5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Coach

It’s common to hire a life coach for a variety of reasons, typically someone needs to lean on a coach when trying to transform their life in some aspect. Often, people are looking to either improve their career or business in some way or are looking for clarity and focus on their personal life. But once you make the decision to hire a coach, what’s the best approach for finding the perfect coach?

Here are my 5 tips to help you find the perfect coach.

TIP #1: Evaluate what you’re looking to achieve and pick a coach depending on your specific needs.

Although the term is ‘life coach’ there is no coach that will be an expert in all life matters. I frequently refer potential clients to other coaches who would be a better fit for a specific client.

Some life coaches are good for achieving health and fitness goals while others are useful in developing career and business advice. Decide what you want to achieve, and then look for a coach with the skill set and knowledge to help you get there.

Most coaches offer a complimentary first coaching session, definitely take advantage of this free session. It’s your opportunity to get some free insight from a coach, but more importantly, it allows you to make sure you and your coach have a good vibe. You don’t want to work with someone you’re not comfortable with and this is your test run. The complimentary coaching session is also a great indicator of the future success you may or may not have with that coach. Use your initial meeting to ensure you feel comfortable working with the coach and confident they can help you.

TIP #2: Determine how much time the life coach is willing to spend with you.

Top coaches are very busy, especially those whose effectiveness is spread by word of mouth. For meaningful results, a coach must be willing to allocate enough time to understand your goals and help you chart a path for achieving those goals. If the workload of the life coach is too heavy, you could end up going through meaningless motions.

Make sure expectations about how frequently you will meet with your coach are clear and set prior to a relationship.

Tip #3: Ensure you’re comfortable with the coach’s style and methodologies.

Is the coach offering a structured approach or a customized approach? Some coaches prefer working exclusively with methods which have been successful in the past; others are always implementing new ideas and strategies. You have unique needs and goals, discuss those with your prospective coach and make sure they mesh well with your potential coach.

TIP #4: Ask for a reference before committing to a coach.

A good coach should be willing to share details about the successful results they have achieved with other clients. And be willing to provide a client reference who is willing to discuss their experience and level of success with the coach. Don’t be shy, definitely ask for a reference before committing to a coach.

TIP #5 Make sure the coach lives a successful life.

It would make little sense to go to a life coach who has no successes of their own. Or someone who isn’t a happy person in their own life. Pick someone who has enough experience to guide and motivate you along your journey and who is in a position to use their past experiences as reference points you can leverage.

Final Takeaway

A life coach can definitely help you find clarity and achieve your goals, but don’t rush the process when searching for the perfect coach. Take your time and be intentional during the process.

About the author: Matt East is a life coach that cringes every time he hears the words “life coach”. Schedule a time to meet with him for 30 minutes here (yup, it’s free and not as scary as it sounds).

The Math of Trolls

Have you ever been held back from creating something because you were worried someone may not like it? I know I have.

Here’s a tip for overcoming that fear. I call it the math of trolls, it’s based on the idea that someone is 100% guaranteed to not like what you create. Consider the criticism of the following well-known authors and musicians. Regardless of how well received a song, album, or book is by their intended audience, it always receives negative feedback.

Some examples include:

Walden, the literary American classic by Henry David Thoreau exploring nature and its simplicity, harmony, and beauty, currently has 124 one-star reviews on Amazon. Including this particularly harsh feedback:

  • “What a blowhard.”

  • “What a yawn!”

  • “Tough read, it was extremely boring.”

  • “I was not impressed.”

  • “…the book is crap.”

  • “I was bored to death.”

  • “Hated it.”

  • “Boring.”

The Beatles receive equally harsh feedback for their classic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, named the number one album of all time by the Rolling Stone.

  • “I just don't get why anybody likes this album!”

  • “Most of the songs are worthless, stupid, and dull.”

  • “Incredibly mundane.”

  • “Not only is it a bad album, it is also a boring one.”

  • “CRAP!!!!!!!”

Thriller, the top-grossing album of all-time by Michal Jackson receives the following feedback:

  • “This album is overrated.”

  • “With the exception of ‘Billie Jean’ the album is a dud.”

  • “Nothing special.”

Le d Zeppelin sold over 23 million copies of Led Zeppelin IV, and receives these remarks:

  • “I can't believe people think this is good music.”

  • “One of the worst bands of the 70's.”

  • “This album represents the musicians attempting a level of art they weren't capable of reaching, and the results are spectacularly crass and mindless.”

Dr. Dre’s debut album, The Chronic, which is widely regarded as one of the most well-produced hip-hop albums of all time received the following critiques:

  • “This album sucks!”

