Ep 88 – Watch for These Red Flags About Coaching Clients

This episode is part of a series called Manage Your Coaching Clients, which already has 3 important episodes about setting boundaries clients, the intake process and keeping your clients on track.

Recently in my Facebook group called Prosperous Coach Club, members have started discussions about specific challenges with current clients. And that’s what inspired this series.

The topic of client management is deep. And there’s not a lot of intel out there about how to deal with paying clients. It’s one of trial by fire things. But you know me, I want to bee line you to success so I’m going to cover this stuff!

As a new coach there are certain challenges that will come up with paying clients that diminish as you gain experience.

When you charge highly for your services, clients are more committed and generally easier to work with. So do yourself a favor and charge more. I have a whole series on Money Mastery at prosperouscoach.com/money

This episode covers the red flags to watch for.

And then in successive sessions I’ll dig into what to do if you notice one of these red flags.

Find Your Integrity

Everyone knows what a red flag is. When it flies you as the professional are called to pay close attention and get ready for action. Exactly what you’ll do depends on lots of factors. But when it comes to managing clients the name of the game is find your integrity.

To quickly master client management issues, the first thing to do is raise your awareness … both about your client’s behavior AND your response to their behavior.

The Two Types of Red Flags are About:

  1. Your client.
  2. Your feelings about your client.

Both might indicate issues in the fit between you and your client. Client fit is incredibly important for you to have an enjoyable and lucrative business.

It may seem right now that you should coach anyone who wants to hire you. It’s a point of maturity when you realize and accept that not every client is a good fit for you.

The 7 Parts of the Coaching Client’s Role

The red flags for clients all have to do with ways they do not successfully take on their role in the co-creative relationship.

The client’s role is to:

  1. Show up for scheduled sessions
  2. Show up on time for scheduled sessions
  3. Pay their payments on time (although I recommend you move to a full fee up front policy)
  4. Be communicative
  5. Be truthful or forthcoming about details
  6. Take responsibility for their growth by taking actions and making progress
  7. Be coachable

For the first 6, at the very least you’ll need to bring the issue to your client’s and make a strong request that’s neutrally charged. I’ll explain more about this in other episodes.

The 7th part of a client’s role is fundamental. I know it seems odd but some clients aren’t coachable. Coach-ability is crucial for the health of the relationship and for them to get value out of your services. I’ll cover that soon in another episode because it’s complex.

Right Response To Your Coaching Clients

For now, let’s talk about the red flags in your response to working with your clients. These can be subtle feelings and approaches that are driven by your strong desire to serve and have income as a coach.

For example:

  • You feel drained by sessions with a client.
  • Your coaching approach is driven by a desire to perform well
  • Your coaching approach is driven by a desire to fix the client
  • You notice yourself being inauthentic
  • You feel resentful of how much time or energy this client takes (which may be an indication you’re not charging enough)

Each one indicates a breach in your integrity. It’s a signal that you have an opportunity to fortify your boundaries and stand in your power – not to dominate the client but to be more fully in your integrity with this client.

Coaching people is a huge responsibility. And there’s a tendency to either inflate your responsibility or deflate it. Everyone does this.

And you can teach yourself not to do it. A point of mastery your goal is to stay right-sized. For more about this, read my blog post called 5 Ways to Right Size Yourself to Empower Your Coaching Clients.

When you learn the way to be in power balance with your clients you become a better coach and a better person. You’ll feel more grounded, more certain of your value and less triggered.

Ep 87 – How to Rise Above Skeptics of Your Coaching Business

This episode is a super short but potent!

Do you ever have the feeling that people in your inner circle aren’t supporting your choice to grow a coaching business?

It can be subtle … family or friends seem not to take interest when you talk about it. Their eyes glaze over or they change the subject quickly.

Or it can be overt … someone directly questions your wisdom in starting a coaching business or taking a bold step in it.

Or it can be in shadow where someone teases you about coaching.

Coaching is misunderstood. The field’s reputation has been damaged by too many people calling themselves a coach who aren’t and it’s been made fun of in the media. It’s one of the reasons why I encourage coaches not to sell coaching but rather target a narrow viable audience and solve a problem. You’ll use your coaching to serve your clients but not try to convince prospects to buy coaching.

Coaching is a toolbox not what people will buy.

For more about this critical mindset shift for new coaches listen to the LISTENER’S CHOICE episode # 7 and also episode #65.

