I just watched a lecture by positive psychologist, Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD, on positive psychology coaching. In it he referenced his ICF International Conference talk, in 2009, on the future of coaching. Tal makes a strong case for the future of coaching being evidenced-based.
What are his arguments? That some of the tools of coaching, such as visualization, positive reinforcement, and positive self-talk have already been debunked by research. That is, they can hurt more than help, unless applied under particular circumstances. Plus, as he points out, without strong evidence to back them up, most human development fads just die out. Remember EST?
I'm inclined to agree with Tal, that evidence is where the greatest growth exists now for coaching. But that doesn't mean coaching hasn't been effective, just that it can become even more effective. Actually, it's the incredible success of coaching that seems to pique the curiosity of scientists.
To point out the obvious: if people waited to do new things before scientists completed relevant research, we might still be sitting in caves waiting for the okay to use fire.
As another positive psychologist who teaches coaching, Robert Biswas-Diener, PhD, has said, research doesn't just inform coaching, coaches themselves, often suggest what scientists should study next. It's a collaboration, not a top-down relationship.
In fact, the Harvard-affiliated Institute of Coaching, was founded by coaches to encourage research into coaching and positive psychology. And the Harnisch Foundation, headed by Ruth Ann Harnisch, herself an IAC certified coach, makes $100,000 available every year for coaching research and coaches are even taught and encouraged to do their own scientific research.
By the way, research has also confirmed that most of what masterful coaches do with their clients really does work quite effectively. That includes acknowledging what their clients do instead of who they are, which leads to growth instead of stuckness. So far, the research has affirmed most of what coaches have been saying all along.
Research is good, very good. But it's not the only thing that matters in coaching...
So then there's this thing called intuition.
Tal doesn't mention intuition in his lecture, but positive psychology researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, considers intuition to be a knee-jerk reaction to things based on what "they say". In other words, it represents people at their dumbest. Scientific findings are therefore almost always more accurate than "intuition".
In coaching, intuition is something else altogether. It's what emerges when coach and client scrape the gobbledygook of life off their brains and get into a highly-connected conversation that the ICF describes this way:
• Coach is connected to complete trust in new and mutual state of awareness that can only arise in the moment and out of joint conversation.
• Coach is comfortable not knowing as one of the best states to expand awareness in.
• Coach is willing to be vulnerable with client and have client be vulnerable with coach.
• Coach confident in self, process, and the client as a full partner in the relationship.
• Sense of complete ease and naturalness in conversation; coach does not have to “work” to coach.
In coaching, the emergence of this intuition, or insight, is what makes the coaching conversation pivotal to the client's growth. It's often simple; however it's anything but dumb. This type of intuition is related to Czikszentmihalyi's Flow and to Barbara Fredrickson's Positivity and Love 2.0, but the research into Coaching Presence or Personal Greatness, as it is variously called by coaches, is so far is pretty thin.
The distinction here is explicit vs. implicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is what we can talk about. Implicit knowledge is that semi-conscious processing we do in the moment when we are completely present. The human mind is still the most powerful computer known. For instance, neuroscientists have discovered that babies learn language through a process of sophisticated statistical analysis. Since the babies studied are pre-verbal, by definition they are processing implicitly. That's what I call intuition.
Coaches cannot afford to throw out this type of intuition in favor of evidence. We don't have time to check academic papers in the middle of a coaching session. Fortunately for us, the human mind is spectacular at processing information, that is if we stay curious and don't succumb to fears, ego and petty issues. But coaches also can't afford to ignore evidence that points the direction for growth in professional coaching, not when the research is so excitingly positive. Neither intuition nor evidence is perfect, but when we integrate the two, we get something even more powerful.
"The genius of the AND", is a phrase that Tal loves to use. And this is a good place to use it. I believe the future of coaching will be evidence-based AND intuitive. Scientists will eventually discover what coaching intuition is and why it's so powerful and then maybe we'll all be on the same page.
