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 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 83 – Overwhelm is a Bad Habit Coaches Need to Break Now

I’m tired of overwhelm. Aren’t you?

Nothing sucks the joy out of your coaching business like that over-burdened feeling:

  • An endless to do list
  • The overflowing inbox
  • Too many learning curves to climb

I know overwhelm. I remember what it feels like to launch. It’s a project with so many moving parts and you can easily get ahead of yourself.

The truth is, most often overwhelm is a bad habit wanting to be broken. Whatever your reasons, some part of you is choosing to feel overwhelmed. It’s a choice. But it’s not a conscious choice.

Like in the story of the boy who cried “wolf”, your brain and body has been trained to perceive challenges as emergencies.

You’re actually OK, but you don’t believe that you are OK.

Now is your opportunity to teach yourself how to be conscious and not choose overwhelm.

There are 4 main reasons overwhelm occurs:

  1. Non-stop stimulation
  2. Chronic disorganization
  3. Scarcity consciousness
  4. Lack of inner resources

And, as this episode is coming out during the 2020 pandemic and the uprising after George Floyd’s murder, there’s so much pain and sorrow, fear and hope about what has and what could happen. That takes energy.

It actually means you can’t do as much as before.

Sure, you can push through but there are consequences to that and it won’t help the sense of overwhelm.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do encourage you to keep moving forward on your business as you can. Be gentle with yourself.

These days I feel done with my day by 2:00pm. It means I’m getting less done than I used to. And with the rest of my day I need to do more to re-source.

Coach, Turn Off the Firehouse of Information

There’s so much coming into our psychic space all the time — we’re rarely without connection to global media (much of it anxiety-ridden especially right now).

So first, to rehabilitate your brain and overwhelm habit, consider a media diet a few times each week. Thoughtfully control what you watch, read and listen to.

You need mental downtime to get ready to effectively learn and grow.

Think of your brain like a basin. Information coming in is like the flow coming from a faucet. If you leave the flow on full, your brain is soon overflowing and you’re in overwhelm.

Do you find yourself signing up on lists, attending lots of free courses, purchasing too many programs?

It’s tempting, I know. But most likely it’s increasing not decreasing overwhelm.

How often are you actually implementing what’s taught in those emails, posts and programs? Most coaches cannot possibly take action on the amount of how-to information they access daily.

There’s this other habit that drives us to think it’s easier to go get more information than to implement what we’ve got in front of us already. Taking in information is passive and seems risk-free. Taking action requires taking risk.

But taking action is like the drain of the basin. It’s what makes the space for more useful information, like allowing learning to be integrated and leveraged.

Turn off your info-jones:

  • Develop the habit of mining your own wisdom, experience and knowledge first.
  • Reach only for information you need right now to inspire or take the next immediate step.
  • Integrate and implement what you learn. Commit to doing this before reaching for more information.

Taking action is also the key to beating those twin progress killers – disorganization and procrastination.

Get Your Coaching Business Organized

The key to a disorganized mind or process is so simple … focus on only one step at a time. Clear the decks. Block out your time.

Procrastination is mostly a reluctance to make decisions and take risk. There may be a place for delaying a decision in your personal life, but when you are faced with a decision in your coaching business, it’s usually best to make it quickly.

Postponing decisions creates a bottleneck which brings on overwhelm.

Here’s a confession. I make half-baked decisions in my business all the time. Mistakes, too.

It can be embarrassing, but train yourself to blow off embarrassment. You deserve to make mistakes. And in the end, the mistakes teach you something you couldn’t have learned any other way.

Is Scarcity Driving You, Coach?

Taoists say that wherever your attention goes, that’s where your life energy goes. Whatever you focus on expands.

Modern life trains us to focus on what is missing, what is not going right. Building a business redoubles that training, demanding that we fill the gaps and fix the problems in order to get results.

But if you allow your mind to become fixated on what is wrong, then overwhelm has you in its grip. Maybe you don’t believe you are enough (not good enough, not up to it). Maybe you believe you don’t have enough knowledge.

