School of Coaching Mastery

Coaching Blog

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positivity_by_.imelda.jpg

If you are a positive psychology coach, then you need to keep up with the latest in positive psychology. Books, seminars, and research papers are wonderful for in-depth learning, but sometimes you want to understand a new concept quickly. That's when positive psychology blogs come in handy.

The best positive psychology blogs are updated frequently with useful information, often written by positive psychology researchers, themselves, on their latest findings. And there are also terrific blogs written by academics, positive psychology coaches, and other thought leaders. They can be wonderfully inspirational, or focus on practical applications of positive psychology findings.

This blog you're reading is written for coaches and often focuses on positive psychology coaching. The following are the top ten positive psychology coaching blogs that we like best.

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

1. The Greater Good in Action: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

This is my favorite go-to blog for positive psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. It includes engaging article written by positive psychology researchers on topics like awe, gratitude, and self compassion.

2. Curious? Discovering and creating a life that matters.

Written by positive psychology researcher and author, Todd Kashdan, for Psychology Today. This blog is easy to understand and includes great information.

3. Just One Minute: One simple practice a week can produce powerful results.

By author and beloved teacher, Rick Hanson, these positive neuroscience exercises are easy to incorporate into your life.

4. What Matters Most? Using your strengths to impact well-being.

Written for Psychology Today by Ryan Niemiec, Education Director at the VIA Institute for Character.

5. Positive Psychology News

Written by several graduates of Masters in Applied Positive Psychology programs.

6. Authentic Happiness

Site for the Masters in Applied Positive Psychology program at UPenn, directed by the Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman.

7. The Happiness Project: My experiments in pursuit of happiness and good habits.

Written by author, Gretchen Rubin.

8. The Psychology of Wellbeing: Musings on the science of holistic wellness.

Written by Jeremy McCarthy with a focus on using positive psychology in spa settings.

9. The Happiness Institute Blog

Written by professor, Tim Sharp, a.k.a., "Dr. Happy".

10. Dr. John Blog: Guide to self.

The latest positive psychology tools by John Shinnerer.

There you have the top ten best positive psychology blogs.

Curious about becoming a positive psychology professional. Get the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology blogs

The Top 10 Worst Advice We've Ever Heard About Becoming a Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

I truly love coaching. So much so, that I've devoted the last 15 years of my life to it (The last 9 years have been about helping life coaches, business coaches, and executive coaches succeed via School of Coaching Mastery).

Why? Because truly great coaching melds optimism, personal growth, relationship skills, and helping people be their very best. Plus, it's fun, inspiring, and a great way to make a living, unless you are one of the unlucky souls who get snagged by the wrong advice, like the poor sap JP Sears portrays in the How to Be a Life Coach (Not) video, above.

JP is playing for laughs. But here's the sad part: What he says and does in this skin-crawling satire of a life coach, is remarkably close (even identical, in some cases) to advice given by hundreds of self-proclaimed expert "coaches". You'll recognize them by the yachts, sports cars, and private planes they like to pose in front of, or in the opposite extreme, the spiritual, heart-centered props and rhetoric they used to sell their Law of Attraction "abundance" programs. Yuk.

These coaches are fake. Most don't coach at all (even if they call what they do "coaching"), or they use coaching skills to manipulate their customers into buying more and more products and programs, instead of employing those skills to help their customers succeed. This violates basic ethical practices in professional coaching.

You see, if you succeed, you won't need to buy any more advice from them, and that's no good for their bottom lines.

Here's a Top Ten List of Bad Advice for Coaches. Beware...

