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Personal Coach: How Do You Choose One?

   By: Grant Pasay

Getting a personal coach can be the single most important decision in a person's life. For many, it's like having a second chance at growing up -- except they get to choose their teachers this time.

But how do you make such a choice? How do you know who will best serve you as a personal coach? Accreditation? Degrees? Gender? Age? Location?

My suggestion is this: Perspective. Let me give you an example about perspective from the world of psychology.

Somewhere during my undergrad Psychology training, I became acutely aware that my Cognitive Psychology professor thought such and such was due to X, while my Neuro-Psychology professor thought the same such and such was due to Y. Each had good reasons for what they thought. But they both couldn't be right. Could they?

I asked my Cognitive Psych prof about the discrepancies I was noticing from prof to prof, wondering what to think about it as a student of Psychology. He boiled it all down to perspective by saying:

1. Psychologists, like all people, try to make sense of life.

2. Different psychological perspectives make sense of life in different ways (e.g., Cognitive Psych is thought-based, Behavioral Psych is conditioning-based, Social Psych is relationally-based, etc.).

3. When psychology students decide how they'll make sense of life, they look at all the different psychological perspectives available, and then pick whichever one seems to make the most sense to them.

If points #1 and #2 seem solid and practical to you, while point #3 seems kind of weak and impractical (if not downright flimsy), then you're not alone. That's exactly how I felt when I first heard it. You just pick whichever perspective seems to make the most sense? Is that really how you make sense of the world?

But as time passed, and as I took more courses from more profs across different psychological perspectives, I realized my Cognitive Psychology prof was right. Each perspective has its own way of making sense of life. And not only that, I also realized that this “perspective thing” didn't just apply to psychology.

I started realizing that people were approaching every aspect of life from different perspectives. Yes, I already understood that not everybody thought the same thing, but perspective goes deeper than that.

Each perspective on life (or subset of life, such as politics, religion, sex, marriage, etc.) acts as a model for making sense of life. Each perspective comes with its terminology, its rules, its methods, its advocates, its bumper stickers.

And when we, as students of life, decide how we'll make sense of life, we look at all the different perspectives available, and then pick whichever one seems to make the most sense to us.

Or at least that's how it would work best. Which brings us back to getting a personal coach. When we find our perspective on life, or on a subset of life, no longer seems to make the most sense to us, that's the time a personal coach can be of great benefit.

The personal coach can stand outside your perspective in order to help you make the transition to a new perspective. That much is clear. But the question we began with was how do you choose which personal coach to go with.

And my suggestion, again, is perspective. Do all you can to find out the perspective of the coach in question. As mentioned, we're all making sense of life through different perspectives. No two coaches have the same perspective. No two counselors have the same perspective. No two therapists have the same perspective.

Some coaches might tell you it doesn't matter what their perspective is, that they'll simply help you get where you want to go. They may help you get where you want to go, but their perspective will determine the way they go about doing that.

Some coaches might tell you they don't have a perspective, meaning they don't adhere to any formally recognized school of training, thought or belief. They may not have a formal perspective, but they have a perspective. And you can find out what it is by asking them about their personal background, their heroes, their values, pretty much anything.

Again, perspective colors all other aspects of life, so look at everything you can see about a coach, then ask yourself what it tells you about their perspective.

Remember, coaches try to make sense of life. Each coach makes sense of life through a different perspective. Your job is to look at all the different perspectives represented by the coaches available to you, and then pick whichever one seems to make the most sense to you.

Once you've found a coach with a perspective that makes sense to you, you can expect to see yourself taking on that same perspective, or your personal version of it anyway. And since your personal perspective will shape your life, taking the time to investigate your personal coach's perspective first is well worth the effort.

Copyright (c) Grant Pasay 2005. All rights reserved. You may forward this article in its entirety (including author bio/links) to anyone you wish.

Grant Pasay is a professional website copywriter, advertising copywriter, and SEO copywriter serving clients in Vancouver, BC and everywhere. Grant is also the author of the FREE e-book, "The Internet Is Like A Refrigerator."

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