My favorite version of scarcity is “It will take so much time to do this.”

If you find yourself running this racket, the most important thing is to catch yourself in these thoughts, and consciously choose the beliefs you want to hold. No one is the master of their thoughts all the time, so be willing to repeat this process over and over. Often it helps to write it down:

  • the old tape you’re running, and
  • the powerful statement you are choosing in its place.

Then (again), move into action – one deliberate step at a time. When overwhelm starts brewing, take a five minute break from whatever you’re doing, and move away from as many sources of stimulation as you can. Do nothing else but move and breathe.

You’ll quickly come back to center, refreshed and resourced.

In the Next Episode: Are You Afraid to Ask Coaching Clients to Pay You?

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 79 – For Your Coaching Business Courage Comes Before Confidence

This episode is part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series.

Today I’m talking about courage – something all successful coaches had to raise within themselves long before they felt confident about anything.

This episode is for you if you are feeling afraid of crossing any threshold large or small to launch your business and build it into something solid to support your family.

If you’ve been looking for confidence in a crucial moment and feeling none here’s the truth …

It is courage not confidence that will help you break through. Courage is the fire within you. Confidence is earned through repetitive acts of courage.

Before we get into that, I want to share something deeply personal …

Courage has been asking me to step up lately.

I’ve lived a life boosted by centuries of privilege. My parents were middle class and worked hard. My dad was educated by the GI bill and got a good job. Their parents scraped by through the Great Depression in the South – Arkansas and Kentucky.

But they were propped up by privilege, as were their parents before them going far back in the family tree.

Until now, I haven’t questioned why the neighborhoods and schools I grew up in or why the companies I worked for in Colorado were homogenously white. I did not get it that those neighborhoods and schools weren’t available to people of color by design.

Now, with the murder of George Floyd echoing centuries of similar murders in my country and others, I am finally realizing my own complicity in these crimes against humanity.

By failing to see the roots of my privilege clearly I also failed to perceive the policies and systems that built and sustain that privilege for only some.

I am an empath and a highly compassionate person who has always cared about fairness. But I have been asleep, accepting the ways of the world. I have accepted injustices that — were I truly courageous — I would not have simply lived with.

So I’m making a pledge today to you that I will do more day to day to fight against injustice and systems that exclude black, indigenous and people of color from the privileges that I have taken for granted. I will use my ears to listen and learn. I will use my voice, my vote and other resources to work towards deep systemic change while also working on myself to be a better human being.

Thank you for listening.

Now let’s talk about courage that will launch and sustain your business …

Intelligent Coaches Are Stopped By Fear

The coaches I have the honor to work with are some of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known. Many of them are far more educated and have more impressive careers than I ever have. Most of them are brimming with passion that awes me every day.

And all of them are afraid to take steps to launch their business and keep getting out there.

Fear is a human condition and in the territory of entrepreneurship, it’s a raw emotion experienced often.

Not only have I been there in the early days of my own coaching business but fear still makes me hesitate, procrastinate and waste time. I get past it more quickly than I used to but the feeling that freezes me in my tracks still comes up.

I’ve seen it in colleagues and clients. Sometimes a person will do everything but cross those final thresholds to launch.

It’s one of the reasons why the statistics of entrepreneurial business survival are so dismal.

I see coaches create beautiful websites, put all the work into the backend of their business but then shut down unable to do the big scary – stay active out there.

Or I see coaches post regularly on social media and build somewhat of a following but never take a step beyond the safety of that virtual space.

I see coaches discount their services so much that they’ll never pay themselves back for their coach training much less earn a good living.

I’ve done all of those and more to keep myself from experiencing rejection.

Don’t let your fear deny you success in every quarter. That’s regret in the making.

Yes, there’s feel the fear and do it anyway. But there’s a moment in between feeling and doing that will help you to take action. It’s BEING.

That’s the time to raise courage.

Courage makes everything possible.