  1. You can't make a living as a life coach. Oh really? Why then, has coaching been one of the fastest growing professions for the past two decades? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says professional and business services, such as  coaching, is one of the one of the fastest-growing sectors, right now. If anyone tells you that you can't make a living as a coach, ask yourself why they said that. Did it come from your sour-puss brother-in-law who pours negativity on every new idea? Maybe get a second opinion. Or does it come from a friend-of-a-friend who went broke trying to become a coach? Probably they took some of the following advice. Read on...
  2. Quit your job. If coaching is growing so fast, why not just quit your job and start coaching? Because, unless you are hired by a company, like Google, to coach their employees, you probably will be starting your own coaching business. And no business, no matter how successful it becomes, is profitable on Day One. And nobody is going to cut you a full-salary paycheck two weeks after hanging out your shingle. It takes time. Either keep your current job, or work part-time to cover your bills, while you build your awesome new business. Otherwise, terror over not having enough to cover the mortgage will make you desperate and that's when you'll become vulnerable to the following scams...
  3. Learn internet marketing. Internet marketing is a seductive hotbed of get-rich-quick schemes. Self-proclaimed million-dollar-coaches, seven-figure-coaches, wealth coaches, and gurus of every stripe will offer to teach you how to "Explode Your Profits!!!", "Live a Life of Abundance!", and more, with free webinars, cheap products, expensive workshops, and incredibly high-priced "coaching", "mentoring", or "personal advising" programs. Coaches who have been ensnared by these snake-oil salesmen have gone bankrupt, lost their homes, and more. The only people who get rich quick in this world, are the people selling the products and often even they are faking their own "success". Avoid their advice at all costs, especially if it includes...
  4. You must have a niche to succeed. I was lucky. I studied coaching with Thomas Leonard, the Founder of the Coaching Profession, who taught his students, flat out, that you don't need a niche to succeed with coaching. It's fine if you don't have one, especially when  you start out. If you develop one over time, that's fine too, but don't sweat it. Why do "experts" keep saying all coaches must have niches? Because new coaches, by definition, don't have niches, and once they "discover" that not niching will prevent them from getting clients, they go into the same fear-fueled panic that plagues coaches without enough income - and then they are ripe for all the hype internet marketers throw at vulnerable new business owners - and they start buying workbooks, seminars, and "coaching programs" that will help them discover their niches. I just talked to a former student of mine, a smart, talented, accomplished coach; who says she spent the last year taking classes and doing exercises to find her niche. It was both expensive and time-consuming and none of it helped her get clients. She's feeling a bit bitter, just like coaches who follow this bad advice...
  5. Get a web site immediately. If you're a web developer, this is the advice you'll give every new business owner. But many businesses, including most coaching businesses, don't get clients via their websites. What? Nobody will take you seriously if you don't have a web site, you say? Tell that to the thousands of successful coaches who didn't get web sites until after they'd been coaching for two or three years (including me). In the meantime, use a directory listing or Facebook page, or LinkedIn profile as your web address. You'll save time and money and will have more flexibility in developing your web presence over time. Plus, a successful coaching site needs thousands of visitors and in order to get them, you will either need to become a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, or you'll have to hire one. Then again, you'll need a web site in order to do what internet marketers say you must do in order to make millions...
  6. Sell products. These can be information products, such as audio and video recordings, workbooks or eBooks, anything to build up multiple streams of income, because you can't make a living as a coach, right? I fell for this for about a year and made much less money than I had when I just coached one-to-one. If you enjoy creating products, that's good, but unless you have thousands of people on your email list, you'll hardly sell any of them. Not nearly as good a return on investment as coaching one-to-one, which according to the most recent ICF coaching survey, pays over $200 per hour. Avoid the "products" stream at least until you have a stable full practice and you'll never have to fool with this advice...
  7. Get a sales funnel. This is another tool that only works if you have a big email list (it took me years to build mine), or fantastic SEO. Big companies often do use sales funnels effectively, but if you're a new coach, it's unlikely that a funnel will do anything but waste your time and money. Good coaches make most of their income coaching their clients and may supplement that with other services, and perhaps later on, a few products. If you're a new coach, studiously avoid this one and definitely the next...
  8. Max out your credit card. Or raid your daughter's college fund. Take out a second mortgage. Or sell one of your cars. This is the kind of bad advice fake "coaches" give when a customer tells them they aren't succeeding and are too broke to buy a $15,000 - 40,000 Platinum Program to get the information they really, really need to succeed. Again, if you're getting desperate, you will be more susceptible to this underhanded sales scheme. In fact, economic behaviorists have discovered something they call the "sunk-cost fallacy", in which people who are losing money, will continue to spend in a desperate attempt to recoup what they've lost. You see this all the time in casinos. And it's one reason marketing funnels work. The more someone spends, but doesn't quite get what they need, the more likely they will keep spending on the same stuff. I thought I was too smart for this, until I caught myself doing it, once. I was feeling a little desperate at the time, which is one reason why the following advice is so terrible...
  9. Don't get coach training. There's an old coaching guard out there that never got training, because there was none when they started coaching. Coaching scammers and internet marketers point to those veteran coaches as proof that nobody needs coach training. Why would they do that? Because a good coach training program will give you confidence, teach you what works, and warn you about what to avoid. Not good for those who want to prey on you. By the way, the ICF has found that coaches with training become successful more quickly, make more money, and are less likely to get discouraged and quit the profession. Good training is a lot less expensive than losing your shirt. And that brings us to our final bit of terrible advice...
  10. Don't get coach certification. Again, some coaches will angrily fight the idea that they need any type of credential. I suspect the anger is a cover for insecurity and more than a little paranoia. Because, once you're certified by a reputable organization, that fear tends to vanish, and because you've got a stamp of approval from a trusted source, that says you've got the right stuff. Will your clients ask you about it? Some will; some won't. Why lose even one client, because you didn't bother to get certified? According to the ICF, 84% of actual coaching clients say, coach certification is an important consideration for them. In some parts of the world, that percentage is even higher.

So there you have the worst possible advice for new life, business, and executive coaches.

If you don't have the training and certification you need yet, the ICF can point you to where to get it. And you can also get it here:

Check Out Coach Training Programs Here.

 

 

 

Topics: executive coach, coach training, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, becoming a coach

6 Requirements a Life Coach Must Meet to Coach Their Coaching Clients

Posted by Yvonne Box

Life Coach RequirementsAs a coach, you have both a fiduciary obligation and a duty of care to your clients, and those whom you come into contact with in the course of your work.  These are very important legal concepts that you may not have come across before. To the best of the writer’s knowledge, they apply in the same or similar way throughout the world.

The term ‘fiduciary’ (from the Latin trust and good faith), is a duty imposed by the law of equity (a branch of law relating to fairness), that relates to people who engage in a formal contract with others in roles such as advisors, attorneys/solicitors, coaches, consultants, partners, stockbrokers, etc.  (In the graphic above, the fiduciary obligation is represented by the smaller circle, because it only applies to people with whom you have engaged in a contract.)

It is designed to ensure that the client (who is usually paying for the service, although the client relationship also exists in unpaid situations), is able to rely on the advice, guidance and information given by the service provider (in this case the coach).

This reliance covers a wide range of issues, including the following rights of the client, which in turn form the obligations of the coach:

  1. to be able to rely on the coach acting entirely in the client’s best interests (to the extent that this may mean putting the client’s best interests ahead of the coach’s);
  2. to be treated entirely fairly;
  3. to maintain the relationship in strictest confidence;
  4. to have the coach disclose any conflict of interest that may arise during the relationship;
  5. to have the coach disclose any situation where the coach may not be able to fulfil their role effectively for any reason;
  6. not to have the coach take advantage of the client’s lack of knowledge or vulnerability to benefit the coach in any way.

Whatever you do in your client/coach relationship must be focused on the benefit for the client.  In the unusual situation where a conflict of interest between the client’s needs and your own needs arises, you must always put the client first.

While the fiduciary obligation is restricted to people who are in a contract of some sort, the slightly lesser duty of care applies to everyone with whom a professional or business person comes into contact in the course of their work, including people to whom you owe a fiduciary obligation.  (Duty of care is part of the branch of law known as the tort of negligence, and is also part of common law [that decided by courts].)  It is expressed as a moral duty to take reasonable care not to cause or permit ‘harm’ to any other person.

