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How to Distinguish Healthy Positivity From Toxic Positivity

Posted by Julia Stewart

Toxic Positivity

Most coaches are highly positive and that is a wonderful thing.

Positivity helps our clients believe in themselves and their goals. And that's a key to helping them reach those goals. So positivity is one of the keys to masterful coaching. But sometimes coaches, and their clients, misunderstand what positivity really is, when it is most powerful, how to cultivate it, and how to use it well. Like all powerful tools, positivity, when used incorrectly, can cause problems. Big problems!

This is one of the many reasons professional coaches need to be well trained, so they understand the nuances of the powerful tools they use. Otherwise they may backfire.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, calls positivity the experience of positive emotions such as gratitude, serenity, love, and more. Experiencing enough of these on a regular basis can be transformative and leads to flourishing by broadening awareness, building our strengths, and helping us become the best versions of ourselves. She makes distinctions about the most useful forms of positivity, such as positivity that is natural vs. artificial, spontaneous vs. insincere, and positivity that's harmonious vs. obsessive. The latter are less useful, but according to Fredrickson, most people can benefit from experiencing more the the former.

Barbara Fredrickson's definition of positivity is what I call Healthy Positivity.

Healthy Positivity may sometimes include intense positive emotions, but more often includes subtle feelings such as open-mindedness, curiosity, empathy, contentment, optimism, generosity, harmony, kindness, compassion, wisdom, perseverance, flexibility, and belief in others (notice that most of these are Character Strengths). Healthy Positivity isn't 100% positive. It's more like 75-90% positive, over time. You can be positive and still have some difficult moments and even some bad days. The point is that you can respond to life instead of trying to control it. And you use your wisdom to help build positive habits that feel good, but ultimately, help you and the people around you enjoy more health, greater success, stronger relationships, and even longer life (according to some researchers).

In contrast, Toxic Positivity tends to be intense, even relentless. The person has an agenda to be 100% positive and wants people around them to be positive too. Toxic Positivity is self-centered, artificial, rigid, can drive others away, is sometimes desperate, and tends to lead to failure.

What is Toxic Positivity like?

  • Toxic Positivity has a manic quality to it. It fails to notice genuine concerns or to respond to what is going on. It feels fake to other people and they are less likely to trust it (Imagine an overly friendly or excited salesman who makes you want to run away.) Toxic positivity isn't curious or responsive because the person has already decided how they will be - POSITIVE!!! - no matter the cost. Instead of being open to learning from what's happening, or to notice how others are responding, Toxic Positivity claims everything is GREAT!!!. Example: I had a friend I'll call, Bob*, who was studying the Law of Attraction hoping it would help him build his coaching business. He tried a new marketing campaign and I texted him later to see if he got a good response. He replied, "Nope! Not a one! LOL!" I was glad he wasn't discouraged, but curiosity about what wasn't working and a plan to make it better might have led him to success faster.
  • Toxic positivity is judgmental or lacks compassion. It tells others to stop being so negative. It avoids people who are sick or depressed (If being around suffering is harming your mood, do give yourself a break, but you don't have to avoid every friend who is down. Compassion is positive.) Toxic positivity is self-absorbed and others often respond negatively to it. Example: When Bob's city was engulfed in a dangerous weather disaster that knocked out power and internet for thousands, made roads impassible for days, and put countless humans and animals in life threatening situations, I reached out to see if he was okay. His response? "I thought it was fun! LOL!" Wow, Bob, you used to be such a caring person.
  • Toxic positivity is selfish and can't see past its own agenda. This is a disservice to others and people feel drained by it. Example: I took a break from Bob's relentless laugh track and explained why to him. Not surprisingly, he didn't understand, possibly because his agenda was in the way. I know he'll come back to himself overtime. Most people do recover from Toxic Positivity. But if you're being positive and it's annoying or offending people, or friends are just drifting away, maybe it's not them. It could be you.

By now, you have a pretty good idea of the difference between Healthy Positivity, which is transformative, and Toxic Positivity, which can be harmful to you and others. Knowing when to apply Fredrickson's positivity is a key. Continuing to be yourself is another. And don't forget, emotions are just information about how life is going for you. Most people, most of the time, don't need to override negative feelings. They need to pay attention to the information they're receiving from those feelings and respond to it. That's a positive approach. But there are times when negativity really doesn't help and even harms. That's when added positivity can make the biggest impact.

Here are three times when increasing your positivity matters most, depending on your current habits:

  1. THE PAST, if you're a habitual ruminator: someone who mulls over every mistake you've made, every embarrassment, or every perceived slight or criticism from others, every hurt feeling or moment of anger you've experienced, every frustration, etc., you're in danger of making yourself depressed. Shifting your thoughts - toward more positive reframes, such as accepting mistakes or criticisms as opportunities to learn and make better choices, or to design your life so you get to do more of what you're good at and surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you. Caveat: If you're already moderately to severely depressed, positive thinking may not be enough. Do get assistance from a therapist. But cultivating honest positivity is a healthy habit.
  2. THE PRESENT, if you're a chronic complainer: someone who is never quite satisfied, who is disappointed by less than excellence in every area, who does battle with every moment and maybe even with every other human, you're wearing yourself out and everyone around you. Complainers are drainers. They also can be toxic and literally harm their own health and that of those around them. We all have a negativity bias that makes it easier to notice the bad than the good, and when we are stressed, this tendency gets even stronger. Problem is, the more we focus on what we don't want, the more we get what we don't want. Moreover, people start to avoid us. Don't be a drainer. It takes discipline to start noticing what's going well and appreciate it, but it is well worth the effort. Even if the only positive in your life is that you're breathing, that's kind of awesome considering the alternative!
  3. THE FUTURE, if you're a constant worrier: you're trying to control the future, which rarely works, and you're using a costly and ineffective tool, to boot. As they say, worry is not a plan. Worse, worry tends to make us anxious and anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses there is. Again, if you're chronically anxious, let a professional help you, but if you just need an upgrade, try imagining what you want instead of what you don't want. Then ask yourself how you could create it. If you need more resources to get there, start building them. If you're worried something will go wrong, plan how you'll handle it in advance. These tools can help you develop your confidence so fear doesn't get the better of you. Over time, you'll feel better and have better outcomes, too.

