16 Lessons Coaches Learned By Working With Their Own Coach

Who coaches the coach? Whether the focus of a coaching practice is on helping clients improve their businesses, careers, leadership skills or personal confidence, without finding guidance in their own lives and tending to their own needs first, a professional coach may struggle to help others do the same.

Many members of Forbes Coaches Council, understanding the immense value of the work they do, opt to engage with a coach themselves. Below, 16 members share what they’ve learned from those experiences, exploring how working with a coach has impacted where they are today in their practice and how they deliver services to their clients.

1. Working With Different Types Of Coaches Is Beneficial

Throughout my career, I have worked with different coaches, each fostering unique aspects of learning. Peer coaches offer space for safe, reciprocal practice, whereas mentor coaches help me to reflect on who I am becoming as a coach. By contrast, coaching supervisors support me in grappling with the more complex or challenging coaching situations I may encounter. Each is important in their own way. – Shelli Hendricks, Blue Horizon Solutions

2. Hiring A Coach Who Has A Coach Is A Good Idea

My advice: Hire a coach who has a coach. Too many of us are trying hard to tout ourselves as experts and leaders and teachers, while it takes real humility and sagacity to listen and engage in deep, lasting, meaningful personal development—to not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk, and be better for it via continuous learning and humility. To quote Jimi Hendrix, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Nalini Saxena, Elicit™ Consulting

3. It Is Key To Choose A Coach Whose Methods Challenge You

I have had one or more coaches for the past 15-plus years. One of my top criteria in choosing a new coach is that their method challenges me. This ensures that I learn from the experience, either by developing my own coaching approach and business or by finding out what’s not right for me. I also love to refer people who are not a good fit for me to coaches I have worked with. – Micha Goebig, Go Big Coaching & Communications, LLC

4. A Coach Can Stay Current By Working With A Coach

Steven Covey calls it “sharpening the saw.” My coach is an expert in his field, which is developing frameworks. Our relationship allows me to get coaching on my opportunities and stay up to date on the latest developments in the theoretical underpinnings of our work. I find this balance very useful for me to stay current. I help leaders innovate how they lead, and being current is part of my brand promise. – Maureen Metcalf, Innovative Leadership Institute

5. A Coach Can Help When Work Challenges Become Unnavigable

Back in 2009, I engaged a coach when I was faced with work challenges I could no longer navigate. Thirteen years later, this success coach is the reason I am more self-aware and have a higher level of emotional intelligence. As a result, I have navigated workplace challenges and crises with ease, landed in the C-suite and now, as an executive coach, I am helping others do the same. I’m so thankful! – Tinna Jackson, Jackson Consulting Group, LLC

6. Having A Coach Makes You A More Supportive Advisor And Consultant

Early on, I bristled at being called a “coach.” I saw myself as more of an advisor and consultant to my clients. But having a coach, who likewise has provided me with tools and structure, has built my confidence in providing that support to my own clients. Now, I am authentic in sharing that I act as an “advisor” to my clients; and they choose me as their “executive coach” for that very reason. – Candice Gottlieb-Clark, Dynamic Team Solutions

7. A Coach Who Is Levels Ahead Of You Can Help You Get There Too

My coach is a billionaire. He’s exited companies for multiple billions of dollars, and that is the specific skill set that he’s mentoring me on. No matter where you’re at in life, there’s always somebody who is levels ahead of you. If you need a coach, you need a mentor who is levels ahead of you and can help you get there. – Ryan Stewman, Break Free Academy

8. A Coach Can Serve As A ‘Mirror’ To Help You Identify Blind Spots

I have always invested in my own coach. I’m PCC- and CPCC-certified, and I’m proud of my accomplishments; however, those certifications do not mean that I know everything. I do not. I still have a lot to learn and always will. Having a coach allows me the intentional time to speak through my challenges and identify blind spots that I may not have seen without that “mirror” working with me. – Carrie-Ann Barrow, Scaling Strategies