In the coaching environment, we have a duty of care to prospective future clients as well as current and past clients. We also have a duty to our colleague coaches, other professionals and people associated with clients, such as family members, employers, media, and the public at large.

Any assessment of whether a duty of care has been breached will usually take account of three specific factors:

  • In the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand (along with, I believe, many other developed countries), the basic test is the ‘reasonable person’ test. Would a reasonable person have acted in such a way, without first checking facts, or seeking further advice or information? 
  • What level of harm or damage has resulted from such action? (The higher the level of actual or potential harm that may arise, the greater the duty of care obligation.)
  • Were there any policy considerations or restrictions that should have alerted a person to a direction not to rely (partly or exclusively) on advice or information provided? (E.g. a disclaimer, warning, etc.)

Although these terms can at first seem quite confusing, they’re not actually hard to manage on a day to day basis.  Remember, if someone is your client, you have a higher level of obligation to them.  You must place their interests ahead of your own.  The duty of care is about not exposing people to risk.  Avoid this by using plain-language disclaimers or caveats, (both verbal and written, if necessary). 

This is a guest post by Certified Positive Psychology Coach® member, Yvonne Box. Yvonne_Box_-_headshot-1.png

If you would like to learn more about coaching issues like these, register for the upcoming Best Practices for Professional Coaches module. Click the big blue button to find this and other coaching training modules.

Upcoming Coach-Training Courses

Topics: life coach, coach training, coaching clients, coach

Coaching Success: The Path of the Wise Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Success Woods_Path_by_E_Bass_Creative_Commons_License-1.jpg

If you want to become a coach, you have a thousand questions, which add up to: Will I love being a coach? Will I really be able to help my coaching clients grow and reach their goals? Can I truly make it as a coach? Sometimes, even veteran coaches revisit these types of questions when they sense it's time to make changes in their lives or businesses.

And there seem to be thousands of experts who are happy to step in and provide answers to your questions, but do they really know you and your deepest dreams? That's why often a life, business, or mentor coach can be your greatest supporter, because s/he will help you find the answers that most fit for you, rather than convince you that you need to fit your dreams to someone else's template for success.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes you need information more than you need a coach, such as when you're striking out on a completely unknown path and have no idea where to start. At those times, an experienced friend, consultant, training program, or even a book, can be life-changing. But here's something you need to know...

Most of the time, what a coach really needs to succeed is personal growth.

What is personal growth? It's growing in the direction of your full potential (or potentials). Most people (probably all) who become coaches, have an inexorable drive to grow, as do the people who hire coaches. Our clients need us to be growing and they're naturally attracted to the growing coach who seems to have what they want.

Unfortunately, most coaches don't have as much personal growth as they need or they don't have the support they need to maintain it. We are most attractive to growth-minded clients when we are growing, ourselves, but growth is much more important than just attracting desirable coaching clients.

A Growth Mindset (Dweck, 2006) is critical to everything we do as coaches, so is Positivity (Fredrickson, 2009), passion and perseverance (Duckworth, 2016), and emotional intelligence (David, 2016). When we put these elements together intelligently, we get wisdom. In traditional societies, people rely on their elders for wisdom. In modern societies, they turn to experts, but most experts are in the advice-giving business. Which brings us back to coaching...

A wise coach will help you establish great self care, first and foremost, because getting our physical needs met, as well as our most pressing emotional needs, allows us to be present and open to growth (Maslow, 1962). From there, clients are ready to begin becoming who they need to be to realize their most heartfelt goals.

If being a successful coach and helping your clients reach their dreams is a heartfelt goal for you, you owe it to yourself and your clients to master the tools of self care and growth.

This Thursday, I'll be talking about the tools we need to succeed at anything in Success and the Gritty Coach, a deep dive into Angela Duckworth's surprising theory of passion and perseverance (a.k.a. Grit), as one of the most important tools for any type of achievement, plus how this theory integrates with the work of other thinkers and researchers and how to apply it in coaching.

We could have just as easily called it, Coaching Success: The Path of the Wise Coach.

Classes like this one are usually not free, but this one is open to everyone at no charge.

Master the tools of coaching success. Register for FREE here:

Register for Success and the Gritty Coach

Topics: become a coach, Free, personal growth

Does Life Coaching Have Anything to Do With Politics?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Donald_Duck_New_Yorker_Cartoons_on_Instagram.jpg

Posts about politics on the Coaching Blog are never our most popular, so I avoid writing them. And I plan to keep this one short. I usually try to stay "balanced" and non-judgmental when I do write about politics, such as when I wrote this in 2012 and invited my Republican colleague, Kristi Arndt, to respond. Also when I wrote about the three top 2016 US presidential candidates and why people voted for them, from a Spiral Dynamics perspective here, here, and here, I tried to avoid judgment.

Then I broke from my non-judgmental policy with this post on coaching intuition, truthiness, and judgment, because I believe one of our candidates is an existential threat to our country and possibly the world. Some values matter more than others and, in my book, Life on Earth trumps everything else. I also became blunt about what I thought in my Facebook time line, although generally avoided it on our Facebook Page. I got some push-back on it, as well as support, but politics being the hot-button issue that it is, some folks have misunderstood where I've been coming from.

  • First I heard from conservatives, who thought I was judging them. I wasn't then, but the worse the story gets, the more I wonder about their true values. Of course, some conservatives are bravely bucking their own party, because their country matters more. My hat is off to them.
  • Then I heard from coaches, who politely suggested I discern instead of judge. Great point. Except I believe in making a stand for what really matters. Again: Life on Earth.
  • Then I heard from entrepreneurs, who believe talking about politics publicly is counterproductive, because it scares away potential clients. A bit self-serving, no? Fortunately, I'm financially stabile, so I can afford to lose some business, although I'd like to believe I'd tell the truth, even if I were desperate. But here's the thing: daily traffic to my website immediately jumped by an average of 27% when I started speaking up. Increased traffic generally sifts down to increased business, so this supports my theory that people buy your services because of your values, not despite them.
  • Then I got political questions from potential students and I realized that I was unwilling to accept students who, after every racist, bigoted comment, every charge of fraud and/or treason, every incitement of violence; were still in favor of this one candidate. You know which one I mean....