 

I hope these distinctions are useful. If you'd like to work with a coach on Healthy Positivity, find a positive psychology coach here.

 

If you'd like to get training to become an effective positive psychology coach, explore our program here.

 

If you just want to learn more about positive psychology coaching, download the FREE eBook here:

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

* A few details about "Bob" have been changed for this article.

 

 

Topics: Barbara L Fredrickson, Law of Attraction, coach training program, Positive Psychology, free ebook, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training, positivity, become a positive psychology coach, Toxic Positivity

Why Potential Clients Don't Buy Your Coaching Services

Posted by Julia Stewart

find new clients

Some coaches have more clients than they can handle while others struggle to attract enough clients.

Why is that?

Sales and marketing are complex professions, in their own right. Some coaches already have a good background in one or the other. Some take to sales and marketing naturally and their businesses take off. But some coaches have a longer learning curve than others.

The good news is that what makes you a great coach can also make you a great marketer and salesperson.

Here are nine shifts you may need to make. Any one of these could make all the difference in selling your coaching. Who knows how much more money you may make because you read this today?


Here are 9 shifts that will help you sell your coaching:

  1. Listen more than you talk. You wouldn't do all the talking in a coaching session and you wouldn't try to get your clients to do you bidding, either. Why would you resort to those ineffective tactics when having a sales conversation? A coaching business is a service to humanity. It's a collaboration with your market. Include your clients' and potential clients' thoughts, dreams, problems, and aspirations in everything you do. That includes your marketing and your sales. It all starts with listening.
  2. Technology is a great way to market but a terrible way to sell. It's shiny and new and everybody is obsessed with it, right? Right. That's why people crave real human conversations that help them clarify and align their lives with what really matters to them. Offer that, instead. Coaching has been one of the fastest-growing professions for twenty years because of the deficits caused by new technology. And internet marketing gurus have terrible tools for selling coaching. Don't get caught up in their hype. For example: One coach recently told me that marketing via text was the new big thing because people don't open emails but everybody reads their texts. Really? The people I know all hate getting SPAM texts even more than SPAM via email because they have to pay for every text they receive. People who feel disrespected, annoyed, or abused by you won't hire you to coach them. Here's another example: I've built one of the largest mailing lists in the coaching industry, but I still talk to virtually every potential client before I let them hire me. Because that's what works. Market respectfully and have real conversations with the potential clients you like most. Treat them like friends, not prospects.
  3. Make it all about them. A coach is even better than a friend, sometimes. That's why we can charge for what we do. The more you listen and find out what matters to potential clients, the more you can find out if they are a fit for what you offer. If not, refer them to someone else. Or, learn via those conversations and start offering what people really want. As you serve your potential clients, you will serve yourself and your business.
  4. You don't have to "put yourself out there" like a used-car salesman. I've written before about coaches as highly sensitive people. What makes us great at coaching also makes glad-handing at networking events, and high-pressure sales, a nightmare for us. And that's a good thing. Nobody wants a coach who is more interested in handing out business cards and making quick sales than they do connecting with people, hearing their stories, and offering to help. Use your strengths to sell your coaching: your empathy, your curiosity, your wisdom, and your desire to help others be their best. Forget the cliches and promote what is unique and valuable about your coaching.
  5. You do need to talk with potential clients, sometimes multiple times. This is why internet marketing is fine for getting people's attention, but nearly useless for selling high-touch services, like coaching. People need to feel they know you before they'll hire you to coach them. If you're a brilliant writer, you may be able to create intimacy with your blog posts, but for most coaches, conversation is the key. You don't need to cold-call ever (hurray) or talk to a hundred people everyday (yikes). Just check in now and then with people who you think might be a match. Find out what their challenges are. Let them know you can help. Give them a gentle nudge if you think they're ready. Sometimes you know they are ready before they do. I had one man hire me after nearly seven years on my mailing list. What made the difference? I called him and we had a great conversation.
  6. Trust and other emotions trump facts, features, and benefits. Stop trying to sell packages to people. Nobody cares how many sessions, how many webinars, how many videos, etc. your package has. They want to know if you can help them reach their dreams. Connect to that. Empathize with it. Help them imagine what it'll be like to coach with you and to transform their lives. That's magical stuff. Demonstrate that you can be trusted by continuing to show up with small solutions that make their lives a bit better now. That makes it easier to make the leap to hiring you to coach them.
  7. Find out what people need and align your coaching with the solutions to their problems. All this listening, communicating, and relationship-building will help you know your market better than anyone else. That's the surest way to find your niche. Now you're equipped with the knowledge, understanding, and ability to help and that makes you unique in the field of coaching. I know one coach who began with one client who was a dentist. He helped that dentist build a successful practice and then leveraged that knowledge to build a million-dollar coaching business for himself. That's a true niche.
  8. Be such an effective coach that your clients stay with you for years. That's real success. I'm not suggesting you make your clients dependent upon your coaching. That's a disservice. Learn to customize your conversations and keep your clients challenged and growing so that paying your fee is a no-brainer for them. It's not unusual for clients to stay with me for years. That means I feel much less pressured to promote my coaching. That's one of the secrets of making self promotion fun. By the way, I couldn't have done this without great coach training.
  9. Get your ego out of the way. I heard a coach, whose business was flagging, say that she had built a track record and reputation and that she shouldn't have to promote herself, anymore. I remember thinking, "Oh yes, you do." We all do. Another coach told me she was tired of everything you have to do to be successful as a coach. I asked what all she was doing. She said, "Nothing!" and laughed. I'd like to respectfully suggest that what is really tiresome is NOT promoting your business, because sales and marketing, done well, is a heck of a lot of fun. You meet awesome people, learn to serve better, hone your craft, and become a sought-out expert in your field. In other words, when you stop letting your ego stop you, you can start helping people and they will then start telling you how awesome you are and your ego will get a much bigger fix, as a result. Better yet, you'll be one of those coaches whose client roster is always full, and whose bank account is healthy. Everybody wins.