Skepticism Is About the Skeptic Not You

Sometimes, skepticism comes in the form of strong opinions about what you should or should not do in your business.

Sometimes as I’m working with a VIP client to build their business foundation I’ll hear that their spouse or a trusted friend has criticized their move to target a narrow audience and focus their niche. People who aren’t in the know about marketing and business often think niching is counter-intuitive – that’s a amateur blunder.

Narrowing and niching is highly strategic. Counter intuitive moves often are.

Another scenario with skeptic is that you ask directly for support — such as asking friends to share your posts on social channels — but you get no takers amongst your inner circle. Just silence.

And sometimes it’s just a look in someone’s eyes. Let’s say you decide to invest in an expert to grow your business and you get a baleful look as if it’s crazy to invest in your success. It’s not. Investing in business startup is smart, normal and unavoidable.

Whatever the situation, it feels lousy when you encounter indifference or skepticism for your choices. And, it can derail you from your vision.

I call these folks and situations “petty tyrants” – a concept taken from Carlos Castaneda. A petty tyrant is a naysayer. Sometimes they can be downright cruel about it. But most often that person means well.

What’s really going on is that person is concerned for you because you’re taking a risk they would not take.

Or more likely they are envious because you’re taking a risk they wish they had the courage to take themselves.

A Test of Your Resolve

Ultimately, petty tyrants are in your life for one thing – to test your resolve.

To be a successful entrepreneur you need to grow a pair. You need thicker skin because your resolve will be tested many times.

A couple of years ago, my husband was deeply skeptical about me starting a podcast. It was out of love. He didn’t want me to pour energy into something that wouldn’t pay off. But guess what? I stuck to my decision and it’s paying off big time.

Launching my podcast was a lot easier for me because I was part of a few peer groups of podcasters. Support is important and that’s why I strongly suggest to coaches that you create a group of peers and also find a mentor to guide you too.

Finally, give yourself credit for your courage. You’ve taken big steps – to enroll in coach training, possibly to quit your job or to take advantage of losing a position by doing what you’ve always dreamed of doing.

YOU are the hero here. YOU are the one following a path less traveled because you value meaning over status quo.

Square your shoulders, raise your chin and smile lovingly at those petty tyrants. You will prove them wrong and you can do that with grace.

In the Next Episode: Watch for These Red Flags with Your Coaching Clients

Ep 86 – When and How to Stop Coaching for Free

This episode is part of the Money Mastery series.

It’s totally normal to give some coaching away while you’re in coach training school. No doubt your trainer will encourage that because they want you to practice coaching skills with as many people as you can as often as possible.

Practice integrates learning.

The downside of offering free coaching over a long term is that it becomes increasingly difficult to shift from free to charging fees.

Resistance gathers … and soon simply the idea of charging fees looms large in your mind.

That’s why many coaches get stuck in practice or what I call Perpetual Student Mode.

Patterns Become Habits and Habits Become Mindset

It’s critical to cross that threshold from offering free coaching to becoming a professional coach and charging fees sooner rather than later.

You see, our brains have a need for order. Anything you do repeatedly can become habit. Your mind SETS.

That can be a positive thing. But some mindsets make you feel STUCK.

Take a moment here and answer truthfully …

Has your mind set on limiting beliefs having to do with charging your clients fees?

Here are some of things I hear from new coaches:

  • I’m still inexperienced so I shouldn’t ask clients to pay.
  • How can I charge fees when I don’t know what I’m doing?
  • Why would someone pay me for this?
  • I’m a fraud.

It’s time to challenge these mindsets. Let’s look at them one at a time.

Own Your Experience

First, it helps to shift the way you think of coaching. Coaching is a skillset.

Have you ever learned a new set of skills in a job?

Let’s say you are suddenly given a new responsibility at your job. Chances are you showed some promise already and that’s why you were given the opportunity.

There’s always a learning curve, right? But your employer pays you while you learn. It’s a good faith practice that you will integrate the learning by doing.

As a professional coach, you employ yourself. Are you going to require that you know everything before you get paid? That would be unreasonable.

You Brought Skills to the Table of Coaching

Do you know everything about coaching? No. No one does. You’re on a developmental path. But you didn’t start this journey of becoming a coach on ground zero.

When you decided to become a coach you already had significant communication skills. If you hadn’t, you would not have gravitated to this.

You already knew how to listen, ask questions and support or inspire greatness. No doubt, your friends and colleagues sought you out as a sounding board and counselor.