Let me be clear: I don't care whether you are conservative or liberal, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Green; but if you still plan to vote for Donald Trump, please don't apply to join my school.

Why? Donald Trump's behavior violates so many well-established ethical principles for coaches that anyone who still approves of him is, in my opinion, an ethically incompetent to coach and I am unwilling for my school to give our stamp of approval, a.k.a. certification, to them. Does that seem a little harsh? Sorry.

Here are a few examples why:

  • Trump's flagrant inability to respect Mexicans, Muslims, people of color, women, or anybody who isn't 100% behind Trump violates one of the most basic ethical requirements of coaches, which is to treat all people with respect. The IAC says this well: "Coaches will treat clients with dignity and respect, being aware of cultural differences...and they do not knowingly participate in or condone unfair or discriminatory practices." Read entire statement, here.
  • Trump lies approximately 90% of the time, according to fact-checkers. This is an extremely high rate, even for a candidate seeking office. The ICF Code of Ethics says coaches, "Make verbal and written statements that are true and accurate...." Read entire statement here.
  • Trump University is being sued for fraud under the RICO Act, a law usually reserved for mob activity and he hasn't denied the business model that is at the heart of the complaint. It's a business model commonly used by fake "coaches" to fleece their customers. People's lives are ruined when they are ensnared by this type of predatory sales process. School of Coaching Mastery's Best Practices says. "Professional coaches never put profits above client results." Read entire statement here.

I could go on and on about conflicts of interest, sexual relationships at work, and issues that would never come up in coaching, such as plans to use nuclear weapons, refusing to keep our treaties, cozying up to dictators, etc. My point is that Trump is a special case, someone who would never qualify to be a professional coach and who does not deserve to be condoned by coaches, either tacitly or actively. And of course, politicians aren't coaches and have their own ethics, or lack of ethics, but this one's lack of character is so extreme, he's potentially catastrophic. In my opinion, coaches who still support him either need a serious ethical upgrade, or are trading their own values for some perceived benefit that he seems to offer. And though his main opponent is also far from perfect, any comparison of the two, particularly in terms of dishonesty or ethics, is a false equivalency.

Quite simply, this one candidate is different from any other and deserves to be treated differently by everyone, including professional coaches.

Coaching is a profession built on trust and values. It's about bringing out the best in others. We want our leaders to bring out our best, as well. Let's hold them to that ideal.

Are you curious about coaching ethics? That, and many other courses are located here:

Upcoming Coach-Training Courses

 

Topics: Values, coaching ethics, Trump

The Future of Coaching: New 2016 ICF Global Coaching Survey Results

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF_Logo.jpgThe International Coach Federation (ICF) is the oldest (est. 1995) and largest (23,790 members, as of June 2016) not-for-profit professional coach association and certifier of life, business, and executive coaches (18,710 current ICF certified credential holders).

Periodically, the ICF, via PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, administers a global study of coaches worldwide (including non-ICF members), the results of which, comprise a snapshot of where the profession of coaching is, right now, and where it seems to be headed. These coaching results may be the most accurate available.

Here are some fascinating highlights...

  • Over 15,000 respondents, from 137 countries, took the survey.
  • The ICF estimates there are over 50,000 professional coaches, worldwide.
  • Coaching earns over $2 Billion per year in US Dollars.

How much do coaches earn, yearly?

  • Income varies widely, but then, so does purchasing power.
  • Other factors include number of years practicing and type of coaching practiced.
  • Globally, coaches average $51,000 per year USD.
  • The highest earners are in Oceania ($73,000+), followed by N. America (almost $62,000), and W. Europe ($55,000+).
  • Lowest earnings are in E. Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean ($18,000+ - $27,000+).
  • Most coaches (75%) expect their annual income to increase in the near future.
  • Some coaches (45%) expect their fees to increase in the near future.

Do coaches need coach training and certification?

The future of coaching:

  • The largest numbers of coaches see the greatest opportunities in Increasing awareness of the benefits of coaching (38%) and credible data on the ROI/ROE of coaching (26%).
  • An amazing 84% of coaches believe coaching can influence social change (that's one of the reasons I started this school).
  • 54% believe coaching should be regulated.
  • 85% of those believe professional coaching associations should be the regulators.

Get 125 ICF Approved Hours of Coach-Specific Training Here:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

Topics: Coaching, coach training, ICF, life coach salary, Coach Certification, future of coaching

Life Coach: Intuition, Truthiness, and Whether Coaches Should Be Judgmental

Posted by Julia Stewart

White_House_at_Night_by_dontdothisathome.jpg

Most coaching schools, including School of Coaching Mastery, teach that judging your clients is counterproductive, because people resist being judged and reducing resistance is the first step in helping a client become resourceful. Even positive judgments can be problematic under some conditions. But being non-judgmental during coaching is a challenge for most new coaches and continues to create challenges even for many veterans.

Like most behaviors, non-judgment works like a muscle.

The more you work it, the stronger it gets. So many coaches regularly practice non-judgment in their lives to help them be more judgment-free during coaching. This is also a common spiritual practice and a form of mindfulness. I highly recommend it.

However, becoming perfectly non-judgmental, all the time, appears to be impossible.

For example, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, regarded as one of the wisest men on Earth, confesses that he doesn't always achieve it and the Bible includes a story of Jesus angrily evicting money changers from a temple, because they disrespected his Father's House. That last type of judgment, sometimes called, "righteous indignation", is considered a relatively okay form of judgment by many spiritual people.

Here's the problem with non-judgment: it sends judgment into the shadows where it can turn nasty.