 

Sale and marketing this way takes time. The trouble is, everything else takes longer.

 

What if you joined a coach training school and had a full coaching practice by the time you graduated? We offer evidence-based coach training (because we listened and that's what our market told us they wanted) that includes, at no extra charge, a business-building program that is so effective everyone who finishes it has paying clients and 87% have full coaching practices. Learn to coach. Sell your coaching. Perfect!

 

Explore our coach training programs and get an effective business-building strategy for free when you join:

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 





 

 

 

Topics: money, coach training, marketing and sales, ego, curiosity, sales training for new coaches, successful business, Million Dollar Coach, Marketing for life coaches, coach training program, Strengths

How to Manage Progress and Accountability Like a Pro

Posted by Julia Stewart

Managing Progress and Accountability

Managing Progress and Accountability is often the most important ICF Competency but many coaches struggle to do it well.

What makes Competency #11 so important is that, for your client, reaching their goal is what matters most. You may occasionally have coaching sessions in which your client has such profound insights that new awareness is the chief deliverable for those sessions. Coaches love insights but for many of our clients, insights are just a means to an end and that end is what your client hired you for: reaching their goal.

What exactly is Managing Progress and Accountability?

You're forgiven if you're a bit confused because the ICF's materials talk about this one differently in different places, or at least they seem to. The word that confuses most coaches is, "Accountability". Many assume that means the coach holds the client accountable for what they plan to get done, but that is the weakest way to do it. A stronger way is to have the client determine their own forms of accountability. Stronger still, is to help the client set goals that are closely related to their most important personal values so their own passion helps them follow through.

Here's what I mean about confusing text (from the ICF's comparison levels):

        "Ability to hold attention on what is important for the client, and to leave responsibility with the client to take action.
         Staying focused on what is important for the client and holding them accountable."

         So is the client responsible for their actions or does the coach hold them accountable?

What makes Managing Progress and Accountability difficult?

The same issue that makes Establishing the Coaching Agreement challenging, namely keeping track of a linear process while maintaining holistic presence, also makes Managing Progress and Accountability a challenge, because most people don't do both at the same time except during activities they've mastered that use their personal strengths. In other words, this will probably take quite a bit of practice to master even for highly talented coaches.

What happens when you Manage Progress and Accountability like a pro?

  • First, you focus on what's most important to your client rather than getting hung up on the idea of holding them accountable. The more important the goal, the less accountability they will need.
  • That focus on importance begins at the beginning of the session, not the end, even though this is the last Competency.
  • Identify both small and large goals and align smaller goals with bigger (most important) goals.
  • Let the client lead in choosing what, who, when, where, etc.
  • Within the framework of importance, a.k.a. values, passion, inspiration, fulfillment, legacy; help the client apply their strengths and get assistance as needed from other people, tools, systems, and structures.
  • Get a commitment for a date and time when they will act, usually the sooner the better.
  • Both you and your client must fully believe that the plan is both sufficient and sustainable, that they will follow through, and reach their goals.
  • Just before the session ends, ask the client what they are taking away from it.

 

Start practicing Managing Progress and Accountability as a framework for your entire coaching session and you will master it.

 

Learn more about ICF coaching with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, now accredited for 200+ ICF hours, enough to meet the training requirement for the ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC).

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

 

 

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC

15 Self-Care Must-Do's If You're a Highly Sensitive Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

highly sensitve coach

There is an inherited trait known as Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or Empath, that is common amongst coaches, especially master coaches.

According to research, 15-20% of all humans are born HSPs, as are 15-20% of all "higher" animals, such as monkeys. This suggests a survival value for the overall population. In other words, HSPs are needed by others. What's different about HSPs? We notice more and sense subtleties that others miss, process information deeply, are more empathic and emotional, and all of this can cause over-stimulation, overwhelm, and exhaustion. It's a blessing and a curse! However, if you're an HSP coach, it is a gift for you and your clients as long as you're aware of it and take especially great care of yourself and your sensitivity. To find out if you're a highly sensitive coach and how to optimize your sensitivity, read on...