In all the stories of heroism they all start with deeply flawed, vulnerable human beings who have a big goal. The person faces down monumental set backs but keeps going. Not because of confidence but because of courage.

Here’s what will help you raise courage:

6 Ways to Boost Your Day-to-Day Courage and Gain Confidence

  • Choose a symbol of your powerful will and keep it close to you.

This could be something like a talisman for your pocket, an image on your vision board or a role model for courage. I have a smooth stone that I hold at times of fear and a Quan Yin (Goddess of Compassion) statue on my desk.

  • Reconnect daily with your purpose and mission.

Always remember what brought you to this moment. Hold your vision of your future and see it as a reality.

For most of us a spotlight puts us into stage fright. You’re not on stage as a coach. You are not performing. Imagine the individuals your coaching will support.

  • Ask someone to help you be brave.

I keep learning this. Never do anything difficult without someone who can have your back. This could be a mentor, a friend or peer coach but don’t go it alone.

  • Reframe to the positive.

Mistakes are critical for your success. Some rejection is inevitable. Embrace those things as teachers. Reframe to the positive and you’ll feel more courage.

  • Celebrate every time that you raise enough courage to act.

Be your own cheerleader. It’s the positive reinforcement that makes you stronger and more capable.

The more courageous actions you take to launch and grow your coaching business the stronger and more confident you’ll become. And yes, confidence feels good. What will you do today to raise courage and cross a threshold in your coaching business today?

Ep 78 – The Art of Crafting Powerful Coaching Questions with Laurie Cameron

I have something really special for today’s episode, which is about powerful coaching questions and is a part of a new series on Coaching Skills.

There’s a free download that you can get so stay tuned …

First, I want to share something personal with you. I have been so buoyed up by wonderful reviews lately. So I want to give a shout out to Gemma who said recently to me:

“I’m sending a heap of gratitude to you, Rhonda, your generous podcast has helped me identify my platform and program. Also, I know that I’m not alone in this. You’ve helped so many coaches. Thank you for cutting through the noise.”

That made my week. So I’m grateful to you, Gemma, for taking the time to write that review for me on iTunes.

So let’s roll with today’s episode.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Laurie Cameron of WAKE UP Enterprises.

Laurie is literally the best coach I know. She is also the best coach trainer I know.

In 2001 I co-created curriculum for Coach Training Alliance and I designed their certified coach program, I was their first trainer. Then I brought Laurie in. She surpassed me significantly and she is their Senior Mentor Coach now.

I first met Laurie 20 years or so ago at the Denver chapter of the International Coach Federation and we became fast friends. We were both on the board there. Beyond that, Laurie and I have been accountability partners for each other and doing a little co-coaching now and then. Something every coach needs.

LAURIE CAMERON: I am really excited and thank you for all those kind words that made my week as well. So I’m really thrilled to be here.

The Most Powerful Coaching Skill

RHONDA: Laurie, I’m going to ask you some questions. I hope they’re powerful questions because that’s the topic that we’re bringing today. So I wanted to start with … What is your favorite coaching skill, Laurie, and why?

LAURIE CAMERON: I would like to ask you a question in return. Complete this sentence: If you want better answers, you …?

RHONDA: … have to ask the right questions.

LAURIE CAMERON: Close. See when I do full day coach training workshops with leaders and managers and when I train coaches through coach training Alliance, that’s the common answer. A better answer is you have to craft better questions.

RHONDA: Nice distinction.

LAURIE CAMERON: Thank you. Questions are amazing and they’re even more amazing and more powerful when you are adept at putting words together in a way that draw somebody’s wisdom out and draw out something new and, and send them deep. That’s why I love powerful questions and learning how to craft them.

Take Your Time To Formulate Powerful Questions

RHONDA: That’s great. I wanted to notice something. You know, you asked me that question and I jumped with my answer. You’re talking about crafting and crafting takes some time. How can a coach that’s in the middle of a coaching session take the time to craft a question?

