Ep 81 – How Shame Crushes Momentum in Your Coaching Business

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

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

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

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

It’s not easy to talk about shame.

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

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

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

The Cycle of Shame for a New Coach

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

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

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

Breaking the Cycle of Shame in Your Coaching Business

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

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

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

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

So how can you stop the cycle of shame?

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

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

I am on a developmental path.

Every day in my business brings something new to learn.

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

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

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

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

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

YES! Barbara is so wise.

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

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

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

Yes. So true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shame is the Dark Secret in the Coaching Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s the way I experienced it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Healthy Response to Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I call all coaches to love each other up now.

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

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

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

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

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

Ep 72 – Are You Stuck in the New Coach Swirl & Spin? (Reprise)

Do you know how sometimes it helps to be reminded of something?

Coaches are smart people. We have lots of wisdom brimming inside of us. And, during the pandemic, I especially need reminding about many helpful things.

And after recent conversations with past clients and current clients I thought it might be helpful to reprise an older episode.

This is all about why it’s so easy to get stuck as a new coach and how to snap out of it!

Let’s roll!

It’s got to be said because it’s breaking my heart to see so many coaches bogged down and unable to move forward with clarity.

You know how they say that multi-tasking isn’t good for your brain? The best case scenario is that you do a lot but nothing well. It actually lowers your IQ!

Well, the same is true for your brain when you overload it with unnecessary ideas and future tasks for your coaching business.

I’ve talked about overwhelm before in Ep #20 – How to Stop Saying ‘Yes” to Bright Shiny Objects

In that episode the focus was mostly about wasting money, time and brain power on programs that you’re not developmentally ready for yet as a business owner. Advanced strategies and tactics that won’t work well for you until you have the business foundation in place.

In this episode I’m going to dig in deeper to what’s actually happening in your mind and your emotional body when you heap more and more information on yourself.

When new coaches reach out to work with me, they fill out a questionnaire on my website. I ask them to give me a snapshot of what they’re doing day to day to build their business.

Nearly every person tells me their head is spinning with all the research they’re doing.

  • They are looking at other coach’s websites. Oh no! That really won’t be helpful because it’s hard to discern coaching website that work from those that are duds. It takes experience to know that.
  • They also read everything they can about coaching and coaching business tips. They’re on loads of lists. And every day are force feeding themselves with information.
  • They’re surfing for answers to BIG questions that really can’t be answered in a free blog or webinar … things like how do I choose my niche or where can I find paying clients or what do I need to do to earn well as a coach? There’s so much complexity in those questions.
  • And, they’re signing up for every free webinar and download they can get. And sometimes investing in programs they aren’t ready for.

Here’s the truth. You can’t possibly consume a firehose of information and stay sane. It leaves you breathless with overwhelm and unable to move forward.

This is what I call the new coach swirl and spin. And those are the words that I hear coaches use. They say:

“My mind is swirling! My head is spinning! And I’m so confused that I’m paralyzed.”

I so know that place!

Thousands of bits of disconnected information has literally shut down your executive function, your creativity and intuition.

And that’s when fear and doubt surges up within you.

  • Doubts about whether you can succeed in coaching.
  • Doubts that anyone would pay you.
  • Doubts about everything you’ve been working on.
  • Fears that you’ve made the wrong decision, that you’ve wasted time and money.

And then your brain starts pulling up all the “evidence” to support those doubts.

Pretty soon you’re in a depression. Anxiety has you in it’s grips.

Everything slows to a dead stop. But it does not feel restful.

You start thinking about giving up. Part of you wants to give up. You think it would be so much easier.

Then your ever helpful brain begins to justify that idea.

And shame surfaces.

That’s the new coach swirl and spin.

Of course, this doesn’t just happen to coaches. It happens to most new entrepreneurs. It happens to students and people who were unceremoniously dropped into a promotion without training.

But there’s one thing for sure and that is … you have to stop it before it gets to this point.

How to Stop New Coach Depression From Setting In

There are mindsets and habits to address this.

By the way, there are nearly always mindsets and habits that will address nearly any mental or emotional challenge that comes up repeatedly.

First, let’s talk about good habits around this. Because these are preventative.

Wouldn’t it be great if you never got to that shame stage? To that place where you negotiate with yourself about quitting your dream of coaching.

Habit #1 Open to Bite Size and Specific Information

Reach out for specific information that will help you move forward on one specific bite sized goal.

Habit #2          Take Action Immediately

Once you have the specific information you need, take action on the next immediate step. And pause.

Not too long ago I decided to start marketing in Instagram. And I’m not the most social media savvy person. But I found the app nearly useless in terms of how to actually use Instagram wisely. And I’m still learning. But I’m not loading myself up with all the how-tos. And, earlier in my life, I would have.

I held myself back from overwhelming myself on this goal to learn how to wisely use Instagram to get the word out about my podcast and my services. So, I learned how to set up a basic profile and then I learned how to post and started posting weekly.

Is that perfect? No. Have I learned it all. No. Will I? Eventually.

Sometimes the best training is observing and doing. Learning incrementally on a pace that your brain can support.

Habit #3  Schedule Learning Sessions

I’m a big fan of blocking time. Try blocking time for:

  • client sessions
  • client management
  • emailing
  • writing
  • marketing tasks

Also block time for learning. Put it in your calendar. Consider limiting it to one 1/2 hour at a time.

When I decided to start podcasting, I looked for a training program where I could go at my own pace but also be able to ask questions of an expert. I found the Podcast Host Academy. And I loved their lessons because they had them broken down into tiny steps. Brilliant!

And that way, if I had 1/2 hour, I could learn something new and test it out.

Habit #4  Set Up a Learning Community

Back in Episode #4 – How to Feel Less Isolated in Your Coaching Business I talked about the importance of community when you’re building a coaching business.

If you’re in learning mode around a particular task or strategy, see if there’s a Facebook group or an online forum or a meetup group you can join for knowledge sharing.

Okay, let’s talk about the mindset piece now.

Here’s one mindset to rule them all.

Slow Down and Think It Through

We live in a culture of speed. It’s not helping us. But it is the way of the collective. You control your speed.

Slow down when you feel the first inkling of overwhelm. Breathe. Go outside. Then, when you feel that you’ve averted the swirl and spin, go into first gear and ask yourself:

What is the next immediate, small step that I can take right now?

Then take it.

Set a timer for a reasonable amount of time and do that. Then ask again.

Develop a range of speeds. When you’re ready, shift up to 2nd gear, then 3rd and eventually 4th and 5th gear.

Remember, you can always downshift. In your coaching business, you control your speed. You control your intake of information. You control your pace of work.

In the Next Episode: Do You Fit One of These Coach Archetypes?