In fact, this zone of genius may have been with you for decades.

Give yourself credit for what you brought to the table. Coach training only enhanced your skills.

People Invest When They Perceive Value

 “Why would someone pay me?” is the wrong question.

The right question is “What does my audience want so much they’ll invest in my help to get it?” See the difference?

That is the question you need to answer in order to strategically attract paying clients.

Which brings up the issue of charging little for your services.

If you’ve graduated from free services to fees but the amount you’re charging is too low to earn well, you’ve got one foot in the professional realm and one in the student realm.

Graduate from Student and Step Fully Into Professional

There’s a kind of trance that new coaches get into of striving so hard for results and yet not stepping back to think things through strategically.

I flopped around without strategy for years when I started as a coach.

For example, I didn’t think about profit until well into my coaching business.

Any coach can earn well in their first year of coaching. The only thing holding you back from that is you.

Sure, finding paying clients requires strategy. And there are many things you can do to make that easier.

That’s my mission – to help coaches launch with confidence. And I help my clients get everything linked up and congruent from their coaching niche to their brand and messaging, their website and content strategy – everything is designed to attract clients who are eager and willing to pay.

But every coach has to act the part to start powerfully.

The longer you hold yourself back in student mode … the longer you deny yourself the right to being a professional … the more likely it is you’ll quit this path altogether.

Everyone and No One is a Fraud

Have you been thinking of yourself as a fraud? That’s harsh.

But for some reason the Imposter Syndrome seems to be wired into humanity. Nearly everyone feels like this.

Here’s the thing I want you to continually remember. You are on a developmental path growing and evolving. Everyone is.

At any given moment each of us is a fraud to the next step, the next level.

But let’s replace the harshness with positivity.

Instead of ‘fraud’ think I’m a trailblazer.

The mere fact that you took the leap to become a coach and an entrepreneur means you have grit, determination and a vision. Hold onto that while you give yourself a big raise and own all that you brought to this table.

In the Next Episode:How to Rise Above Skeptics of Your Coaching Business

Ep 85 – How Can New Coaches Be Perceived as Credible?

You’ve heard that you need to build the know-like-trust factor with your target audience before they’ll hire you. It’s true.

Imagine that your ideal clients reach out to hire you already feeling a deep connection with you and wanting what you offer. It raises their willingness to invest at a high level and fully dedicate themselves to the work.

But how can you convey credibility as a brand new coach?

That’s what today’s episode is about.

To answer that question, let’s turn this around. Shift your perspective on the problem. It’s nearly always the best way to solve problems.

What inspires YOU to feel that a resource is trustworthy?

Some people say things like credentials, years in business, reviews or testimonials. Absolutely. Those things help.

But there’s something that grabs attention and builds trust even faster …

Coaching Prospects Trust Coaches Who Understand Them

I hear constantly from clients, prospects and fans of my podcast that they feel like I’m speaking directly to them. Someone wrote me today saying: “I’m beginning to think your podcasts are written for me.”

That is your goal.

People will trust you if they feel understood by you. And this is the territory where brand new coaches can get real traction.

As a new coach you’d be unlikely to have loads of credentials or relevant testimonials. You haven’t had the chance to build up social credibility online. And, you don’t have ‘word of mouth’ going for you yet.

So instead, put your attention on KNOWING your audience inside and out.

I just received an email from a company that wants to promote my podcast. It took me all of 5 seconds to decide to toss that email. Not only did they not even use my name, I could see that they had not bothered to research me at all. It’s arguable that they know little about the challenges and goals of podcasters.

That’s a stupid and wasteful way to develop a business.

I get countless requests to connect on LinkedIn from supposed experts pushing out blasts to all coaches promising to help them get a steady stream of clients. It’s clear from what they write that they don’t understand coaches. They haven’t bothered to look at my profile. They searched “coach” and then put out the same basic message as thousands before them – all of whom I summarily blew off.

Don’t ever market like this. You will LOSE CREDIBILITY so fast. And essentially it’s spamming. Never spam.

Do Your Homework Coach

Do your homework! Your future and current clients are your most important asset. Treat them with great respect and speak to them with relevance.

Here you are — a coach – someone who loves people and wants to help them achieve something grand. Well, before you throw up that website selling coaching take the time to choose a specific target audience, research that group lovingly, then speak their language.