Highly Sensitive Persons are impacted more intensely by both positive and negative environmental stimuli.

 

This means your self care, and who and what you surround yourself with, will have a more dramatic impact on you than on someone who is not an HSP. So to be a great coach, you need to take your well-being seriously. No wonder coaches love positive psychology!

Many of the qualities the ICF requires in their Master Certified Coaches (MCC), come naturally to HSPs.  These include conscientiousness, deep connection and awareness, vulnerability, presence, curiosity, empathy, ability to notice more, intuition, deep listening, quick learning, ability to stay in the background while eliciting the client's greatness, allowing the client to lead, and regarding the client with Love 2.0.

 

BUT. Even if you are an HSP, these qualities are unlikely to show up if you don't practice wonderful self care and personal growth, because over-stimulation causes you to shut down and become irritable. Not conducive to great coaching!

 

Here are Self-Care Musts for the Highly Sensitive Coach:

  1. Rest and quiet are your biggest self-care priorities if you're a highly sensitive coach. This includes eight or more hours of sleep every night. Seriously.
  2. Get significant alone time. Especially if you're also an introvert, you need at least an hour per day to yourself to be your best.
  3. Learn to set boundaries. If you haven't mastered this yet, put it at the top of your to-do list.
  4. Keep your client load relatively small. Don't coach more than 10 - 20 hours per week. Less is more!
  5. Work with a functional medicine physician to optimize your health because the affects of illness, fatigue, and pain will negatively impact you more than others.
  6. Work with your own coach, especially an HSP coach, to be your very best.
  7. Develop a meaningful spiritual practice that helps you stay centered and open.
  8. Consider working with a psychotherapist if you had a difficult childhood. HSPs who grow up in negative environments are often prone to depression and anxiety which can harm your coaching and your quality of life.
  9. Screen potential coaching clients to avoid working with difficult people who will drain your energy.
  10. Do consider working with clients who are HSPs and need coaches who understand them.
  11. Avoid "energy vampires", especially narcissists. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, Empaths (HSPs) do particularly badly with narcissists because they don't understand how someone can thoroughly lack empathy. If you can't avoid them, at least learn how to handle them.
  12. Consider working from home. You'll avoid difficult commutes, large crowds, and noxious environments.
  13. Set up your office so it is ideal for you and your sensitivities. The more you put up with, the harder it is to coach brilliantly. And your clients deserve nothing less!
  14. Find a sales and marketing process that leverages your sensitivity rather than forcing you to be who you are not. HSP marketing and sales is an advantage in coaching, but only if you rely on your strengths. Don't let anyone tell you differently!
  15. Embrace your sensitivity along with its downsides and rejoice that you've found the perfect profession for you. Self-compassion for your extra-care needs helps you love and appreciate your self and your clients.

 

Want to take a quick test to confirm whether you're an HSP? Go here.

 

References for this post include research scientist and psychotherapist, Dr. Elaine N. Aron's updated book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Orloff's book, The Empath's Survival Guide, The former will appeal to you if you want to know the research into HSP. The latter is more spiritual in nature and offers many practices to protect your energy.

 

Are you an HSP coach who wants to benefit from the power of positive psychology so you can flourish?

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: ICF, master coach, MCC, Positive Psychology, personal growth, highly sensitive, self care

Why There Are No Mother-In-Laws In Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

There are no mother-in-laws in coaching

The phrase, "There are no mother-in-laws in coaching", could help you avoid common coaching mistakes.

Read on to learn tools that will keep you out trouble, make your coaching sessions easier, and provide much greater value to your coaching clients...

Every coach gets requests for coaching on topics such as these:

  • How can I get my boss to stop yelling at me?
  • How can I get my kids to argue less?
  • How can I get my husband to stop placating his meddling mother?

 

The wording of the request and the relationship/s involved may vary but the request is basically the same:

 

Please coach me to make someone else different.

 

What's the problem with this coaching topic?

 

You can't coach anyone but your client.

 

And within that problem also lies the solution: The simplest response is to empathize but tell your client you can't coach anyone but them. That said, if they want, you can coach them to manage these and other conflicts more effectively so they are less of a problem for them. Sometimes when the client changes their own behavior the other people change as well because we all fit our environments like keys fit locks. If you change one, the other has to change or the locks won't work anymore.

By the way, the lock and key metaphor works more often than the explanation that people we don't like are our mirror images. According to the mirror-image theory, things we don't like about others are really what we don't like about ourselves. This is often true but not always and it can put undue responsibility on someone who may genuinely be victimized and doesn't have the power to change the other. Never make your client responsible for other people's behavior. And never coach them to get somebody else to change. That tends to backfire. We can only change ourselves. If others change too, that's a bonus.

 

So how can you coach a client who's having issues with someone else?

 

As always, ask more than you tell. For example:
  • How would you like it to be?
  • When have you resolved a situation like this before?
  • What could you do differently next time?
  • How can you take care of yourself going forward?

But do share some reframes such as:
  • Other people's reactions are always about them, not you.
  • Everybody's doing the best they can even when we're sure they aren't.
  • We become who we hang out with.
  • We can only take care of our own stuff.

