We live in a culture that believes there is a coach for everything. We have life coaches, business mentors, personal trainers, financial advisors, nutritional counselors, and experts of every flavor to help navigate all of life’s situations.
If you’ve ever worked with coaches, you know that one size doesn’t fit all. Some take a Marine Corps drill sergeant approach, in the belief that they can shout and badger you into improved performance. Others frame all feedback in the most positive terms possible to avoid damaging your self esteem. Many other coaches have their own mix of negative and positive feedback designed to push you past your comfort zone and into your area of peak performance.
Ultimately, however, it’s the coach inside your head that matters most. And in my experience, many people do not have a supportive inner coach. Often, it’s quite the opposite, which can hold you back from new levels of success.
The truth is, we spend far more time with the inner coach inside our heads than we will ever spend with any other advisor. As individuals and business professionals, we spend considerable time alone, and routinely must make decisions and take action with only ourselves to consult. We need to be able to rely on our inner coach to be on our side. This is especially true for solo professionals who lack the inter-office support that comes with a work team.
The goal is to develop an inner coach that is wise and fair so that you can play to your strengths and work around your weak areas. When you give yourself feedback, that feedback immediately impacts your energy level and your outlook. Negative feedback can stall your efforts and hold you back. Here’s a reality check: Do you often speak to yourself in a critical way? If so, you have a toxic work environment between your ears! The good news is, you can fire that negative inner critic and replace it with a supportive, wise and fair inner coach.
It’s essential to celebrate every win, no matter how small, and to look at mistakes as opportunities to learn, not as failures. Instead of being afraid of mistakes, see them as feedback you can learn from so that success is more likely the next time. As the old proverb states, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”
The best coaches challenge clients to push beyond their perceived limits, to go outside of the comfort zone. Your inner coach should nudge you to do things you’ve never done before. Set a series of mini goals over a defined period of time, and check in regularly with yourself to see how you’re doing. Don’t wait for someone else to praise you; be the first to recognize and reward your accomplishments.
Good coaches know that there is more than one definition for success. Know how you define success and hold true to it. Feed yourself by celebrating your successes, taking time off, and sharing your wins with a supportive circle of friends or colleagues. And while you’re at it, help others celebrate their successes as well.
Don’t underestimate the power of your inner coach. Learn to become your own mentor, cheerleader and advocate, and you give yourself permission to feel strong, confident and empowered. People will notice the difference, and your positive energy will attract them to you.