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Do Your Coaching Clients Dread Their Coaching Sessions with You?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do your coaching clients dread their coaching sessions

Coaching with you is a wonderful experience, right?

We all want to believe our coaching is impactful and enlightening, even fun. But what if it isn't? Would your clients even tell you?

I'm asking because one of my advanced students recently mentioned in class that she terminated a coaching relationship with a well-qualified coach because every week, she dreaded her coaching sessions. There could be any number of reasons why a coaching client might dread their next session, some of them good. But every week? Not good.

Dread is a powerfully negative emotion. What was going on here?

5 Reasons your clients might dread your coaching sessions:

  1. You're a master coach who gives your clients big problems. Great coaches aren't afraid to challenge their clients, especially the clients who are committed to being their best. Thing is, if you do this too much it can be painfully overwhelming. Even clients can burn out. Balance big challenges with sessions where you help clients integrate what they've learned, appreciate their new growth, and feel like they are winning. That's masterful.
  2. You're a sledgehammer coach. Some clients will ask you to give them a kick in the pants when they don't perform. This is always unpleasant and rarely effective. Do tell your clients the truth, even when it's less than they'd hoped. But don't be mean. There are communication skills that will help you say anything to your client without wielding a hammer.
  3. You are nosy and rude. Clients will tell you anything if you know how to ask. But if you don't know how, things get super awkward. Fast. And if you don't ask, that could stunt their progress. Do ask, but don't be rude. Get permission.
  4. You coach like a boss. Or a parent. If you tell your clients what to do, they will react like teenagers and resist. They won't like it and neither will you. Don't be bossy. Learn to talk to your clients like the independent fully-functioning adults they are. Treat them with respect, even awe, and they will look forward to their sessions.
  5. You're a cookie-cutter coach. Some coaching schools will teach you to coach with a template, or a formula, or by the numbers. Your clients are smarter than that. They are also unique, which is why no one approach to coaching is always effective. Unfortunately, some coaches spend the time and money to learn a multitude of skills but, for whatever reason, they reduce what they've learned to a cookie-cutter. That's what my advanced student experienced with the coach whose coaching sessions she dreaded. The coach asked the same kinds of questions, in the same order, week after week. There was no customization, no surprises, no growth. Why would a coach do that? Were they lazy, distracted, intimidated by the client? Regardless, the client deserved more. Following the same pattern every week will drive any client away. That's why you need to learn all the skills and practice them until you can throw them away and just focus on what they client needs, moment to moment. To paraphrase jazz great, Charlie Parker, "Master yourself; master the skills; then forget all that and just coach."

What to do about this? Do what every great coach does constantly: Ask your clients. Check in with them at regular intervals, such as once per month, and find out what's working and what isn't. Make it safe and rewarding for them to tell you the truth. Then make the changes needed so your coaching is fun and effective. Or refresh your training with new skills. That's mastery.

Could your coaching use an upgrade? School of Coaching Mastery is one of the few, perhaps the only, coaching schools that offers advanced training in positive psychology coaching.

 

The coach who is constantly learning keeps their coaching fresh.

 

Find an Exciting Coaching Module Here.

Topics: coaching clients, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, masterful coaches, positive psychology coaching, advanced coach training

2020 Stole Your Life. Here's How to Get it Back.

Posted by Julia Stewart

2020 Stole Your Life

Remember 2019? Restaurants, vacations, parties? Those were the days...

Now we live in 2020 where one week feels like twelve years. Maybe you've become accustomed to the isolation, frustration, and uncertainty. Maybe you've made your peace with all the plans you had to abandon. But more insidious thieves may have entered your life by now and they can be harder to notice, much  less, manage.

Here's a surprising thief of life and how you can handle it easily...

By now, the onslaught of 2020 catastrophes has likely depleted your surge capacity. And toxic leadership may be twisting you into a pretzel.The frenetic news cycle gives you whiplash. Zoom meetings make relationships seem two dimensional. And social media is literally forcing you to think in black and white.

Your environment is not supporting you.

When our environments don't support us, one response is to redesign our environments so they do support us.  But in 2020, this has become more challenging to do. Another response is to rely even more on our strengths...

