Successful people, in whatever walk of life, have coaches. The CEO of Google has a coach. Movie stars have acting coaches, voice coaches and managers. Athletes have coaches for every aspect of their play, from diet and training to financial management.

The most successful dentists that I know are no different. They get coached continuously on how to improve their practices. They may have a thriving practice, with excellent profit and steady new patient flow, and yet they know they can improve, so they have coaching to take them higher. Coaching is how the good get great, and the great get even better.

So, what makes a good coach? What do they actually do? The first thing a good coach will do is evaluate where you are right now, not just in your practice, but in your life. And they will do it in detail, looking at your numbers, your systems, your team as well as your own opinion of where you are.

Second, they are going to ask how you got to where you are now, whether youve put yourself in a difficult spot or you are on a strong upward trajectory. How did that happen? What is the story behind your current situation?

Third, a good coach will want to know where you want to go. This is the vision question, and they will dig deep into more than just some financial goal, but how you see yourself and how you find fulfillment in all aspects of your life, not just your career. That will include your financial goals, your relationship goals, how you see yourself contributing to society, and what is most important to you.

This third step is critical, because often dentists lose sight of their vision and get caught up in the day-to-day demands of the practice. A coach is always going to bring you up to 30,000 feet, giving you a perspective on the industry as a whole, not just as an individual practice.

Fourth, the coach will want to know how you plan to get there, how you think you will achieve this vision. They will want to know as much of the strategy as you have already formulated, and what you think is missing.

And finally, the coach will want to know how he or she can help. Coaching is always about how to help you get from point A to point B. It also serves as a continuous reality check. A great coach is going to hold you accountable for your vision.

The next question becomes, how do you find a coach? How do you evaluate one? Whether its an individual or a company, there are key criteria. First and foremost, it has to be someone you like and trust. Then it has to be someone youre willing to give permission to in holding you accountable to your vision.

It is essential that a coach be able to evaluate and improve your business performance and the refinement of your team and systems. They need to bring experience to create repeatable, tried-and-true processes to your daily operation.

But a true coach needs to be more than that. They need to be your guide to life mastery in every aspect, from your emotional and mental toughness to your physical health, and help refine your leadership and communication skills, and ensure your path to financial freedom.

A coach should be your key business strategist, guiding you in areas like integrating new technology, capturing economies of scale, and the potential for mergers and acquisitions. They should bring you knowledge from the outside world on where the industry is going, informing you on trends in consumer behavior as well as business and economic trends and disruptions.

Most importantly, coaches should always pay for themselves. They should always bring value that is measurable in financial success, in improved growth and ROI.

Finally, a great coach should be committed to your vision, while not owning it. They will know that you are the one who must always own it. And they are going to be there to bring all the expertise possible to help you realize that vision, and get you back on track when they see you drifting off course.

And a truly great coach will help you to continuously expand your vision, knowing that there is no destination, only a more fulfilling pathway.

Also, Im not saying everyone needs the same coach for their whole career. You may change and grow with different coaches. But everyone needs coaching for their whole career. Being coached is a life behavior, a success strategy, not a course to complete. One thing you will never hear outside of dentistry is a highly successful person whos stopped getting coaching. You will never hear Serena Williams say something like, I finally won Wimbeldon! Now I can get rid of my coach!

Dentists often use coaching in spurts, and this creates cycles of success and failure. There is always room for improvement. And the worst mistake is to think you can go it alone. That will be the most expensive education you will ever pay for. There are people with the knowledge and skills to help you achieve your vision, offering guidance, support, accountability, and outside expertise. Take advantage of them.

Coaches have made all the difference in my own life, in my own success and my own personal fulfillment. I would never be where I am today without them. I encourage you to find a great coach, a great coaching company like Fortune Management, and chase your dreams at the highest level.

For a more in-depth understanding, watch my interview with Bernie Stoltz in my Limitless Success series.