This concept of speaking your target audience’s language and contextualizing all of your copy and offers to fit them like a glove is the crux of everything I teach new coaches.

That’s because it quickly builds credibility. And in today’s market place you absolutely need credibility to grab attention, inspire a belief that you can help them, and motivate their investment in you.

Narrow Your Audience and Coaching Niche to Build Credibility

You can only show that you know your audience in your social posts, content, web copy and offers if you have already narrowed to a specific unique and narrow group of people who are seekers – people who naturally do invest in their own personal or professional growth.

The broader you are in your audience or niche the less likely you’ll be able to build trust quickly. Many typical niches coaches choose such as helping people get unstuck, transition, do self care or build confidence don’t inspire investment because there’s so much free stuff out there on those topics.

So the WAY you narrow and the way you articulate your coaching niche do matter. It’s an art. And it’s a strategic process that deserves your time.

So what undermines credibility?

Shoveling out there the same stuff that many coaches do.

For more information about how NOT to undermine your credibility consider listening to a few of my past episodes. Why is Coaching a Hard Sell? And also listen to the whole Coaching Business Checkup series.

What will you do this week to narrow your audience if you haven’t already, to research them thoughtfully and then SHOW that you understand them in all you do?

Ep 84 – Are You Afraid to Ask Coaching Clients to Pay You?

You may have noticed that many of my recent episodes are about mindsets. It’s a deep topic. Human beings are so good at stopping themselves from success simply by the way we think. I often wonder how my life would have been earlier in life if I’d known about mindfulness and the power of shifting mindsets.

A while ago I did a whole series of episodes called Smart Mindsets and Habits. If you’re feeling stuck and in your own way I recommend listening to those episodes.

Today I want to dig into something that all new coaches struggle with especially as they are launching.

Coaches Often Have Money Money Issues

It’s fascinating because it doesn’t matter how high powered a job the coach had before, how much money they earned, how many certifications or degrees they have or even how confident they appear — I hear the same basic thing from them …

I hate selling and asking for money!

I used to feel like that, but don’t anymore, because I know how to attract clients in a non-salesy way. And also, I’ve discovered the power of investing in the future.

One of my VIP clients wrote in her Session Prep: “I’d rather give it to you than ask for money. I NEED this session!”

We’ve been working together in my 5-month Coaching Business Breakthrough program to build her business. She’s close to launching so I wanted to help her with this mindset shift. And, she generously gave me permission to share some of what happened in that session with you. Thank you, D!

Money is a sticky subject for most people. There’s so much baggage that influences our decisions and actions based on what we learned about money as kids.

Stop Sabotaging Your Coaching Success with Old Money Stories

There’s a wonderful book that was popular when I started coaching called Taming Your Gremlin – A Guide to Enjoying Yourself by Richard D Carson. It’s a thin book full of exercises and wonderful drawings to help you face the part of yourself that sabotages your efforts to grow. The idea is to draw your own gremlin and shine a spotlight on it as it scuttles around trying to squash your courage. Just seeing it for what it is changes you.

Awareness is the tool to overcome that gremlin within.

There was an exercise in there about drawing the floor plan of the primary home you grew up in and answer a set of questions about what you learned while you lived there.

Coaching a Coach to Shift Her Money Mindset

That book jumped into my mind when I read her Session Prep and gave me an idea about how to coach my client.

I began by asking her:

            “What did you learn about money from your parents?”

She responded immediately:

            “In my family you would certainly NOT hire someone for therapy or coaching. It was looked down upon. We didn’t spend money on ourselves and self care.”

I asked:

            “When have you invested highly in your own self care and transformation?”

She said:

            “It’s when I reached a point where my best efforts didn’t bring the results I needed to happen. When I get to that point I’ll do whatever it takes.”

I said:

            “So you’ve invested in your goals and self care when something is important to you. How much would you say you’ve invested in becoming a coach and getting your business launched with support?”

She said:

            “Thousands and thousands.”

I asked:

            “What has investing in yourself to that degree done for you?”

Without hesitation and with passion in her voice she said:

            “It’s changed the trajectory of my life. I’ve grown a new me! I now have a design for living that’s far more effective and far more rewarding. I don’t even think about the money I’ve spent!”

So I said:

            “So … what does that tell you about other people (your potential clients for example) who invest in themselves?”

D said:

            “I would only want to work with someone who is willing to do what it takes to get better.”

Exactly! And because D has, with my help, is targeting a unique and viable audience and her messaging and offers strategically speak directly to that moment of wanting help, I know she will attract her ideal clients.

