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Coaching Tip: Why Your Clients Don't Change and How You Can Help

Posted by Julia Stewart

Stages of Change Image

Last week, I posted an image similar to the one above, with a physician telling a patient to make too many changes in too short a time, on our Facebook Page.

I commented on that post that effective coaches would know why the patient pictured was unlikely to do any of it. A page member asked for details, so here you go.

Virtually everything a coach does during a coaching session is designed to help the client gain awareness and then take action toward a goal the client wants to reach.

Everything. We don't always talk about it that way, but that's what it all boils down to. So if you want to help someone make changes, learn to use the tools below. They are effective in coaching and can be effective in other situations, as well.

A short list of tools coaches use to get clients into action...

  1. Acknowledge where they are, right now. In positive psychology coaching, this falls under the banner of Active and Constructive Responding. This strengthens relationships, reduces resistance, and causes people to feel more receptive to ideas and suggestions.
  2. Raise the positivity level sufficiently. People are more open, creative, and resourceful when there is sufficient, but not excessive, positivity in the conversation. They tend to feel more confident about trying new things and making changes.
  3. Ask instead of tell. Find out more about where the client is, right now, and what they want to change. People are always more likely to act on their ideas than on yours.
  4. Focus on assets. No need to ignore problems; just don't make the problems bigger or more important that the client and their  assets. These include the client's strengths, their support system, having enough time and money, etc.
  5. Let the client lead. This is big. We sometimes think we know what the client needs to change, but that's less helpful than you might imagine. The client is always the expert when it comes to their own life, so let them take the lead.
  6. Create a brand new habitat. The client's old world supports their old way of being. To really change, they need their world to change with them. Create a habitat that evolves them in the direction they want to go.
  7. Don't expect action right away. Sometimes a client isn't even close to being ready. According to James Prochaska, people go through "stages of change" and there are three stages before they even get to action. Those stages include Precontemplation, which is probably where the patient above is, when they haven't even been thinking about changing, or they may feel resistant because somebody is pushing them to change (Their doctor? Spouse? Friends?), or they feel discouraged because they've tried to change and weren't successful. Then there's Contemplation, where they're thinking about changes, maybe even researching them, but aren't ready to act, yet. You may hear a lot of "shoulds" at this stage. Finally there's Preparation, when they're making necessary plans to set themselves up for success, such as changing their schedule, notifying other stake holders of the change, learning new techniques, or gathering equipment. Only after all that is someone able to actively change and, even then, they probably can't change everything at once. Getting a client ready to change is part of coaching them to change.

So jumping in with "good" advice, and expecting that to do the trick, could do more harm than good.

If you're curious about coaching or contemplating becoming one, download the free Become a Coach eBook. If you want to learn more, or are ready to take action, consider joining the Certified Competent Coach Course:

Become a Certified Competent Coach

Topics: become a coach, Coaching Tip, acknowledgment, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, certified competent coach

Do You Need to Be Certified to Become a Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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If you're thinking about becoming a coach, then you may also be wondering if you need to become a certified coach and if so, what certifications do you need?

Some coaches will tell you, "No, you don't need to be certified to become a coach."

I'm going to tell you why that's terrible advice and why you do need to get certified, especially if you're a new coach who wants to succeed. My information comes from my own survey of 2,552 coaches, which is represented by the pie charts, below, plus several large surveys of the coaching industry by organizations, such as the ICF, and my experience working with thousands of coaches.

But don't take my word for it. Once you have the facts, make up your own mind and set yourself up for success.

#1 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

According to research by Coaching Sherpa and others, professional coaches with training & certification earn more, become successful more quickly, and are less likely to drop out of the profession.

According to School of Coaching Mastery's own research, 80.6% of all coaches wish they were more successful. Why lose even one good potential client because you don't have some letters after your name?

Do I need to be certified to become a coach

#2 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Certification helps distinguish you from non-coaches who call themselves coaches, and who often mislead or even harm clients. As more scandals arise about so-called coaches, authentic professional coaches seek reputable certifications as a way to assure potential clients that they are genuine coaches. In fact, in large-scale surveys by the ICF, coaches consistently cite untrained individuals who call themselves coaches as the number-one problem facing the coaching profession.

#3 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Rightly or wrongly, most people assume that certified professionals are better than those who are uncertified. Yes, there may be uncertified coaches who are good, but the public doesn't always know who they are. In the absence of a good referral from a trusted friend, many people look for certification, which essentially is a stamp or approval from a trusted source.

