Is the time right for coaching?

“I can see the benefits, but don’t really have time for coaching right now,” said Diana, a CEO I’ve known for some time. “But it’s crazy-busy this month… let’s come back to it in a quarter.” 

You can probably guess how the story ended… or, rather, didn’t end.

We checked back in a quarter later. Unsurprisingly, it was still “a bit crazy right now” and she deferred again. Rinse and repeat.

Fast-forward 18 months, and we happened to meet. Things have progressed in her business, definitely, but she’s still dealing with the same underlying problems and points of friction:

  • Progress has been steady, but she’s not seen the breakthroughs she wanted—the very breakthroughs she wanted to be the focus of our work.
  • She’s still doing things her team should be doing…
  • She’s still not created the high-performance culture around her…
  • She’s still in “superhero” mode and stuck in the weeds…

Contrast this with Antoine, another CEO client. In the last year, since we started working together, he’s made giant strides:

  • He’s reimagined his use of time completely;
  • he’s shortened the timeline of his top growth initiative by about 2 years (!);
  • he’s holding his leadership team to far higher standards;
  • he’s clearer than ever about his “100X mission” that sets him on fire, and;
  • he’s dealing with the inner frustrations and anxiety that have plagued him for years, despite his success.

Two stories. Incremental vs. Breakthrough progress, plain to see.

So, here are two important angles to reflect on when you’re wondering whether the time is right to engage in 1:1 coaching, or indeed any programme of personal or professional development.

1. Obligation, or opportunity?

Diana seemed to lack a sense of opportunity. I detected that she felt that working 1:1 was a sign of weakness. She thought her team could benefit from support, but she shouldn’t. And she said didn’t “have” enough time.

Well, if you see coaching as an obligation – something to “fit in” to your diary, a “should do,” with perhaps some connotations of being remedial/corrective – then it naturally falls to the bottom of the list.

“I’m busy dealing with urgent business issues right now,” actually translates as: “It’s wartime right now, and I need to deal with the must-haves, but when peacetime comes I can get around to some leisure, to work on the nice-to-haves.”


  • The best time to have full support is in the midst of battle!
  • The best time to have a sports coach is when you’re playing at the pro level.
  • The best time to step back and see the bigger picture is when things are flying at you from all directions.
  • The best time to work on your future is when your present is going incredibly well.

This sense that “I just need to deal with operational stuff myself right now,” is almost always one of the exact things holding top leaders back! And that mindset sabotages them at the very moment they have the opportunity to address that issue through coaching.

Antoine had a very different mindset. For him, working with a coach was a massive opportunity for a new level of results. He didn’t take the victim path (“I don’t have enough time”), but he committed to making the necessary time.

You see, you might not “need” coaching, but when you see coaching as an opportunity to create a preferred future, to make a dramatic shift in your external and internal reality, then everything changes.

And the worry about it taking too much time is a red herring. I find coaching creates MORE time because the superfluous busywork drops away, and the big levers become more apparent.

You could try to wait until you’ve cleared out all the other obligations in your calendar for the coming months. That’s the incremental path. But, what if you could shift your mindset so that you could easily free yourself up from those so-called “requirements” and focus on more valuable and energising projects instead?

KEY POINT: If you see coaching as an obligation, you’ll procrastinate and stay on an incremental trajectory. But if you see it as a vital opportunity, you’ll prioritise it and create a new future for yourself.


Is this an opportunity (“want to do”) or merely an obligation (“should do”)?

2. What’s the cost of delay?

Coaching opens up new possibilities and new ways of thinking that lead to new ways of acting. This leads to results you simply couldn’t have achieved with your previous fame of reference.

Conceptually, Diana didn’t grasp the power of compound interest. Just like investing financially, investing in yourself creates results that stack up over time, and compound and build on each other.

Many CEOs and entrepreneurs have big goals around the 2.5 year horizon. That’s 10 quarters to make a transformational impact.

Seen through this frame of “10 quarters,” the cost of delaying a pivotal shift by just one quarter is huge! 

Let’s say your breakthrough opportunity accelerates quarterly growth from 20% to 30%. Delaying by one just quarter reduces your final results by 8%. Delaying by 18 months, as Diana ended up doing, reduces the end outcome by 40%. This is an artificial scenario, of course, but the point is simple.

KEY POINT: Coaching is designed to shift your trajectory, so you move your default future to your preferred future, so imagine you have 10 quarters, and think about the impact of delaying the shift from one trajectory to the other.


What’s the true cost to you of delay, when it comes to moving from your default future to your preferred future?

The decision is yours

I never want to put pressure on anyone to do anything. Timing is indeed important. Sometimes delaying is the best option. And I certainly don’t want to make a sale to a client who’s not fully committed. So I’m never going to go for a hard sell.

But I will put my coaching hat on and simply leave people with these questions.

  • What can’t you achieve alone, that you could achieve with support?
  • What’s the opportunity if you act on this now?
  • What’s the cost to you of delaying, and will the perfect day really ever come?

I hope they’re useful to you, in whatever partnerships you might considering right now, or in whatever project you’re considering procrastinating on.

PLUS, whenever you're ready, why not hit the accelerator on your journey of exponential impact by working with us, or by picking up a copy of Making TIME For Strategy?

10X your financials, 10X your positive impact, 10X your inner peace.

Join our community of 17000+ mission-driven CEOs and leaders becoming world-changing forces for good. The Xquadrant Insider offers bite-sized insights to help you get out of the weeds, mobilise your team and deliver on your most inspiring goals.

We'll never share your information because we're not jerks!

You might also enjoy...