How To Hire A Coach: My Guide for who & when to choose

January 4, 2021

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If you’re contemplating any of the current questions…

> Do I need a coach?
> Is this the right coach for me?
> Should I invest my money in this?
> Is it the right time to work with a coach?

Then I’ve got a podcast episode for you!

I’ve worked with about 10 coaches over the years & I’ve developed a system for deciding if/when/who to coach with.

Even though I’m not currently taking new coaching clients (my books are gratefully full) I know that navigating the complex noise of the coaching space can feel tricky. But there is a way to make sure you’re choosing the right coach.


In today’s podcast we explore:

  • The definition of coaching & different types of coach
  • Is coaching for you if you don’t like to be told what to do?
  • The three things I hope to get out of coaching
  • A framework of questions & checks to make sure you’re engaging the right coach
  • How I hired my first coach & my how my current coach is helping me
  • My golden rule in getting the most out of coaching
  • Where to find a Feminine Embodiment Coach
  • How much I’ve spent on coaching & how I feel about that investment

Resources mentioned in this podcast:

Useful links & people I mention in today’s podcast:


Read the Transcript

Are you contemplating hiring a coach at the moment? Maybe you’ve never hired one before and you’re wondering, okay, how do I know I’m ready? Maybe you’ve hired a coach in the past, and you’ve had a great experience and you’re wanting to recreate that. Or maybe you’ve had a coach in the past and you haven’t had a great experience, and you’re wondering how you can make a better, more aligned decision in the future. Well, in today’s podcast, you’re with me, Jenna Ward, I’m a feminine embodiment coach and I chat with and train and speak with so many coaches. I’m sharing with you a few tips and a few ideas about how I approach hiring a coach. Maybe they’ll be useful for you. So welcome to today’s episode.

Welcome to the School of Embodied Arts podcast. I am your hostess, Jenna Ward, feminine embodiment coach here for our weekly explorations of living, leading and coaching as emotionally empowered, sensually alive and magnetic women.

So I love me some coaching, I myself am a feminine embodiment coach and I specialize in working with women who are wanting to bring more of their feminine feeling and embodied decision-making into the way that they’re structuring their life and their business. But I also work with so many amazing women who are honing their coaching skills. As one of the teachers at the School of Embodied Arts and the creator of the Feminine Embodiment Coaching certification, I have trained and worked alongside literally hundreds of our graduate coaches who work in all kinds of areas. From career coaching through to sensuality coaching, mothering, marketing, divorce, dating, pretty much you name it and there’s a woman who works in that arena that I’ve personally trained with and supported to refine their coaching. In addition, I myself have received so much coaching over the years. I actually wrote a list of all the different coaches that I’ve worked with in preparation for today’s podcast, and I counted one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. 10 coaches, just off the top of my head. So it’s possible that there’s even more on that list over the long history of coaching that I have engaged.

Now, some of that coaching has been personal coaching. Some of it has been business coaching, and a lot of it has been a blend of the two. But today’s podcast is going to be relevant to you, whether you’re coaching for personal, for business or for a combination. So before we dive into how to hire a coach, I just want to take a moment to really define what coaching is. When we think about coaching, there’s a lot of different of coaches that you can engage. You will know that you’re working with a coach if their primary method of operating is to ask you questions, and for you to discover and bring greater awareness to your own answers.

This is what makes coaching really different from other types of self-development or practices or personal growth. Coaching isn’t about somebody guiding you into the possibilities. Coaching isn’t about taking a training to learn a new skillset, although you can definitely gain skills through coaching. Coaching is about asking questions, and every type of coach will invoke questions differently. I love coaching so much because I actually don’t do so well when people tell me how it is, or when somebody else believes that they have all the answers or the solution and need to tell me how it should be done. One of the key aspects of self sovereignty that I really stand for, and that works for me, is that I’m very open to advice or consulting or different forms of accessing information, including intuition, but I’m a sovereign woman. I can use my feeling, knowing body as a way to discern through all of that information and discover what is true for me, and I will not have another person tell me what my truth is. Because nobody else lives in this body and nobody else has the lived experience of this body.

Put another way, I am the ultimate authority on me, and that’s a really radical power to claim because it means that anything that I choose to opt into or opt out of is my responsibility. That is part of the responsibility of power. In the past, I’ve worked with a lot of different types of practitioners, and I found what works really well for me is when we navigate towards decisions and truths that don’t only kind of tick the boxes or what you would expect to do, like your list of pros and cons really weigh up. But when we come to a decision that feels true in my body, that’s when I can action something.

