There’s a maxim in the coaching industry: if you want to be a coach, have a coach. That’s never truer than in the early years of developing a coaching practice. Today’s featured client is a therapist turned coach, who has boosted himself and his business into a higher orbit with the assistance of a LifeTrek coach. If you want to make that leap, this story will prove both inspirational and instructive.
Before he died in 2003 at the age of 47, Thomas Leonard, pioneer, sage, and promoter of the modern coaching movement, saw the future of coach training as harking back to the ancient model of apprenticeship. Instead of expensive coach training programs, which may last a year or two, Thomas imagined a long-term, one-on-one mentor coach relationship that would pass on the “secrets of the trade” from one coach to the next.
That was, in fact, part of his original vision for Coachville.com. Although it too has gone on to provide coach training opportunities, some at considerable expense, Thomas saw Coachville.comas a vast repository of resources that mentor and apprentice coaches would use as part of their work together. Provided at little or no cost, Thomas saw the programs, articles, models, assessments, and frameworks available through Coachville.com as providing the basis for excellent coach training.
Today’s client interview features a coach who has sought just this kind of apprenticeship. Although he sees the value of expensive coach training programs, especially when it comes to credentialing, he believes that mentor coaching has even more value when it comes to developing one’s skills, identity, and business as a coach. If you can’t afford both a training program and mentor coaching, this client argues for starting with mentor coaching as the best way to get out of the box.
Q. How did you find out about LifeTrek Coaching and what made you decide to work with us?
A. I had heard you speak at a coach association meeting on how to “e-Rupt Your Coaching Practice” using the Internet and other electronic tools. Given that I had recently relocated across the country with the vision of developing a successful coaching practice, your presentation struck a chord. I knew I needed assistance in order to be as successful as I wanted to be, and your presentation persuaded me that you could assist me to do just that.
Q: Did you have other goals for our work together, or was it narrowly focused on starting your coaching practice?
A: Well, starting a coaching practice is anything but narrow. It encompasses everything. My new wife and I moved across the country because we both wanted new business opportunities in a new environment that would afford a great quality of life. In the past year you have assisted me to put all the pieces of that puzzle together.
Before moving, I had been a psychotherapist for about 25 years. But I was getting tired of that. I wanted to have more fun in my daily work life. Psychotherapy is a rigorous discipline that requires great control and tremendous boundaries. It is deeply satisfying but it’s tough work and it’s certainly not playful.
I moved into coaching because it enables me to be more of a human being with my clients. In therapy you are mostly a screen upon which the client projects; in coaching you are a more active partner who gets to be out there with your clients, to play with them, to tussle with them, and to engage with them at looser levels.
In order to make the transition from psychotherapy to coaching, I knew I needed a mentor coach with a different background than my own. Another former therapist was not going to sufficiently expand my horizons. I needed to work with a successful personal and business coach, with different training and experience, in order to jumpstart my coaching practice. That was my goal and that has been our primary focus.
Q: How has that worked out? Is your coaching practice a success?
A: Not as much as I would like! But I am certainly far more successful now than I would have been if I had tried to figure this all out on my own. In fact, LifeTrek coaching paid for itself during the first month. In the first two weeks that we did our work, we had ideas that immediately translated into money. We repackaged how I was presenting and marketing myself, which made a huge difference.
But I don’t want your readers to think that my success, such as it has been, was just about form or technique. I know the value of synergy. From the moment I met you I had the sense that we would work well together to deal with the myriad personal and professional challenges of starting a coaching practice. I didn’t want to invent every wheel myself. I wanted to gain your perspectives and skills in order to move forward in a rich and satisfying way.
As a successful coach, I knew that you could show me a lot I didn’t know. You have been a brain trust and a loyal partner in my business who doesn’t demand a whole lot of my profits. In fact, having a coach has made me more profitable.
Q. Say more about how that has worked for you. What internal shifts have you made along the way?
A. On a practical level, having a coach lowers my level of anxiety and fear about what I face in my life. It’s good on all levels; it’s good for my mind, my emotions, and my bottom line. As fear goes up, creativity goes down. And I had plenty of fear going into a new career in a new city where I knew no one.