  • “One of the worst albums & rappers ever.”

  • “The worst CD that I have ever heard in my life.”

I understand the lyrics of The Chronic could easily offend listeners, and that may be why listeners feel adamant about sharing their negative feeling towards it. But that doesn’t explain the negative reaction to this YouTube version of Patti Griffin’s song Heavenly Day (it’s basically an ode to relaxing and lyrically one of the least offensive songs I could find). Thirty viewers have publicly thumbed it down. I understand some people may not like this style of music (and they are certainly entitled to an opinion) but it seems like a stretch to publicly want to show distaste for it.

My point is, and this is something I reinforce daily with clients: Prior to beginning the creative process for your project (regardless if it’s a song, book, app, painting, starting a restaurant, building a business, or anything else) establish who it’s for and declare it’s not for everyone. Understand before you start working there is a 100% chance someone will not appreciate it. No matter how brilliant or prolific, your work will be criticized and disliked.

Initially, this seems scary or at least concerning and can paralyze the creative process. But what if you use it to do the opposite?

Could you use it:

  • As fuel to do your most creative work by ensuring you don’t dull it down to satisfy the masses?

  • To ensure you focus on creating something special that will particularly resonate with your target audience?

  • To ease the blow when your first critical feedback is received? (After all, you expected it. It was part of the plan. You saw it coming.)

Everyone’s not going to like what you make. Make it anyway.  

Stop Seeking Approval

Seeking an outside perspective occasionally is helpful but a constant need for approval is harmful in many ways. Leading you to not achieve your goals or reach your potential.

The benefits of “letting go” from what other people think can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life. Here are a few reasons to worry less about what other people think of you or your work.

Seeking permission and waiting for approval slows you down.

Every moment you spend searching for approval or trying to gain permission is a moment you are not working, building, and completing the work you want to do. It’s holding you back from your ambitions, goals, and desire to make an impact.

Your self-worth needs to be tied to something more stable.

You can’t count on the opinions of others to make you happy. People’s beliefs, likes, and dislikes change frequently. Humans are emotional and to measure your ideas by another person’s opinion is to tie yourself to the randomness of how someone may be feeling when you ask for their perspective.

You are looking for self-acceptance.

The reason we want approval is to confirm that we are on the right path, doing the right thing, and acting the right way. But only you can convince yourself of that. Empty approval from your boss, clients, friends, or parents won’t lead to the peace of mind you’re looking for.

People have different goals.

Be careful of the opinions of people who have significantly different desires than you do. Also, keep in mind, what you are looking to achieve may be very different from the people whom you are seeking an opinion from. 

The people we respect and admire aren’t approval seekers.

Think of someone you admire. Why are you attracted to them? Likely, it’s because they’re presenting something that is true to themselves. They didn’t get that way by appeasing everyone they met.

It’s freeing.

When you let go of the compulsion to seek approval from others you will be free to do your best work without worrying what other people will think of it.

 

Finding Your Flow

Finding a state of flow is characterized by total serenity, belief in one’s self, inner clarity, complete focus and concentration, and loss of time. For creative professionals such as artist, authors, engineers, and entrepreneurs it is often sought out because “flow” leads to extraordinarily productive periods of work.

It’s described in a letter from Albert Einstein’s to his son after hearing about his newfound love for piano: “That is the way to learn the most, when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal…”

Here are 12 tips for achieving more flow in your life:

1.      Find what gets you in “flow”

You can do this by paying attention to how your physiology changes with certain activities like your breathing, posture, and energy level. Flow is a state of non-resistance and often causes you to forget hunger, thirst, and other worldly desires. Ask yourself: when am I executing rather than negotiating whether I should do something or not?

2.      Turn off distractions

Your phone, your email, your TV, and your doorbell are all hurting your chances of achieving a state of flow. Many creative professionals increase their odds of finding a state of flow by using website blockers to ensure they are not being easily distracted. Turning off all types of phone and computer notifications will help you find your flow.

3.      Manipulate the variables

Create a work environment that is conducive to finding your flow state. Having a non-cluttered space and listening to my favorite music helps me. Find what works for you. It may be diffusing essential oils or something as simple as having a coffee or water within arm’s reach.

4.      Schedule yourself appropriately

Set aside substantial chunks of time uninterrupted by meetings. I currently block two days a week, which allow for long stretches of writing, thinking and creating. I don’t meet with clients or potential clients on these days.