 

Do offer a tool or two. Here's something interesting. The Karpman Drama Triangle offers a simple way to look at conflict. In every conflict those involved are all playing one of three roles (often all three): The Persecutor (It's all your fault!) The Victim {Poor me!) The Rescuer (Let me help you.) Ask your client which role they've been playing. Hint: Almost everybody thinks they are the Victim. And f they've been playing the Rescuer, they've probably been making it worse, not better.

To help them get out of the triangle, mention The Empowerment Dynamic. The Persecutor becomes the Challenger. The Rescuer becomes the Coach. The Victim becomes the Creator. Whichever role your client has been playing, ask them how they could take on the empowered version of that role.



Coach vs. Rescuer: Be sure you're always being the coach, not the rescuer. Your client never needs to be rescued.

 

Some persecutors are more difficult than others. As much as 10% of society is made up of people who are called High Conflict Personalities (HCPs). They tend to seek out people to blame and torment. If your client is dealing with an HCP, they may benefit from therapy, but the following book can be a great resource: The Five Types of People Who Can Ruin Your Life by Bill Eddy.  I recommended it to someone recently who'd been having trouble with her boss for years. After reading it she said dealing with her boss is now a piece of cake!

In short, everybody has conflicts and your clients will want your help with theirs. Don't rescue them and don't coach them to change others. Do coach them to alter how they show up with those others, because you can't coach their boss, their kids, their spouse, or their mother-in-law!

Want to upgrade your coaching skills and get ready to coach whatever your clients ask? Check out the Certified Competent Coach Course. In eight weeks, you'll upgrade your skills, get all your questions answered and get certified. Download the Fact Sheet below:

 

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Topics: coaching skills, certified competent coach

Establishing the Coaching Agreement: Here's How to Do It Well

Posted by Julia Stewart

Establishing the Coaching Agreement - two men

According to the ICF, one of the most important, if not THE most important Coaching Competency is #2: Establishing the Coaching Agreement.

The ICF is very particular about how to coach with this one perhaps because it sets the structure for the entire session. Most coaches can do it well at the ACC level, but stumble over PCC requirements, which are multifaceted and quite explicit. At the MCC level, it is far deeper and more subtle. Why is this hard? Most coaches just don't know how to do it.

What follows are Do's and Don't's on how to Establish the Coaching Agreement at the ACC, PPC, and MCC levels.

ACC: At the ACC level, Establishing the Coaching Agreement is easy and straightforward, but you might be surprised how many coaches miss it. Do: Ask the client, at the beginning of the session, what they want to achieve with the session. Don't: Choose the goal for the client, or neglect to ask the client what their goal is, or ask but coach on something else.

PCC: At the PCC level, you need to go considerably further with Establishing the Coaching Agreement. Do: At the start of the session, ask what the goal for the session is, then explore a bit what makes that goal important to the client. Also ask how they will know they have achieved the goal. This is sometimes referred to as the "measure of success", which can be a feeling, such as confidence, a mind state, such as clarity, or something tangible, like a ten-point plan. Then begin coaching the client to reach that goal. Later in the session, check to make sure you're on track to reach the goal, or if you notice the conversation is heading in a new direction, ask if the goal has changed. If it has changed, fully establish the new goal. Finally, near the end of your coaching session, ask the client if they've reached their measure of success. If they reply strongly in the affirmative, the coaching was successful. Don't: Forget to ask how the client will know they've succeeded or fail to explore the importance of the goal, or fail to check that the session is reaching or has reached the goal; nor should you make any mistakes from the ACC level, above.

MCC: Do: The MCC level coach does everything the PCC level coach does, and then some, but may do it in a far more subtle fashion, knowing that competency #3: Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client, #4: Coaching Presence, as well as every other competency, will enhance Establishing the Coaching Agreement, by creating trust, easing the client, and providing an environment in which the client shares honestly and completely. Without that level of openness and receptivity, the client is unlikely to share information that feels vulnerable (sharing our most cherished dreams tends to bring up vulnerabilities) and therefore they may not receive full value from the coaching. In addition, the master coach will help the client expand their thinking about the goal by helping the client connect it with their larger goals and/or integrate their understanding of it within the context of their entire life and even beyond, as needed (#8: Creating Awareness). What makes this difficult is, in addition to having mastered all the competencies, having heightened perceptiveness, and knowing how to communicate a lot with few words, the master coach must also be able to hold a holistic and intuitive mind state simultaneously with linear step-wise consciousness. This is easy if they have an advanced contemplative practice. Otherwise, it tends to take years of coaching to develop. Don't: Make assumptions, or lead, direct, or teach the client in any way. Without a fully connected partnership that honors the client's expertise in their own life, coach and client are unlikely to achieve the client's most desired dreams.

So now you know how, at all three levels, to coach with one of the most important ICF Coaching Competencies. This understanding. especially at the PCC and MCC levels, can help you become a far more effective coach. You still need to learn how this tool applies uniquely to each coaching session. Plus you need hours of practice and expert feedback to learn to do it well. Our Master Coach Training series of modules will help you develop masterful coaching skills, and get you ready to apply for ICF certification, if that is your goal. These modules are all included in our Certified Positive Psychology Coach program and our Certified Neuroscience Coach program. Plus, two more modules, included in the Certified Neuroscience Coach program, will help: NP1: The Science of Goals and Achievement and NP2: Neuroscience Tools and Practices.

 

Download the Certified Neuroscience Coach program Fact Sheet:

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, coach credential, certified neuroscience coach, PCC

Top Ten Myths About Life Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

dragons and castle

Myths are stories we tell that help us understand our world.

