing success stories. People who overcame incredible odds to make meaning, to create a new career, to write books, to leave or stay with a spouse. I’ve witnessed great courage, stolid determination and heart-blossoming discoveries. And yes, I’ve experienced a few people who expected me to do all the heavy lifting, doing the work that they don’t want to tackle. It doesn’t work that way.

After the first rush of success, after the first feeling of elation, coaching is like art–it’s hard, sometimes slow work. But there is nothing like it to reach a goal, make a change, or live your own life of success and joy.

Quinn McDonald is a coach and has a coach. That’s just sensible.