Or, Why Every Startup CEO Needs to See Coaching as Their Responsibility, Not Their Privilege
One of the most fascinating things about us as humans is that we’re one of the only—if not the only—animals that can predict the future. And as such, we spend a lot of time doing so.
The problem, as Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert points out, is that we’re really bad at it. In fact, almost every method we use to predict the future has been proven inaccurate at best.
All except one: Mentorship.
It’s this simple: The secret to accurately predicting the future is to work with someone who’s already living the future you want to create.
As many high-performers will tell you, professional mentorship is vital to reach your full potential as quickly and efficiently as possible; and some of the best professional mentorship you’ll find comes from working with a coach.
The Unspoken Counter-Intuitiveness of Entrepreneurship
But here’s the thing: Most people are incredibly disillusioned when it comes to coaching; and one of the most common misconceptions is that coaches are for underachievers or for those who simply can’t “figure it out on their own.”
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The people who are going to get the most out of a coaching relationship are those who are already good at what they want to do, but want to be great. Those who want to go from ordinary to extraordinary; who want to exercise mastery over their life, their business, and their relationships.
Because here’s the often-unspoken counter-intuitiveness of entrepreneurship: What got you to good often won’t get you to great. Or, at the very least, it won’t be the most efficient path to greatness.
The truth is, the secret to massive success is a commitment to change. And for many people, that’s a hard pill to swallow because change goes against our human nature.
Think about it: Why else would we have a multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry to fight the signs of aging? Or spend hours of our precious weekends mowing the lawn to make it look as though our grass doesn’t grow?
Change makes us uncomfortable because we yearn for consistency. Consistency makes us feel safe, and safety—as we know from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs—is one of our primary drivers.
Change is hard, and if you think you can create it on your own, I’d challenge you to ask whether or not that’s really the best path. Change isn’t a decision, it’s a skill; and one that most of us don’t invest enough time into to be proficient at.
A coach is incredibly valuable in mastering the skill of change because they’ll not only help you identify necessary changes, they’ll hold you accountable to making that change until you generate results; even—and especially—when it’s uncomfortable.
The Truth About Coaching
It’s not a coincidence that practically every athletic superstar, from Tiger Woods to Serena Williams, all work with coaches; often many at once. Why? Because they’ve realized a simple and unavoidable truth:
If you want to reach the top of your mountain in the quickest, most effective way, you need to work with a coach.
And although there’s room for debate around the most effective forms of coaching, there’s not much room for argument around the effectiveness as coaching as a whole.
Independent studies and surveys by Harvard, Stanford, and the International Coach Federation all point to the same truth: A coach is one of the most valuable investments you can make with one of the highest ROI’s around.
And further proof isn’t hard to find, either; the metaphorical “top of the mountain” is brimming with living, breathing testimonies. High performers in every field—from athletes to politicians to entrepreneurs to celebrities—all use coaches.
Just ask Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who claims the most valuable advice he ever received was to get a coach.
The Three Coaching Investments
So let’s say you agree: Coaching is the most effective path to massive growth. What do you have to invest into the relationship to make it as valuable as possible?
In my experience working with numerous entrepreneurs, CEOs, and venture capitalists, the people who get the most out of coaching are those willing to invest three things: Money, time, and emotions. Let’s take a closer look at each.
If you’re already good at what you do, the financial cost of a coach is likely negligible. But here’s the catch: You’ve got to see your coach as an investment rather than an expense.
If you know what you want and find a coach with the platform, tools, and experience to help you turn your goals into reality, it should be one of the most obvious—and most valuable—investments you ever make.
Think you aren’t making enough revenue to justify a coach? I’d challenge you to think again. I’ve had clients who invested $50,000 into coaching back when they were making less than $100,000 a year.
Why? Because they had a strong belief in their own abilities and knew a coach was necessary for them to reach the highest levels of peak potential. Moreover, they knew it’d be more expensive not to work with a coach. Think about it:
By working with the right coach, you dramatically increase the velocity of your business. You’ll reach your goals—financial and otherwise—much quicker than you would otherwise.
