In an industry where there are so many critics and so few confirmations, talent need a safe haven to comfortably grow in their skills and knowledge while still being challenged and held accountable. Your agent, manager, or talent friend may not be the most readily available sources of positive interaction, but a coach is almost always a great way to build confidence! (And if you find a coach who does not build you up, consider that a red flag.)
Coaches, like business people and talent, have their strengths and weaknesses. Most coaches choose to focus on instructing in the areas they enjoy most, which generally tend to coincide with their natural strengths. Each time you start working with someone who really challenges you or just inspires you to infuse new life into your career, start your relationship knowing that at some point you will outgrow their forte. For our Star Wars cult followers, you may consider yourself the young Padawan and your coach the Jedi Master – at some point a good coach will push you out of their nest and on to bigger and better things! Transitioning can be painful, but really is in your best interest. If your coach doesn’t push, however, you will likely get a nagging feeling in your gut when it’s time to press on. Trust it and know that your coach will support you in your choices . . . the same as they’ve done along the path you’ve walked together until now. The coach should be well compensated for their services, which you will benefit from throughout the lifetime of your career.
Relying on the coach for encouragement and direction concerning a talent’s skill set is wise. However, relying on the coach for work, career direction, or facets of talent work outside of the skill set (e.g., PR, communication, marketing materials, other facets of work the talent may need in which the coach does not excel, etc.) is a gray area. Talent easily find themselves lost in this twilight zone when they do not grasp the purpose and place of the coach in their career.
Keep focused when working with your coach! You should not be advised on their opinions, personal suggestions, or given career direction outside of the advancement of your skill set. You should, however, be inspired, encouraged, challenged, and have to put forth considerable effort. If you think it’s easy, it might be time to move on to someone else’s expertise.