Our strengths are the talents, aptitudes, or abilities that we use so well they've become easy, fun, and/or highly effective. Almost any behavior can be a strength. Compassion, when acted upon, can be a strength. Even anger, when well-used, can a be a strength. But both compassion and anger can be weaknesses, too. We can get more done with less energy when we use our top strengths so it's natural for us to over-use them when we are exhausted, stressed, or drained. When we're running on empty, sometimes our strengths can get us over the finish line, but if we over-use them for too long, they can become weaknesses.

A weakness isn't the opposite of a strength.

A weakness is a misused strength. It is a strength used inappropriately that is therefore preventing us from reaching our goals. One way to misuse a strength is simply to leave it undeveloped. Another is to overuse it when another strength would be more appropriate. A third and more serious misuse is to so overuse a strength that it drives our lives, and sometimes the lives of others, into a serious imbalance.

It can be so distressing to live with an imbalance of strengths, plus an unbalanced environment, that we may feel our mental health is suffering.

So here's that simple tool I promised. You can think of it as a mindfulness exercise, or think of it as that classic coaching tool called, distinctions. In reality, it's a little of both. But don't just use it for a few seconds, or minutes, or even one day. I've been using it for weeks and the benefits just keep growing.

Here's your distinction: Under-function vs Over-function.

A little background on how to I use this distinction: I don't usually get writer's block but in the past few months it has happened repeatedly. I get an idea for a blog post. It's half-written in my head before I even sit down to write. But as I start to write the first sentence, which I can see in my mind's eye, the letters and words evaporate one by one until I have nothing. No words: no article. Yuk!

I mentioned this to my coach and she said she's hearing a lot of it in 2020.

So I could just accept it, which would be okay but not ideal, or I could fight it which would make things worse. Or I could honor the unique burdens of 2020 and deal with it realistically.

Like most high achievers, my complaint was that I was under-functioning in some areas, such as blogging, so I set an easy goal. I just set out to function. I went through my day noticing where I was under-functioning and, without judgment, I asked myself what just functioning would look like and did that much and no more. It felt good. What I discovered was that I was under-functioning in many more areas than I had previously thought but that I was over-functioning, way over-functioning, in just a few.

You guessed it: I was over-using my strengths to the detriment of almost everything else.

So I began using the same measurement I'd used where I was under-functioning and applied it to where I was over-functioning. Just function, no more, no less. One strength I was overusing was, learning. When learners are confronted with a threat, we often react by learning everything about it. In my case, I'm also a strategizer, so I learn all I can and then develop a strategy out of what I've learned. It's highly functional most of the time. At the onset of the pandemic, I learned all I could about COVID, then developed a strategy for dealing with it. I had my COVID strategy down cold months ago but was still learning all I could and that was leaving less time, energy, and focus for everything else.

I was unbalanced.

It's a simple tool: underfunction vs overfunction vs function. The challenge is to do it with self-compassion instead of judgment. It will help you notice where you may be overusing your strengths to get through difficulties but may also be creating more discomfort for yourself and others. One you notice it, you can choose something better.

Where are you creating imbalance in your life by overusing one or more strengths?

 

A coach with expertise in strengths can help you with this. All our graduates have this expertise. Click below to find a coach who can help you get your life back.

 

Find a Coach Here Directory

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Strengths, FIND A COACH, positive psychology coach, Covid

Coach Stephanie Harris Shares Her Incredible Story of Covid-19 Survival

Posted by Stephanie Harris

Coach Stephanie Harris and Husband Mark Skiing 2020

Three weeks ago, a member of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, Stephanie Harris, shared something shocking with me: Her husband had just recovered from Covid-19 and she was still asymptomatic.

I was relieved they were alright and impressed at Stephanie's positive attitude and desire to help others navigate this collective nightmare. Television news programs around the country are interviewing Stephanie to share understanding about her experience. What follows, in Stephanie's own words, are some details of what happened and an invitation to a FREE one-hour interview with Stephanie about what she learned and how she can help. - Julia Stewart

Read on...

