Why You Don’t Believe You Need a Business Coach (And Why You’re Kidding Yourself)

You’ve likely heard business icons like Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt say that you’ve got to have a coach to be a successful business professional. And if you’re like most people, you’ve likely inwardly scoffed, thinking this doesn’t apply to you. After all, not everyone has the resources and time for such an extravagance. You’ve got bills to pay!

But maybe it’s time to reconsider your assumptions about who really needs a coach.

The more responsible a professional is for business success, the more likely they are to be coached.

“Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born.”

“The Making of an Expert,” Harvard Business Review

It’s true. Think of any athlete or actor you admire: Do you they have a coach? More than one coach? Sports and entertainment are multibillion-dollar industries. Coaches allow top performers to identify specific ways to gain more competence, skill, and expertise. They focus on fundamentals, self-mastery, mindset, and yes, practice. Much practice.

An NFL player, for example, practices every week during their season. They also practice in intensive camps multiple times per year. They also have spring practice. And even when not practicing their game skills, they still practice in the gym. They practice most of the year for the opportunity to have a few hours of excellent performance about 12 times.

Professional football players practice and are coached for 10 months or more—often daily—for about 40 hours of performance time. And actors practice for weeks or months to create a great film performance. They might be on-screen for 30 minutes!

So why is it that businesspeople often believe that they don’t have to practice at all?

They are practically the only big-time professionals who think that way—that they can do eight or more hours per day of performance, often impacting the most important moments of their clients’ lives, with no practice. They avoid even the slightest hint that they should practice. But if you don’t practice in business, what can happen? Aren’t you warming up on the first call each day? That doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do to a client who is paying you to perform well for them.

What empowers this belief? Do they think they were born great businesspeople? In the oft-quoted Harvard Business Review article, “The Making of an Expert,” a group of authors puts it this way:

“Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born.”

They go on to say, “You will need to invest [your] time wisely, by engaging in “deliberate” practice—practice that focuses on tasks beyond your current level of competence and comfort. You will need a well-informed coach not only to guide you through deliberate practice but also to help you learn how to coach yourself. Above all … you’ve got to forget the folklore about genius that makes many people think they cannot take a scientific approach to developing expertise.”

Where’s your coach? When you consider what the great, inspiring performers in sports and entertainment do, and the way their billions of dollars impact the world—not to mention their effect on the beliefs, hopes, and dreams of all of us—you will say yes.

You’ll believe that you need a coach to become a truly great performer in your business.