The San Francisco Giants just made it to the World Series. Imagine doing that without great coaching. Imagine becoming The Biggest Loser sans Jillian Michaels. Yoyo Ma became the world’s greatest cellist by studying with the best teachers. Warren Buffett became a billionaire with mentoring from one of the shrewdest investors ever born. The amazing Taylor Swift has a brilliant producer. No one becomes excellent in anything without being coached by others.
Think of the many ways you’re coached: on your softball or volleyball team, through guitar or watercolor lessons, in a weight loss or fitness program, through your church’s ministry, by a senior supervisor or business coach, through watching a cooking how-to show, and the list goes on. You eagerly accept such coaching because it provides the instruction, feedback, and support you need to excel. We all “get it” that no matter how naturally gifted one may be, it takes coaching to turn that gift into excellence. Well, we get it except when it comes to our relationship where, paradoxically, we expect to get it right with little to no help.
Sadly, most couples spend more time on home improvements than on improving their relationship. Most people in a committed relationship pay more attention to improving their golf swing than to becoming a better partner. Most couples are reactive to problems rather than proactive in preventing them.
What’s more, couples are glacially slow to react, waiting six years (on average) after identifying a problem to seek help. SIX YEARS!!! You would never wait six years to have a knock in your engine fixed, or have a lump examined by a doctor, or call the exterminator if termites invade your house. You jump on it so the problem doesn’t get worse and cost you a fortune. Even better, you know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so you are proactive in preventing problems by having your car serviced, annual physicals, and periodic home inspections. Your relationship deserves no less and that’s what coaching is all about.
Coaching differs from counseling in a number of important ways. For example, counseling looks backward, after the damage has been done, to diagnose and fix things that were broken in the past. It is dependent upon a diagnosis of what’s “wrong” and, therefore, has the stigma of failure and dysfunction attached to it. According to some estimates that’s why as few as 11% of those experiencing problems seek help. It may also explain why those few couples who seek counseling do so only after the problems become monumental.
Good coaching, on the other hand, is forward-looking. It focuses on what’s right (not what’s wrong), on your strengths (not your weaknesses) and on the here-and-now (not the past). It helps you excel, reach your goals, and live to your highest potential. Because coaching is not dependent upon anything being “wrong” and is often sought in the pursuit of excellence, there is no stigma attached. Coaching is how a team gets to the World Series. And when it comes to your relationship, isn’t that where you want to be?
Relationship coaching is not for couples in crisis. It’s for couples who want to avoid being in crisis. Coaching is for couples who recognize the potential for making their relationship even better. It’s for couples who want to minimize future problems, and who want the skills to affirmatively and positively deal with the issues that do arise.
A relationship coach is a cheerleader, supporter and fan. A coach helps you proactively stay on the happiness track, stay focused on the positive, encourages you, and helps you stretch beyond where you think your limits are. A coach is your best tool for building an off-the-chart relationship that is the envy of all your friends. And who among us doesn’t want that?