Until then, gather the evidence, but don't be afraid to use your intuition during coaching. Because remember, fire was cooking our dinner long before science was invented.
Oh and the guy in the picture? That's Flash Gordon, my favorite astronaut from the 1930's. I included his pic (love his friend's little hat) to remind myself how silly it can be to predict the future. Doesn't seem to stop me, though.
Learn more about coaching that is evidence-based AND intuitive:
The Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program includes the upcoming Coaching with Neuroscience course, which is a fascinating look at the neurobiology behind the power of positive psychology.
Because coaches are not scientists, but rather personal change agents, we focus less on complex anatomy and chemistry and more on how human systems communicate within, without and between our clients and ourselves, so we can influence our clients to grow, transform, transcend, and reach amazing goals. We're not just science-based, we're science-integrated.
When we talk about coaching and neuroscience, we're really talking about the applied science of positive neuroplasticity and how to use neuroplasticity exercises to create lasting transformation for coaching clients.
Neuroplasticity is perhaps the most ground-breaking and revolutionary finding in modern neuroscience. It helps explain why and how people can make real changes in their lives and it makes sense of the many surprising findings coming to us from positive psychology researchers. As such, it's virtually a required topic of understanding for every professional coach.
Here are nine fascinating facts about coaching with neuroplasticity exercises:
- Your brain is constantly rewiring itself. Not only does it change from one day to the next, it changes from one moment to the next. The brain you go to sleep with tonight will literally be different from the brain you woke up with this morning. This creates opportunities to rewire the brain for greater resilience and resourcefulness, which is the top focus for brain-based coaching.
- Coaching changes the brain positively. The brain-states and physical being-states, experienced by your clients during coaching, make temporary changes in the clients' neural nets. A neural net is a group of neurons that are wired together. These changes, when experienced repeatedly within and without coaching, become sustainable and relatively permanent. Coaches have an opportunity to shift clients to the states most conducive to well-being and resourcefulness, leading to greater success in virtually every realm: interpersonal, emotional, cognitive, and physiological. Clients literally become happier, more successful, and even healthier, as a result.
- The "mind-body split" is simply wrong. The philosopher, Descartes, theorized some 300 years ago that mind and body were made of different stuff. Traditionally, science and medicine have embraced this notion and, although they've made many incredible discoveries since, it turns out the mind and body are intimately connected via chemicals, physical structures and electricity. Ultimately they are one and coaching with neuroscience acknowledges and integrates that.
- Insights, also known as "Aha" moments, are moments of sudden change in the brain. When new information is integrated, or old information is finally bridged, neural chemicals are released that feel good and often cause the client to light up or giggle. Some insights are peak experiences that help create lasting change for our clients. Others are less powerful, but can be strengthened for greater sustainability. It's extremely important for coaches to understand how to handle these moments so full integration occurs. Otherwise, insights evaporate like forgotten dreams and offer little benefit to our clients.
- Stuck clients are caught in neural loops. The old saying in neuroplasticity, that "neurons that fire together, wire together" offers both the good and bad news of brain science. When a coaching client is stuck, he thinks over and over about a problem without finding a solution. Each time he does so, he strengthens the neural connections around the problem, making it seem increasingly impossible to solve. It's like riding a bicycle on a muddy path each day. Eventually a rut will form that is so deep it's almost impossible to ride the bike anywhere but in the ever-deepening rut. Skillful coaches can instantly pull clients out of their ruts and refocus them on solution-producing thoughts.
- The human brain is naturally negative. This probably had survival value in the past, but causes toxic stress and other problems in the modern world. The good news is that the brain can be trained to think more positively and that can become a positive habit over time. Indulging in negative thinking is a form of brain abuse that scientists call "rumination", because it's rather like a cow chewing its cud. Rumination is highly corolated with depression and anxiety, but even in emotionally healthy clients, learning more resourceful ways to think can be life-changing.
