Coaching Blog

The Biology of Success

Posted by Julia Stewart

Here are a few thoughts on who become successful coaches and who don't. There doesn't seem to be a formula. We all do it differently, just as we all define success differently. 

The real difference may lie in our relationship to success. In fact, intriguingly, the difference may be biological AND your environment influences it!

Research shows that both humans and animals conserve their energy according to their life conditions. If resources are short, many animals go into hibernation. If they're losing in the pecking order wars, they become more docile, resigned to their lot.

Meanwhile, animals who experience an abundance of resources or who have experienced some success, when competing with their peers, become more energetic and assertive. Their bodies are flooded by hormones that literally change their brains!

This is Neo-Darwinism, how the fittest survive. Turns out that the term, "fittest" is relative.

This happens among humans, too. It has its negative side in politics when revolutionaries become the new oppressors, but there are positive results, too.

One positive example might be the exuberance of Thomas Leonard. As his success grew, he became progressively more productive.

Here's another possible downside. I think many coaches, as they try to grow their businesses, become overwhelmed, then discouraged, then resigned. That process literally and biologically reduces the energy available to them to do whatever it takes to become successful on their own terms.

Those coaches who maintain a high level of focus, encouragement and optimism, also maintain the hormonal levels that give them the energy they need to keep going while they grow their businesses.

What makes the difference? Well, since we're human, we canchoose to create the difference.

Here's how your environment can help. You can design it so that it's full of people who can give you this kind of energy, by giving you a sense of abundance and accomplishment, who can help you access the abundance of resources available to all coaches and who will champion you and challenge you to keep going.

You can see where I'm going with this: Make sure you're getting great coaching. Coaching businesses are extremely difficult to build and yet, many coaches, who are no better equipped than you are successful. Give yourself the environment that you need.

You become who you hang out with. Hang out with people who are successful. Get coached by a genuinely successful coach, who knows how to get there. Keep your day job, so you don't fall into scarcity thinking. You get the idea.

I heard Thomas say, at a Certified Coach Intensive, that not every coach would be able to have a full practice. I also heard attributed to him, at Coach U, a draconian formula: Ten in, one out. Meaning, of every ten people who entered Coach U, only one became a real coach.

I think coach training and mentoring have improved since then and that the odds are getting better. In the meantime, though, I recommend that you decide to be one of the coaches who makes it.

Commit yourself to success; do what it takes to surround yourself with an environment that will evolve you into a successful coach!

My students and mentees know how much I emphasize championing as a mark of an excellent coach. (And still most of you don't champion enough!) Great coaches literally help clients transform into successful people.

Copyright, 2005, Julia Stewart

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