5.      Prime your mind

There’s a reason Michael Phelps followed the same precise routine before every race, not just to warm up physically, but also to center his mind for competition. Find a morning routine that works well for you and sets you up for success later that day.

6.      Focus on one thing at a time

Multitasking on various projects is a flow state killer. Focusing on one item at a time gives you the best chance of finding flow.

7.      Use goals and deadlines to your advantage

It’s hard to find a state of flow if you’re doing it in a purposeless manner. Define what needs to be accomplished within a timeframe and get to work.

8.      Use meditative methods

Many forms of meditation are about harnessing the focus of repetition, like your breath or a mantra. Similarly, many authors and entrepreneurs have claimed they are able to increase focus by looping one song.

9.      Give yourself some time

Flow may not happen automatically when you sit down at the piano, computer, or a canvas. That’s okay. Don’t give up in the first five minutes. It may take some time to break into a state of flow.

10.   Build more skill

Part of what helps us enter flow according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is that we have the appropriate amount of ability, and confidence in that ability, to tackle a challenge. This means, the better we get at something, the more likely we’ll find flow.

11.   Pay attention to your brain searching for an easy way out

As a task grows more difficult, you may want to reach for your phone or mindlessly start surfing the internet. If you are fatigued, just take a break. But don’t be fooled by your mind, fight the urge to escape the work just because it’s challenging.

12.   Repeat, repeat, and repeat

The more you get into a flow state, the easier it will be to re-enter. As with any habit, it takes cultivation. Focus on what gives you the feeling of flow. And do more of that.

Finding a flow state is about finding what works best for you. How do you get into a state of flow?

Are Grateful People Healthier?

Not only does being grateful feel good, but there is mounting evidence that practicing consistent gratitude has additional mental, physical, and social benefits outside of our moment-to-moment experiences.

Here are the top advantages that come along with being grateful.

Improved physical health

People who have the consistent habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be found exercising, experiencing lower stress, making smart dietary choices, and sleeping well. All good things, right? Research suggests an explanation: those who are outwardly grateful for life feel an obligation to take care of the machine that makes life possible. In other words, when we feel grateful, we are motivated to try and live longer.

Better psychological health

Expressing gratitude leads to drastic changes in neurochemistry. You can literally rewire your brain away from negative emotions like envy, regret, and frustration. According to the behavioral researcher, Robert Emmons, Ph.D. by making a habit of expressing gratitude your mind actively searches for new things to be grateful for, in turn, you create new neural pathways for emotional stability and higher levels of happiness. How cool is that?

Better relationships

Appreciating others is critical for creating healthy relationships. It’s a win-win: you feel better and you become more likeable in the process. Think about what it feels like when someone sends a sincere “thank you” for a project you worked on tirelessly or when your significant other acknowledges you cleaning the entire kitchen from floor to ceiling. It feels really good. Being grateful helps you build trust, show love, and foster deeper connections.

Higher social capital

Not only does gratitude serve as the foundation for better relationships but it also helps build relationships characterized by trust and reciprocity. It’s simple: people like and are attracted to other people who are grateful and happy.

Feeling Like a Fraud?

You know that nagging voice in your head? The one saying things like “Should I be here?” or “Am I even qualified to give this talk?” The one that makes you feel like you’re not worthy, or are on the verge of being “found out” as a fraud?

These thoughts are the symptom of what behavioral scientists call imposter syndrome.  While it’s uncomfortable, and even debilitating at times, it’s entirely normal. In fact, it’s a chance for personal growth, if you look at it the right way.

The next time you feel imposter syndrome creeping in, look it as an opportunity to:

Appreciate your progress.

You got to this place, doing these bigger (and sometimes scary) things because you put yourself out there and you worked hard. Recognize that and give yourself credit for stepping outside your comfort zone. Months ago, you wouldn’t have dreamed of the opportunity in front of you, to give a talk in front of 5,000 sales professionals or write this 200-page media exposé. And while today, you think you aren’t qualified, sit back and appreciate how far you’ve come. You have already triumphed. Celebrate it.

Recognize your individuality.

Your life is not linear, nor is it black and white. Part of imposter syndrome is having this feeling that you should feel a certain level of confidence by this point. And somehow, that feeling has eluded you. But you, like everyone else in the world, are on a unique path. Focus on the big picture. You are improving, progressing, and making moves in the right direction. Accept that everything does not need to be perfect today or any day, and continue carving your path.

Cultivate confidence in making mistakes.

You learn more from your failures than your successes. Cliché, but true. Imposter syndrome is an opportunity to accept, rather than avoid, your shortcomings. Admitting you are not perfect, can help ensure every mistake can be looked at as a building block and not a reason to quit or start over.