And then she said:

            “I have so much compassion for someone willing to reach out to me. It gives me a sense of joy to say to them ‘I really think I can help you.’ It makes the money less scary because being willing to invest is a SYMBOL of their need.”

We talked about how Olympic athletes visualize their success before they take action. And I encouraged her to develop that practice before a Discovery Session with a coaching prospect.

At the same time it’s important to develop resilience for ‘no’ and to not make that about you. I wrote about this in a blog called The Coaching Business Backslide: How to Get Out of Your Own Way.

We talked about the idea from episode 82 – to ACT AS IF you are already booked, you have plenty of income and are highly successful as a coach.

At the end of the session D reported that she felt differently about asking for money with coaching prospects. She said:

            “This was so helpful to look at my own experience (of investing in myself) and see the value I offer to someone else.”

In summary I said:

            “Brilliant, D! You’ve broken through your ancestral beliefs about money!”

I invite YOU to shift your mindset about asking for money from coaching prospects so that you pay yourself well and at the same time help your client to reap the rewards of that investment!

In the Next Episode: How Can New Coaches Be Perceived As Credible?

Ep 82 – The Mindset Shift That Helps You Charge More with Coaching Clients

This will be a super short episode. And it’s part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series.

I feel so honored that when I work with my clients I get to see them shift their mindset in ways that will help them succeed faster at this game called entrepreneurship.

By the way, thinking of building your coaching business as a game is one way to take the pressure off and enjoy the journey.

So the specific mindset I’m digging into today is about OWNING your right:

  • Own your right to be in business for yourself
  • Own your right to earn well
  • Own your right to live the life you want

That may sound odd. Let me explain.

My Early Coaching Business Was An Albatross

When I was new to my own coaching business I treated myself like I didn’t deserve to be in business, like I didn’t deserve to earn well and have the life I want. Here’s what I did:

  1. I overcomplicated my business model by offering too many options.
  2. I undervalued myself and charged way too little to sustain my business.
  3. I over-delivered in every way.
  4. I was too accommodating with my schedule.
  5. I allowed late payments.
  6. Ultimately, I didn’t think through what I wanted and plot a strategic course to get there.

Bottom line … I was operating unconsciously in my coaching business. I was driven by a mindset that doesn’t go well with being the CEO of a business. Big mistake.

A few years in, I realized that I had created a monster — a business that was complex, running me ragged and paying me poorly.

Its part of the reason why I now teach coaches to create a Simple Coaching Business Model and to strategically grow their business from the get go.

The Big Takeaway for Coaches

So here’s the secret I want you to come away with from this episode … ACT AS IF

Act as if you are already in high demand.

There are 7 ways I can think of that will help you do this:

  1. First decide what you want your life to be like.
  2. Strategize every step of your business development to fit that vision.
  3. Only offer times on your schedule that you truly want to work.
  4. Only offer exactly what you want to offer and not what you think you should offer.
  5. Create a low overhead, easy to manage business.
  6. Treat yourself with the respect you want your colleagues, prospects and clients to have for you.
  7. Charge prices that will help you reach your financial goals right NOW!

Imagine the difference between a business where you act like you deserve all the perks that come with being your own boss and a business where you act like you don’t deserve that.

I’m not saying you need to be mercenary. Simply honor yourself. Do what is right for you.

Is it a bit scary to charge for your services in a way that pays you well.

I shared in Episode 58 that you can plan for profit from day 1 and in Episode 60 how to strategically price your services. When you charge prices that feel like a big investment to your clients they will invest energetically into their own growth. It’s a win – win. Whereas charging low fees is a lose – lose.

You don’t want to lose. You don’t want your clients to lose. OWN your right to be successful at your coaching business.

It’s time to build this muscle … how will you ACT AS IF you deserve what you want today?

In the Next Episode: Overwhelm is a Bad Habit Coaches Need to Break Now

Ep 81 – How Shame Crushes Momentum in Your Coaching Business

This episode, which is part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series, is a follow on to Episode 80, which was called Competition, Comparison and Shame in the Coaching Industry.

I received many brave and heart felt comments on that episode, including this one from Marian:

“Thank you for this episode, Rhonda. I feel like you’re responding to what’s inside my head! This was amazingly helpful to me and has inspired me to reach out more to support and share with other coaches, especially my classmates.”