- The brain communicates with structures and organs in the neck and torso via the vagus nerve. The vagus is probably what you're feeling when you experience strong emotions in your body. Interestingly, the gut and heart both contain so many neurons of their own that they are sometimes referred to as the 2nd and 3rd brains and they "talk" as much or more to the brain than it talks to them. When you know something in your heart or feel it in your gut, you're experiencing something real.
- Oxytocin, a.k.a. the "love hormone", works with the vagus nerve to create a sense of bonding between parents, partners and others. Oxytocin does have it's down side, but increasing it during coaching, via specific behaviors, creates trust and regard that are fundamental to successful coaching sessions.
- The mind isn't created by the brain, but rather appears to be the outcome of a variety of internal, and interpersonal, systems. In fact, given the power of neuroplasticity, it may be more accurate to say the mind creates the brain. Through neuroplasticity exercises, we can assist clients to use their minds to change their brains, and other systems, such as the heart and gut, in ways that help them integrate, grow, and transform their lives and themselves.
Try this positive neuroplasticity exercise right now to shift into a more positive and resourceful mind state. This is especially powerful if you're not feeling as happy, or as optimistic as you might.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath for a minute or two. It's ideal if you inhale for about 5 seconds and exhale for the same length, but don't worry about this or time yourself. Allow it to happen with a relatively relaxed, unthinking mind.
- Now find something good, no matter how small, that happened today or yesterday. Allow yourself to feel good about this thing or event. Let it sink in. Savor it.
- Now associate your five senses with this good thing. How does it look? How does it sound? How does it taste, smell, and most of all, feel? These questions may not seem logical, but play with them a bit.
- Next, ask yourself what this event or thing means to you and why does it matter? Do you associate it with any of your values or strengths?
- Last, what part did you play in the occurence? Take a moment to be grateful to and acknowledge yourself and everyone connected.
- Now let this wonderfully layered experience of your positive event sink into every cell in your body. Enjoy it. You may even want to revisit it again several times and/or do this exercise with other experiences. Over time, they will help you experience greater joy, pleasure and gratitude.
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Most coaching clients don't hire coaches explicitly because they want to be happy. They generally hire a coach because they want something specific such as to make more money, be more productive, become better leaders, cope better with problems, be healthier, or even have stronger marriages. Why do they want these things? On some level they believe these things will make them happier, but that's not the real reason that positive psychology coaching, also known as Happiness Coaching, is important.
It turns out happiness CAUSES all of the above, not necessarily the other way around, which is one of the many surprises that positive psychology researchers have uncovered.
Happiness isn't just corrolated with success, it actually causes it. So if you're coaching on success in any realm, you'll probably be a lot more effective if you coach on happiness, first. And what makes people happy is often not what you think.
All coaching needs to be positive psychology coaching.
Watch this 2:34 video of leading positive pychology researcher, Sonia Lyubomirsky, on why happiness matters.
If you're curious about becoming a Certified Positive Psychology Coach, click below:
Okay, sorry for the strong language, but it had to be said: some nice coaches look like, well you know, on social media. Don't be that coach.
Example. A couple of years ago, I wanted to work with a new coach and was considering one who had a great reputation. I was about to call him when he posted about a big breakthrough he had with a client, only he made it sound like it was HIS success, rather then the client's. Yuk. I never called. I actually think he's probably a great guy and a great coach, but he keeps posting stuff like that and I can't bring myself to work with him. Here's the thing: his fans probably forgive him, because they KNOW he's great. The rest of us aren't so sure.
Do you know how many coaching clients you've lost because you posted something dumb on social media? Me either, but I hope it's a really small number. To save us all from ourselves, I've compiled a top ten list on how to look like a douche on social media.
Top Ten Ways to Look Like a Douche on Social Media:
- Always post about yourself and your business.
- Quote yourself on social media.
- Brag about how successful your business is.