9. Experiencing Coaching Yourself Teaches You Its True Value

When coaches understand what it’s like to be coached, they know how their clients may feel, influencing how they coach. They can learn about great coaching questions and which ones spark the greatest insights. By experiencing coaching themselves, they know its value. We all have blind spots, and coaching can help expose and address them so that they won’t negatively impact our coaching services. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

10. Engaging Coaches Can Help You Deepen Your Clients’ Results

Throughout my coaching career, I have engaged coaches because I believe in this form of collaboration. I have had mentor coaches (for coaching methodology), business coaches (for mindset and results) and equity-centered coaches (for deeper personal and business alignment with my values). Each relationship brought significant personal and business growth and deepened my clients’ results. – Sundae Schneider-Bean, Sundae Schneider-Bean GmbH

11. Working With Your Own Coach Helps You Guide Clients By Example

My relationship with my coach is an essential anchor—for my practice and for my life. I workshop questions related to clients, am held accountable to goals and commitments and am pushed to go even further in my work and personal life. I rely on this support to show up more brilliantly for my clients because I am doing the work as well, so I can show by example what it means to walk this walk! – Joanne Heyman, Heyman Partners

12. A Coach Helps You Tap Into Your Own Wisdom

Currently, I have a spiritual mentor and coach. I have learned mindfulness, service and the concept of looking within from him. I have also learned to tap into my own wisdom—I am wiser than I think I am. A service mindset makes me deliver more than my clients sign up for, and me giving more means my clients keep coming back for more. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

13. Even Experienced Coaches Can Gain Something From Working With A Coach

I’ve learned that no matter how experienced you are as a coach, there’s always something to be gained from working with someone else. Whether it’s learning new techniques or just getting a different perspective on things, having a coach is invaluable. It’s like having a personal trainer: They’re there to make sure you’re doing everything right and keep you accountable when it comes down to it. – Willena Long, Career Boss Academy

14. A Coach Can Highlight Both Your Natural Strengths And Negative Patterns

One of the most important growth experiences I’ve had from coaching involved gaining a deep awareness of my blind spots. My coach was able to highlight the natural strengths that I didn’t notice as well as the negative patterns that were holding me back. For example, she highlighted my difficulty in setting boundaries with my time. We worked together to create a work calendar that respected my preferences. – Alyssa Adams, Alyssa Adams Coaching

15. Coaches Should Commit To Their Own Self-Improvement

Everyone who seeks to improve should have a coach. I’ve had several, and I have stuck with one for nearly ten years. If you’re engaging with a coach who doesn’t have their own coach, I’d second-guess the engagement. After all, shouldn’t they commit to their own self-improvement if they expect you to do the same? – Shawn Casemore, Casemore and Co. Inc.

16. Coaches Can Get Input On Challenges From Peer-Supervision Groups

A slight variation on this theme is the concept of peer supervision for coaches. I am part of a monthly peer-supervision group where colleagues confidentially share specific coaching challenges they are facing and get input from peers. This can be done in a structured manner or less formally, although I find the structure helpful. It is amazing how often peers have faced similar challenges. – Kathy Bernhard, KFB Leadership Solutions

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1. Combine Gifts, Passions And Innovation

Know who you are today by doing a fresh analysis of your gifts and passions. Use the results of your analysis as your lens for identifying unmet needs in the business world. Think outside the box by breaking away from conventional wisdom. Combining your gifts and passions with innovative ideas is foundational to a successful business that meets your and your consumers’ needs. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

2. Gain Clarity And Choose Metrics For Success

I’ve had numerous pro-service clients do this, and most of them have considered it. The most important thing is to have clarity about why you want to start a business. The second thing is to very carefully choose the metrics that will indicate to yourself that you are succeeding. Your “why” and your metrics will keep you grounded when the going gets tough—and it will. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group

3. Leverage Your Experience And Do A SWOT Analysis

Know your strengths, be clear on your personal motivation and leverage your current experience and insights that you have developed over the years in your industry. Think about the pains and gains your clients have experienced and gaps that have not been filled. I also recommend doing a SWOT analysis to gain clarity and alignment and to determine the value proposition. – Breshana Miller, Kairos Coaching & Consulting, LLC