Getting that fear level down enabled me to focus more on my game. I ended up more confident. I was able to do my business in a better way, to relax into my new life on all of those levels.
There has also been a continual upgrading of my own interior image of who I am, doing the things that I’m doing. When I moved here I had a totally different picture in mind of what my coaching practice would look like verses how I see myself now. I moved here with an outline. Working with you has not only filled in the outline, it has shifted the outline. Through the addition of new skills, competencies, and perspectives, you have assisted me to try all kinds of new things. It’s been great.
Q: What behavioral changes have you made as a result of coaching?
A: Well I’m certainly a lot busier than I was one year ago! We have really worked on defining myself in the marketplace, and it has been effective. You can’t just say, “I’m a coach” and expect people to beat a path to your door. You have to develop more specific areas of expertise, with recognizable programs and trademarks, if you want to be successful.
That is what we have done and it has worked. I not only have more business now than I had a year ago, I have different business. I am doing things I never did before. When I moved here, I thought I was going to market the one or two things that I knew how to do and do well. Our work has stretched and emboldened me to move into new areas. Right now I have at least four different projects that are quite new and challenging.
Being so busy, with new opportunities and challenges, means that I am working more hours and having to be more careful about my own life balance issues. I have always prided myself on practicing great self-care. But success generates its own challenges. And it’s easy to start letting things slide. We have only recently started talking about these dynamics, but they are essential. There’s no way to develop a coaching practice without developing the person in the practice.
Q: Your image of being stretched reminds me of how you stretch the strings on a tennis racket. It’s a gradual process over time.
A: Yes, that’s exactly how it works. You stretch and wait, stretch and wait. If you stretch too far, all at once, you break the strings. If you don’t stretch them enough, there’s not enough tension to play the game. I like the word stretching because it implies we are doing it gently rather than just blasting through things. A good coach recognizes how this works, always feeling for that balance point between allowing and pushing into the stretch.
Through coaching I have made great progress, but it’s a zigzag line. Too many people resent or even hate their limitations. I value them as the resistance that can make us stronger. We work against them as though they were a great, cosmic workout machine. They assist us to build muscle and, in the process, we become better able to handle the challenges of life and work. You have assisted me to experience that and to work effectively with my limitations.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for others who might be thinking about working with a coach?
A: It’s the best way I know to put feet under your dreams. If you have something you want to do, that’s gnawing at you, that you’ve been procrastinating about, or that you’ve been working at but are not being as successful at as you would like, then give coaching a try. It will put a booster rocket under the whole thing. I never cease to be amazed how quickly coaching can assist people to progress, even past long term obstacles. With the assistance of the right guide, there’s no telling just how far and how fast you can go.
Coaching Inquiries: Are you ready to put feet under your dreams? Are you struggling against rather than working with your limitations? Do you have the confidence to be successful? Who could you turn to for assistance and coaching?
To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
WOW! Last week’s client story was an awesome story of inspiration! It really is true, the people who have true joy in their lives are more successful. Finding the true joy though seems impossible sometimes. I can relate to him, because it seems we get in a slump, and just can’t seem to find our way out. I have gained a lot of weight also from everyday stress. It makes sense that if you work on personal things like getting back in shape, and loosing weight everyone will look at you differently. Whether you need to loose weight, or work on another aspect of your life, people will notice the “new , happier, more confidant” you. That was AWESOME the amount of weight he lost. I have problems “letting things go.” Everything sticks with me, and I tend to stay upset most of the time. If someone tells me no in my “business” I won’t have the nerve to talk to anyone again for at least a week.
Well, I didn’t mean to say so much about me. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all your help, and what a great job your doing! You have pointed out things which I never really thought of. I agree with your client. Animals are a great stress reliever. I couldn’t get along without mine. I look forward to reading your emails even though it sometimes takes me awhile to get to them. Thank you so much again.
Please change my email address to the one I check daily. For quite a while, I didn’t always read your Provisions. Lately the timing for me is much better and I am receiving information I need with every mailing. They really do provide for the trek of life. Thank you!
Hello from India! I was not able to view birds on your website. So please, let me know the way for it. (Ed. Note: The link to view the birds, Click, is at the top of every page. But remember, these are live pictures and birds will not always be at the feeders. Enjoy!)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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