Transition Excellence

The #1 Mistake Most Coaches Make (and how you can avoid it)

Coaching is a fantastic career. But telling people you’re a successful coach can feel like hell on earth… 

Have you ever been at a conference or a party, or even talking to family, when someone asks, “What do you do?”—and you freeze because you don’t want to say you’re a coach?

After all, everyone and their mother is a coach these days, right? Or maybe where you live, no one has heard of coaching, and it’s just too weird to explain. 

You try to come up with a clever response. But they look at you and laugh, “Oh. You’re a life coach…” They don’t mean it as a compliment. You want to slink away and hide. 

You want to build your successful coaching business… and you know you don’t want to be a best-kept secret. 

So, you have to learn to talk about what you do… in a way that doesn’t end with them rolling their eyes. But how?

Do You Have a Background in the Corporate World or as a Successful Entrepreneur? 

Maybe you used to be a Senior Vice President or a CEO. Maybe you’ve got a couple of decades in corporate behind you before you became a coach. You’re about to talk to an old colleague and you pray they won’t ask about coaching. 

You love coaching and you’re happy to have left your old career behind you, but how do you describe what you do and make it sound legitimate? What can you say that will make your colleagues respect you?

Have you ever tried to create a really professional website—or a powerful intro on LinkedIn—but got completely overwhelmed? 

Maybe you tried copying successful coaches… but then you didn’t sound authentic. Or maybe you tried writing your own copy… but then it didn’t sound very powerful. Maybe you tried writing from the heart… but potential clients didn’t get it.

Now, imagine you could explain what you do in a way that has gravitas and sounds powerful… Imagine you could talk to former colleagues about coaching in a way that genuinely impresses them… Imagine telling a story about successful coaching that brings friends or family to silence—and has them hanging on your every word…

There’s a tool that will help you to do just this. It’s your “origin story.” But first, I need to point out a mistake I see too many coaches making. 

The Biggest Mistake Coaches Make Is To Tell People That They’re a Coach

Or, even worse, they start talking about their unique coaching process or the name of their numerous coaching certifications. 

Nobody cares and it makes you sound needy.

Coaching isn't a title for coaches. It's a tool.

I’m not a “coach.” Coaching is just one of the tools in my tool belt. Sometimes I’m a coach. Other times I’m a consultant. Sometimes I’m a teacher. Sometimes I’m a trusted advisor.

Every Superhero Has an Origin Story—You and Other Coaches Are No Exception…

Let me tell you about Peter and Ororo. And then I’ll help you craft your story… 

Peter was raised by his aunt and uncle in New York City after his parents died. He was a shy, nerdy high school student who struggled with social interactions. He was bullied and humiliated daily.

All of that changed, however, on the day he was bitten by a radioactive spider while on a scientific field trip. The poisonous bite altered his DNA and imbued him with incredible strength. He gained the ability to cling to walls and an uncanny “spider sense” which alerts him to danger.

As you may already know, Peter’s last name is Parker and he’s more commonly known as Spider-Man. He uses his powers to fly into danger and to protect those who can’t protect themselves, even when it costs him dearly…

Ororo’s mother was from Kenya and her father was African-American. She was raised in Harlem, New York City. When she was six months old, her parents moved to the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

Five years later, during the Suez Crisis, a fighter jet crashed into her parents’ house, killing them both. Ororo was traumatized by being trapped under the rubble, leaving her with the claustrophobia that she would struggle with for the rest of her life. 

She wandered Cairo’s back-alleys for a few weeks and survived by becoming a pickpocket. As a teenager, she traveled to Kenya, where she first discovered a unique ability to control the weather. Sometime later, she was convinced to join the X-Men where she could use her abilities for a greater cause and purpose.

Ororo became known as Storm. She is one of the most powerful superheroes in the Marvel universe and has led the X-Men, as well as being a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

What’s Your Origin Story?

You don’t need to have been bitten by a radioactive spider or to be the child of a Kenyan tribal princess in order to have a powerful origin story. 

For years, I’ve run a session with my private clients where I draw out their unique strengths and their origin story. 

You see, it’s a really powerful moment when a client asks what you do and you look them in the eyes and reply, “You know, what I do—I’ve been doing it my entire life…”

Here Are 11 Questions To Draw Out Your Powerful Origin Story: 

Tell me your story. Go right back to the beginning… 

  1. What did you love to do most when you were six years old?
  2. What’s the secret pain or limiting belief you’ve struggled with for most of your life?
  3. What’s your first memory of doing something you really didn’t want to do?
  4. What made you choose your first job? And what did you secretly hate about it?
  5. What are your top three professional successes? (Give me just the headlines—specific, business-related headlines. Put humility to one side. I need you to boast a little. Remember: it’s not bragging if you’ve done it.) 
  6. What were you known for in your previous career? Is there something people could count on you for?
  7. What are your three biggest gifts? And what is the dark side of each of these gifts?
  8. What do you love most about coaching?
  9. Tell me three counterintuitive truths. “Most people think ______. But the truth is ______.”
  10. If you were only allowed to study or teach one idea for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  11. What do your clients love most about you? (Yep, get over yourself—you’ll need to ask them! “What do you love about me? What’s missing when I leave the room? What can you count on me for?”)

Your Brand Is How People Talk About You When You’re Not There

You, your brand includes the stories from your previous career that you’re secretly proud of but rarely share. It includes the stories from your previous career that you no longer care about but would still impress other people. Your brand includes your deeply personal stories that make you cry. Your brand includes all the stories of your clients’ successes. Only when you can share these stories, people get to really know you. It’s at that time that they feel like they know you, hence, they begin to like you. When they like you, they begin to trust you. 

When people know, like and trust you, they feel safe. And when they feel safe, they’ll feel happy to invest their money in coaching with you.

Most Coaches Are Relentlessly Selling the Wrong Thing

They are selling their system or their qualifications. They talk endlessly about themselves, their “proprietary” process or their “special” program. Or they drone on about famous thought leaders or about “coaching.”

Don’t be most coaches.

Stop selling a system for transformation. Talk about the results of transformation.

Help your clients become superheroes. Then tell everyone about them.

Love. Rich

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about other mistakes coaches run into and how Transition Excellence can help you avoid them, then I implore you to join our Facebook community, connect with us on LinkedIn, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and follow us on Instagram.

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