That's why we love them so much. Epic stories like Game or Thrones and Lord of the Ring capture our minds during our adolescence but never quite let us go. At their best, myths can for instance, make sense of the destructive behavior of a  leader who feels betrayed and alone (I'm thinking of you, Daenerys) and they may also help us understand real-life situations.

But there is another type of myth that makes us feel like we understand something new when we really don't and those myths spread like viruses to others who also don't get it. They become "truth-y" even when they truly are false. This is particularly true as our culture evolves because some folks evolve faster than others. Myths can keep those others stuck on the outside of something truly great, believing cynically that it's just a sham, or a fad, or the same old thing wearing a fancy new dress.

There are plenty of myths about life coaching because honestly, if you haven't experienced truly great coaching, you won't get it. You just won't. See below for examples. 

 

Here are Top Ten Life Coaching Myths:

 

  1. Coaching is a new form of therapy or counseling. When I first became a coach about a billion years ago, one of my relatives, who was studying to become a psychotherapist, told me I was practicing therapy without a license. Um, no. In fact, a landmark case was won at about that time which established coaching as a separate profession from therapy. After that, therapists seemed to take an, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," attitude toward coaching and today, many coaches are former therapists who love helping clients go from good to great and are thrilled to not have to deal with insurance companies to get paid. Even my relative eventually commended me on getting into coaching after it became the fastest growing job description worldwide. Good thing I didn't listen to her earlier criticisms!
  2. Coaching isn't a real profession. This was probably true thirty years ago, just as it was of every profession in its earliest days. Remember when your doctor used to "bleed" you with leeches? No? Probably that's because they stopped doing that more than a century ago. Thank God! My point is that all professions develop over time. They begin with a few talented practitioners. Then someone defines what they do and begins teaching it to others. Eventually professional organizations standardize ethical practices and identify credentials. Researchers begin studying the field's efficacy (that finally doomed the use of leeches by physicians). Then universities start developing educational programs. All of this has occurred within the field of coaching. It is now a profession.
  3. Coaching is New Age mumbo-jumbo. As coaching progresses as a profession, research is establishing many coaching practices (some of which were originally dismissed by "experts") as valid. In fact, the practice of focusing mostly on the positive (not 100% positive, just 75 - 95% positive), as well as focusing mostly on the present and desired future, have been well-established as important tools for transforming problems into opportunities and suffering into wisdom. Many therapists have also adopted these tools. Meanwhile, whatever may have been mumbo-jumbo (the coaching equivalent of bloodletting with leeches) is quietly being jettisoned.
  4. Anything goes in coaching. Coaching is a profession that is not regulated by governments. This confuses some people. They think they can do anything and call it coaching. Fortunately, there are reputable organizations that have established ethical guidelines and best practices in coaching. Work with coaches who are aligned with one of these organizations to avoid getting schnookered by people who call themselves coaches but whose practices may not always be effective, fair, or ethical.
  5. You don't need training to become a coach. This depends on whether you want to succeed as a coach. The ICF has been surveying thousands of coaches for years. Their findings are that coaches who've had coach-specific training are more successful more quickly and are less likely to drop out of the profession. So while you could call yourself a coach, even if you have no training, if you want to be a successful coach, get quality training early. It's an excellent investment.
  6. If you have a degree in psychology you're qualified to coach. Oh would that this were true! I know your university degree cost you a fortune so it must be good for something, right? I was like you once. I had two degrees in dance, of all things, from two of the most expensive universities in America. That got me a career as an adjunct professor at a variety of colleges until my back gave out. Luckily, I discovered my true calling was coaching. There were no degrees in coaching, at the time, so I spent a few thousand dollars at a good coach-training school (two, actually) and I've been using what I learned there ever since. Best investment I ever made. If you have a degree from an ICF-accredited coach-training university program, you may not need further training, but most degrees in psychology or social work won't qualify.
  7. Clients don't care if you're certified. Mine do! And apparently most other clients do, too. The ICF surveyed actual coaching clients and asked, all else being equal, would they prefer to work with a certified coach? 84% of coaching clients replied that they care very much if their coach is certified.
  8. All coaches are slimy. Well some people who call themselves coaches may be. Perhaps they aren't trained, or aren't certified, or aren't ethical. Because coaching isn't regulated, you do need to be choosy about who you work with. If you're working with a real coach, they probably are anything but slimy.
  9. Coaches have all the answers. Some folks think coaches have perfect lives and know everything. News flash: nobody fits that description. Coaches are skilled at asking important questions clients usually don't ask themselves. They are experts at change and customize every conversation. Coaches are just super-good at bringing valuable answers to light. That's transformative.
  10. Coaching is only for rich people. Coaching caught on first with high-level executive clients, movie stars, and billionaires. But as the profession grows, there are great coaches who specialize in clients from every walk of life. If you're interested in hiring a coach, shop around to find one who is right for you. Coaching is for everyone (and that's no myth)!

Myths spread in the ancient and medieval worlds because often too little information was available. Today, we have the same problem for the opposite reason: There is too much information and we cannot tell which is true.

As a coach, it's part of your job to spread the truth about coaching. Because coaching is an evolved technology that can help people successfully navigate hypercomplexity despite climate disasters. We live in a scary world but fear makes us think small and small thinking is destructive instead of resourceful. Effective coaching can be the difference between success and disaster.

 

What if Daenerys had a good coach?

