Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer coach for the Law Society’s Coach and Advisor Network, a great professional development initiative for lawyers and paralegals.
Recently, a colleague asked me “Why are you involved with CAN?”
Here’s my answer. As legal professionals, we spend a lot of time helping our clients. That’s our job. Sometimes we are warriors. Sometimes we are peacemakers. Most of the time, though, we are too busy with client files to step back and reflect on our own development. And seldom do we seek guidance or training unless it involves a client file “emergency” or the need to complete those last minute CPD hours before the annual deadline. Unfortunately, we are not really trained to check-in regularly and to ask ourselves how we are doing as professionals.
A coach helps answer this important question by providing perspective. Many successful people understand the need to get another perspective to help develop their skills. Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, has never been too shy to admit he uses a Bridge coach to improve his game. Similarly, the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, has said that it took courage to act on the best advice he was ever given – “get a coach”. According to Mr. Schmidt, a coach is “somebody who can watch what you’re doing – somebody who can say ‘Is that what you really meant?’ and give you perspective.”
A coach also provides a variety of tools to help you get out of your own way. During several of my coaching engagements, lawyers and paralegals have been surprised to discover how often they find the answers to their challenges after their coaching sessions. A coach uses solution-focused methods to help find the right path and to help remove obstacles to success. While every coach has a different approach, the goal is the same. A coach assembles a custom toolkit which helps reduce the time required to get to the right solution. In a legal culture where time is money, the coaching process is a cost-effective investment with measureable results.
My colleague then asked me “What’s in it for you?”
Simple enough answer. In “Wins, Losses, and Lessons”, Lou Holtz, a well-known American football coach, writes the following: “Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant.” I have never forgotten this quote. Helping fellow legal professionals move forward through their challenges to find positive solutions is rewarding. Making a lasting impact in their professional lives, invaluable. That’s what is in it for me, as well as for those whom I am fortunate enough to coach.
(This article originally appeared in the Law Society of Upper Canada on-line publication "The Gazette": http://www.lawsocietygazette.ca/your-practice/michael-bury-why-i-coach/)