Give your passion a boost.

In times fueled by passion for our work, we are committed to doing whatever it takes to get the job done. And when we are focused on doing whatever works, we aren’t consumed by our perceived inadequacies. In that way, passion is an antidote to imposter syndrome.

Grow your community and professional networks.

You are likely associating with unfamiliar (and maybe more experienced) people as a part of your success. What a privilege. But also, an opportunity to feel inferior or “less than.” Remember that wherever you are, you deserve to be. But also, this social discomfort is an opportunity to learn and grow. Why not cultivate your curiosity as a newbie in the space? Or find ways to serve the people you are putting on this pedestal?

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Imposter syndrome is challenging your will to persist. If you can see insecurity as an opportunity and not a burden and find ways to use your discomfort to your advantage. You’ll turn imposter syndrome into an asset for your success.

A Meditation Trick (That Actually Works)


It’s like having… you know, your phone has a charger, right? It’s like having a charger for your whole body and mind. That’s what meditation is.
— Jerry Seinfeld

I struggled with meditating when I began, sitting quietly was difficult for me, but it has slowly become one of my favorite things and allows me to reflect and focus on my thoughts. The most challenging aspect of developing a consistent practice was finding a meditation method which was easy for me to do daily. 

Early on, I would sit and think “Am I doing this right?”  It was frustrating.  I overcame that after reading a tip in a Thich Nhat Hanh book, suggesting to simply say the following as you're working into your meditative state. "Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out."  I transition to only thinking about that phrase while continuing my breathing.  This keeps my mind from wandering too much and has made a massive difference in my practice.

Below is the description of this method from Thich's book, "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching."

The fourth element of our body is air. The best way to experience the air element is the practice of mindful breathing. "Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out." After saying these sentences we can abbreviate them by saying "In" as we breathe in and "Out" as we breath out. We don't try to control our breathing. Whether our in-breath is long or short, deep or shallow, we just breathe naturally and shine the light of mindfulness on it. When we do this we notice that, in fact, our breathing does become slower and deeper naturally. "Breathing in, my in-breath has become deep. Breathing out, my out-breath has become slow." Now we can practice, "Deep/slow". We don't have to make an extra effort. It just becomes deeper and slower by itself, and we recognize that.

Later I was introduced to Tara Brach's guided meditations through Tim Ferriss, here's a link to Tara on Tim's podcast. You can find all of Tara's guided meditations here and she offers them at no cost. I find these very helpful, but prefer the method from Thich because I can do it at any time and without technology.

Here are some of the benefits I've noticed from my meditation practice:

Better concentration and focus
I've struggled with sitting and focusing for long periods my entire life. Meditation has drastically improved my ability to focus on a single item for a long duration. Since beginning to meditate regularly, it is easier to focus on essential tasks which require my full attention and I can solve problems more quickly.  

Improved perspective
Through meditation, I can detach from my typical thought processes and patterns which allows me to think more objectively and creatively. It has helped develop my critical thinking, so I face challenges with more confidence.

Emotional stability
I’m less prone to anxiety when meditating daily and feel less consumed by the challenges I'm presently facing. 

Increased happiness
I’m more at ease, and it’s easier for me to be present with others when meditating regularly. Meditation triggers the body to produce hormones associated with calmness and happiness which encourage a more positive outlook on life. 

Better physical health
Meditation helps my sleep pattern, assisting my body in repairing and recharging itself. There are scientific claims that meditation reduces hormones linked to stress, blood pressure, inflammation and high blood pressure. 

 

I highly recommend beginning a meditation practice. It may be challenging initially but give it time to evolve.  Start with a few minutes a day and consider using an app like Headspace or Calm. Regardless of how you start, I encourage you to begin.  It has been life-changing for me. 
 

Can Two People Have The Same Goals?

I had two initial coaching sessions yesterday, both with women.

One works at Burger King in a job paying a few bucks over minimum wage. The other is an attorney earning about 35k a month.

Both are incredible people. Interesting thing.

They have the exact same ambitions for 2018, each wants to:

  • Feel healthier
  • Exercise more
  • Grow professionally
  • Be more present and positive
  • Find love.

Reiterates to me, we're all human and we all desire the same basic things regardless of our circumstances. Everyone you meet wants to feel good mentally and physically, be productive in their work, and be loved by others.

Good thing to keep in mind while collaborating and managing others. People want to be good at their jobs and growing professionally and personally. That's something I've sometimes forgotten when deadlines, revenue targets and difficult situations arise.