The business challenges I face as a coach are the same ones I face as an individual — just in the context of my business, as opposed to the rest of my life.
I’ll give you two examples:
First, I’ve got a real fear of disappointment. I hate disappointing other people, and I hate being disappointed. When I really let myself feel it and get underneath my reaction to disappointment, there’s a real heartbreak there. I’m either heartbroken that I didn’t live up to the potential or expectation of the person I’ve disappointed, or I’m heartbroken that they didn’t live up to mine.
I’ve created a billion strategies to avoid having to confront this fear, such as perfectionism, knowing the rules of the game really well before I’ll even start playing, making sure that I control as many variables as possible (so I can ensure that I meet expectations).
These strategies even show up in funky places, like around Christmas-time, when gift-giving can be a real edge for me out of fear that my wife or family will be disappointed by the gift I gave them. I can create strategies there as well, by doing things like only buying off of their wish-list, or getting them everything on their wish-list (so they’re not disappointed by the one gift they didn’t receive).
All of these strategies are designed to avoid having to confront what I’m afraid of — simply being with the experience and feeling of disappointment. You can hopefully see how much easier my life might be if I was just able to BE with my own disappointment and that of others. I could drop all of that strategizing, and just show up, and let people have whatever experience they have.
This problem shows up in my business too. I can find it challenging to let people know what the commitment to working with me looks like, and experience their disappointment. They were excited to work with me, but now feel like it’s out of reach. They’re heartbroken — they saw some real possibility, and now they feel like it’s actually even worse than before; they can see what could be, but it’ll remain forever out of their reach.
From my strategies, I want to rescue them, lower my rates, do all kinds of whacky things. From a higher place, my work is to simply own my rates, and support people in overcoming the hurdle they may (or may not) represent, if they’d like that support.
The other thing I can really struggle with is what I can see for people. I’m actually pretty frequently disappointed, because I can see how much people are capable of. And the fact that they aren’t achieving what they are capable of isn’t an indication of any flaw on their part — that’s literally what it is to be a human. We will always, by definition, have more potential than we are currently experiencing and expressing.
That’s part of what’s cool about the game of life! There’s always more available for you. There’s always an edge for you to step into.
But instead of holding it that way, I can get caught up in the fact that people should be fully expressing their highest potential and possibility moment to moment. And since we put out exactly the same medicine we feed ourselves, I’m especially ruthless with myself. I’m never happy with my output, because I can see what I’m truly capable of. I never measure up (nor could I).
So in my business, this can be a challenge because I can get really taken out (triggered/hooked/angry/upset/etc.) when people let fear get in their way.
The truth is, that’s just part of being human. And sometimes, we really need to let fear win. That’s how our ancestors continued breeding and why you and I are on this planet today, in this moment.
My work as a coach is to do my own work, with my own coach, so that I can see that this is all just a story made up in my head, and to relate to people not living up to their potential from a place other than “they suck” and “I suck”.
Ultimately, whatever edges you have as a human will manifest themselves in your business. This isn’t just true for coaches — this is true for literally everyone. When I work with executives that have intimacy issues at home, I can guarantee you that those same issues are going to be showing up on the teams they lead and the goals they’re working towards.
As Jon Kabat-Zinn said: Wherever you go, there you are.