"The epidemiologist believes, my husband Mark, contracted Covid-19 at the National Brotherhood of Skiers Summit in Sun Valley, ID, where we were, from February 29 th to March 6 th. I have received firsthand reports of multiple hospitalizations, multiple positive test results and 6 deaths, thus far.

On March 8 th, Mark was feeling achy and coughing slightly. He described his affect as feeling tired. His fatigue continued and on March 9th, 10 tthand 11 th, I called urgent care, our local emergency room, the Broward County, Florida, Department of Health and our primary care office, to obtain information on the best way to treat his situation.
 
As there was no protocol at that time, all I got was “There's no tests kits here, so do not come here”. His fever, headache, chills, fatigue and lack of appetite continued, but, oddly, he was not coughing.
 
On March 12 th, I eventually got an appointment with the primary care office and after a stop by urgent care for a chest x-ray, we made it to the ER and I set the goal of getting him tested.
 
While Mark received IV fluids and an antibiotic, I was forced to continually ask about Covid-19 testing, as the lack of a consistent protocol was evident. I refused to hear anything about the CDC guidelines. As I told the Dr. “This past Saturday, we were on three airplanes and in four airports….do YOU know where those people came from??”
 
It was a long night, largely, in part to me sounding like a broken record and asking any Dr. who would listen, WHEN WILL HE BE TESTED!! I got put on time out by one of the nurses, because she was fearful, I could spread pneumonia or something worse.
 
Since his fever dropped, he was sent home with antibiotics to treat the bacterial pneumonia and a cough medication. We were told we should have the results in a few days. Throughout the weekend, he rested and we continued immune boosting supplements, foods and thoughts.
 
The Broward County Epidemiologist called Tuesday, March 17 th with the news he tested positive. His illness pattern occurred from March 8 th until March 30 th, when he was able to walk 15 minutes, eat well and function without coughing. He is now up to 50 minutes and performing basic body weight exercises. Thankfully, he is doing great!
 
As I pursue this role of support and advocacy, it's very clear I cannot do it alone. Surviving Covid-19 is one thing, coming back home and having zero resources and support, is another. As the spouse of a Covid-19 patient,who has navigated the road to recovery, I am uniquely qualified in understanding the mental aspects of healing, as well as the physical. I am passionate about helping others develop positive changes, in the face of an uncertain and complicated future."
 
Visit Stephanie's website: ShiftWithSteph.com
 
For her informative videos related to Covid-19, go to: Facebook.com/Shiftwithsteph
 
Stephanie has so much wisdom to share on how to survive Covid-19 and help your loved ones: from maintaining a good attitude, to buying a pulse-oximeter, to becoming a strong patient advocate, that we did a FREE one-hour interview with her. The recording is  available to those who register below.
 
Register for Stephanie Harris Interview

 

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Covid

Coaching Accountability Isn't What You Think It is

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching accountability with a bullhorn cropped

Managing Progress and Accountability is an ICF Core Coaching Competency that is frequently missed when coaches apply for certification, according to ICF certifiers.

I could be wrong, but I think the name, itself, confuses coaches. It sounds like the coach literally manages the client and holds them accountable to achieve their goals the way an employer might, but that's not what helps clients progress, and it's really not what ICF certifiers are looking for.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

It's time somebody told you the secret of motivation and it has nothing to do with holding your clients accountable...

Here's why: Have you ever caught yourself being stubborn with someone (your friend, sibling, spouse, perhaps) about something you really wanted to do but you were only willing to do it your way or not at all? Or has someone ever told you that you need to change something about yourself, and even if you agreed with them, you didn't do it? Or do you ever ask for advice and then don't follow it?

If yes to any of these, you're normal. People naturally resist doing what others tell them to do and unless that other has something important to hang over their head, like their job, they often won't do it even if they want to.

 

We all get a little negative in these situations and that negativity has power over us that most people underestimate.

 

Here's an example: An SCM graduate just posted a meme on Facebook that said she never shares memes that say, "I bet I won't get even one share," even if she otherwise likes the meme. I don't share them, either. In fact, I did an impromptu poll once on my Facebook feed to see if others shared them. Nobody did. They're annoying.