- Brag about how good you are at what you do.
- Shoot down others when they're being brilliant.
- Brag about the great work you did with a client.
- Complain about your "bad" clients.
- Always one-up others in the brilliance department.
- Never admit your weaknesses.
- Aggressively hawk your business on social media.
I've probably committed a couple of these boo-boos myself. But I really try not to. You?
Oh and I considered writing a separate post on How to Be Irresistibly Attractive on Social Media, but anybody could write it, because all you need is to flip the foregoing over. So to save you the paperwork, here it is:
Top Ten Ways to Be Irresistibly Attractive on Social Media:
- Post or re-share more about others than yourself.
- Say smart things now and then, but save the honor of quotes for others.
- Talk about other businesses you love.
- Talk about how good others are at what they do.
- Like or Fav the brilliance of others.
- Talk about how brilliant your clients are.
- Acknowledge how fortunate you are to have great clients.
- Add your brilliance to conversations, but don't compete.
- Be a little self-deprecating now and then, preferably with humor.
- Share your business with those who are curious (and they will be).
See a pattern here? Although people love great content, everybody likes to be appreciated and nobody likes a pompous know-it-all. Social media marketing is for creating new relationships with people who aren't already your fans. Each item your post could be a future client's first experience of you. Make it stellar.
All that's needed is to put your ego aside for a moment.
If you're new or unsure about social media marketing for your coaching business, download the Essential Guide to Social Media Marketing.
If you'd like a lot more helpful information like this, join the Coach 100 Business Success Program, or even just play the Coach 100 Full Practice Game.
Coaches are asking to see the video of Top Ten Secrets to Making a Living as a Life Coach. Okay, here it is. Click the image below, register with your name and email and download the video to your device. It's a safe download. Have fun!
The last post on this blog was, What Does it Take to Become a Top (Business or Life) Coach?
It sparked quite a stir and a lot has happened since.
- The post inspired a Q&A class titled, Top Ten Secrets to Making a Living as a Life Coach, which sold out in minutes, so we had to get a bigger webinar platform to accomodate all the coaches who wanted to attend.
- The class inspired a new Coach 100 Full Practice GAME, with both a free version for everybody and an elite version for members of Coach 100 Premium. Tagline: "Everybody wins when you coach more clients, because coaching is changing the world!"
- The GAME inspired a new blog aptly named the Coach 100 Full Practice GAME Blog, where game players can keep up-to-date, share their experiences, and support each other's success. Plus the game is also broadcast on our Facebook Page for coaches who prefer to play there. This is a social game. It's about winning by supporting others - the best way to succeed as a coach.
- The class and game inspired a new series of 10 monthly Q&A webinars that go into deep detail on the Top Ten Secrets to help players succeed more easily/quickly. These live classes will be included for Coach 100 members, at no extra charge, and non-member will be able to join for $20 per class.
- Players are already diving into the game. Are you one of them? If you'd like to join the elite version, go here to learn about Coach 100 Premium. If you'd prefer to play the free version, subscribe to the Coach 100 Full Practice GAME Blog here.
You gotta be in it to win it. Get in the GAME:
A new coach told me recently that she thought coaching is probably like most professions: 20% of coaches get 80% of the clients. And yes, she may be correct. According to my research, only about 20% of coaches are really thrilled with their businesses. Obviously, if you're going to become a business or life coach, you want to be one of the top 20%.
So what does it take to get to the top 20% of business and life coaches?
Some marketing and sales gurus will offer you "shortcuts" to coaching glory via fancy business models, affiliate programs, slick sales techniques, or complex technological solutions.
But you're a person of integrity. Don't you first want to have something of value to sell?
Because the most successful coaches I know are also the most effective coaches. They didn't get that way by marketing. They took consistent targeted action over time to become masterful coaches and developed their sales and marketing acumen along the way. Sales and marketing are most effective when you have a fabulous service offering, such as master coaching.
