So how does this work (for me)?
For about 3 years now I have a personal coach and he has definitely brought me forward! We do not talk every day but still every once in a while.
He does not provide me with answers but rather the right questions to come to conclusions by myself. There have been several bigger crossroads in my life in these 3 years that have been heavily influenced that way. He lives in the UK but works in different countries, soon being Mongolia! When we talk, it works over Skype and upon needs rather on short notice. I also just met him physically again last week – yay! Once again, it was a very interesting and insightful evening that both of us enjoyed. Before I met him physically in Brazil in 2008 and in Malaysia in 2009.
So what can you take from this?:
A coach does not provide the right answers, but the right questions (in contrast to a mentor, who usually rather indirectly passes on knowledge. The terms are still not defined in one single universally precise definition though.). Of course he might still give some leads to things you might check out after the talks – which he also did again last week. We do not have any business relationship but a personal one – I see him rather as a friend than a boss or anything else. 🙂
A coach does not have to be physically around all the time althought it might help to meet up on a regular basis (depending on the temporal scope of your planning). This keeps up the connection and feeling for the other’s personality since that also changes over time and can not only be expressed in words. But some distance also gives him a more neutral perspective to question your actions and point of view better, but this should not be the case indefinitely. Set up some agreement on how you want to interact at the beginning of your relationship (how often you meet, how often you talk, which focus / questions he should ask, etc). I e.g. told him what development model I want to grow by and thus what my current perspectives are and asked him to challenge them. 🙂
Your coach should fit to you. It should be somebody you get along with and someone you trust. Ideally it can be somebody that inspires you but he should be somebody who also reflects for himself and can provide a different perspective, usually from his own experience or by questioning your situation from different angles.
But – you need to get your ass up to get one – they will not come hunting for you! 🙂
If you have any questions concerning this topic or my experiences, let me know in the comments, via Email, …)! I’ll be glad to answer! 🙂