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It’s difficult to improve yourself alone. That’s why personal trainers are so popular and why great athletic coaches are idolized by athletes and fans alike. The great tennis champion Althea Gibson—the first African-American woman to win the world-famous Wimbledon championship—once said, “No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” How true that is. I know that my own achievements—having come to this country as a teenager with less than $100 in my pocket and going on to become one of the nation’s top REALTORS® and the founder of the largest business training company in North America—could not have been realized without the support of others.

To succeed, people need the grounding of an experienced mindset, but also the pick-me-up of motivation, ideas and inspiration to stay focused and on track—and that’s what a good coach offers.

A coach is a highly-trained professional whose job it is to instruct, direct and encourage you to achieve at your highest level. Unlike an accountability partner or a mentor, which is a volunteer role, a professional coach gets paid to motivate you. In the area of fitness, for example, an accountability partner is your workout buddy; your mentor is the legendary gym rat who is in great shape; and your coach is the personal trainer you hire to help you reach your health and fitness goals.

A coach can help you improve your skills, gain understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, and give you a fresh perspective. He or she holds you responsible for the fundamentals—the everyday practices that lead to success—but also fosters and encourages your self-belief.

Believing in yourself is hugely important. Often, we can subconsciously block success in our lives. We mistakenly think we can’t achieve certain things because of doubts we have about our skills and capacity. An effective coach can help you see that your growth can be unlimited and that you can achieve far more than you ever thought possible if you put your mind to it.

Now, getting coached isn’t always easy. Often, we don’t want to confront old ways of thinking or change our actions. We want to push forward, but we don’t want to make changes in ourselves, perhaps because of fears or insecurities. A good coach will challenge you to analyze your choices and help you make better ones. The sessions can feel like tough love at times, because there is no hiding place—but then, if you keep doing things the old way, you will continue to get the same results.

A good coach will help you to both streamline your efforts toward the simplest approach and create a workable, achievable plan for success. He or she will help you stay focused on the four things you need to succeed:

Clear Goals
Here at Buffini & Company, our coached clients set goals— not only for business and finance, but for the other vital areas of their lives. After we help them create and get focused on their goals, we hold them accountable for the actions, decisions, habits, and routines they employ to reach those goals. Our coaches make sure our clients do more than just dream about what is possible—they help them achieve it!

Good Time Management
Good time management is absolutely key to achieving success. If you’re disorganized, you are ineffective—simple as that! You must optimize your time, or it will slip through your fingers. In the real estate industry—my area of specialty and expertise—it’s possible to work 50 hours a week and earn $50,000 in annual commissions or work 50 hours a week and earn $1 million in commissions. It isn’t about intelligence or IQ; it’s about what I call an “I Do” approach, and prioritization is vital to this. Identifying your priorities is crucial to effective time management because it eliminates time wasted on less important tasks.

A Series of Quick Wins
People get discouraged when they can’t see progress. Coaches are great at getting people to focus on smaller steps to achieve small, quick wins. When you’re winning, you experience a sense of accomplishment, your confidence builds, and you keep a tight focus on the endgame.

Once you start to get a series of wins, it’s important to keep the momentum going and build on it. Too many people get a few wins, and then start to drift or coast. The truth is, when you’re coasting, you’re either slowing down or going downhill. The best way to maintain momentum is to revisit your goal and re-engage with why you’re doing what you’re doing. A good coach will help you do this.

In short, having a coach is the surest way to uncover your path and clear your way to excellence. It isn’t something that’s done to you—it’s a process whereby your coach walks with you. He or she works to help you realize your ambitions by removing the clutter that slows you down, allowing you to lean into your strengths to draw out your best performance.

Adapted from “The Emigrant Edge: How to Make It Big in America” (Howard Books) by Brian Buffini, available at all bookstores and online booksellers. ©2017 Brian Buffini. All rights reserved.

Brian Buffini was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and immigrated to San Diego in 1986, where he became the classic American rags to riches story. After becoming one of the nation’s top REALTORS®, he founded Buffini & Company, an organization dedicated to sharing his powerful lead-generation systems with others. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Buffini & Company has trained over 3 million business professionals in 37 countries and currently coaches and trains more than 25,000 business people across North America. Today, Brian reaches over 1 million listeners a year through his popular “Brian Buffini Show” podcast.

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