In its ‘purest form’, coaching is about asking the right questions to help the client formulate the best answers or arrive at their optimum solutions, by themselves.
I was taught this back in 2002 by my coach trainers, who then also asserted that ‘coaching is really more of a skill set’ you bring to the table, to go with the other skills you can utilize to help your clients.
Pure Coaching for Creatives
Let’s explore that idea. If as a coach, all you are supposed to do is help the client to work things out for themselves, to me that’s a bit lame.
Maybe working with a coach is a much more direct form of help than wading through a gazillion self-help books, but if I’m trying to lose weight, manage my teams better, or become a more focused job seeker, then the kind of coach I want supporting me from the sidelines is one who will also roll up their sleeves and get involved sometimes.
My weight loss program means walking or exercising with my coach, instead of sitting around just talking about what I ate last week, right?
And I’d expect that working with a career coach would involve him breaking out the personality profiling tools and showing me how to improve my CV and application letters.
My coaching practice is a specialist one, committed to helping non-fiction authors develop their stories, write, publish and then distribute their books and market themselves as authorities.
When it comes to publishing, there’s just no room for ‘pure’ coaching at all. If there was, there would be a lot of extra warehousing space at Amazon. Books just simply would not get written.
They might be finished as manuscripts but never actually produced and even if they got that far, a lot of dust could gather on the covers before being scooped up into mulch machines because they are taking up too much space on someone’s garage floor.
Every author is different and every book is diverse in subject matter and the objectives behind their creation.
Coaching authors means getting into the head of the author.
Before they even start to write their first draft, to pull out the stories, plan the first, second and maybe even the third book in a series.
Finally, to help them to fully articulate all that their book(s) will do for them.
- GOING TO MARKET -
This does not happen overnight, over a weekend, or in a month. While a book can be written in record time – a little as a month – the hard work of getting a manuscript to market, is as complex as having a new Pink song get radio time.
With music, what might start out as a tune, played on a guitar or keyboard, will change shape and evolve over time. Extra instruments are added to create a deeper sound, lyrics and harmonies are added, voices for background; the song is rehearsed, polished, recorded, produced (that means played around with a lot) before finally being released to the market.
A manuscript has to go through the same kind of processing before it can be considered ready for entering into Literary Awards, or deemed ready to upload to Amazon. The manuscript needs a professional edit, formatting, design, the extra front and back parts of the book, sometimes research and technical checking.
Finally, a lot of fine tuning is done to ensure that the files are ready to print, upload and make available to the market.
As a coach, there’s no way this can all be achieved simply by sitting back and offering only to ‘coach’ the client.
You have to share knowledge, resources, make the other experts available to the team and ensure that the author’s expectations are moderated – up or down – depending on their objectives.
You have to show the author, sometimes re-writing parts for them to demonstrate a difference in style, or be prepared to share proofing and editing points that you pick up along the way.
I’m appalled at the notion of a publishing coach simply telling their author to ‘get thee to an editor’ without ever even reading the work themselves to see if it’s even worthy of publishing.
Surely the coach needs to know what the client is actually producing as a result of all that encouragement, even if much of its done from the sidelines.
As a Coach University graduate, I was given a number of incredibly useful tools to help my clients with.
Clean Sweep checklists to determine which areas of their lives or businesses needed the most attention; Life Path or Manager Planning resources they could go through and decide where to take action first.
The coaching role was mostly to help them work through whatever was helping them to start, stop, or side track their journey forward, using the appropriate resources to take actions from and plan with. In hindsight, that was almost too easy.
With any specialist form of coaching however, you must have experience in that area, not just be trained as a coach.
You also need to know the lay of the land you are guiding your clients through, including all the pitfalls, places where self-sabotage might kick in and how to help them either open gates or climb fences along the way.
It turns out that coaching is a skill-set you bring to the table, along with your knowledge and expertise.
If you’re not able to demonstrate your own levels of success in the field you’re trying to assist your clients with, then arguably you’re out of integrity – and that’s breaking the number one rule of authentic coaching.
There are of course exceptions to the rule. That’s assuming music producers like Simon Cowell are considered to be coach-producers as well as coaches to any of the musical talent they nurture
It is probably true that many talent coaches who work as acting or voice coaches have never actually won Grammy’s or Oscars themselves, but have enough industry experience gained over many years to be excellent coaches. Their experience means that they make a big difference in the lives of their clients.
But consider whether someone like Michelle Bridges would have any authenticity as a personal fitness coach if she did not have her own healthy lifestyle. Would Tony Robbins be as effective if he did not have the ability to demonstrate his rise from the depths of despair in his Venice Beach apartment as a young man?
A coach can punch well above their own weight in terms of holding a hand out to help their clients up and achieving at much higher levels of success than they did themselves.
I don’t buy into the idea that ‘he who can does, he who can’t teaches / coaches’.
Some coaches are significantly better at coaching people than actually doing what their clients do, especially in the creative industries.
I’m sure that behind every music/acting/artistic/entrepreneurial star is someone who held a door open and pushed them through it.
The Right Coach
Rising stars who work with coaches are far more likely to succeed quicker and with fewer trip ups along the way.
But, if you are serious about success in any endeavor, then finding the best coach for you to personally work with is important.
If your big hairy audacious goal is to take a fast track with anything at all, you’ll get what you pay for.
Coaching programs and trainers who promise a quick easy option are simply not in the same league with those coaches who know that you have to offer one-to-one service, with a diverse range of options to best suit the varied clients and their personal backgrounds and objectives.
Setting a realistic pace towards the promised outcomes using the combined talents, drive and focus of the client, with a coach who knows how to set that pace and keep their clients on track, is going to deliver much better results, for both coach and client.
What sets the ‘right’ coach apart from all the rest?
If the client and coach can build rapport, trust each other to play
their respective roles and measure the progress regularly against clearly identified objectives, there’s a good chance that they also really like each other as people.
In reality, the best coaches in the world and the most highly talented individuals still have to like and respect each other.
It’s therefore well worth investing the time required to get this part right and that may mean a settling in and getting to know each other period.
You can’t expect brilliant outcomes in the first five minutes.
Again, if you have serious and lofty goals, these will take time to reach and someone who offers quick fix options is probably questionable in terms of coaching skills.
One final note: Coaching is not to be confused with management or agenting. Especially in the entertainment or creative industries.
Dixie Maria Carlton is a highly sought after international publishing coach, working with committed Non-Fiction authors wanting to write, self-publish and promote top quality books.
Pure Coaching for Creatives
Powerful Stories, Tips and Amazing Insight
Ready, Set, Go! Everything you need to know to start coaching from the legends in the field. As well as the Business and Life coaches, our launch edition features David Parkin (AFL), Lisa Alexander (Netball Australia), Adam Commens (Hockey Australia), Simon Cusack (Swimming Australia), Sean Douglas (FFA) and many more!