The moment we embrace a belief, attitude, or judgment, we tend to disown its opposite. That creates a shadow, a "voice", if you will, that hides in your unconscious. If you're lucky, it'll manifest as a blind spot that your loved ones all see, but remains invisible only to you. Not so lucky? A shadow can drive destructive behavior that reeks havoc in your life.

Ever notice how arrogant and judgmental some spiritual people are? You're experiencing their judgmental shadows.

This sometimes happens to coaches, too. I remember when I was in coach training, for instance. In addition to non-judgment, integrity was an important concept at my school. It basically meant, in coaching terms, that a person lived in harmony with their own values. If you didn't behave in a way that was in harmony with your values, you were said to be, "out of integrity". Since your integrity is based on your personal values, it's fair to say only you would know if you were out of integrity, but since judgment was frowned upon and most of us were still pretty judgmental, at least some of the time, it became acceptable to say, "So-in-so is out of integrity," if we were feeling a little judgy. I did it too, until I caught myself in the act.

Plus, people who practice non-judgment can be really judgmental about others who are judgmental.

Well I caught myself being out of integrity again, recently. This time it was about not being judgmental enough! In the past, I've tried to keep my public opinions focused on coaching: what works, what's professional, and what's ethical. And like most professionals, I try to stay out of politics, because I don't want to offend my clients and colleagues. But some situations are more extreme than others.

Should I remain quietly non-judgmental while evil prevails, just so I can make a few more dollars?

Fortunately for me, I am financially secure enough and my email list (30,000+) and blog readers (20,000+ monthly) are substantial enough that I can afford to offend a few people, if it matters enough. But occasionally I feel a bit judgmental about coaches who stay mum when they could do good by speaking up. That's probably not fair. The fact is, my security puts me in a position to speak to a lot of people and make a positive difference and I can afford to do it.

Doesn't that also make it my duty?

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

- Martin Niemöller, a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime. He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

What could be so threatening that I would reference a poem about the Nazi holocaust?

I will get to that momentarily, but first let me explain where I'm coming from.

My greatest strength is Learning. It ranks high on every strengths assessment I've ever taken. That's why, at an age when my friends are retiring, I'm writing my dissertation. The fact that I'm writing about values helps keep me honest.

So when it comes to politics, I do my research. A lot of it. That doesn't mean I know everything (far from it) or that I'm always right, but it does mean I take the time to look things up before I talk about them. What I've found (not surprising) is that the popular narratives in American politics are rife with "truthiness", a term coined by Steven Colbert, that refers to something that feels true because it's been heard so often. In other words, if you say something often enough, people will believe it.

Truthiness is that felt sense that something must be true, even if you can't explain why.

But isn't that what intuition is? No. Intuition happens when you are present, curious, free from fear and anger, and learning quickly. Your mind makes new connections and suddenly you "know" something, but can't quite explain how. It usually feels good.

Even though you know, it's wise to check the evidence, just in case your "intuition" is really just truthiness.

Truthiness occurs when you're not fully attentive and are feeling fear or anger. It comes from the primitive brainstem and limbic system and is the culmination of implicit biases, prejudices, what you think will keep you safe, and it's "what they say", especially if "they" include your spouse, your friends, or people who look like you. We all succumb to it, but can't quite explain it. And it usually feels bad.

Truthiness is what you hear when someone says, "I just feel that Hillary Clinton is dishonest," or, "I just don't like her." She may or may not be dishonest, but people who say so can rarely point specifically to why. They may mention something vague like Benghazi or emails, but they usually can't describe in detail what she did wrong and often haven't even checked, but merely accept "what they say." Jimmy Kimmel does a brilliant skit on this.

This article is not about her. This one is about Hillary Clinton.

This article is about that master of truthiness, or what he likes to call, "truthful hyperbole" (aka, lying), Donald Trump. I don't expect you to accept everything I'm about to say, but if you don't, I do expect you to at least look it up, not just at a biased blog site or cable news show that supports your current views, but at a site that's known for careful fact-checking and a genuine attempt at balanced reporting, before you express opinions. Otherwise, you're likely to be spreading truthy lies and not even know it. 

Is Trump Evil?

It depends on how you define evil. To me, evil is when you're only for yourself, even if you say otherwise, and you don't care who you hurt, or you have already hurt many people and have the capacity to do a lot more damage. Trump fits my definition of evil. It's appalling to me that good people are willing to overlook his immoral campaign, his complete lack of character, his schoolyard ridicule of vulnerable people, all for his own personal gain.

We can pretend that he doesn't really mean the vile things he says, but that doesn't make his words okay. We can also choose to believe that his innuendos about black people, Muslims, Mexicans, women, etc. etc. aren't serious, or that his ignorance of governance, and disinterest in learning the law, isn't a major concern, or that his insults to our allies and praise of various dictators doesn't matter, or that his flagrant disrespect for the Constitution and the judicial system don't point to a dictatorial leadership style, but they do.

The only thing needed for evil to prevail is for good people to stand by and be polite about it.

Dubbed a pathological liar by virtually everyone who knows him well, Donald contradicts himself constantly. In fact the Pullitzer-Prize winning, Politifact, which tracks statements made by candidates, and wisely offers a range of possible truthiness, since most candidates are prone to stretch the truth or flat-out lie, says Trump's statements are Mostly False, Completely False, or Pants-on-Fire False a whopping 90% of the time. Clinton by contrast, makes statements that are Mostly False, Completely False, or Pants-on-Fire False 27% of the time (as of July 19, 2016). That means Trump lies more than three times as often as "Crooked Hillary", while the vilified Clinton has told the unvarnished truth more than any other candidate in this year's race. See Politifacts rulings on both Trump and Clinton, below.