Subtle levels of negativity, defensiveness, resistance, anxiety, or irritation of any type trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response unconsciously, which in turn delivers a cocktail of stress hormones, like cortisol, which can stay in the blood stream for quite a while and hold the client back from taking action. Essentially, they freeze.

 

So if a coach presumes to manage a client in any way, especially by checking up on them, or requiring the client to check in with the coach, or in any way holding them accountable, there's a good chance that will backfire. Don't do it.

 

What does work? A recent article by researcher, Richard Boyatzis and colleagues, at TrainingIndustry.com, offered five possibilities that have been found to help people change. Boyatzis is well-known for his research and teachings on coaching, emotional intelligence, and leadership. His change theory of positive emotional attractors (PEAs) v negative emotional attractors (NEAs), which roughly translate to positivity v negativity in positive psychology terms, helps explain why some approaches to change don't work while others do.

 

In a nutshell, change is stressful and that releases stress hormones that trigger the fight, flight or freeze response.

 

Something or someone needs to continually bring the client back to positivity so negativity doesn't prevent them from proceeding. That someone is often the coach.

 

Forcing or requiring people to do things increase stress so pushy coaches often fail.

 

Goals, alone, aren't motivating unless they are aligned with what matters most to the client, such as their personal values, vision, mission, calling, dream, passion, or life purpose. Any goals, especially challenging goals, that aren't aligned with the client's bigger picture, are unlikely to provide sufficient positivity to carry the client forward.

 

Growth and Transformation aren't just a byproduct of great coaching. They are necessary ingredients that help our clients reach their goals. So, we need to help link their goals to what really inspires in order for them to succeed.

 

To learn more about the science of coaching and prepare yourself to become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®, join the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches and attend our series on the nine NEW  Positive Psychology Coaching Skills, from Optimum Positivity, to Goals & Achievement, and Growth & Transformation.

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Science of Coaching, personal values, IAPPC

We're Building a New Home for Positive Psychology Coaches

Posted by Julia Stewart

IAPPC logo 1 8-18

A small community of positive psychology coaches has recently incorporated as the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches.

The original community was launched by David McQuarrie, CPPC, and me in 2016. We began meetings by identifying who were are by exploring our shared strengths, values, and needs. It soon became clear that we are an organization of peers who are passionate about learning and mastering the new field of positive psychology coaching and sharing what we learn to help create a better world for all.

At this point, we have over 400 members and haven't even launched our website, yet!

[UPDATE 8-27-19: We officially have over1000 members now and are 4 months ahead of schedule. Thanks so much for your support!]

We're not here to compete with other coaching and positive psychology organizations, but to fill the gaps that other organizations haven't met.

How can you learn more about the new IAPPC and get a limited-time free membership?

  • Attend the exciting upcoming meeting. This is where stuff really happens. Learn what's coming from IAPPC and share your thoughts on what will help you most. You need to be a member to get an invitation.
  • Join IAPPC now and enjoy free benefits for Founding Members. It won't all be free forever, but we intend to delight you so much that continuing membership will be a no-brainer. Join now and get your Founding Member badge.
  • Join us on Facebook here. Discover other members and share exciting news.
  • Invite your friends to join us. The more members, the more benefits we can provide for less cost. We'd love to attract 1,000 members by 2020! Use the social sharing buttons at the top of this post to share with others. Thanks so much!

What's the relationship between SCM and IAPPC?

Previous coaching organizations, such as the ICF and IAC, were launched by the owners of coaching schools. That makes sense because we have mailing lists of coaches, connections and know-how, and infrastructure that can support a fledgling organization until it's ready to fly. SCM has been there for this organization through its infancy and will continue to support it as it matures.

That said, IAPPC is for all positive psychology coaches, regardless where you trained. You can get involved now and you can qualify to apply for IAPPC's upcoming certifications when they are available. Our goal is to launch the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches as a fully independent not-for-profit professional association with its own certification. Please join us!

 

Join now while it's still free and get your Founding Member badge:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, IAPPC

Dos and Don't for Better Coaching Outcomes

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do's and Don't for Coaching

The Institute of Coaching (IOC) is a great resource for research on coaching and related topics.