LAURIE CAMERON: Well, it’s about taking the time to do that actually. And one of the challenges that I’ve noticed that newer coaches have about asking questions is they don’t take the time to craft one before they start asking it.

So as soon as the kernel of a question pops into their head, it’s coming out their mouth, they are revising it, editing it out loud, and it actually turns into this long thing that the client just loses track of.

Learning how to craft a powerful question is more about taking the time, pausing, being comfortable with the silence — which is also a challenge for a lot of coaches — and crafting internally before they open their mouth.

LAURIE CAMERON: That’s great to know and it reminds me that a lot of times when I’m working with my own clients. I have something to say, could be a question or it could be anything, but if I don’t quite have it ready yet, I’ll just buy myself some time. I’ll just say: Give me a second, I thinking.

It’s Okay to Be Human and Transparent with Your Coaching Clients

LAURIE CAMERON: What makes coaching not only powerful is you can be transparent. You can be vulnerable. You can say, give me a minute. Or I found myself occasionally stopping mid question and saying: Wait a minute, that’s not the question I want to ask. Let me redo this.

RHONDA: Exactly. That is so important to remember that even though someone is paying you for this service, if you put yourself up on a pedestal that actually becomes worse for you and them.

When you’re training coaches, what are some of the biggest challenges that new coaches have with asking pithy questions?

LAURIE CAMERON: I love pithy. That’s a great way to describe really important, powerful questions because those are the questions that get to the heart of the matter really, really quickly.

The Continuum: Moving Towards Mastery in Crafting Powerful Questions

LAURIE CAMERON: So one challenge is not taking the time to craft a question before they open their mouth. Another one is asking what the client is doing now or what they’ve already done about their agenda.

So let’s just say a client’s agenda is — I want to manage my energy better during the week. I hear a lot of coaches say something like: What have you done so far? Or … What are you doing now? Until you really learn how to craft a powerful question, that sounds like a great question.

But, there’s no pith in it, right? There’s no challenge to the client to think about how to move forward. What they’ve been doing or what they’re doing now that is not working and they want something different.

RHONDA: That makes a lot of sense. Do you have an example of a different thing that they could say?

LAURIE CAMERON: With our example — I want to manage my energy better during the week — a more powerful question might be: When you’re managing your energy, what does your week look like?

RHONDA: You’re asking them to think about the ideal.

LAURIE CAMERON: Yes. You want to help them uncover and create in their life.

Asking … What have you done so far? What are you doing now? It’s not necessarily a bad or a wrong question. Mastering coaching really is moving along the continuum from less powerful to more powerful.

RHONDA: That’s a great point. There’s the concept of continuous improvement. It’s not about being perfect today or having it all nailed down before I take a move, but rather to just say “Okay, I’m going to do what I can today with what I know.”

LAURIE CAMERON: So it’s less powerful to ask the current or past questions and more powerful to ask what do you want to move forward towards? Because that’s coachable.

The Qualities of a Powerful Question

RHONDA: That’s a fantastic distinction. Okay, so now I would really like to hear if there’s a formula for how to get further down that continuum to more powerful questions.

LAURIE CAMERON: Well and I don’t know that this is so much of a formula as it is a list of qualities of a powerful coaching question. So perhaps they’re, they’re similar in there.

First and foremost it’s short.

I hear a lot of newer coaches ask a question, ask another question with lots of different punctuation marks in it and pauses. And it’s really easy for a client to get totally lost in that.

“So client, when you think of all the things you just talked about, the timing of the project, the obstacles, the resources you have or the resources you need, what do you think is the most important piece to consider first, you know, before all the others can actually come to fruition and then you can move forward and figure it all out?”

RHONDA: Yeah, I’m overwhelmed just hearing that

LAURIE CAMERON: It’s, it’s very easy to get lost. So the more powerful question would be to say: So what has to happen first?

RHONDA: So simple!

LAURIE CAMERON: That’s five words.