Trumps_statements_by_ruling.jpg

Clinton_by_ruling.jpg

What's more,the ghost-writer of The Art of the Deal, Tony Schwartz, who spent eighteen months shadowing Trump daily and interviewing his colleagues in order to write the book, claims he knows Trump better than almost anyone and considers Trump a sociopath who lies constantly to get what he wants, has no remorse when he reneges on his bills and his deals, which has ruined businesses and put thousands out of work, and that Trump's reputation as a great businessman, who has mastered deal making, is largely a fiction that Schwartz created in order to make his odious self-aggrandizing subject appear more likable. Schwartz is now horrified that Trump has used the false image created in The Art of the Deal to swindle America into making him the most powerful person on the planet.

“This is a man who has more sociopathic tendencies than any candidate in my adult life that I’ve observed,” Schwartz  told ABC News. “You know, it’s a terrifying thing. I haven’t slept a night through since Donald Trump announced for president because I believe he is so insecure, so easily provoked and not — not particularly — nearly as smart as people might imagine he is,” he said. “I do worry that with the nuclear codes, he would end civilization as we know it.”

Trump's biographers say it was Trump's father, Fred, who was the real builder and deal-maker and whose signature was required to cosign Trump's biggest deals right up to the time when The Art of the Deal was published, that Trump was worth "nothing" until his father died, leaving him an enormous fortune, and that within a few years, after a huge spending spree, Trump was worth negative $3 million (that's minus $3M). He filed for bankruptcy four times over the next several years, and instead of building things, he mostly made money off his name, which he has licensed to projects around the world (some of which employ slave labor), many of which are in bankruptcy now.

Trump praises Kim Jong Un and Saddam Hussein, even joked that Hussein's gassing of his own people, was no big deal. What will it be like when President Trump gasses the state of Vermont, because it's too liberal, or the City of Atlanta, because it's too black? You think that could never happen? Do you want to find out? Trump's stump speech style is a page out of Adolf Hitler's campaign strategy, telling the electorate that the system is rigged against them and certain people - outsiders - are to blame for it..

Is the system unfair? Yes. Is pitting American against American going to fix that? Of course not, but it does lead to rage, bigotry, and violence. We're already seeing the results. And Trump says he'll launch World War 3 when he becomes President. One of Trump's wives even claimed her husband kept a bound copy of Hitler's speeches next to his bed.

As Republican commentator, David Brooks, said earlier this year, Trump is addicted to attention and like all addicts, he is masterful as securing his supply. Trump's brash ability to grab the media's attention and to Brand himself is truly brilliant. That is the only brilliance he possesses. Everything else is a lie.

Clinton is a flawed human being. Trump is a moral catastrophe.

Coaches are influential and have a duty, I think, to speak up. You're welcome to disagree, unsubscribe, and unfollow. One former student suggested to me that it wasn't worth talking about politics in public if it meant scaring off potential clients. Clearly, I disagree, at least for myself. On the one hand, a lost client is survivable, while World War 3 probably is not. On the other hand, like-minded people are attracted to each other and, like Trump, I have a brand. A big part of my brand is speaking up, making waves, leading, and setting an example. Do I get judgy sometimes? Yes, sorry. It goes with the territory.

You're welcome to comment, below, or on social media, but flamers and trolls won't be tolerated.

Topics: life coach, Values, intuition, Clinton, truthiness

Life Coach: Do Coaching Clients Even Know What They Want?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life Coach Clients CHOICE

One of the hallmarks of ICF coaching is that the coach establishes the coaching agreement (what the client wants to achieve) early in the coaching session. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's actually one of the issues that distinguishes ICF coaching from, for instance, IAC coaching.

I taught the IAC approach for several years. Their approach tends to focus on establishing a trusted relationship first, then focuses on finding out what the client wants later, because...
  1. Clients won't share their dreams with us unless they fully trust us.
  2. Many, or even most, clients can't articulate exactly what they want without coaching.

So who's right?

They both are. The IAC is correct that the client needs to trust us completely and that they may not be able to articulate what they want from coaching until we've helped them clarify it. However, one of the weaknesses of coaches who've been trained in the IAC approach is that they sometimes never ask what the client wants from the coaching relationship, in general, and from the coaching session, specifically.

On the other hand, if a coach assumes they've covered this issue completely by simply asking, "What would you like to achieve, today?" the session will likely be superficial and the goals achieved may not get to the heart of what matters most to the client.

Why are these two approaches to coaching so different?

Each organization has written their coaching IP (intellectual property) to define coaching under specific conditions. The IAC Coaching Masteries® is intended to describe what happens in one masterful coaching session. The ICF Core Coaching Competencies® describe both the coaching session and the entire coaching relationship and can be understood at the competent, proficient, and masterful levels. At the masterful level, ICF coaching is remarkably similar to IAC coaching.

How do coaches need to handle this?

First of all, the ICF emphasizes the importance of a trusted coaching relationship as much as the IAC does. Second, asking specifically what the client wants and how they know they have achieved it, early in the session, helps increase trust by demonstrating that the coach wants to know the client's goals and intends to help the client get there. In addition, tremendous clarity is created when the coach asks these questions and follows up by thoroughly exploring what the client means. And yes, sometimes the client's initial goal changes as greater clarity is achieved.

Why don't more coaches do it this way?

To honor both the ICF's emphasis on articulating the client's goals early and the IAC's emphasis on relationship building first,  clarification of goals second, requires tremendous finesse. That's what makes it masterful.

New coaches who study the IAC approach, may be hampered by the language of the Masteries, because they are written for coaches who understand the nuances of coaching. While the ICF approach, when studied by newbies, may result in stilted and shallow coaching sessions, unless instructors guide students toward the masterful use of the ICF's Competencies.

Takeaways:

  1. Sometimes clients know exactly what they want, but not always.
  2. All clients need a trusted environment before they will share their cherished dreams with us.
  3. Masterful coaches can establish trust while creating tremendous clarity, but it requires finesse.

If you'd like to coach with the finesse of a master, you might want to join the following program. Advanced placement is available for coaches who qualify. Learn more below...