Well done, Marian, because that kindness you shared to other coaches goes a long way for making the coaching industry a more friendly and encouraging field. We need that.

It’s not easy to talk about shame.

But the upside is that once you acknowledge it you can quickly realize what triggers it and that helps you let it go.

A private client in my VIP Coaching Business Breakthrough program was baring her experience of shame with me in our session today.

And I’m so grateful to you, Barbara, that you have generously given me permission to share a bit about our discussion in this episode. Your willingness to be vulnerable helps you and every other coach who hears this podcast. Being vulnerable is one of the ways we can love each other up so we all become more successful at this big coaching business endeavor.

The Cycle of Shame for a New Coach

Barbara told me that she felt the shame of comparison today when she was encouraging a current client to re-up for more coaching.

And talking it through we realized is that shame can come up fast whenever you’re doing something that you care deeply about that you haven’t done much before. Here’s what I think it can look like as a new coach …

  • First there’s feeling ashamed that you don’t know everything right now. (Shouldn’t I be a master at coaching? Shouldn’t I know exactly how to do everything?)
  • Next comes shame for needing expert help to do it right. (Oh no, I’m spending more money when I’m not yet earning from coaching. Why is everything so hard for me?)
  • Then, as you are on the learning curve, there’s shame that it’s taking a while to get everything right.
  • And if you model aspects of your business on what other coaches are doing there’s the shame that comes from comparison.
  • There’s shame that you’re not 100% together as these other coaches seem to be. (By the way ‘seem’ is the operative word there.)
  • When fear comes up about crossing thresholds in your business shame tags along because it’s embarrassing as an adult to feel fear, especially if that fear makes you doubt yourself or stop taking action.
  • Imposter Syndrome makes shame darker still. Why would anyone hire me? Who am I to help them?
  • And, shame surfaces in the sales and enrollment process. Just having to ask someone to hire and pay you can feel shameful. Why would anyone pay this much? What if I can’t deliver? Will they figure out I’m a fraud because I don’t know exactly what I’m doing yet?

Breaking the Cycle of Shame in Your Coaching Business

So there’s this insidious cycle of shame. And if you don’t have mentoring support, shame can literally stop you from moving forward – crush your momentum. Shame can make you give up on your coaching business.

And shame left to fester becomes toxic, like an overgrowth of bad bacteria. You need some probiotics to replace that negative feeling with something more supportive.

I’ve felt shame in my coaching business far more than in any other area of my life. And that makes sense to me because launching and running a business is, at least at first, all about me – what I do and I do it, how I respond or don’t respond. It’s my creativity life force that raises it up and keeps it off the ground. And my choices have consequences.

In some ways, I’d compare launching and running a business to birthing and raising kids.

So how can you stop the cycle of shame?

It comes down to letting go of your expectations. Expectations can be momentum killers.

What helped me stop the cycle of shame around my business is this realization:

I am on a developmental path.

Every day in my business brings something new to learn.

I don’t have to learn it all or know it all right now.

One step at a time will get me where I want to go faster than trying to learn it all right now.

You and every coach is on a developmental path and where you are on that path is appropriate – not behind. You would never expect a new born to run a marathon would you?

So I asked Barbara today: How do you feel you’re doing on your place on the developmental path so far?

And she said: I’m doing my best. I want to live my life taking things one step at a time. Mostly I’ve never done this before. I’m not going to do it all right the first time.

YES! Barbara is so wise.

I told her I thought she could be more generous with herself and shared how well I see her doing. And that’s because I have a perspective that she can’t easily have. I’m here looking at how amazingly well she is doing with each and every step. And, I have no judgment about mistakes or her not knowing everything. She is moving forward on her developmental path.

What I know for sure is that my clients achieve far more far better than I did at their phase of development. And I’m so impressed with them!

Barbara made another key point … when we progress to the next level we expect ourselves to climb yet another learning curve, doing more things we’ve never done before. And then there will be another level after that that we expect of ourselves. That’s what makes life interesting.

Yes. So true.

So, I invite you to always think of yourself as being on a developmental path in your coaching business. What can you reasonably ask of yourself at this phase? How can you lighten your expectations and be kinder to yourself? Because if you are kind to yourself you’ll move forward faster.

And here’s something I know that you may not yet. Your clients do NOT expect you to be better than you are right now. Only you hold that expectation over your head. So stop that. You have the power to let yourself be and grow at your own pace.