RHONDA: I think most people who are overwhelmed are not able to really see themselves clearly. And that’s why coaching is so helpful. All of us get into that place of overwhelm. Getting out is about setting priorities. What is the next step?

LAURIE CAMERON: Yeah, helping a client figure out what they want to do or where they want to go and then create a strategy to bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to go and create an action plan to make that happen.

RHONDA: Is there anything else that that goes into the formula or the list of characteristics?

LAURIE CAMERON: Open-ended. And I think a lot of people are really aware of that. Being aware of it and noticing it when it’s coming out of your mouth are two different

A closed ended, yes or no question might be —and I hear this one a lot too — is something along the lines of “So do you think you can figure out how to make this viable?”

And it’s clear the coach wants to know and wanting to challenge the client and yet there are only two options with closed questions. Yes, I think I can figure it out. No, I don’t think I can figure it out.

It’s actually more powerful just to ask an open-ended question. What will it take to make the project viable?

RHONDA: Yes. Who, what, when, where, how and occasionally why. Although I’m not a big fan of why

LAURIE CAMERON: Me either.

An open-ended question assumes success. It’s saying I believe in you. This is what you want to do. So what’s it going to take to make that happen?

RHONDA: It’s empowering.

LAURIE CAMERON: definitely empowering. And at the same time there are very few moments where a closed ended yes or no question actually can be more powerful and most typically that’s towards the end of a coaching session when the coach is asking the client for commitment. Something like: Are you willing to do what it takes to make this work?

If a client says yes, then they have stepped up, they are ready for accountability.

RHONDA: And there’s a bit of challenge in that question after you’ve helped to empower the person to later on ask a challenging question is a really great thing to do with your clients, because coaches who challenge their clients actually get a lot more from their clients.

LAURIE CAMERON: Yeah. Letting clients off the hook is not really leveraging their investment in you.

Why Not Ask Why?

RHONDA: Yeah. You know, before we get too far off of it, I just wanted to go back to the why thing. You and I both said we’re not a big fan of why questions and I would love to hear your reason for why not why?

LAURIE CAMERON: Well, a couple of them. One, there’s an underlying judgment in a why question and even if it’s not the intention of it, and even if the person hearing the why question is not fully cognizant, it’s as if a parental unit is standing there wagging their finger saying, so why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do that?

And with that judgment comes a need to defend one’s actions.

Two, it perpetuates the story. Why questions put people on the defensive.

RHONDA: So if a coach is wondering why, how can they ask their client something without why?

LAURIE CAMERON: What would be an example of a why question that comes to mind, Rhonda?

RHONDA: Why in the world would you ask me that? Lori?

LAURIE CAMERON: Thank you. That’s great LOL. Well, I would re frame that as: Where’s this question coming from do you think?

RHONDA: Yes! And by the way, sometimes it doesn’t have to be a question, but more of an inquiry. I am a big fan of saying … Tell me more about that.

Multiple Choice Coaching Doesn’t Land Well

LAURIE CAMERON: That’s a wonderful way to invite your client to dig deeper. As long as you give them silence.

This is another challenge I hear from newer coaches … they just start asking question after question after question. A powerful question will stand on its own.

I hear a lot of times what I call multiple choice coaching where a coach might say:

How do you see yourself being accountable for tracking your progress? Do you need to track it on the calendar or maybe talk to somebody, get somebody on board with it? What do you think?

What happens in those instances is whatever options or possibilities that are popping into the coach’s head, if they put those out there in answer to their own question, it limits the client’s options. As opposed to saying: How do you see yourself being accountable for tracking your progress? Question mark. Be quiet. Let the client go through their own options, their own choices and sort through that rather than limiting them.

RHONDA: I’m so guilty of that one.

LAURIE CAMERON: You get to be human too.

Universally Powerful Questions For Any Agenda

RHONDA: Let’s move on to another question. Are there any questions that you think are universally excellent or powerful for numerous coaching agendas?

LAURIE CAMERON: Oh, of course. Yes. I definitely have my favorite —what I call toolbox questions.