 

Need a good coach? Find yours here:

 

Find Your Coach Here

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, coaching vs. therapy, Life Coaching, coach training school, coaching ethics

Coaching Businesses: A Simple System for Identifying Which to Trust

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching Businesses and Trust

Coaching companies can transform your life or business for the better, but like any profession, coaching has a few charlatans.

The wrong coach or coaching company can actually harm your life and business so you need to know how to identify who to work with. It's as easy as Stop, Wait, and Go.

I learned how to read red, yellow, and green traffic signal lights one day, long ago, as I sat on my tricycle in kindergarten. Probably I remember it because it was the only day I got to bring my trike to school but it was a valuable safety lesson that I have used everyday since. I hope this blog post will prove valuable for you and keep you safe in the world of business and coaching.

If you're a coach, you probably use positivity and intuition to make choices and that is awesome. But as readers of this blog know, using your whole being is even more awesome. Let intuition guide you but also explore your doubts, do your due diligence, bounce ideas off friendly skeptics. Be 90% positive but also explore the wisdom of waiting when it's warranted.

Avoid making big decisions with just half your brain.

To be clear, there are wonderful coaches and coaching companies that just aren't right for you, but that's not what this post is about. I'm talking about the small percentage of coaching companies that are probably not right for anyone. They can hurt you or your business. Even though they aren't the majority, you will encounter them.

Some coaching companies are well-meaning but just don't know what they are doing. A few are actual scams. They claim they will help you succeed by providing clients, or marketing training, or a back office, a website, or whatever. They over-promise, under-deliver, and then disappear. Coaches who do business with them lose their money and often feel shocked, embarrassed, and discouraged when they realize what happened. They may quit coaching as a result. Some have been financially ruined. Some lost friends who tried to warn them.

Below is a list of potential signals that indicate when to STOP because the signs spell trouble, WAIT until you learn more, or GO ahead and take the next step. They are based on actual experiences of real coaches.

Compare these signals to a company you're interested in. No one signal will be enough to decide whether to work with them so add up all the signs and then check in with your intuition, your emotions, your coach, trusted friends,  favorite skeptics, and most of all, dig deep into GOOGLE.

In the end, you're responsible for all your own choices, so choose with wisdom. Think of a company you've considered joining and grade them on each of the following with STOP, WAIT, or GO. Use your own grades to decide. Here goes...

How did you find out about this coaching company?

  • If you find a company on a job-listing website but the "job" turns out to be one where you pay the company rather than them paying you, be careful. This is known in retail as "bait and switch". You're initially offered one attractive option, but when you inquire about it, a salesperson talks you into something else. It may not break any laws but it is misleading and signals that the company isn't as honest as it should be. Trust is incredibly important in coaching because clients share their most cherished dreams with us. Think twice about doing business with a company that has already betrayed yours. Would you Stop, Wait, or Go with this?
  • If a trusted friend invites you to join a great new company they've joined, find out how long they've been with the company and what their own results are. If they just joined or haven't seen definitive results, hesitate. Don't rely on your friend's enthusiasm or the company's own promises to make up your mind. If your friend has been with the company long enough to see positive results, maybe this really is a good opportunity. How would you grade it?
  • If you receive a great-sounding offer in an email from a coaching company you never heard of, it's probably SPAM. No reputable company will ever SPAM you. How would you score SPAM?
  • Did you find the company through a profile on social media or in a directory? If so, is the profile complete and informative? If not, check for other complete profiles for them on the web. If you see a pattern of incomplete profiles, that says, "fly by night". What's your verdict?
  • Did you find the company through online reviews or ratings? If there are a lot of high ratings and reviews, that's great. If there are only a few good ratings or if the reviews sound like they were all written by the same person, the company may have hired someone to write good reviews for them. What's score would you give them?

What is the company's website like?

  • Can you easily find the name of the company and its physical address and telephone number on the website? In some countries this is required by law. Usually that information is located at the bottom of each page, or on pages titled, "About Us" or "Contact Us". Don't spend money with a company if you don't know exactly who and where they are. Stop, Wait, or Go?
  • Is the website only one page long or is the site unfinished? That says, "fly by night." Careful!
  • Does the site have visible trust marks such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or accreditation marks from reputable organizations like the International Coach Federation (ICF)? These third-party organizations have requirements that the company must adhere to and may help you if the company fails to uphold them. If there are marks from fake organizations, that's a really bad sign. What score did your company earn here?
  • Does the company tell you what it will do with your personal information if you fill out a form? This is required by law in the European Union and most reputable companies worldwide honor it. The site should promise to keep your information private, not sell it to anyone, and explain what you will get in exchange for sharing it with them. What do you think?

What happens after you join?

  • Are they mainly interested in attracting more coaches/customers rather than in helping you succeed? Stop, Wait, or Go?
  • Do they expect you to do their marketing for them? Or worse, do they expect you to get your friends to do their marketing for them? This rarely works well and it's not what you paid for. How would you score it?
  • Do the tools and processes work as they should? If not, communicate with their support team. They should promptly make it right for you. How's your company doing?
  • If you complain, do they take responsibility, make excuses, or place the blame on you? You know the score.
  • Do they tell you to buy their more-expensive "next level" program where they'll tell you what you really need to know to succeed, even though they already promised that when you bought the program you have? Do they do this in a "coaching session"? Totally unethical in my book. How would you score this?
  • If you tell them you have no more money when they try to sell you more, do they reply that you're thinking too negatively and if you really wanted to succeed you'd open another credit card, take out a second mortgage, borrow from relatives, sell your valuables, or raid your child's tuition account? Some companies are shameless. You get to score them.
  • If you ask for a refund or stop paying your bill, do they ignore you or make an appointment for you with a "coach" who turns out to be a high-pressure bill collector? If you've joined an unethical company you're unlikely to ever get a refund. How would you score that?
  • Did your company dissolve before you got the services you thought you bought? You may have no legal recourse. What's the score?