So coaching is asking powerful questions, and you’ll know you’re working with a coach, no matter what they call themselves, if they’re using questions to check in around what your truth is. Now, there are a lot of different ways that we can ask questions as well. Some coaches who are maybe more accountability based, they’re going to ask you questions about how you can lock those 10 next steps into your calendar. Some coaches who are more mindset coaching, they might have questions that are only really interested in engaging the mental dimension. There’s other types of coaches like life coaches who are more about making, and I’m speaking generally here because I’m not a life coach, but they’re more about making plans based on your feelings and where you want to get to, and working with you in accountability ways.

They’re really all beautiful ways of working, if they’re the types of questions that you want. This is really one of the key points in terms of how to hire a coach, you’re the authority on what you want. Nobody else including me can tell you what the right way of coaching or receiving coaching is for you, because you’ve got to go with what feels right and feels like it’s going to create the most success for you. For me personally, I want a coach who is able to hold me in a container of accountability, who is able to help me to find the answers within myself. But I also want a coach who is not going to only think of me as a calendar for productivity. I don’t want a coach who is going to coach only through the dimension of my mind. I want a coach who is going to appreciate that I’m a multi-dimensional, feeling, sensing, knowing woman. That I have sometimes beliefs or thoughts that might need to be challenged, but that I also have a whole heap of wisdom that lives within my body. Wisdom that I can sense by feeling my body that also needs to be brought into the equation.

This is really what my style of coaching, feminine embodiment coaching, is very much about. It’s about unravelling, it’s about setting a goal. So number one, knowing where you want to get to. Number two, unraveling into the depths of the body to rediscover what unresolved tension or what possibilities of pleasure, what internal bodily resources might relate to this desire. Then number three, moving towards that desire in ways that feel aligned and magnetic and empowered. That’s what embodiment coaching really is for me. So when we think about coaching, we’re thinking about powerful questions. When we’re thinking about feminine embodiment coaching, we’re thinking about powerful questions that invite the feeling, sensing body to be part of the conversation.

So when we define that that’s what coaching is, I guess the next step that I then take in thinking about, well, which coach am I going to hire? How am I going to know that I’m hiring the right coach? Well, the next thing for me to think about is, well, what do I really need out of this coaching? For me, coaching really helps with three big arenas. The first is obviously decision making and moving forward. Decision-making can be really exhausting, especially for modern women who already have so much on our plate. I know that for me, if I’ve got a big decision, like should I change careers? Should I leave him? Is it time to re-enter the dating game? Do I want another child? Am I going to start this business? What am I going to specialize in my business?

These are big decisions, and these can be really exhausting decisions if we don’t take the appropriate space and time to actually resolve them in a sincere away. So if I put what I’ve just said another way, I know that when I have a decision that’s in my field, that’s lingering and lingering and lingering, and that I just can’t quite get the clarity to answer, that indecision becomes exhausting to me. I keep pushing it away because I don’t have time, or I don’t have the clarity to make that decision, but in pushing it away, it’s keeping that question mark. That indecision as a drain in my energy field, because it’s taking up space, and it’s this dark, shadowy lurking thing that I know I need to get to, but that I just can’t.

This is one of the big reasons that I love to receive support through coaching, because coaching is just like supersonic speed support for decision-making. It is a soft space to move out of the regular pace of life. It is a safe space to unpack all that goes into making a decision or a discovery or a leap forward. It’s a way where you can, together with your coach, really carve out the sensitivity and the honesty and the complexity of deciding that right decision for you.

For me at this phase in my life, there’s so much going on, but if I want a project to move forward, and I’m finding that I’m having the trouble showing up to be accountable to that project and just to center it, to give it the time and the space that it needs to fully blossom, then actually hiring a coach is a really powerful way for me to have that space. I’m currently in a coaching relationship with an amazing coach, and I found that things have just been moving forward. I’d love to say so much faster. They’re actually still moving pretty slow, but they’re moving somewhere. I’m going to talk about speed a little while later on in the podcast.

The other reason that I love coaching is that very often coaching helps me to find the language to describe what I have previously been unable to mentally comprehend or to put words around. I hear this so much from my clients and from the students that I work with. When our experience remains unnamed, unexamined, and when there are no words or frameworks put around what’s happening inside of us, it can be really challenging to both personally validate that experience, but also then mentally understand that experience. Let me give you an example on that.

