How to prepare to be coached

Coaching is like a car journey. As the coachee, you’re in the driving seat. You’re in charge of steering, and you control the speed of the car. The coach is in the passenger seat, and they offer navigational assistance. This is a well worn but useful description of a positive coaching relationship, and you’ll notice that it puts a strong emphasis on the contribution of the coachee. The coachee is not a passive passenger, in fact their role is at least as important as that of the coach. They have the power to pick up the pace or to slow things right down, they ultimately control the direction of travel, and they dictate the destination. Drivers on the road aren’t permitted this level of power without a great deal of preparation. We are prepared well so that we can safely get from A to B. So let’s explore the question, how can I prepare to be coached? 

In one sense there is very little preparation required; you don’t need to study hard, and there is no list of tasks to complete. If you are not self funding your coaching there may be a need to sit down with your manager to identify and agree some areas that would be helpful to focus on throughout your sessions. However, there is some psychological preparation that will put you in a great position to get the most out of your coaching programme. 

So let’s continue to stretch the car analogy for three points of useful psychological preparation. 

Firstly, get in and strap in! One could take that metaphor in many directions. In this case I mean to say; be present in the car, physically and mentally. Your sessions will be a very unique time of total self indulgence in the sense that they are all about you! Don’t waste this rare opportunity. Instead, enter the coaching space in as present a way as possible, put aside the many distractions that compete for your attention, choose to engage fully, and trust the process. 

Secondly, use your mirrors. What do mirrors do? They reflect, and so will you in your coaching sessions… See what I did there?! A great deal of the value of your coaching sessions will be dictated by your willingness and ability to be self reflective. If you keep things superficial the impact may well be unremarkable. If you are ready and willing to do some deep reflection, the power of coaching will become evident in your life. So be prepared, your coach might challenge you to go deeper than you’ve ever gone before into your own beliefs and values, asking questions that dig down into the nature of who you are, what you think, how you behave, and why. 

Lastly, look ahead. There will be time dedicated to looking at your past experiences, but this is likely done with a view to where you want to go in the future. What role do you want to pursue? what qualities would you like to develop? what burdens would you like to shed? These are future focused questions, and although it’s alright not to know all the answers before you head into your coaching programme, be prepared to look ahead and consider what it is that you want. 

How can you prepare to be coached? Strap in, use your mirrors, and look ahead.