More importantly, you’ll reach those goals while making fewer mistakes; and in many cases, the money you save by avoiding those mistakes more than justifies the cost of a coach alone.
A lot of people say they simply don’t have the time to work with a coach. If that sounds like you, let me ask a question: Do you think it’s a good idea to spend at least an hour per week focused exclusively on self-improvement?
If so, wouldn’t it make sense to invest that time into those self-development activities that yield the highest ROI? The things that are going to get you where you want to go the fastest?
If you agree, you have time for a coach. After all, most coaches only ask for an hour of your time each week. Think of it this way:
Yes, you’ll have to carve out a little extra time. But the hour you make for your coach each week can easily save you weeks—or even months—of trial and error down the road.
This one’s a little different than the others—more of a one-time sacrifice than an investment—but it’s vital nonetheless: You need to be willing to set aside your assumptions and misconceptions about what it means to work with a coach.
For example: Some people believe working with a coach means they’ve “failed.” Here at Mindmaven, we believe this advice is more than just wrong; it’s dangerous to self-development.
Because here’s the truth: For top performers, there’s no question about working with a coach; it’s simply a given. They know that to stay ahead of the pack, they need every advantage they can get.
So if you catch yourself saying, “I can do this on my own,” stop and ask this question: “Am I thinking and acting like a top performer?” Remember that Eric Schmidt quote above? Let me share the rest of it:
“I initially resented the advice, because after all, I was a CEO. I was pretty experienced. Why would I need a coach? Am I doing something wrong? My argument was, ‘How could a coach advise me if I’m the best person in the world at this?’”
From that to, “The best advice I ever received was to get a coach.” That’s what happens when you set aside your misconceptions and assumptions.
When you say, “I can do this on my own,” you might be right. But why waste time, effort, and energy reinventing the wheel? Others have done what you want to do and walked where you want to walk; you’d have to be crazy not to want to learn as much as possible from them.
The Right Time to Work with a Coach
So let’s assume you’re on board: You understand the importance of working with a coach and accept the associated investments. When’s the right time to hire one?
In most cases, sooner than you think; because most people wait too long.
They say they’ll hire a coach once they “have enough money” or “have a team in place.” Or even worse, they say they’ll “… work with a coach if things get any worse.”
Although all three points are limiting, the final one’s dangerous. Not only does it perpetuate the incorrect assumption that coaches are only for failures, it allows problems to escalate to crisis-levels.
This is especially common in board rooms, where far too many board members wait until moments of crisis to introduce the solution of working with a coach. Only when the business is on the verge of crumbling do they wake up and say, “This is bad. The CEO needs a coach now so we can fix this before it’s too late.”
The problem is, it often already is too late. The damage is too great and the negative habits too engrained for the coach to be able to turn things around in a quick enough timeframe.
All of that to say: The sooner you work with a coach, the better. If you have even an inkling that a coach might benefit you—no matter what your situation—the time to work with one is now.
This is especially true if you’re a CEO, because the sooner you start learning these productive and proactive habits, the sooner the rest of your company will reap the rewards.
Now you’ve got a choice …
It’s this simple: To reach your full potential, you’re going to have to change; and change is hard.
So find someone who will not only help you identify the right change (thus eliminating countless hours of trial and error) find someone who will hold you accountable to that change.
Trying to get where you want to go on your own is crazy when there’s a better option available. Need proof? Think of it this way: If someone you cared about dearly was very sick, what would you do? Would you …
- Try and figure out a solution on your own and hope your limited knowledge and experience is enough to make a difference?
- Get them the cheapest help possible?
- Or would you spare no expense and go straight to the best?
Your business—your life—should be no different. If you want improvement, don’t hope for the best or skimp on your investment. In this more than anything, you’re going to get what you give.
So now you’ve got a choice: You can either keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, or you can take the first step in transforming your life and business.
What’s it going to be?