Upon reading numerous articles referencing physician coaching, most have been written by physicians who were transformed by coaching and then became coaches themselves. (Thank you. Your work is so needed in this area!) At least once or twice, I’ve seen coaching referenced in a derogatory manner or deemed unnecessary. In those instances, the premise was that “the system” is the problem and coaching is not the answer. In reality, this is not a simple problem to fix, and the answer is not either/or. Yes, serious issues with our health care system need to be fixed, resulting in excessive demands and burdens on physicians and other health care workers. And coaching can be an incredibly beneficial tool to help us examine the challenges we face in our professional and personal life.
Your thoughts drive your feelings. A good coach helps you analyze how your thoughts contribute to your suffering. When you change your thoughts, you can change your life.
That is excellent news if you are generally satisfied with all areas of your life! If not, I can attest to a great coach’s powerful impact on your life. I was not looking to receive coaching. Coaching found me. If I had been looking, I very likely would have selected a coach who “looked like me.” A late-career female physical therapist. To my surprise, my coach, who appeared when I needed him the most, is a younger, mid-career male physician. Personality compatibility is more important than merely matching personal demographics.
I recently sent him a handwritten note as we completed a dozen coaching sessions together. It included some qualities one should look for in a talented coach; I am so lucky. Parting advice: Don’t knock it till you try it!
By way of thanking you, I came up with a “Top 10” list of reasons why I think you are a great coach:
1. I can trust you. To me, that is the foundation of a good coaching relationship.
2. You demonstrate empathy and cultivate an authentic relationship, showing that you care about me as a person.
3. You are truly present during our sessions, giving me your full attention and incorporating active listening and thoughtful feedback.
4. You are honest. Sharing with me when my writing (or thoughts!) can use some additional work to serve me better helps me know that I can trust you and that your feedback is genuine and true.
5. You know just the right questions to ask. Sometimes your questions make me uncomfortable, though you also make it safe to feel vulnerable.
6. You are enthusiastic and have a good sense of humor. I look forward to our sessions; you are fun to talk to!
7. Your session takeaways are always on point and incredibly helpful. Sometimes it takes me a while to fully process them, which makes me appreciate them even more, as you can see things that I still need to mull over to grasp fully.
8. You keep learning yourself and continuing your own professional development. You don’t act like you know everything, making you very approachable.
9. You provide great supplementary materials. Your online course modules are excellent, full of essential concepts and explanations.
10. You are a really nice guy with such a great smile!
I guess it’s not random that we met; it’s how it was supposed to be. I don’t think I have the words to fully express my gratitude for how you have helped me over the past few months. I’ll say thank you from the bottom of my heart, hoping you can fully appreciate the sentiment behind it.
Looking forward to our session next month!
Thank you, Dr. Michael Hersh.
Kim Downey is a physical therapist.