#4 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Your clients probably want you to be certified. According to a survey by the ICF, 84% of actual coaching clients said coaching credentials were "important" or "very important" to them. This runs contrary to what some coaches say, which is that clients don't care about certification. Evidently most do, and the numbers go up according to region, with 91% of the general public (not just actual coaching clients) in Latin America stating that certification is important. Not only that, but according to SCM's own survey, 82.8% of professional coaches said they would feel more competitive if they were certified and 76% said they would sign on more paying clients. 

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#5 Reason you need to become a certified coach:


You probably want to be certified. According to the SCM survey, Do You Need Coach Certification?, which to date has been completed by 2,552 coaches worldwide, when asked if they intuitively want to get certified (in other words, is this what you really want, or is it just what you think you should do), 75.7% of professional coaches said they want to get certified.

Do you need coach certification

#6 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Someday you may legally need to be. Most people who want to become business, executive, or life coaches wonder if they need credentials in order to legally practice coaching. In most places the answer currently is, "No", but that may change. No one knows for sure what will happen, but having a recognized certification, such as ICF or IAC, can help grandfather you in, if/when regulation comes.

#7 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

You'll become a better coach. No, letters after your name won't magically make you better. But preparing for an oral certification exam will. I've learned something new with every certification that I've qualified for and I've seen hundreds of other coaches improve, as well. Great coaches tend to be more successful.

#8 Best reason you need to become a certified coach:

Regardless of the laws where you live, if you think like a coach, then you've evolved away from thinking that just having enough to get by is okay, and you actively choose to set yourself up for success in every way possible, instead. You're interested in best practices, not just minimum standards. Coach certification helps set you up for success and it represents coaching best practices.

Given all the good reasons why coaches, especially new coaches, benefit from coach certification, I sometimes wonder why a few coaches persist in telling new coaches they don't need it. Do they secretly want new coaches to fail, so there will be less competition? Are they terrified that the march toward professionalism will leave them in the dust? I don't know. But whenever I write about certification, some disgruntled coach leaves an angry, jeering, or paranoid comment on this blog, or on Facebook, or LinkedIn. UPDATE: See examples of this type of response, below, in comments #5, 6, & 10.

Clearly this is a hot-button issue for some. But if you're a new coach, don't just take advice. Get the facts and decide for yourself.

Take the survey, "Do You Need Coach Certification?". It'll help you decide if certification is right for you, based on your own  answers.

Ready to become a certified coach? Join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Or check out our entry-level training and certification:

Become a Certified Competent Coach

Topics: become a life coach, become a coach, become a business coach, ICF, becoming a certified coach, Coach Certification, Become a Certified Coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC, certified coach, certified competent coach

Top Ten Coaching Tools that Can Help Your Thrive in an Uncertain World

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Does it seem like the world gets crazier every day? Are you worried about your future? Are you wondering what you can do to survive and thrive? Would you like to help yourself and others flourish tomorrow and beyond?

Hyper-complexity is the word for what you’re experiencing and uncertainty is its inevitable companion.

Both can be your friend if you let them. The truth is there have never been more opportunities to thrive. Complexity virtually promises that. Become someone who sees possibilities early and knows what to do with them.

Here are ten coaching tools that can help anyone thrive in this hyper-complex world:

