Hello and welcome! How are you feeling? When I was a new client a few months ago I felt a mix of anxiety, excitement and curiosity all at once—so don’t worry, how you’re feeling isn’t uncommon. Since I’ve been a client (or coachee) with many different coaches, I wanted to share what I’ve learned during my journey. I hope that by knowing what a great client looks like you will earn much more value from our time together.
You may be thinking, “Each person is unique and different, how can you expect every good coachee to be the same?” Great point! In the same way that good students share the same qualities, the clients who benefit the most from coaching just happen to share a similar traits. As you read through this letter, think of these qualities more as guideposts instead of requirements. If one of the traits doesn’t make sense or resonate with you, let me know and we can talk about it.
Great coachees give the coaching relationship room to grow. Starting a coaching relationship feels a lot like your first day of school. You’re stepping into a new space with someone you don’t know and you can’t help but feel nervous and interested all at once. You hope you like your teacher, but you wonder how much weight to give the first impression. Those who begin coaching relationships well approach it with an almost child-like curiosity. They enter the relationship knowing that it’s long-term, starting with patience and openness knowing that growth takes time.
Great coachees understand how the coaching process works. Generally speaking this process involves the following steps: 1) understanding what you want 2) assessing where you currently are 3) exploring explanations, resources, or actions 4) creating an action plan 5) and following through. Many of the benefits coaching produces—like awareness, clarity, or fulfillment—cannot be achieved directly. Great coachees know this, and trust the process. Great clients also understand that while their coach will support them every step of the way, it is their responsibility to follow through. A teacher is there to help us learn, but she cannot make us learn. In the same way, a coach is there to help us grow, but action is our responsibility. Only we can push ourselves through the necessary pains of life like asking our dream date to prom, or applying for our dream job.
Great coachees are gritty. They have the passion and perseverance to pursue their long-term goals. People with grit have the stamina to run the marathon of life, rather than sprinting towards the finish. Not only are grittier kids more likely to graduate from high school, grit predicts success better than family income or test scores. Grit is about seeing challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. It’s about believing that intelligence, creativity, friendship and personality are traits you cultivate, rather than traits you’re born with. Gritty clients enjoy the growth process for its own sake, rather than looking for the goal to validate their worth.
Finally, great coachees are healthy and whole. They show up to the coaching relationship ready to take responsibility for their lives. Instead of expecting the coach to read their mind, they speak up if something is bothering them. They come into each session ready to be vulnerable and honest with their coach. They respect their values, and if they’re unsure of what they value, they say so. They are collaborative with their coach and excited to make their dreams a reality.
I really hope these guideposts help you along your journey. If you think of something else to add, please let me know! The clients that come after you would be delighted to have the extra help.
Yours in Support and Success,