Recently the IOC featured a literature review on research into negative side effects of coaching by Carsten C. Schermuly and Carolin Grassmann. It's an important topic that needs attention. The conclusions of the authors was that coaches need to discuss potential negative side effects with their clients, may need supervision (coaching for their coaching) in order to mitigate negative effects while coaching, and that coaching education needs to train coaches in how to prevent negative effects.

I found many of the effects, themselves, to be dismaying examples of what can go wrong if a coach is not thoroughly trained to prevent problems, so this post will address issues from that perspective.

What are negative effects of coaching? They "...are defined as harmful of unwanted results for clients directly caused by coaching..." Negative effects can also impact the coach and these effects were telling.

I suspect many of the negative effects for clients were related to the negative effects for coaches and if the coaches had prepared, trained, and set up the coaching relationships proactively, there would have been far fewer negative effects for either.

Negative effects on coaches and Dos and Don'ts to prevent them:

  1. Unable to observe the long-term influences of coaching - Do set this up at the start of the client engagement by finding out both the goals for the coaching and how the client will measure them. Likewise, set up each coaching session with its own goals and measurements. Don't coach without this level of clarity.

  2. Being personally affected by the topics discussed during coaching - Do work on your own personal development continuously, including hiring your own coach. Learning to maintain appropriate compassion without getting caught by the client's dramas is a critical coaching skill that takes practice, self-care, and better-then-average resilience. Don't continue coaching someone if their issues personally effect you.

  3. Fear that s/he would not be able to fulfill the coach role - Do get the training, hours of practice, certification, and evidence for coaching itself, as well as for your own coaching results, so you can coach with confidence. Confidence is a coaching deliverable. Without it, the coach and client are both disadvantaged.

  4. Dislike of the client or the client’s behaviors - Do interview potential clients in advance. Don't coach anyone you don't like. It's unpleasant and rarely goes well. And although this isn't quite the same as liking a client, believing in your client goes a long way toward helping both of you like, trust, and respect one another, which are the foundations for an effective coaching relationship. It's unethical to coach clients you don't believe in.

  5. Disappointment in the coaching results - The first four negative effects are likely to lead to disappointment in positive coaching results, so don't let them occur. If you don't like the client, aren't confident, don't know how to measure, and tend to get caught in the client's dramas, you're results are likely to be poor-to-mediocre, at best. If you add ineffective communication skills (see below), then emotional exhaustion and feeling underpaid are likely outcomes, as well. Do negotiate coaching engagements that set you and your clients up for success.

  6. Emotional exhaustion, high pressure, over-challenged, or stress - Do keep your client roster small enough that exhaustion isn't a factor. Don't let clients and sponsors pressure you into doing a mediocre job.

  7. Difficulties in being an effective communicator - Do develop advanced communication skills. This is a coaching basic. An effective coach training school will address this and tell you if you have issues to work on. So will a good coach, or coaching supervisor, or coaching certification. Communication is your instrument. Don't coach until you've tuned it to optimum quality.

  8. Feeling underpaid - Do avoid all these pitfalls. Then you can demand and get what you deserve to be paid, because client outcomes will be impressively positive with few negative effects. Don't coach without getting the training you need.

The following negative outcomes for clients were identified by the authors, but could be mitigated by the above Dos and Don'ts: Deeper problems can be triggered but may beyond the scope of coaching. Client's new behaviors led to conflict with current relationships. Client's perspective on their work downshifted to less meaningful or satisfying. Client performance temporarily declined as they mastered new behaviors.

In a nutshell, coaches in these studies may have benefited from more training, or at least more effective training, as well as from coaching on the coach's coaching, otherwise known as supervision, and by more practice, better communication, negotiation, and agreement setting, and by the coaches raising their own standards for their work.

 

Thinking about advanced coach training? Consider the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, accredited for 210 ICF hours:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

Topics: coach training, Certified Positive Psychology Coach

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.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

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

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.

[UPDATE, 10-10-19: The ICF just announced a new coaching competency model to owners of ICF-accredited coach training programs like the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program. They have asked us not to share the new module until they have released it to their entire membership in November. It appears the following skills will still be appropriate under the new model. If I discover otherwise, I will update this again.]