So what is master coaching? The ICF and IAC have defined what it takes to get master-level certification, but their requirements are different. And arguably the world's first coach,Tony Robbins, probably can't pass either the IAC's or ICF's certification. But no one argues with his success - or his mastery.
And then there's Thomas Leonard, who founded both the ICF and IAC. His definition of mastery has nothing to do with certification. He said mastery is when you innovate your profession, grow the boundaries, so to speak.
Malcolm Gladwell made famous the 10,000 hours rule that says to master anything, you need to put in about 10,000 hours of practice. For many experts, this translates into ten years or more. Hours and years alone, though, aren't enough. You need to be actively learning throughout. That's the key.
Pablo Casals was once asked why he still practiced the cello in his nineties. He said, "I'm making progress."
So do you want to know what it takes to become a master business or life coach?
- Learn the most effective coaching skills. This may sound obvious, but a surprising number of people skip this step and just announce they are coaches. Few, if any, succeed.
- Learn what is not coaching. Confusing your service offerings makes each offering less effective for your client.
- Practice. Then practice some more. Then keep practicing.
- Get expert feedback on your coaching. Otherwise, you likely are practicing - and hardwiring - your mistakes.
- Develop your personal awareness. Discover your most important values, needs, and strengths. Use them to create an amazing life. Step into your Greatness. That's so attractive.
- Let your free or low-fee clients train you. Their success or lack of it will help prepare you for high-fee clients.
- Ask your happiest clients to refer more clients. They'll be glad to help.
- Hang out with successful coaches. You become who you hang out with.
- Get your own coach(es). It's enlightening to be on the receiving end of coaching.
- Have a vision for your coaching that focuses you and pulls you forward. If you feel overwhelmed or crazy-excited, you're not there yet.
- Become a leader in your profession. The leaders tend to become the most successful, even if they didn't start that way.
- Keep up-to-date with new research. Intuition offers awareness; science offers precision. At the top, the differences that make all the difference are tiny.
- Become marketing and sales savvy. They're important, but great coaching ability is your foundation. It takes time to get all three up to speed.
- Have an alternate income source until you make it. A part-time job takes way less time and energy than worrying about money.
- Love yourself, your life, and your clients. Wherever you are is perfect, right now. With a good plan and consistent effort, you can improve on perfection.
Of course, everything we offer at School of Coaching Mastery is designed to help you step into the Top 20% of all coaches. But because practice is so critically important to mastery, we're upgrading our signature Master Coach Training to allow for more live practice and expert feedback.
This September, we're introducing the 'flipped classroom' a la Khan Academy for our Master Coach Training Program. We offer a wealth of MCT recorded classes on a multitude of effective coaching skills that coaches can listen to/watch prior to live classes. The live classes are then reserved for Q&A and live coaching demos, practice, feedback, and 'coach the coach'. This allows everyone more flexibility in scheduling, attendance, learning and PRACTICE. And yes, you can become certified by joining this program (Which is included in many of our longer coach-training programs).
We want you to become a master coach faster and step into the Top 20%.
Coaches are often confused when first designing their businesses - and sometimes they feel guilty too! Maybe they think they're spending too little time with the kids, or bringing in too little money. Or maybe the house isn't as clean as it used to be, or key members of family aren't fully on board.
Relax: you're normal!
This infographic from My Corporation will help you see how you compare with other small business owners:
New to the business of coaching, but want to attract clients quickly? Coach 100 has been helping coaches fill their coaching practices for a decade:
The other day, a friend of mine tagged me in her comments on Facebook about a blog post on how life coaches shouldn't quit their day jobs, because you just can't make a living as a life coach.
I half-read the blog post (I know, I "should" have read the whole thing, but I didn't) and commented on how interesting it was that coaches who have trouble making it as life coaches often conclude that nobody can make it as a coach (what I didn't say was that kind of negative generalization can stop anybody from succeeding at anything). Obviously, life coaches are making it or the profession wouldn't continue to grow like an out-of-control wild fire.