These are questions that are generic and fundamentally powerful when you customize it with the client’s agenda or goal or action. Can I share three of them?

RHONDA: Yeah, please!

LAURIE CAMERON: Okay. My first one is typically at the beginning of a session just after the takeaway is clear for both coach and client is, I call it THE MAGIC WAND QUESTION.

You know … the perfect outcome, ideal resolution. You touched on that a little bit earlier. Ask a client to tap into their true desire and paint that picture of success without worrying about the how yet.

It’s saying … What do you really, really want? Don’t think yet about how you’re going to do it or if it’s possible or any of that. That’s not on the table yet. For right now be bold, be big, dream big, be creative.

And the client might not actually realize that ideal situation. But when they start with what they really, really want and you coach them to move in that direction, there are a lot more likely to get more of what they want.

RHONDA: Great. Love that one.

LAURIE CAMERON: Okay. And another is: How will you know when you’re successful?

I love this one because it asks your client to project themselves into a future state of success and describe it. It’s kind of similar to the magic wand question. And when they answer this kind of a question, what they’re doing is they’re also identifying the parameters that they’ll use to evaluate their success and their progress.

So it opens the door for them to strategize what actions they have to take in order to move in that direction. If we use the same agenda that we were talking about before — I want to manage my energy better during the week, we ask: How will you know you’re successful?

It helps the client think forward in they might say: Well, I’ll have enough time in the evenings to spend with my kids. I’ll be exercising consistently and how, you know, when I get home on Friday, I won’t just drop onto the couch and pass out. I’ll have enough energy to go out and have some fun in the client. Identifying how they’ll recognize success when they’re in the middle of it.

They already have three things that they want to make sure they do. Spend time with the kids in the evening exercise consistently and go out and have fun on Fridays.

RHONDA: I would, in that situation, repeat to them the things they said.

LAURIE CAMERON: Yeah, absolutely. And that leads me to my third really favorite toolbox.

What will it take to …? And you fill in that … with the, the agenda, action or goal.

So what will it take to make sure you have time to spend with your kids in the evening exercise consistently and come home on Fridays with enough energy to go have fun? Yeah.

That what will it take question kicks it into strategy mode and you could say: What’s your plan to do that?

There’s something about the word ‘plan’ that is abstract and they have to start thinking in different ways.

But the question: What will it take to do what you want to do? is simple, more direct. And I’ve discovered that it’s easier for clients to go right into planning and strategizing mode and then you can coach them:

  • to figure out what level of accountability
  • how are they going to put this into place

There are three variations that I have of the What will it take question:

  1. What has to happen?
  2. What has to be different?
  3. What has to be in place?

The Coaching Skills Quickstart Giveaway

RHONDA: Great. They’re subtle but they’re simple. And Laurie, I know that you have something that you’d like to give everybody listening. What is it? And where can they find it?

LAURIE CAMERON: A list of Sample Toolbox Questions — all the ones that I’ve talked about plus a handful more.

This list of toolbox questions is adapted from a self-study guide I wrote for leaders and managers called The Coaching Skills Quickstart and I retooled it back to professional coaches and what they might come up against in a session with a client.

RHONDA: Brilliant gift. You can find that at https://wakeupenterprises.com/prosperous-coach/

By the way … know that whenever there are links shared with you verbally on these episodes, it’s really easy to go find this stuff. If you’re listening to the podcast on a podcast app, then it will be in the show notes. If you click details on there. If you’re listening to it on my website, well it’s right there in front of you in the SHOW NOTES.

So Laurie, I just want to thank you so much for your time, for your incredible expertise and I’m definitely downloading that baby for myself!

LAURIE CAMERON: Wonderful. It’s always such a joy and a treat and an honor to spend any kind of time with you, Rhonda. Thank you.

RHONDA: You are so welcome. My absolute pleasure. I feel the same way about you, so virtual hugs to all!

In the Next Episode: Competition, Comparison and Shame in the Field of Coaching