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I spend a significant amount of my time training coaches, but I don’t write about that very much here. In general, I’ve strayed away from the outwardly-focused posts that I used to make, and been spending a lot more time sharing about my inward journey. However, the work I do developing leaders is every bit as significant a part of my life, and it’s also a reflection of the work I do inwardly, so today this post is related to that.
Not a coach? Doesn’t matter — look for yourself and see what is reflected.
Do you have a coach?
This is the litmus test.
This is the litmus test for determining what kind of person is standing in front of you when they tell you that they’re a coach (life, business, executive, professional, etc.).
The next question is: Do you pay for that coach?
Let’s talk about the coaching profession for a second.
The coaching profession has a situation.
I say situation, because problem attaches an emotional significance to it. A problem tells you more about the way you’re relating to the facts than about the facts themselves.
The situation in the coaching industry is that somewhere around 90% of the coaches out there are making less than $10,000 a year. The reason for this is that coaching is a profession with a low barrier to entry, and high barrier to success.
I like telling potential clients that, if they wanted to, they could start calling themselves and asking other people to pay them for coaching.
The reason for this statistic is actually very simple — those coaches fail the litmus test.
Struggling coaches don’t want this to be the case. They want it to be possible to talkabout a life of possibility where you can create anything, to talk about what they say they are willing to commit to, to talk about how they are committed.
But when it comes down to it, these coaches aren’t willing to commit to it. They aren’t willing to do what it takes to hire their own coach, instead citing reasons why not (“it’s too expensive”), creating delays (“I’ll hire a coach after I have two clients”), or create strategies and contraptions to let them avoid hiring a coach (“I’m doing partner-coaching with another coach”).
Coaching is a profession based around modelling leadership. In order to be successful as a coach (and to have your clients be successful), it requires walking the walk.
I don’t know any profession where this is more accurate than coaching.
If you want to be a successful coach, there is simply no substitute for doing the hard work yourself.
If you expect your clients to generate the money to hire you, you have to be willing to generate the money to hire your own coach. If you expect your clients to live a life of integrity, you have to be willing to model that same life yourself.
Sometimes struggling coaches argue with me on this one: “Just because my financial situation really seriously doesn’t allow me to hire a coach doesn’t mean that I can’t help someone else through their own problems”. The honest fact is that this coach simply doesn’t understand leadership. They don’t get that integrity is the bedrock of leadership, and they’re simply unwilling to shift their lives in order to experience that.
These coaches are more committed to being right about their situation, than in being thriving coaches.
Most struggling coaches like the sound of the coaching profession. They love that you get to partner with people through their hardest problems, have them share with you intimately, work with them to create breakthroughs in their lives, and make a good income doing the job.
The problem is that struggling coaches don’t like the work of the coaching profession. As a profession founded on integrity and commitment, it is a profession that requires an incredible amount of rigour. There isn’t room for creating cute strategies that allow you to avoid doing what your scared to do.
The second you do that, you create a space where you are unable to reflect to your client when they are doing that exact thing.
You are a disservice to your client each and every time you create a breakdown in your integrity. You owe it to your clients to commit to bringing yourself back in to integrity.
Struggling coaches aren’t interested in staying in the conversation, because it’s confronting for them, but they want their own potential clients to stay with them and continue confronting their fears.
This is the beauty of the coaching profession. You can find out immediately what kind of person is standing in front of you, simply by asking those questions.
There’s a beautiful story about Gandhi. A woman brought her son to him, and asked him to tell her son to stop eating sweets. Gandhi told the woman to bring her son back in three weeks time, so she left.
In three weeks, she returned with her son, and Gandhi told him, “Stop eating sweets”.
“Why did you need me to come back in three weeks?”, she asked.
“Because I had to stop eating sweets”, Gandhi replied.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not a coach. If you want to be a leader, in your life (or anywhere else), you have to model what you preach. When you have judgment about what someone else is doing, you have to go deep and get what that is revealing about yourself. You have to get under your own skin, set down your judgment, and determine what this really reflects in you.
People often ask, “How can I get my friend to start working with you?”, or “How can I tell them gently what they’re doing?”. The simple answer is: start modelling what is possible. If you start living your life in a way that is consistent with what you preach, they will notice. And if they don’t, the work lies with you, to address whatever is happening within that prevents you from accepting your friend as they are.