 

If a company you're interested in scores a lot of STOPs, probably you should forget them.

 

If you want to learn more about how to attract coaching clients, register for this free eCourse based on Thomas Leonard's Principles of Attraction. If you want to understand small-business marketing in general, download this free Bootstrapper's Bible by Seth Godin. Mattison Grey can teach you the subtleties of marketing and sales with trust and integrity, and some coaches swear by C.J. Hayden.

 

Students at this school fill their practices with coaching clients based on Thomas Leonard's Coach 100 idea. It works.

 

Download Your Free Coach 100 eBook

Topics: Coaching Companies, Coach 100, ICF, marketing and sales, Thomas Leonard, Mattison Grey, Attraction Principles, coaching businesses

The Secret Super Power You Get From Evidence-Based Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Confident coach

Why is evidence-based coaching, such as positive psychology and neuroscience coaching, growing so fast?

Why, for instance, are positive psychology and neuroscience coaches finding it easy to build their businesses?

Several reasons come to mind...

  • They use tools that really work.
  • They are experts in helping people change.
  • They sound credible even to people who think coaching is too "woo woo".
  • They are life-long learners who constantly upgrade their skills and knowledge.
  • They usually have the training and credentials they need that most clients clearly prefer.
  • They appeal to potential markets that have previously been closed to coaching.
  • They are more likely to use evidence-based tools in their sales and marketing.
  • And people are fascinated by positive psychology and neuroscience.
  • But there is one more huge reason: They are confident.

Here's a story to illustrate what I mean.

Long before I became a coach, I went back to school to become a physical therapist and started a part-time side business of personal training to pay my bills while going to school. I already had two degrees in dance and was previously a college dance teacher, but had a back injury and needed a career change. Back then, if you taught dance, the college also required you to teach aerobics, which meant I had to learn the research on exercise. The data blew me away. I knew how powerful exercise was and that gave me confidence and even certainty that I could help people with it. I knew almost nothing about sales and marketing but had a 95% success rate selling personal training. I was soon making double what physical therapists made, quit school, and added coaching to my services for even more success. And then, positive psychology and neuroscience transformed my coaching all over again. Now I'm celebrating twelve years of success with School of Coaching Mastery. And it all started with the confidence I got from knowing what really works and having a background that sounded credible to my clients.

Let confidence be your super power.

If you want more success and you're lacking any of the benefits of evidence-based coaching, get the training you need to be credible to your potential clients. Start with just one module, or take an entire program. Download more information below.

 

Get the FREE become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

Topics: Positive Psychology, coaching with neuroscience, become a positive psychology coach

How Does Artificial Intelligence Impact You if You Become a Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Robot and human

You've heard that artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the future of work but how does it affect coaching?

AI is eliminating many job positions but coaching is surprisingly immune to this disruption. That said, you still need to know how to leverage massive changes caused by AI that may already be impacting how you coach...

Why is coaching resilient in the job market that's disrupted by AI when so many other professions, such as law and medicine, are turned upside down?

There are three reasons coaching is is one of the professions that have been hard to replace by artificial intelligence:

  1. It turns out that the human mind is harder to crack than neuroscientists and computer engineers previously thought. They've been successful at mimicking the so-called linear processing associated with your brain's left hemisphere, which includes math, language, and knowledge; but engineering artificial relationships that are trusting, empathic, intuitive, and characterized by non-linear insights has been much more elusive. So professions such as coaching, psychotherapy, and the creative arts are, so far, more difficult to recreate. Our massive human brain isn't big because we can process so much information, but because we are an extremely social species and social relationships require far more complex processing. That said, companies such as Care.coach are already convincing people that cartoon kittens care about them, but that may work only because actual humans are behind the cartoons.
  2. Coaching didn't become a profession until the internet, robotics, mobile phones, and artificial intelligence were already in the works and pioneers of coaching, notably Thomas Leonard, saw what was coming and designed the profession of coaching around the future instead of the past. For example, today's world of business works best when you have a mix of ways people can work with you. Be generous with free information on your website. Write a book that virtually anyone can afford. Join a coaching company that charges a modest price for coaching with a particular method. But your personal, customized one-to-one attention is today considered a luxury good. It needs to be priced accordingly. Coaching is for everybody but personal coaching is only for clients who see its massive value and eagerly pay for it.
  3. Quality coaching is phenomenally effective. Most people have no idea how to do it, which is why ICF accredited coach training is preferable to a degree in psychology. Coaching is new technology for human development. It has been designed to thrive as a profession despite the many disruptions of this century. It's sustainable.

The coaching profession was designed to withstand the onslaught of artificial intelligence and robotics in the job market. In a world of hypercomplex disruption, coaching thrives.

Be resilient in tomorrow's job market. Become a coach. Download this free eBook to learn more:

Get Your Free 'Become a Coach' eBook Now

 

Topics: coaching business, coach training, become a coach, ICF, Thomas Leonard, future of coaching, new clients

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