How to Choose the Right Coach

Choosing the wrong coach doesn’t just cost you money — it costs you time, energy, and most of all…


Your trust in yourself gets eroded when you reach for help and perceive harm. This is equally true on the other side. As a coach, working with the wrong client can cost you big. Recently, I had a call with a prospective client. He was incredibly eager and excited to work with us. He had successfully transformed his own life and now he was helping other people and it was going really well.

The problem was, when we got on the call he couldn’t articulate what he needed help with. He didn’t have a specific problem or obstacle. We tried digging into it on the call, but ultimately we knew that we wouldn’t be able to help him.

Not everybody needs a coach at every point in their journey. I know that’s shocking to hear from a coach, but it’s true. There will be times when you are coachable. When you are stuck and need an outside perspective to lift you out of whatever is holding you back. But there are other times when coaching will just be a waste of your time and resources because you’re in a phase of rest or rejuvenation and need silence from outside voices.


I call this a time of “recalibration” and I’ve been through many cycles like this.

My advice to this particular client was to just keep doing what he was doing. His process was working, so I told him to continue until he ran into a roadblock or obstacle. That’s the time to seek help. This isn’t to say that coaching is only useful when you have problems. It’s to say that coaching is useful when you’re clear on what you want – even if that’s an expansion of your current state of bliss.

Choose the right coach with key Criteria

So what are the criteria you look for when you’re hiring a coach? How do you choose the coach that’s right for you and where you are in your journey? There are three key criteria I consider when looking for a coach.

  • Can they demonstrate that they know my pain? 

The most important thing for me is, does this person understand my pain better than I already do? Can they present a nuanced and layered understanding of my pain and how it ties into different areas of my life?

I want to work with someone who already has experience dealing with the problems I’m dealing with. Someone who has been on the same journey and come out the other side, and now they have tremendous clarity on the issue.

  • Can they demonstrate that they get me?

I’m not going to be coachable unless I respect my coach, and believe that they’re way ahead of me in the game. I want to learn from lived and relatable experience. And I want to work with someone who isn’t going to be snowed by my charisma or BS – I want someone who can lovingly hold me if I try to squirrel away or charm my way out of thinking about something hard or triggering.

  • Can they demonstrate their success?

Not only do I want a coach who has succeeded at navigating their pain, they should be able to demonstrate the type of success I want. I don’t care if they are posting pictures on their yacht and showing off their super successful program. What I really want is a coach who can describe the process of transformation in a way that makes me go, “Yes! I want that!”

Can they show and not tell me that they know what they’re doing?

Here’s an example of how that works. 

I was working with a client recently who told me they were struggling with workload and productivity. She said her energy felt really “scattered.”

I’m very sensitive to the words people use. So the minute she used the word “scattered,” I got this vivid mental image of the energy that expands as a gun goes off. I could see her energy traveling in multiple directions, like birds taking off after a loud noise.

She came to the call expecting a step-by-step plan on time management and delegating work. Instead, we asked her a bunch of questions to pin down the real problem. We peeled back the layers, and finally realized that her real problem was she didn’t want to ask for the sale. That was the gunshot that scattered her energy.

She immediately burst into tears and admitted to the shame and guilt she felt charging her clients money.

Oftentimes, the question you ask is a distraction from the actual problem. You need a coach who won’t answer the question that you ask, but will instead ask you insightful questions that probe deep, and help you see your true problem from a new perspective.

Choose the right Coach vs. Program

A lot of people say that they only want to work with a coach in a 1:1 setting. They’re closed off to any other kind of coaching program. And I understand the hesitation. Often, folks are sold the program by a specific person, but then passed off to a much less intuitive or qualified coach.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had that experience. That’s one of the reasons every single coach on our team is a former client. Someone who paid full price, took the training themselves, and is now actively using it themselves. They bring a deep, personal, and nuanced understanding of what we do, since they’ve been on the receiving end of it themselves.

In addition to this, we only invite those clients whose own skillset is complementary to our own to join our team. So we’re exponentially expanding our team capability by bringing them on – rather than just adding on more of the same. But I also actively coach the program myself. I’m everyone’s coach. I’m in their tickets, working on their messaging, in addition to their assigned coach.

Programs vs 1:1 coaching

Over time, I’ve come to believe in programs as opposed to unstructured 1:1 coaching. As a team, we can work with a wider variety of personality types, deal with different issues, and go deeper. We bring in hypnotherapists and mindset professionals who bring a layer of experience and expertise that I don’t have. Sometimes you have to address an issue on multiple levels, so having a team that works as a collective is so powerful.

Now, this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t work with a solo coach (where I’m the client). I have and I do. But I’m looking for someone who has mastered the work so much that they have been able to structure it. That way, the time I do get with them is totally magic because they’re not wasting their time on the same crap they do with everyone else. All of that has been automated, so I get the purest form of their coaching.

Exercise: Pop into your journal and write down your thoughts and insights from reading so far. Develop your own set of criteria as inspired by mine. Remember, this is about your needs and not anyone else’s formula for success.

Once you’re clear on what you want proceed to coming up with questions that will ferret out the right fit.

Choose the right coach: what are the right questions to ask?

After considering the above criteria, I ask two, all-important questions. But I don’t ask them to the coach. I don’t have a laundry list of questions for a potential coach that I expect them to answer. That’s not effective, because it leans on the other person too much and not on yourself enough. While I use a coach’s social proof or a referral or some website research, etc to create a shortlist, once I’m serious about working with someone and getting help around a particular area, I turn in a different direction.

Towards myself

So the only questions I ask when I’m ready to hire a coach are:

  • Am I ready for healing?

No one else can heal me, except myself. A coach can give me space and processes to follow, they can show me what is possible. But only I can do the work to heal myself. So first, I need to make sure I am ready for it. I take responsibility for my own journey.

  • Do I trust this person/method to facilitate that healing?

This question ties back to demonstrable expertise. Do they show or tell me how their method works? If they can show me they get me better than myself and when they talk about their solution, I want it – then I’m ready. Looking for a team of coaches who really care, who know what they’re doing and can support your own deeper growth as you expand your coaching business? Allow us to lead by example – use this link to book a call to explore whether we’re the right fit.

Looking for more coaching tips? Continue reading in our blog. 

© 2021 Geeta Nadkarni Media Inc.

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