  1. Be curious. A wise Zen master once told me that we really don’t know what’s going to happen. That seems obvious, but we tend to forget it. If you’re feeling anxious about the future, you’re futurizing (a.k.a. worrying about scary future scenarios). What if you were curious instead? A major side benefit of curiosity is that you notice opportunities before they become problems. How to become more curious? Learn to catch yourself making assumptions. You do it all the time. Then make uncertainty your friend: Don’t decide how things will be. Wonder instead. Be mindful. Be grateful. Wonder what the possibilities are. This is one of the keys to #10, by the way.
  2. Be informed. Find the best sources of information and connect with them often. Avoid addictive, manipulative, or frightening sources, such as cable news, infomercials, click bait, propaganda, social media, high-pressure sales, etc. They confuse and exhaust. You need energy and clarity to stay abreast of hyper-complexity. Subscribe to one or two high-quality newspapers, because great information isn’t free. Get more education and training. Become an expert in at least one field and hang out with other experts. Become an insider, because information is power.
  3. Be prepared. The founder of the coaching profession, Thomas Leonard, believed in assisting clients to afford risk by increasing their reserves. What are reserves? They can be almost anything the client perceives they need more of from postage stamps, to information, to sleep. When people have reserves of practically everything they need, they become calm. I experienced this after 9/11 when I worked in Manhattan. The threat of attack was everywhere and unnerving. I had no control over it. But I could control how prepared I was, so I created a terrorist-attack reserve in an old gym bag with water, food, goggles, you name it, and kept it in my car for months. Terrorist threats continued, but my fears evaporated. A fun way to do this is to shop at Costco, or another big box store, with the question in mind, “What will I need most in the zombie apocalypse? A lifetime supply of toilet paper? Clean drinking water? A katana?” But go deeper. I have friends with solar homes, who are investing in Tesla batteries and going “off grid”. You can go off grid in financial ways, too. Have multiple income streams, more assets than debts, an emergency cash reserve, more insurance. Kidding aside, whatever future catastrophe scares you most, get ready for it now. You may never need your reserves, but the peace of mind they provide is something you'll need everyday forever.
  4. Be well cared for. Too many wish others would care for them. That’s for babies. Although your significant other can care for you, learn to care for yourself. Your health is a perfect place to begin. If your energy and wellbeing aren’t what you’d like, work with a physician or alternative care professional to get into perfect health. You may need to change your diet and exercise. Don’t let that stop you. When I was a personal trainer, my most loyal clients told me that they hired me to look better, but they stayed with me because they felt so much better. In other words, it was worth it. Right after 9/11, they told me about an unexpected benefit: They were strong enough to walk down 40 flights of stairs. You never know when you'll need your good health, but do care for yourself in fun ways, too. Listen to good music, play your favorite sports, engage in hobbies, or find work you love. Optimum wellbeing is your goal, because it improves quality of life regardless what happens.
  5. Be growing. No matter what happens in the world, you can be your best and be getting even better. It’s fun and inspiring and it helps you meet unexpected challenges. Increase your spiritual practice, become a better person, get more training or education. Practice your best skills and learn some new ones. For many, constant improvement is an important part of happiness. For us all, it’s part of getting ready for anything. We know technology will eliminate up to 50% of jobs in the next couple of decades, including some professions. The winners in this work revolution are those with the skills that will still be needed most. Coaching, by the way, entails skills that so far, elude robotics and artificial intelligence and the most successful coaches are those whose personal growth is most developed. In fact, it’s part of our job description. How’s that for a new marketable skill?
  6. Be independent. The world around you may or may not come crashing down, but your personal world can continue to thrive. Become self-employed, for instance, and never fear another layoff. Never wonder if your employer will find a way to deny your retirement benefits. Never worry if you can find another job. What skills or expertise do you have that others would pay for? Service-oriented businesses are relatively easy and inexpensive to start and usually you can charge much more than a traditional employer would pay.
  7. Be well connected. Those who balance independence with connection are likely to succeed best and those who are most independent need connection most of all and are freest in choosing it. Thomas Leonard liked to say, “You become who you hang out with.” Hang out with successful people. Hang out with those whose personal growth is most developed. Hang out with people who are creating a better world and are optimistic, curious, and kind.
  8. Be guided by what matters. When you’re clear about your unique values, your choices get simple, even in a complex world. You may know who you care most for, what you’ve been told to value, or what you think you need to do, but hardly anyone is clear about their unique values. Those of us who are, have a powerful advantage. We can orient our lives around what matters most to us, rather than what scares us. That instantly upgrades both the meaning and joy in our lives, helps us pursue our passions, and succeed most easily. But knowing your unique values isn’t as simple as it may sound. The best way to discover yours is to work with your own coach, or take the Coaching Values, Needs, and Strengths course.
  9. Be wise. Wisdom helps us stay centered in a storm, so learn from every mistake. Upgrade your spiritual and personal growth. Hang out with wise people. Know your unique values and you will instantly upgrade your wisdom. But wisdom tends to grow gradually. We are one of the first generations that has an opportunity to possess wisdom while we’re still healthy. That’s an enormous upgrade. Welcome the challenges and problems that will make you wise.
  10. Notice opportunities. If you want to make friends with hyper-complexity and uncertainty, use all the tools in this post: curiosity, information, preparation, self-care, growth, independence, connection, values, and wisdom to help you see what’s coming faster and notice the opportunities for you to contribute, succeed, and thrive. Add one more: positivity. Research by Barbara Fredrickson shows that those who are more positive, notice opportunities for greater good, than those who are worried, trying to solve problems, or generally are negative. The first nine items on this list will help you engage positively with uncertainty. By doing so, you’ll notice the good that’s coming to you. You can also help those around you. Ultimately, you’ll help the whole world.

Coaches have been using these tools successfully for decades. They are as timeless as they are powerful.

If you’d love to learn powerful coaching tools and join a profession that is high-paid and growing, and you’d like to do so quickly, the Certified Competent Coach course is starting soon. Become a certified coach in eight weeks and learn more tools for success.

Become a Certified Competent Coach Quickly

Topics: Coaching, Thomas Leonard, Become a Certified Coach, Barbara L Fredrickson, certified competent coach

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