4. Brainstorm With Close Friends

You can’t hesitate or keep your new business too close to your chest. You need to brainstorm with your closest friends, your professional network and those whom you trust. Bounce your ideas off of others and see if they resonate. What do they think your new business is worth? Who do they think the customers would be? Do they know someone who would buy? Have that conversation 100 times and get to work. – Jacob Warwick, ThinkWarwick

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5. Match The Commercial Proposition With The Value You Offer

It is important to match the commercial proposition with the value that you are offering. Before leaving, start researching the potential market to ensure there is a real need. When you are clear on the commercial viability, you can reverse-engineer the process to ensure the proposition fits with your personal drive and passion. – Claudine Reid, PJ’s Community Service

6. Have A Strong Support System In Place

Being an entrepreneur and working for a corporation require different mindsets. To sustain the personal drive and passion, it helps to have a strong support system in place—people who are just as passionate and driven as you and believe in the success of the new business, such as friends, a mastermind group or an experienced coach who can ensure there is a balance between work and personal well-being. – Masha Malka, The One Minute Coach

7. Don’t Follow Your Passion—Bring It To An Opportunity

Don’t follow your passion. I’d rather you bring your passion and drive to an opportunity. The first step is finding a way to improve lives in exchange for profit, then apply your natural passion and drive to improve as many of those lives as possible as efficiently as possible. Because when you do that really well, vision, momentum, growth and, eventually, profit are the results. – David Robertson, Growthpoint Coaching Co.

8. Leverage What Makes You Irreplaceable

You need to clarify the market need for what you do via research, interviews and more. In regard to fulfilling your own needs, a reflective, holistic approach is required to uncover your own personal wants, needs and values to be successful. And above all else, you must uncover something that makes you irreplaceable in the market that you serve. Get all those right and then go for it! – Linda Martin, Linda Martin Results

9. Connect With Your Four Selves

First connect with your four selves—intellectual, emotional, spiritual and physical—and be crystal clear about your purpose and commitment to it. Launching a new venture requires all your energy and commitment. Sometimes, it’s rough. Second, get deep input and feedback from those around you—both your trusted network and your more fearless critics. The wider the scope, the richer the insights. – Luis Costa, Luis Costa – coach · facilitator · speaker

10. Enroll Clients To Help Craft Your Company Vision

Get connected to your purpose, build a business plan around your core values and enroll the customers you want to serve to help craft the company vision. In doing this, you will likely find that your needs and the needs of your future customers are very aligned. Trust that a successful launch will follow and that you will have a tribe of allies ready to offer guidance and support when needed. – Emily Rogers, Emily Rogers Consulting + Coaching

11. Outline The Customer Journey And Your Sales Funnel

First, outline the customer journey to define the scope of their need. Second, outline your marketing and sales funnel. If you are not excited to do that, hire someone who is or don’t launch. If the idea of selling and marketing for hours every week does not excite you, pursue a hobby instead. Third, if you don’t have the drive or passion to build a business, get a dog. The dog will love you back every day. – Kelly Tyler Byrnes, Voyage Consulting Group

12. Experiment With A Minimum Viable Product

Take small steps. Too many people get sucked into the entrepreneurial dream without realizing how tough it can be. I would suggest experimenting with the product—take a minimum viable product (MVP) to the market and get feedback. Leaning on your personal drive, experiment with your own business identity. Too many people overestimate their passion and drive and underestimate the challenge. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

13. Take An Inside-Out Approach

Start with your mission and vision. I believe, as a coach, taking an inside-out approach where executives can start exploring their passion as well as what they would see as success for this new endeavor is key. Then, we can explore the marketplace and how this would be sustained as a successful business by developing a strategic business plan. Allow your personal drive to set the tone for success. – Bryan Powell, Executive Coaching Space

14. Build A Business Around Your Retirement Dreams

Start by thinking about your retirement. If you grew your business and sold it for a killing, what would you then be doing in life? At that point, when you wouldn’t have to think about money and profits, what would you be doing with your time? That’s what you should build your business around. It’s bound to be an area where a strong customer or market need is coupled with your own passion and drive. – Vinesh Sukumaran, Vinesh Sukumaran Consulting

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