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!

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.

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.

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!

Ep 77 – 7 Ways to Create a More Valuable Experience with Coaching Clients

There’s plenty of information out there in training programs about how to coach. And there’s lots of attention out there on how to market and enroll clients plus the various tactics to earn well as a coach.

But there’s little communicated to coaches about exactly how to serve your coaching clients well so they love the experience, come back for more and refer others to you.

Client service goes beyond coaching skills but does stem from the way you market and engage your target audience from the get go.

Your coaching client’s satisfaction in you and your program begins before they hire you and continues after they finish with you.

If you’re following the guidelines I’ve given to you in episodes 62 through 77 in this Coaching Business Checkup series, then you’ll be strategically setting everything up for your coaching business in a way that guarantees satisfaction for ideal clients.

And if you put in place specific things to ensure that people you attract are ideal for you, it will increase your clients’ satisfaction.

Client service is another strategy point for creating a successful coaching business. And that’s why this is part of, and the LAST episode of, my Coaching Business Checkup series.

And as I’ve been promising, I’ve got a FREE download for you, ready now, that’s a comprehensive Coaching Business Checkup you can give yourself. This will help fill the holes in your strategy so you can do everything more effectively and earn more in your business.

When you download this assessment, take the time to honestly consider what you’ve got going for you and what’s missing. I’ve referenced certain podcast episodes for each of the 10 sections. And of course, if you want more help get my private VIP support to do all of this right. The best first step is to have a private Strategy Session with me, which you can find at https://prosperouscoach.com/strategy.

Let’s dig into today’s episode …

Do you feel nervous with your clients and have performance anxiety during sessions? If you’re a new coach, that’s totally normal. And you want to be sure it’s a feeling that diminishes with each client.

In my early days, I was so anxious about delivering value that I lost my personal power by inflating my role. And I ended up feeling drained instead of energized by sessions.

Over the years I’ve given this challenge my daily awareness and made a lot of shifts.

Happily, there are things you can do that both create value while also setting strong boundaries, which protect you and your clients. I’ll cover 7 main ways you can up your game in providing value.

#1 Cultivate Happy Coaching Clients Before During and After

Happy clients start by being happy prospects. You want them to already have a strong sense of your integrity, personality and exactly how you can help them before they hire you. This makes them happy because they’ll only stick around if they feel the connection with you.

I know, I talk a lot about this and that’s because a successful business is the sum of many things that work in concert. And that takes strategy.

If your social media, blogs, podcasts, videos, website – everything – comes from being fully informed about what’s important to your audience they can feel that. And it feels good!

Just the other day a new member in my Facebook group posted:

 “Just found your podcast. Wow! Get out of my head, Rhonda Hess! I needed this so badly. Thank you.”

I took that as a compliment because my episode hit the mark about what holds coaches back. Thanks for your feedback, Angela!

You want your audience to feel seen, heard and understood by you. If they do, they’ll follow you and share your content with others in your audience. They’ll also get curious about what you offer because you’re speaking about what they desire and what’s in the way.

Consider also staying in touch with past clients. Follow them on social media. Share a bit of social love. And check in with a short email to from time to time.

#2 Provide Structure and Boundaries

In a desire to be ALL things to your clients do you forget to set boundaries and provide structure?

If so, it’s understandable because coaching skills themselves are so open. Open-ended questions, deep levels of listening, open-mindedness about differences – don’t seem to fit with structure and boundaries.

But I’ll tell you … people thrive with a sense of structure and respect boundaries if you set them up thoughtfully.

These things make people feel safe.

  1. Provide clear terms and agreements in your intake packet.
  2. Ask clients to respect you with policies about showing up for sessions and on time payments
  3. In the first session explain the phases and flow of your work together (this is easy if you’ve created a Signature Program rather than just selling coaching packages)
  4. Provide and then ask them to send you a Session Prep 1 -2 days before each session
  5. Send them a Session Recap that lists agreed upon next steps and notes
  6. Set clear expectations about your availability and how/when they can contact you
  7. Hold time boundaries in sessions.

#3 Create and Track a Set of Goals

This may be obvious but it wasn’t to me with my first clients.

  1. Within the first 2 sessions set specific milestones you’ll help them achieve
  2. Get clear on top challenges, goals and who they want to transform into
  3. How will you help them perceive that they’ve made progress?
  4. Set a tickler in your calendar to check in on their goals/milestones and progress

#4 Gather and Give Feedback

Feedback is under-rated and so valuable for any transformational process.

Ask for feedback.

  • At the end of every session, ask about their takeaways. Write those down in the Session Recap.
  • Make sure that your Session Prep form asks for feedback. Acknowledge what they say.
  • If you’re not getting enough feedback, directly ask for it half way through your program.

Give feedback.

  • Let them know how they’re doing. Be kind but also real. Encourage more if progress is slow.
  • Ask for referrals mid-way through your program and at the end.
  • Ask for a testimonial. Give them guidelines and make the testimonial process easy.

#5 Model Integrity

One of the beautiful things about coaching is that sometimes we attract clients that teach us while we’re supporting them. Mostly this is seamless and organic. But sometimes it can be painful. You realize that you need to work on the same thing that your client does.

So be real if that’s the case. Show your vulnerability while also modeling how you face your challenges.

  • Walk you talk, not just in session but in every public way you show up
  • Be responsive to your clients with timely replies
  • Provide a personal touch but don’t go overboard
  • Own your mistakes and biases
  • Hold confidences

#6 Help Your Clients Stand Fully In Their Power

The absolute best way to empower your clients is to monitor how well you are standing in your own power.

Some years ago I wrote a popular blog post on this called 5 Ways to Right Size Yourself to Empower Your Coaching Clients. You can see the link to that post on the show notes for today’s episode, which you’ll want to check out anyway to get the free Coaching Business Checkup download. Again, you can find that at prosperouscoach.com/77

As a coach, it’s critical that you learn how to be right sized in your power for a healthy coaching relationship.

By right sized I mean holding the right amount of responsibility in the co-creative relationship while also asking your client to do this same. Ideally, you and your client have the same amount of power in the relationship.

There are many pitfalls, such as:

  • charging too little
  • allowing late payments
  • allowing clients to slide away from doing their work
  • over-delivering
  • failing to hold time boundaries and other boundaries

It takes practice. You can do it if you pay attention to what’s happening within you when you interact with your clients.

  • Hold your clients accountable for what they agree to do
  • Challenge them to do and be more. They will thank you for it.
  • Show you care without being overly responsible or invasive

#7 Share Your Humanity

When I first started as a coach I thought I had to be a pillar of perfection with clients. I found out the hard way that this turns out badly.

When people put you on a pedestal they project all sorts of crap upon you and the relationship goes into shadow.

So instead:

  • Be a real person. Let clients see who you are. But don’t make it too much about you.
  • Be interested in you’re client’s uniqueness and how they differ from you. Hold up a positive mirror for them to admire themselves.
  • Give the personal touch without going overboard
  • Accept that life throws everyone curve balls from time to time

During my work with clients some have major health crises, financial crises and other types of difficulties that throw off the arc of our work together. The right thing to do is to flex to support them. You might put your program on hiatus for a time to give them space needed for recovery.

Similarly, I’ve had times where I need to take a break and ask my clients to understand.

Now, think through how you can up your game on customer satisfaction.

In the Next Episode: The Art of Crafting Powerful Coaching Questions with the brilliant Laurie Cameron, coach trainer extraordinaire!