In the Next Episode: The Mindset Shift That Helps You Charge More with Coaching Clients

Ep 80 – Competition, Comparison and Shame in the Field of Coaching

This episode is part of the Smart Mindsets and Habits series. The last episode was about the crucial role of courage in success and how it comes before confidence.

I received a lot of sweet comments about that episode along of the lines of “Thanks, I needed that!”

Yes! Every coach needs encouragement, especially in the early days. Have you ever noticed the word ‘courage’ within the word ‘encourage’? I encourage you to encourage other coaches too.

Now I want to talk about adverse affects on your confidence as a coach. Namely, petty competition, comparison and shame. One leads to the next.

Shame is the Dark Secret in the Coaching Industry

I’m going to get right to the elephant in the room … the toxic result of comparison.

Have you ever felt a sense of shame when you compare yourself to other coaches?

It’s okay if you have. And actually it’s healing to acknowledge it.

Just thinking about it my body can produce that hot pit in the stomach feeling — the distinct sense memory of shame.

Teddy Roosevelt said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” So true.

I don’t much do the comparison thing anymore. But I know the territory intimately.

Here’s the way I experienced it:

As a new coach I’d bounce around the Internet looking at other coache’ websites. Immediately, I’d feel there’s so much I need to do better and overwhelm surged in.

A little aside here … I had no idea whether those website were helping the coach at all. Chances are most were dud websites even though they are pretty and flashy. I’ve learned a lot about what makes for a client winning coaching website since then.

When I used to attend monthly local ICF meetings I’d brace myself for the continual display of superiority by some coaches there. It felt like a room full of peacocks and I didn’t have anything to display.

Don’t get me wrong, I met wonderful coaches there too — people who, two decades later, are beloved colleagues. But the atmosphere was rife with competition rather than camaraderie.

Later in my career, as part of a circle of joint venture colleagues who were helping each other promote programs, the competition was even more fierce. There was a thick sense that we were all vying for the same thing and there was only so much to go around.

Social media amps up competition and the knee jerk to compare yourself with others. From the number of followers to the quality of reactions to the images … if you let yourself go there, you can compare yourself into a little dark corner and never come out.

I see so many coaches give up because of comparison and shame.

On Instagram … I see so many women coaches dressing up for the camera and sexing up the space. What’s up with that? And what does it have to do with running a successful business?

Okay, I’m being brutally honest here. I’m exposing the gritty feeling on purpose. And I realize that this says a lot about my own insecurities.

Still, I’m not the only one that’s noticed this – an inherent and ugly thing that can go on in circles of coaches that feels so out of place.

And I hear from my clients that they can’t find positive groups of peer coaches that they trust and feel comfortable with. That breaks my heart because it’s an echo of how I felt. And I know how critical support is when you’re launching and growing your business.

A Healthy Response to Competition

Look, if you don’t feel that icky shame that comes from competition and comparison, I’m glad. My guess is someone taught you how to have a healthy response to competition.

So let’s talk about that. Imagine navigating in the coaching and marketing world without torturing yourself. What would that look like?

Well, I’ll tell you. It’s NOT an internal hardening but rather a softening.

5 Internal Shifts to Move Past Comparison and Shame as a Coach

  1. Believe there is enough for everyone.
  2. Acknowledge that YOU bring something unique to the world and the world is better for it.
  3. See the competitive field as a place where everyone wins simply by showing up.
  4. Realize that other people’s apparent success is not necessarily the way it is or how it feels inside of them.
  5. Recognize and own your place on a developmental journey while you grow.

5 External Shifts to Move Past Comparison and Shame as a Coach right now:

  1. Narrow your target audience and coaching niche so you stand out and won’t compete with all coaches.
  2. Actively generate an atmosphere of camaraderie and support in all coaching groups.
  3. Be transparent and vulnerable with other coaches.
  4. Give other’s social media love by engaging and sharing generously.
  5. Find like-minded coaches to hang out with.

I call all coaches to love each other up now.

When I decided to start podcasting, I was so blessed to find and be invited into Facebook support groups. I was amazed at the loving and generous nature of podcasters. I’m so grateful to my colleagues in these groups and I daily pass forward what I know and celebrate the successes of others.

That’s what need to happens more and more in the coaching world.

What can you do today to foster an open and supportive environment with other coaches?

The more we all do that, the more successful we’ll all be.

For a follow on episode to this one go to: How Shame Crushes Your Momentum in Your Coaching Business