What the F*** is coaching anyway?

Hannah Allen, Performance Coach

In this article we demystify what coaching actually is and why it’s hyper relevant for your creative career.


What is coaching?

Let’s play a game (humour me). Can you answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions?


  • There’s a gap between where I am now and where I want to be
  • I can make and keep appointments to work on my goal(s)
  • I’m committed to do the work required and take action to get to where I want to be
  • I’m willing to change any self-defeating behaviours and beliefs that limit my success
  • I am willing to try new things, even if I’m not yet 100% convinced they will work


More than three yes’s? Then coaching could be the career-boost you need.


So what is coaching anyway?

First up, let’s get one thing straight. Coaching is not advice, therapy or counselling. They have a valuable place in the world for sure, but it isn’t here.

Essentially, coaching is a future-focused conversation with a trained professional. A conversation that’s 100% about you and helping you think differently about things you’ve previously felt stuck or unclear about. It’s action-oriented. Coaching gets you results.

Why do I need a coach?

Put simply, because it will get you where you want to be faster than if you go it alone.

Employers in the creative industries have told Created that mindset and ‘soft skills’ are often the deciding factors in offering someone a job or not. Technical skills and creative ability will get you an interview – that’s all evident in your showreel or portfolio. But who you are, how you work with others, and most importantly, how you self-motivate and cope when the pressure is on, that’s the dealbreaker! These are the skills that will allow you to thrive in this crazy, fast-paced and ever-changing industry we all call ‘home’.

This is where coaching can help. A good coach will help you to bring out the best of yourself so that you feel confident in your abilities, have clarity on what you want and stay motivated to overcome the tricky patches. Grit, resilience, navigating professional relationships: whatever your challenge, a professional coach can help you unpick the challenge or issue at hand, and define a way to overcome it.


What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring?

If a mentor is like Yoda – offering gems of wisdom and advice learned through years of experience – then a coach is like Jerry Maguire. Someone who has your back and can help you get where you want to be, but who works with – and trusts in – your own expertise and knowledge of yourself. Less ‘use the Force’ and more ‘help me help you.’

Unlike a mentor who’s an expert in your specific creative field, a professional coach is an expert in the tools and techniques to help you understand yourself, what you want, and navigate a path forwards. Your mentor is there to give you direct advice on a project or share their own career experiences. Your coach is there to help you understand what makes you unique and help you identify your own next steps for your development.

The idea is that the more you learn and understand about yourself and what makes you perform at your best, the more equipped you’ll be to navigate your career path and make choices that will make you happy and fulfilled. Along the way, your coach can help you recognise your strengths, address the habits that are supporting you, or maybe getting in your way, and help you find ways to overcome obstacles.

How does coaching work?

You might want to work with a coach to feel more confident in presenting your creative ideas. Maybe you struggle with procrastination. Or perhaps you’re unclear where your strengths lie and which creative role you’re most suited for. Whatever the challenge, your coach will ask you lots of questions aimed at raising your own awareness and helping you see things from a new perspective.

Then they’ll work with you to break the issue down, clarify your goals and help you define your own way forward. Importantly, you’ll leave every session with clear actions to take. No fluff here, this is about results and getting you where you want to be, no matter your start point.

Coaching is most effective over a series of sessions. We say that 90% of the work is done in between sessions because that’s when it’s up to you to use the new insights you’ve gained or take the action you decided on. Each session is a touchpoint to talk about any challenges or successes since the last time, and decide what you want to do next.

How do I get the best out of coaching?

Most people find coaching an empowering and liberating experience but, like anything, you get out what you put in, so you need to come prepared with an open mind and it’s helpful to think about what you want to get out of the session before you start. Time, commitment and honesty (with yourself as much as with your coach) are all you really need.


Coaching is just one tool to support your development and career growth. At Created we know it flat out works. That’s why every one of our students gets their own professional coach to help them through the course. Check out our courses here.

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