So recently I had a situation which was challenging in my business, and it involved a few different parties and I needed to determine what my responsibilities were and how to mediate this situation. It seemed really complex, and I was a bit like, oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do here. Do I just put that in the too hard pile? That’s not really a solution. So I ended up taking that situation to my coach and I said, “Can you help me navigate this?” It was amazing because, as I shared the experience with her, which in and of itself was so supportive just to have somebody else on my team helping me to make this decision and navigate this complexity, she was really super pro at putting some clear, concise language around what was happening and sharing with me through her lens of expertise. The coach that I’m speaking about, her name’s Trudy LeBron, she’s going to be on the podcast soon. She is an equity centered coach.

So Trudy was super useful in helping me to really find some language, and that helped everything in terms of the decision-making to become more clear. I hear this a lot from our students as well as they begin to learn the tools of feminine embodiment coaching. They’re saying things like, and I hear this so much, “Oh, you’ve put words around what I already knew was true, but was not able to define or articulate to another.” It’s like, yeah, we’ve got this common lived experience, but my coach, particularly if they have an area of specialty like equity centered coaching or feminine embodiment coaching, they’re able to often put language around the experience.

That’s one of the reasons that I love coaching so much and that I often will look for a specialty coach who’s working in that arena that I’m really wanting to make more decisions or find more support. The other reason that I love coaching, the third reason, is that coaching is very indirectly a training of skills. So one of the very first coaches that I ever employed was an embodiment coach. At that time I was a very disembodied pharmacist, and I was so numb in my body, dishonoring of my body, disconnected to the pleasure and the sovereignty and the power of my body. In a lot of ways I was operating and navigating the world as more of a high performing girl rather than an empowered woman.

So I hired a coach, I don’t actually know if she called herself an embodiment coach, but in retrospect I think that’s what she was because a lot of the practices and the decision-making that she took me through was very felt and very embodied in its nature. That was perhaps my first taste of the skills of inhabiting my body more fully. Maybe my first taste of what the possibilities of embodiment might be like. That left me hungry for more, and eventually led to a total career change for me personally. But in a way through coaching and through her support in finding language to make better decisions, more aligned decisions, I also began to pick up the beginnings of a skill set, an embodiment skillset, which has grown through numerous different experiences and trainings and devotions over the subsequent years. So now that we’ve defined coaching and we’ve spoken about why coaching can be so useful, I wanted to share with you a few key things in terms of almost a checklist that I go through when hiring a coach.

The first one is that I need to make sure that this coach and I share the same values. So does this person operate their business and act with the integrity and hold dearly the same things that I value? Just the other day, it’s an unrelated thing, but I was looking at this new subscription that I was thinking of taking for a digital service. I wanted to know a bit more about this digital service before I gave them their money. So I started reading their about page and I got to this section on their website, which said here are our sponsors, our ambassadors and our… It was like their corporate consultants. So it was the people that they were taking advice from and that represented their brand.

They were a really big international brand, and I just took a little image of, okay, here are the eight people that are their consultants and that they take advice from. Of those eight people, one was a woman and seven out of the eight were white. So I’m predominantly looking at this lineup of white men. I’m thinking, you know, there’s more to this equation. Maybe they do have a big commitment to diversity or equity or inclusion that I’m not aware of. Maybe they are interested in having women’s voices represent their brand. But from this one little visual, I’m not actually sure if we share the same values. So I’m not sure that I want to necessarily vote with my dollar towards that kind of world. This is a simple example from an unrelated, you’re not thinking about hiring a subscription, you’re thinking about hiring a coach. But the central story here is do they share the same values as you?

Sometimes you have to go and do a little bit of digging and check out their website and some of their policies or follow along and listen to some of their podcasts or their blogs or their social media. Just see what is the flavor of what do you hold dear? Do I want to be in bed and vote with my dollar towards that future? Because that’s what we’re doing when we’re keeping a certain service in business, we’re voting with our dollar to the kind of future that we want.

The second thing that I begin to look for when I’m looking for a coach is, is their area of specialty and their body of work what I need more of? Is this something that I would love to be upgraded into? Now, when I speak about body of work, we teach this concept around this body of work idea in the feminine embodiment coaching certification.

A body of work, if I put it really simply, it’s when somebody has a specific skillset that’s blended with their own lived experience and their own values to create an offering that’s really quite unique to them. So say for example, part of my body of work is around creating practices around feminine embodiment. If I give some examples of some of our students, one of our past graduates has been through the experience of having a hysterectomy and she was quite young when she had that. So she’s taken her skills, feminine embodiment, blended that with her lived experience of going through a hysterectomy at a relatively young age, and now has a body of work around coaching and supporting women who are navigating this decision or are the other side of integrating this decision.