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Topics: life coach, ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC

Top 12 Secrets: How to Write a Coaching Bio that Sells Your Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

coaching bio

For a new executive, business or life coach, writing your first coaching bio can be pretty scary, because you don't have tons of experience or credentials yet, so you don't feel powerful when talking about what you do. Even for experienced coaches, writing a coaching bio can be daunting and you may be looking for help with it. My friend and colleague, Barbra Sundquist, MMC, wrote a great post for this blog on How to Write a Coaching Bio in Twenty Minutes and it has become one of our most popular posts, because who wouldn't like to get this uncomfortable job over and done, quickly?

But what if your coaching bio could actually sell your coaching for you?

Bios are a powerful form of marketing and as you grow your business, you want to get even more power out of everything you do. In fact, it's ideal if you marketing brings you plenty of potential clients, especially if those clients are sales-ready. In other words, you don't want emails, texts, and/or phone calls from everybody on the planet, just they ones who are dying to hire you, right?

The following secrets, employed by search engine optimizers, copywriters, sales people and savvy coaches can help you attract potential coaching clients who may be ready to buy even before they talk to you – or who are ready to buy after a short conversation. You don’t need to use every secret in every bio, but great bios usually contain 3 or more of these secrets…

SECRET 1: Use the right words and phrases. The world’s greatest bio is worthless if nobody finds it, so your first job is to write for search engines, like Google, Yahoo and Bing, because people find coaches with search engines. Search engines change their search algorithms periodically and don’t share exactly what they are, but marketers have found that certain basic SEO (search engine optimization) practices can help you get found online. For example: Use keywords (words and phrases that people search for), especially long-tail keywords (very specific phrases), in your title, first and last sentences, as well as any highlighted lines (titles and bold text) and in hyperlinked text (text that you click to get to another page). An example of a long-tail keyword might be: “Life Coach, Jane Smith, White Plains, NY”. While you wouldn’t use exactly this phrase throughout your bio, with some creativity, you can use variations on it enough to get a search engine to send a searcher who just typed, “Life Coach White Plains NY” into the search box. People tend to search for coaches in their hometowns, so you can stand out quickly by including yours. (Bonus tip: People hire coaches, not companies, so list yourself by your name, not your business name.)

SECRET 2: Tell them what they want to know. Stop thinking of your bio as a biography of you and your experience/credentials and understand the only thing potential clients really want to know about you: "Can you help me?" Mostly share details about you that they want to know, i.e. Do you understand people like me? Have you been in my shoes? Have you helped someone like me? If your bio has lots of room, or if it has a second ‘details’ page, add more details about you further down. But for a short bio, just tell people what they most want to know: “I can help you reach your goal”.

SECRET 3: Write for your ideal client. Stop writing for everybody and write for just one person, instead. How? The simplest way is to pick an existing ideal client and write just for them. Before you do, ask that client what they most wanted to know before they hired you. Then show them your bio and ask them to critique it, so it says exactly what they would want to know. Does that sounds pushy? It's not, because your best clients are grateful to you. They are also high-functioners who love to give back. Don’t hesitate to give them that opportunity. And don’t worry that you’ll be excluding potential clients who are different. Most bios fail to grab attention from anyone because they are simply too vague.

SECRET 4: Use the magic word. While we’re talking about grabbing attention, here’s the simplest way to grab your reader’s attention: Use the word, YOU. Because our brains are wired to focus attention on what is most pertinent to us, personally. When a reader sees the word, "you", in a line of text, their brain naturally pays more attention. Think about it: the word, "you", probably grabbed your attention, just now.

SECRET 5: Customize it. One bio probably isn’t enough, so think of your website as more of a hub than a store front. I’ve had clients hire me without even a phone conversation, because they found me on specialty websites and memberships that mattered to them. The fact that I was interested in what interested them was enough to for them to say, “She’s the coach for me.” Use social networks, coach directories, and special-interest memberships as an opportunity to send potential clients to a landing page on your website to sign up for your coaching – but do give them a chance to talk to you, because usually they’ll want to do that before hiring you.

SECRET 6: Create curiosity. Great copywriters say that each sentence you write has but one purpose: to make readers want to read the next sentence. There are many ways to do this: Ask questions that your potential clients need to ask themselves. Use visual imagery. Use emotional words, or high-intensity words.

SECRET 7: Create trust. Multiple bios at several locations help your clients to research you. Create a consistent image, while tailoring your bios to each site. This also helps people to find you. Add your most important credentials, if credentials would matter to your potential clients. Graduation, certification and memberships from well-known coaching schools, or associations, can give you an edge. Someone who’s reading your bio on a coach directory, for instance, probably is getting to know you for the 1st time, so share what a stranger, who is searching for a coach, would want to know. On the other hand, someone visiting your website, probably already knows a little about you, so share a bit more. (Critical tip: Lying about your qualifications and credentials creates mistrust that can destroy your business, so don't claim credentials you don't have.)

SECRET 8: Let others do the selling for you. Most of us loathe bragging about ourselves, but hiding what’s great about us is a disservice to your potential clients. So let others do the persuading. This is what today’s consumers are already comfortable with anyway: reviews, ratings and testimonials. If you have the space, include some of your best testimonials in your bio. Even if your bio has to be short, try adding a short comment from a happy client. Coach certification can also help do some of the selling for you, because it's a stamp of approval from a trusted source.

SECRET 9: Be easy to find. Not only do you want your bios to be easy to find, you want your clients to be able to find YOU. Always add your webpage and contact information to your bios. Because a link to your website is SEO gold. This is reason enough to join every directory you can. It helps search engines find you and your website, which in turn, helps potential clients find and hire you. Coaches who work from home are often conflicted about how much contact information to share online. If this is a concern, here are some possibilities: Rent a post office box for your physical address. Get a business phone number or even a toll-free number. They’re inexpensive. In addition to your web address and email, share your city, business number and PO address, but never your home address.