It turned out the blog post was really about a marketing program the writer was trying to sell to life coaches. That's an age-old approach to making money: convince someone they have a problem, then sell them the solution. Fortunately, there are ways to attract paying clients that don't involved cutting them off at the knees, like this. Along with everything else, marketing and sales have evolved.
The real question here is can YOU make a living as a life coach?
That of course, depends on you. Everybody dreams of being their own boss, but not everybody is comfortable with it. In fact, there's an age-old joke amongst entrepreneurs, that we're all working for lunatics (Oops! There's another generalization).
To get a customized answer to that question (because only a customized answer will do for that question), you may want to work with your own coach. Find out what it took for them. Then have them help you find out if you really want it and if you have what it takes.
Here's a secret: it's more about working at it and learning from your mistakes than it is about a magic set of talents.
If you'd like to learn more secrets on how to make a living as a life coach, join the one-time-only class below. Readers of this blog get in for free with this discount code: MakeIt714
Positive psychology research is clear: when you embrace positivity, stay curious, are forgiving, learn from mistakes, feel grateful, look for what's right rather than what's wrong; you will be happier and more successful.
Which will you choose?
Learn to become a positive psychology coach:
Definition of Coaching:
School of Coaching Mastery (SCM) definition of coaching: Coaching is a customized conversation that empowers the client to get what s/he wants by thinking and acting more resourcefully.
International Coach Federation (ICF) definition of coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential
Whether you call it life coaching, executive coaching, or business coaching, the profession of coaching is the byproduct of a new paradigm in human development. Scientists, philosophers and regular people are asking questions about life, such as, “How can people reach their full potential and enjoy greater happiness and success?”
As a result, new possibilities are opening up for many of us. In a very real sense, new questions create new realities and new realities lead to new opportunities for our happiness, success and fulfillment. Coaching is all about asking those new questions.
This new approach is empowering, but because it is new, people often have trouble understanding what it means. For this reason, sometimes it’s helpful to explore what coaching is not.
Coaching is not the same as counseling or psychotherapy, professions which evolved out of the disease model of traditional psychology. Clients generally seek out therapy or counseling when they are distressed by a problem and may need to heal.
Clients seek coaches when their lives are already okay, but they want to be even better. Coaching assumes clients are already “whole, complete and perfect” and are capable of making empowering choices. Having a skilled coach who believes in them, can help clients grow, act resourcefully, reach their goals and discover their greatness. Healing from a disease or problem is never the central focus of coaching.
One way to think of the distinction between psychotherapy and coaching is their relationship to health. Therapy takes a client from an unhealthy or negative state ( - ) and brings them up to a healthy or neutral state ( 0 ). While coaching begins at that neutral state and moves the client toward their full potential or positive state ( + ).
Coaching is also not consulting. A consultant is an expert in a particular field who assesses a client’s situation in relation to that field and makes recommendations on what to do to improve the situation.
A coach generally assists clients to assess their own situations and think - and act - more resourcefully about how to improve them. In other words, a coach helps the client to grow so they can reach their own goals independently, now and in the future, rather than become dependent upon an expert for help. Most consultants also do some coaching and most coaches also do a small amount of advising, so these professions are often confused, but generally, coaches help their clients be their best, while consultants advise clients on what to do.
Because coaching is popular and not regulated, people who are not coaches sometimes call themselves coaches. The following services are not coaching: consulting, training, seminar leading, counseling, therapy, internet marketing, selling, bill collecting; or offering advice on financial or legal matters, health issues, or religious teachings. Be suspicious of anyone who calls himself a coach, but who offers services in any of the foregoing areas.
Sometimes people who are unqualified to be licensed in a regulated profession will call themselves coaches to get around legal requirements. This is not only unethical, it is a red flag that the person is unqualified in that area.
Become a qualified coach and get certified: