Written by Dr Cathy Warburton

Ah – a good question indeed. I am sure we all know people that have had fantastic careers without the need for any paid input. I was one of them. I was happy to bounce ideas off colleagues, family and friends and overall it went pretty well. But recently, I have got to wondering just how different things might have been had I met regularly with a coach. Maybe I would have had greater insight into my thoughts, feelings and actions? Maybe I would have doubted myself less? Maybe I would have maintained my dream to be a cattle vet in the country rather than becoming an ECC vet in the city? Maybe I wouldn’t have had to go through burnout? Maybe I could have been a better influence on those around me?

And I am one of the lucky ones. The veterinary industry has been good to me and I have loved almost all of my time in the veterinary industry. Others amongst us are not so lucky.
So, if you are contemplating hiring a coach, here are four reasons why it might be worth the money, the energy and the time.

1. You can’t do it all on your own. In our industry, we often think that asking for help is a sign of weakness and that we should be able to do everything on our own. Not true. We now know that we need other people to grow and better meet the day-to-day challenges of our lives. Sometimes we are too close to the action to be able to see what is obvious to an objective outsider. Your family and friends may also be too close, or too busy, or maybe they don’t have the skill set to help you. Healthy relationships strengthen us and a coach can be part of your support network.

2. Coaching is both a proactive and a reactive strategy to improve our mental health. Coaching reduces stress and increases well-being and quality of life. Coaching is helpful in thinking through how you want to be and what you want to stand for at transition times such as change of job/direction or starting your own business. It can assist to create behavioural change and incorporate new, more helpful habits into your life. This can be especially useful when considering work-life balance and relationships at work.

3. Coaching provides personalized learning. Have you ever been to a conference or read something and thought – wow, that’s fantastic – but then never quite got around to incorporating it into your life? Coaching is led by you and hence is relevant to what is going on in your life right now. The deep thinking and reflection encouraged in a coaching discussion, along with immediate application of the insights and knowledge gained, greatly aids your learning.

4. Coaching creates accountability. There is a big difference between saying we are going to do something and actually doing it (think unused gym memberships, plans to work more sustainably after holidays etc). Self-control is not always our forte. It is so easy to say I’ll do that or think that through later but never quite get around to it. Coaching provides accountability and assists you to attain your goals.

So, what is the difference between seeing a coach and a counsellor? In coaching, you and your coach are on a level playing field. You need to be whole and resourceful so that you can be guided to solve your own problems, not be told the answer or what to do. If you have clinical depression or anxiety, it would be advisable to start with a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. As you recover, adding in coaching may be beneficial.

And would you need a coach as well as a business mentor? It definitely depends! Coaches are a diverse group and emphasise different things. My style of coaching concentrates on the individual and on improving well-being and hence performance. But because well-being has a ripple effect, doing some work on yourself is also likely to have a positive influence on others, both at work and home.

Just as we can’t diagnose a disease or run a test we know nothing about, it is hard to contemplate what benefits coaching could bring. Why don’t you try it and see?
Success in the veterinary industry requires much more than clinical skills and knowledge. We need to be developing and growing as people. And this is where coaching comes into its own.

To learn more about coaching take a look at our upcoming High Achievers Online Training Program featuring Dr Cathy Warburton.