Mental Fitness: Why an executive coach is like a personal trainer for your brain

Get in shape

People who exercise daily also enjoy mental health benefits.  Physical exercise boosts brain activity by improving blood flow.  The benefits of working out and exercise are very clear.  People who are committed and serious about getting in better physical shape often hire a personal trainer.  A trainer can provide significant benefits to one’s workout plan.  I strongly believe that an executive coach provides the same benefits for one’s mental fitness.

In a recent article Kmberly Winkowitsch highlights six reasons why hiring a personal trainer is worth the money.

Hiring a personal trainer provides numerous benefits including the following:

1.       Trainers provide accountability and motivation:  A scheduled appointment with a trainer is not something you tend to blow off just because you don’t feel like working out.  This level of accountability drives us to stick to our plan.

2.       Trainers provide expertise:  An expert trainer knows how to work different muscles in the body and can monitor your workouts to point out mistakes or when your form is off.

3.       A Trainer Will Push You:  Having a trainer will push you further than you would typically push yourself.  Pushing outside of your comfort zone and helping you to feel the burn is part of really working your muscles and body.  Trainers can help you work harder than you would on your own.

4.       A trainer helps you identify and reach goals:  Trainers help you to set realistic and achievable goals, then they help you to reach those goals.  By assessing your starting point in terms of your physical fitness level, they can help you to choose realistic goals and milestones.

5.       A trainer will personalize your workout:  Workouts must be individualized.  Each of us have different body types and the way to enhance our physical fitness must be customized to each individual.  Trainers build customized plans for each of their clients.

6.       Trainers can reduce the possibility of injury:  A good trainer monitors your workout and focuses on form and fatigue levels.  The trainer can recognize when you are stressing yourself and can alter the workout to reduce the risk of strains and pains.

Source: “6 Reasons Why Hiring a Personal Trainer is Worth The Money”, Kimberly Winkowitsch.  

Clearly there are several benefits to hiring a personal trainer if you are serious about your physical fitness.  A trainer cannot do the work for you, but if you are serious about getting into better shape a trainer will accelerate your progress.

I believe that mental fitness is a lot like physical fitness.  As an executive coach, I see several parallels between a personal trainer and an executive coach.  Take the six statements above and replace the word “trainer” with the words “executive coach”.

1.       Executive coaches provide accountability and motivation:  Executive coaches hold leaders accountable for their actions.  They ask the tough questions and provide candid feedback.  In my coaching practice I find this role to be extremely important to the CEOs and small business owners who I coach that don’t have anyone else to drive their accountability.  It can be lonely at the top.

2.       Executive coaches provide expertise:  The more reputable executive coaches are licensed and certified to utilize assessments and other tools to help their coaching clients.  They are experts in behavioral analysis and can pinpoint strengths and developmental areas.  Through a diagnostic approach, a good executive coach will tailor their coaching to achieve the desired results for their clients.

3.       An executive coach will push you:  Executive coaches see it as their job to push their coaching clients.  Executive coaches want to teach their clients to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.  This is where the real learning occurs.  When you push someone outside of their comfort zone, it opens their eyes to new possibilities and new self-awareness.  Often a coach serves as an unfiltered magnifying mirror for their clients, showing them how they really look, blemishes and all.  This can be very powerful for a coaching client.  A good dose of reality.

4.       An executive coach helps you identify and reach goals:  I begin each coaching engagement with the end in mind.  I ask my clients, “at the end of this coaching engagement, what does success look like?”  I get them to describe their desired future state and then we develop a plan to get there together.  I ensure that the goals are realistic and obtainable.  The client needs to do the work, but I can help guide them and keep them on track.

5.       An executive coach will personalize your workout:  No two coaching engagements are the same.  Each client is different, has different goals and needs something different from their executive coach.  While I follow a coaching approach known as the coaches EDGE® which is an acronym for “explore the territory”, “Decide on Commitments”, “Go Implement” and “Evaluate the Impact”, I tailor the sessions and assessments to the specific needs of each client. (The Coaching EDGE® methodology was developed by Interaction Associates)

6.       An executive coach can reduce the risk of injury:  While this one is a bit different in that we are not talking about physical injury, an executive coach can minimize the risk that a coaching client does something to upset others in their organization or damages other relationships.  I find that many of my coaching clients are not in touch with their blind spots.  They do not recognize the difference between their intent and their impact.  Coaching can help a client to become much more aware of how their words, actions and behaviors are impacting others.

Clearly, there is so much in common between the role of personal trainer and an executive coach.  Unfortunately, many view executive coaching as a negative while a personal trainer is always seen as a positive.  There should be no negative stigma around having an executive coach.  If you want to improve your leadership performance an executive coach can be the key.

If you are serious about improving your mental fitness, consider hiring an executive coach.  There are several resources that can be utilized to find an executive coach who is right for you.  I offer free initial consultations as do most certified executive coaches.