taking the leap to get a coach

Written by Helené van Tonder

Here’s a quick write-up about my journey with leap.club coaching so far. Other leap ladies seem to have questions and hesitancies similar to mine, so I’m hoping this could be helpful :)

Getting started

Even with the discounted rates, coaching is expensive. But don’t let the cost be the starting point of your decision making, I’d say. If you think you can benefit from coaching, book some chemistry sessions to check it out. That will put you in a better position to evaluate whether you want to invest money in this right now, or not.

I started by booking two chemistry sessions. Since I’m new to coaching, I knew I wouldn’t be able to “evaluate” a coach if I didn’t speak to more than one. I also didn’t want to get into analysis paralysis by speaking to too many. So I decided two would do, and if it ends up feeling very off I’ll schedule more.

I spent fairly little time picking my two chemistry coaches. I looked at the different “goals” listed on the leap app, decided that pivot in my career was the goal I’m after, and then read the profiles of a couple of coaches in that section. I felt it resonated with me, and that I’m in the right company. I reread a few profiles, chose the two I intuitively liked best, and then headed over to LinkedIn to read up on them some more. Both their profiles looked very interesting to me, and also different enough.

I was ready to go ahead.

Once you click “free chemistry session” on the app, leap sends an email that connects you with the coach. The email suggests that the coach reaches out to you with their availability. Both my coaches did this, and the scheduling process was super smooth.

The chemistry session

Ahead of the chemistry session, both coaches asked me to share some information about myself via email.

The chemistry sessions were a little less structured from the coaches’ side than what I expected. I expected that the coach would “drive” the conversation, but it didn’t quite play out like that. If I knew that going in, I would’ve prepped better. I’m still not super sure what the best questions are to ask, but I’d suggest you do some research and have 3–4 questions ready.

I was traveling in Orissa when I had the chemistry sessions. That was a little unfortunate because on both occasions my internet connection wasn’t great. I ended up speaking on the phone with both coaches. I’d recommend that you do a video call for the chemistry session.

After the chemistry sessions, I knew that I definitely wanted to invest in coaching now. However, it was still not easy to pick which coach I would go with. Both chemistry sessions were great, both coaches’ profiles appealed to me, both coaches seemed like people with interesting stories (this matters to me because I love meeting people with interesting stories).

In the end, I decided to go with the coach who seemed more confrontational and was more forthcoming about herself and her methods. I don’t think these are things that define a good coach, but they’re things that appeal to me as a person and the journey I want to go on.

I went ahead and booked 5 sessions with her via the leap app.

Preparing for the first session

Ahead of the first session, my coach sent me a self-reflection questionnaire to fill out. She prepped me well via email, suggesting the time I’d need to set aside for it (30 minutes). She mentioned that my answers would inform our first session, and also that we would define an overall goal for our work together during the first session.

I thought I already stated my goal for coaching when I provided her with information about myself ahead of the chemistry session. But after filling out the questionnaire, I already realised that the journey is not going to be as straightforward as I have imagined :) This excited me, and I realised that my work with the coach had already begun.

The questionnaire (on Google Forms) wasn’t set up to send you a copy of your responses. I wanted to look at it again ahead of the session, so I asked my coach to send it to me. She did that.

The first session

I had my first coaching session on 4th December. (It was a virtual session, in case that’s not obvious.)

I was very excited and slightly nervous before the first session. We started out with some brief chitchats. Then my coach made a point of putting all her other devices on “do not disturb” and asked me to do the same. She asked if I had a notebook and a pen. I had. She asked if I had some water with me, and said it would be helpful. I didn’t, and I was at a co-working space, so I didn’t want to get up to get it. However, I’ll make sure to have water and even some tea ready for the next session.

She then asked me if I’d like to start with a centering exercise. I said yes, and off we went. I had to close my eyes and go to my happy place, while she prodded me to focus on specific things. In my experience, some people can make this type of exercise feel a little odd. They use a weird tone of voice or something, and that annoys or distracts me. But my coach was great, and the exercise was very helpful to me. (I “visited” my favourite rock pool in Cape Town, and “went” for a quick swim. It was fantastic :D)

We then started speaking about my answers to the first question on the self-reflection questionnaire. From there, the conversation just flowed and developed. Personally, I don’t hold back in situations like this. I enter it as a safe and confidential space and then spill my guts trying to be as articulate and relevant (to the question or specific conversation) as possible. If there’s something relevant I need to say that’s going to make me cry, I do it.

I found my coach to be excellent in her observations and steering of the conversation. She pointed out themes in what I was saying. She asked me tough, personal, and useful questions. Sometimes she revisited some questions. She also summarised our conversation at regular intervals.

Overall, the experience was more intense than I expected of a first session. I had it scheduled for noon and I felt pretty exhausted afterwards. I’m currently on a sabbatical, so that’s not a problem for me. But I’d say the timing of your session is something to keep in mind if you’re working a full time and demanding job right now.

What happens next

At the end of the session, we scheduled the next one. My coach recommends that one takes at least 15–20 days between sessions.

She also gave me some “homework.” I have two questions to answer, and also have to send her those answers. She said she would schedule a short check-in with me, and that I can also reach out to her if there’s something I need to discuss before our next session.

Overall, I feel I’ve started something very worthwhile with a coach that is very well-equipped to guide me on this journey and support me as I go.

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