Struggling to Build a Successful Health Coaching / Life Coaching Practice?

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Recently in an interview, I was asked the question that countless people around the world who dream of creating a successful coaching practice all wish to know the answer to; how do you build a successful coaching practice?

My response was, “I never tried to build a coaching practice, I simply work from a place of curiosity and wonder.” Sure, it wasn’t always that way, I too tried many things in the past to build a successful coaching practice and not one of those things worked.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, wait a minute, didn’t you just say you never tried to build a successful coaching practice? How can you possibly try many things to succeed and in the same sentence claim to have never tried to build a successful practice?

It’s simple really, everything I tried doing to build a successful practice were all attempts to avoid the responsibilities of having a successful coaching practice, a form of unconscious self-sabotage designed to make myself feel and seem as if I was building something when in reality I was avoiding it like a virus.

If you believe that you are truly failing at creating a successful coaching practice for yourself, there is a very good chance that you too are secretly sabotaging yourself and unknowingly stopping yourself from doing so.

How does it work, you ask? The analogy I always like to share with new coaches that I work with is the following. Let us pretend that instead of becoming a successful coach your goal is to get in shape and maybe tone a few muscles. Just like coaching there are many ways to get the job done, you can be a nurturing coach, a provocative coach, a motivational speaker, a shadow work specialist etc.

Whichever style suits you best is completely up to you. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to coach and transform the lives of others for the better. So if you were expecting a post that lined out all the things you were doing wrong, this isn’t it, but I promise, if you keep reading you might discover how exactly you are avoiding your success.

Now back to that analogy of comparing coaching to getting into shape. Just like in coaching, there are many ways to get in shape, you can join a cross-fit gym, you can join a boxing gym, you can get on a diet, you can juice fast, you can do so many things. For the sake of this post, let’s just say that your style of getting into shape is speed walking. It’s gentle on the heart and easy on the knees.

Sure, it may not be flashy like lifting an Olympic barbell above your head and posting it on social media, but it gets the job done! On day one, you and I agreed that walking is the method we will be using for your journey. We created a plan and a start date, we begin Monday morning at 9am, I will be at your doorsteps and we will begin our journey.

Sunday evening, I get a call from you, apparently you want to go buy yourself some new shoes, just to make sure your walk is comfortable. Not a problem!

Except that right after you got your shoes you decided that you also need shorts, a headband, a t-shirt, new socks and underwear and the list goes on and on. You seem motivated, you seem like you are truly, fully invested, you put all of this on your credit card, and you are ready to rumble!

Or are you?

By the end of the day, we realize that we will not be able to make it to our first walk, but hey, no worries, we still have Tuesday, don’t we? Absolutely, except that on Tuesday you have to go food shopping. I mean c’mon, who tries to get in shape without eating healthy? We have to eat healthy, don’t we?

In the above example you may or may not have noticed that in the act of over preparing for this goal to become a reality. The person who wants to get in shape seemed motivated, except that the person’s motivation was channeled into ways of avoiding the actual task of getting in shape!

In the coaching world, this is the equivalent to taking one course, then another, then another, then another, only to convince yourself that you are trying to become what you tell yourself you are becoming.

Yes, it is good to work on your craft and further develop your skills but remember, there are many ways to get in shape. At the end of the next course when you get your new certification, how long will it be before you realize that the entire time you were studying to be a coach specializing in ABC, you actually want to specialize in 123. The good news is that we still have Tuesday and we can go shopping for a new list of certifications and courses… Can’t we?

Do you see the pattern?

Ending the cycle:

  • The first thing I believe is extremely important in overcoming this cycle of unconscious hidden self-sabotage is to acknowledge that it is there. As long as you are getting into yet another coaching course to “start your coaching practice” when in reality you are terrified of having one, the cycle will never end.
  • Uncover the roots of that behavior, many times in my coaching practice as well as in my health coaching practice, when a client gives me a list of reasons why they can’t make their goals a reality I get very suspicious. Think of it this way, if you know exactly why you have not been able to manifest your goals, why haven’t you made the corrections necessary yet?

Are you sure the answer is another course? Or perhaps a completely new and different specialty, one that has “more people looking for coaches”? or maybe, juuuust maybe, you hold a limiting belief that you are not good enough to be a good enough coach, and the solution to that psychological barrier is to get yet another certification… and just like the person who wanted to get in shape, you have failed to recognize that wearing another headband isn’t going to make you a better speed walker.

Is it possible, that deep down inside you feel unworthy of having your goal manifest into reality? Does it seem like the closer you get to your goal the more you feel guilty, like an imposter who doesn’t really fit into the reality they are trying to create?

… are you trying too hard?

  • Let go of those limiting beliefs! It’s that simple. Now here’s the tricky part, it’s possible to jump on the “change your mindset” bandwagon as a way to… yep, you guessed it!… avoiding taking the walk! What I recommend is to start walking first! And as you are walking, if your feet begin to hurt then yes, it is time for new walking shoes, get them and keep walking! If on Tuesday during your walk you realize that you need more comfortable socks, after your walk, go get them and keep walking! If on Wednesday during your walk you keep getting sweat in your eyes and you realize you need a headband, go get it and keep walking!

Now why do I recommend starting first and then tweaking what needs to be tweaked and improving what needs to be improved? Isn’t it obvious? And if the answer isn’t clear to you yet, you may have to read the post again.

… Do you see the pattern yet?

… Are you ready to start walking?



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