Similarly, there’s another amazing peer that I’ve worked with, and that has moved through our program. She has a lot of background in corporate and executive coaching, and supports women who are from the corporate field to decide about their career transitions and to navigate into careers. That has been her lived experience. She also has a plethora of amazing skills, including the skills of feminine embodiment. So her body of work is centered around navigating new career and navigating really finding your soul aligned career path. So these women are working in very specific to them ways through a combination of their skills and their lived experience.

I believe this brings so much integrity, because they’re living and breathing this stuff, and it really helps you to know that you’re actually coming to the right person. So looking at somebody’s body of work and asking the question is the thing that I’m wanting. Maybe that might be integration post hysterectomy, or it might be changing my career and moving towards a different career path. Is this the area of specialty, is this what their body of work centers? That’s what I’m constantly looking for and exploring with a particular coach.

The third thing that I love to look at when I’m deciding to hire a coach is what projects are currently on my plate? So I have a rule, and it is I only take on and I only work on one big project at a time. Now I might have a project going on personally, and a different one going on in my biz. Maybe I’ve got one that spans across both. So you’re allowed to have different categories of life. Maybe you’ve got a project in your relationships and then a different project in your career. That’s totally fine, but personally in different arenas or areas of life, I only like to work on one project at a time. That’s because I take the view that if I am to make a commitment to a container with a coach, I know that I’m only going to get out of that commitment as much as I am able to put in.

So if I’m not available to spend the time or do the practices or be in deep reflection of really getting the most out of that experience that a coach is holding me in, then I know that the results that I’m going to get out of it will be average at best. A coach is not here to do the work for you. They can’t make the decisions for you. They can’t implement for you. They’re here to hold space to empower you to do all of those things for yourself. So my rule is I do not start with the next person until I feel like I’ve either fully integrated what I already have, or I decided that I’m not going to integrate anything further. Sometimes that means I close the chapter on a period of coaching sooner than I might’ve anticipated. Maybe there was this huge project that I was initially hoping to do with a coach, and then as I got halfway through it, I decided actually maybe that’s not the project for me after all. I’ve now come to that clarity and that ability to make a decision. But either way, I want to close one container and close one old project before I decide to start with a new practitioner, a new coach, and open a new container, so that I can get the most out of it.

That’s one of my key, golden rules. I feel like it’s been one of the most challenging rules in terms of hiring a coach that I’ve had to abide by. Because, oh, I mean, you heard me at the top of this podcast, I’ve had 10 plus different coaches. I love receiving coaching because I know that it moves things forward with more ease and more speed and more grace and more support. But at the same time, moving forward isn’t the only thing that I want from life. Sometimes I’m willing to move slower if it means that I’m creating sustainable growth, if it means that I’m honoring the cycle or the season that another part of my life might be in, if it means caring for me and making sure that I am topped up. Life isn’t about one project and the next project and the next.

So I know that life isn’t a race. This often means that this rule, I only work with one project at a time, it often has meant that at the surface level, my growth might look slower than what it could possibly have been. But I don’t subscribe to the hyper-masculine belief that doing more is always better. Sometimes doing less and working at a more self-honoring pace can create the same success and the same results in a new paradigm and in a new way. That’s what I stand for, and that’s what I’ve seen the experience of, my personal end in my professional life.

The final rule that I have in hiring a new coach is around investment. Now, having worked with 10 plus coaches over the years, I have invested what I consider a very significant sum of money in development, support and coaching. One of the reasons that I tend to only work with one project or one coach at a time is because I take these investments really seriously. I know that I am only going to get out of that experience what I put into it. If I’m putting my money into it, I know that that money is a representation of value. But I also need to put my time, my energy, my attention into that container if I expect to get results out of it. A coach is there to hold space for me and to support me and to cheerlead me on. To most importantly help me find my own answers. In order for all of those things to occur successfully, I need to be a self responsible woman putting my maximum effort, my maximum capacity into that relationship. So that means that in investing my money, that’s a representation of my investing myself responsibility.

The discussion or the topic of investment in a coach I think is a really important one, because it can seem like investing in a coach might be an unconventional or atypical, or even selfish investment. Many of us are happy to buy shares or to put money towards a property or towards saving or towards paying off debt. All of these more conventional types of money management strategies are really important. I’m not here to give money advice. We’re speaking about hiring a coach. But I think that there is an importance in understanding that the investment that you make in yourself, whether that’s for you personally or your marriage or your relationships or your business, or your sensuality or whatever arena of life you’re wanting to be coached in, an investment in that direction is often seen as an unconventional investment that may not yield a return on that money.