SECRET 10: Be easy to see. Definitely add a photo of you, if you can. Don’t use your logo, except as a secondary image. Because people hire people, not logos. The best photo is a headshot of you, smiling. You don’t have to be young and beautiful, but in most cases, looking professional works best. It’s worth getting your photo professionally done.

SECRET 11: Let them know how easy it is to work with you. Most people have never hired a coach, before. They naturally feel a little confused about how to do that. Confused people don’t buy. Spell out a couple of easy steps, such as, “If you think you’d like to coach with me, contact me by email to set up a phone conversation. In your session, we’ll talk about your goals and how you can reach them. Usually, it’s a lot of fun. If I can help you further, I’ll tell you how, but there’s no pressure.”

SECRET 12: Tell them what to do next. This is critical. Tell people specifically what to do next to get started with you. In marketing, this is called a ‘call to action’. If that feels too directive, think of it as an invitation. Depending on where your bio is located, your call to action might be to visit your website. Or it might be to fill out a short form and email you, or simply telephone or text you. Decide what mode of contact would appeal to your ideal client and don’t be afraid to make a prominent call to action. You might even want to offer something of value to them, just for getting in touch. Examples: “Email me to receive a copy of my ‘Top Ten Easy Ways to Instantly Stop Procrastinating and Get Everything Done On Time’”. Or “Call me at this number to schedule a complimentary coaching consultation and, if you decide to continue, I’ll discount $50 from your first paid session.”

Want to see this approach in action? View a few listings on our new coach directory and notice which coaches grab your attention and make it easy for you to hire them. 

Join the Find a Coach Here Directory Today

Topics: Coaching, Life Coaches, social networking, Google, Coaching Bio, SEO, FIND A COACH

Should Business and Life Coaches Ask "Why" Questions?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Questions The_Forgotten_Jetty_by_Daniel_Sallal_CC.jpg

Coaching questions are the stock and trade of professional life, business, and executive coaches. Knowing what to ask, when to ask, and how to ask coaching questions is a major part of becoming an effective coach. But there are certain types of questions that tend to be frowned upon, because they often yield poor results.

Those include "leading questions" that back clients into corners, as well as "closed-ended questions" that reduce curiosity, and then there are "Why questions" that slow down the process.

The ICF Core Coaching Competencies encourage a different type of question, what coaches sometimes call "powerful questions", or "awareness-building questions". These can often be spotted by the words they start with: What, When, How, Who, If.

Some powerful awareness-building questions:

  • If you had everything you need, what would you do?
  • Who would you have to become to succeed?
  • How could you do it?
  • When have you been in a situation like this, before?
  • What does this mean to you?

Questions like these help to open up a client's awareness of who s/he is and what's really possible. They take coaching to a higher level and help clients expand their impact in more ways than just goal completion. They also make coaching more fun.

So why shouldn't coaches ask, Why?

Sorry, I couldn't resist that one. Here are some reasons:

  • Why questions encourage analysis of the situation and you'd be surprised at how little analysis helps in coaching.
  • Why questions often lead to interpretations that may or may not be true, but more importantly, usually aren't helpful.
  • Why questions can turn the client's focus on the past, rather then the present and future, where the action really is.

I used to discourage Why questions until I listened to an advanced coaching session in which the student-coach asked her client several carefully-worded questions that focused on analyzing and interpreting the past, but avoided the word, Why.

Example: What do you think the reason is that you have this problem? Which is gobbledygook for: Why do you have this problem? Not surprisingly, the session wasn't successful.

That said, I've heard dramatic turning points in coaching sessions when coaches asked Why questions. As I tell my coaching students, if it works for the client, it works for me, because ICF coaching may be powerful, but it's not the only way to coach. So if you feel compelled to ask Why, just ask Why.

What makes some Why question work in coaching, instead of just slowing things down?

Ah, I thought you'd never ask! Here's why: 

WHY matters more than anything else in coaching!

You read that right. That poor little much-maligned word, WHY, matters more than all the Who, What, When, Where, and Hows. Those still matter, but not as much.

“Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how'.” ― Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor was an incredibly wise man. As much as I love How questions (and I truly love How questions) they are pointless until you get the Why. In fact, What, When, If, and even Who don't make total sense without the Why.

Here are some Why questions you MUST ask:

  • Why does this matter to you?
  • Why is this important, right now?
  • Why does this mean so much?

Powerful Why questions uncover what the client most values.

Values are the Why.

Our most important personal values are the driving force behind everything we do. As sociologist, Paul Ray says, values determine our behavior more than anything else. More than demographics, education, strengths, needs, you name it.

Values are what matter most. 

Asking about values in a coaching session is like asking Google an important search term. Within a few moments, you get a useful answer. But invite Google to analyze and interpret the past, and it might reply, "Well I was going to answer, but I wasn't feeling well, plus my boss is mad at me and I had an argument with my wife, plus, plus, plus... Not useful.

So should coaches ask Why questions? YES. 

Focus Why questions on values, not analysis, interpretation, or the past. My 2 cents.

Positive psychology coaching tends to focus on strengths, which are the HOW of coaching. At School of Coaching Mastery, we focus on strengths and also emphasize values, because we are all about making coaching as powerful as possible. Two modules that will help you master values are the Psychology of Values and Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths. Both are included in the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program.

Curious about positive psychology coaching? Get the free eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Coaching, executive coach, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, coaching questions, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Values

    Subscribe for FREE: Learn About Coaching

    Follow Us

    The Coaching Blog

    If you're a professional Business or Life Coach or you're interested in becoming one, the SCM Coaching Blog covers topics you may want to know about: How to Become a Business or Life Coach, Grow a Successful Coaching Business, Get Coach Training and/or Business and Life Coach Certification, Become a Coaching Master and Evolve Your Life and Business. 

    Subscribe above and/or explore by tag, month or article popularity, below.

    Browse by Tag

    Top Career-Jobs Sites Living-Well blog