More and more people I talk to nowadays have discovered the benefits of getting a business or life coach to help them advance their careers, build their business or improve their lifestyle. Still, many remain on the fence and miss out on the life changing potential that coaching – done right – can offer.

Why getting a coach might be a good idea.

A big part of that mission is to help more people understand what coaching can do for them – there are still a lot of misconceptions about coaching, who it’s for and kind of results you can expect. Many still think that if you get a coach there must be something “wrong” with you, that coaching is expensive or only for senior executives. Or that coaching is some kind of “silver bullet” that magically fixes all problems a person, team or organization may be facing – only to be disappointed when that doesn’t happen.

Meaning a lot of people who could potentially get real benefit from hiring a coach don’t, and miss out on a great opportunity to improve their careers and lives. Coaching is fast becoming an accepted way of improving personal performance for everyone – not just the happy few in the C-suite. Why ? Mostly because coaching offers unique benefits you will not get out of other methods of personal development – like training, seminars or reading books.

I have gained tremendous benefit from hiring a coach in the past – most recently, when I made the transition from corporate executive to entrepreneur. And even though my journey is far from over, here is a short list of benefits I got out of coaching in the past, and how it helped me “up my game”.

Coaching fast-tracked my results.

By far the biggest benefit of hiring a coach for me was fast tracking my results – it was like getting on the high-speed train going straight for Performance Central. In a matter of weeks, I was able to clearly see what I had been doing wrong before, and make immediate and small improvements that yielded results. And those small improvements add up over time and combine into massive changes that had a real impact on my business.

It helped me stay sane.

Coaching also helped me develop a framework for what was “normal” or could be expected and what wasn’t. My coach helped me overcome my own self-doubt and the nagging voice inside that kept telling me things weren’t moving fast enough, or in the right direction. Especially when we are faced with a situation where everything is new (and who isn’t, on a regular basis ?), having a way of knowing that what we’re going through is normal ( “within the norm”) is crucial to stay motivated and focused.

And because my coaching program was part group coaching, I was also able to share questions and issues I was faced with in a safe environment, and discover others too were facing the same problems. Together, we found answers and devised ways of overcoming them that we then tested and reported back on – elevating the entire group.

It kept me honest.

Performance improvement is all about behavior change – and changing your behavior is something you do every single day. Or not. Your choice.

Research recently conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews shows that people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent weekly updates to that friend were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated goals.

Having the right coach supercharges that process, because you are dealing with a professional who is likely to have been in your shoes before, and unlikely to cut you any slack just because you’re buddies. Keeping you honest and on your toes.

It meant I acquired the right behaviors from the start.

Someone (wise) I know once said there are only two ways to learn something. The first is trial and error; it works, but it takes a long time and is costly in terms of time, effort and (mostly) money. The second is to find a successful person (or group) and learn from them – taking a shortcut by avoiding the most common errors.

The right coach will help you acquire the right behaviors – those that help you up your game and improve performance in those areas that matter most to achieving your goals.

It helped me develop a system.

Ultimately, behavior change is as much about acquiring the right habits as anything else. Do something for long enough, and it become quasi-automatic, like cycling. Meaning once you’ve got the basics in place, you can start experimenting with ways of going faster, further and fitter. Small changes build on other small changes, and before you know it you can’t imagine how “you used to do things.”

Providing you find the right coach to work with, coaching can be a great way of quickly and effectively improving your personal performance. As an entrepreneur, corporate executive or up-and-coming talent, it can give you a real leg up that others methods of personal development cannot.

Especially if you are in an environment where performance truly matters, getting a one-on-one sparring partner is a great way to make massive strides forward