That absolutely has not been my experience. The more that I have invested in coaching, the more I have seen a return in riches. I’m talking about all types of riches. Investing in coaching has created more money and more wealth for me, without a doubt, but it has created more richness, infinite richness in my relationships, in my expression, in my creativity. And these are returns on investment that are priceless, deeply, deeply priceless to me. So I see this investment that I make, for me it represents the responsibility that I’m making a commitment to, and it’s a financial representation of that responsibility. But it’s also something that I go into knowing this will yield a return on investment for me. There will be riches as a result of this, because that is my intention and that is what I will create through this container, with the support of my coach.

I think it’s also important to consider the sometimes guilt or the shame that can arise from having the opportunity and the privilege to work with a coach. I know for this podcast, I reflected on how much money I had invested in coaching over the years. It was a decent figure. It was a figure that was some people’s annual salary. It’s a figure that some people on this earth couldn’t conceive of spending. It’s also a figure that some people on this earth might spend and not give a second thought about. So that figure is relative and different for each of us. But that brought up a lot within me around reflecting on the privilege, and also the subtle threads of is this just self-indulgent, is this selfish? Other people don’t have as much as I do, and I want to spend how much to work with a coach to get even more?

I think these lines of inquiry, if you’ve ever experienced them, I think they’re lines of inquiry that are really important and really valid. In coaching we are reducing the amount of suffering that we experience in our life, and we’re creating more space for more opportunity for us. My experience of investing in my coaching has been that it has made me without a doubt a far more informed, aware, compassionate and generous human. Not only in the small circles of my life and my business, but in the wider circles of how I spend my time, the causes that I champion, the decisions that I make with my dollar.

I feel that coaching has made me a better person. Yes, I’ve invested a lot of money in coaching, but I’ve also seen that money is not the only richness that exists. That if I have the privilege and the ability to invest in coaching like this, then that means that I also have the responsibility to do something constructive and just with the riches that I receive in return. I think that’s a really important question for those of us who may feel the guilt or the ‘selfishness’ around being able to invest in a coach. You do not have to suffer or to experience less richness in your life. You are allowed to have an exquisitely beautiful life. With that beauty comes a responsibility to support others to have the same. So I think move into the tenderness of, is it okay for me to invest that much? Be with that and let that uncomfortable feeling inspire you to transform not only your own situation, but to also consider how that transformation and that richness that you’ve received cultivate or support or inspire other people in other situations.

If I think about a really practical example of this. So in terms of one of the direct results of me investing in coaching has been growth in my business, and this is a very practical piece around the riches received. But it’s handy for demonstrating what we’re speaking about today. As the wealth of my business has grown, I’ve been able to pay my contractors more and pay them better and pay them faster. I’ve been able to support more charity organizations. I’ve been able to hire and pay really good money to coaches doing important work, like work in the diversity or equity or inclusion space. As a result of the riches generated from in this case working with a business coach, there has been ripples that have extended out from de-centering the question, what more can I get? And refocusing on what else can I give? I think a well resourced, rich woman, and I’m talking about not necessarily or only financially, I’m talking about emotionally, spiritually rich, rich women are able to sit in a place of asking, let’s stop centering what more do I need to get, and instead ask what else and what more can I give?

For me personally, the more coaching that I’ve received, the more I’ve invested in my self responsibility, my desires and my direction of growth. The more firm I am around that questioning and the more resourced I am to take action around that answer. That to me is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful investment that has infinite ripples in its return.

So I’m very grateful for you joining us for this podcast and for this conversation today. If you’ve loved this episode, make sure you leave us a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you’re interested in working with a coach, we have an amazing directory of practitioners, which you can find at feminineembodimentcoaching.com, just navigate to the find a coach tab and you’ll find many women from diverse backgrounds, speaking diverse languages, and also with diverse areas of expertise that are some of the most amazing coaches I’ve had the privilege of working with and supporting each of these coaches to refine their coaching. So I can personally vouch for all of them. I know them all intimately. If you are seeking a coach for enriching your life in whichever dimension that needs some love and some devotion, maybe there’s a coach there for you. The details are at feminineembodimentcoaching.com under the “Find a Coach” tab. Thank you for joining us for this conversation today.

If you loved this episode and want to explore more like it, head over and subscribe on iTunes, or jump across to jennaward.co/podcast and we will lovingly hand deliver the best of the podcast as well as new episodes to your inbox each week.

With love,

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