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:

Visit the Certified Neuroscience Coach Page Here

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

The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Coaching Niche

Posted by Julia Stewart

Find Your Niche

One of the biggest hurdles most coaches cross on the way to filling their businesses with  clients, is finding their coaching niche.

Other terms for this include finding your target market, finding your ideal client, or identifying your avatar, persona, or favorite client. These are the people you do your best work with, who you enjoy coaching, who succeed at their goals, and who send their friends to you. Marketing gets easier once you find your niche, but not necessarily for the reason you think.

Some coaches turn "finding my niche" into a massive problem that stops them from succeeding.

That's the real problem. It doesn't have to be that way.

Here's a story:

One of my students asked me to coach him in class. His goal was to find his niche. His problem was that he couldn't get his marketing focused without a niche so he was coaching all kinds of people. I asked a few questions and found out that my student already had more clients than he ever thought he'd have.

So I shared something I learned from Thomas Leonard, the Founder of the Coaching Profession, while I was studying with him. Thomas said you don't need a niche, especially when you're starting out. He said plenty of generic life coaches were doing fine without finding their niche.

I suggested to my student that since he already had plenty of clients, maybe he didn't need a niche. He was immensely relieved and immediately reoriented around serving the clients he already had instead of obsessing over getting a niche.

Even if you have plenty of clients, identifying a marketing niche can be useful, so here are the two main paths to finding one:

1. Pay someone to help you identify your niche. I know a coach who hired a branding expert to help her identify her niche. Together, they found a very specific group of people who had problems the coach was familiar with. In fact, the coach belonged to that group and struggled with the same problems. She found a snappy and memorable domain name, set up a website, and soon had a full coaching practice. But she hated coaching her clients. So she fired them all! She said she got tired of listening to them complain because they didn't want to change their lives. She and her coach made two mistakes: They didn't identify a niche that was ready to change and they didn't realize that she wasn't ready to work with those clients, without judging them, because she was still struggling with the same issues, herself. Not everyone who pays a coach or marketing expert to help them find a niche will find their niche and not everyone who finds one will fire all their clients, but it's not uncommon.

2. Get paid while you find your niche. I know another coach who started coaching without a niche. One of his clients was so successful with his help that they referred several colleagues to him to coach on the same topics. The new clients, were also successful with his help and referred more. He had found his niche! He soon had so many clients that his business grossed over one million dollars per year. Not everyone who finds a niche this way will have a million-dollar coaching business, but it can happen.

You can start coaching without a niche.

If you just start coaching, your niche will find you. Over time, notice who your favorite clients are. Make note about what it is you like about them. In particular, notice the clients who refer more clients to you. Think about who they are, how they are, and how you communicate with them. Design a website just for them. Ask them for testimonials. Ask them to review your site and tell you what they like and don't like. Edit until they love it. That's how to market to your niche. Easy when you know how.

Our Coach 100 Business Success training program is included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program and the Certified Neuroscience Coach Program, at no extra charge. It'll help you identify your niche, fill up your coaching practice, get referrals and testimonials, become a better coach, get ICF certification if you want it, and more.

 

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Topics: coaching business, Coach 100, coaching success, ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, coaching niche, certified neuroscience coach

Which Coach Certification Will Make You Successful?

Posted by Julia Stewart

coach certification stamp

Which coaches are most successful?

In a recent article, Seth Godin, the guru of marketing, pointed out that the top 5% of businesses do very well. He also mentioned that everyone would like to be number one, but mathematically, not everyone will be number one, which is okay because the top 5% is where you need to be. This applies to coaching, too.

How do you get into the top 5% of coaches?

There are many pathways to success in coaching. One is to increase the quality of you customer service. Another is to increase the quality of your coaching. Both will help you become "remarkable". In other words, your happy clients will rave about you and that brings more happy clients. Experience, training, education, and certification will also help you do well. Of these, certification tends to be most important in coaching.

Do you need to be certified to succeed as a coach?

No one certification, by itself, will be enough for you succeed to as a coach. And there are still some coaches who claim you don't need any certification, at all. This used to be true back when few working coaches were certified and it may still be true depending on who your clients are. If you coach mostly entrepreneurs, they may not care if you're certified. But if you want to qualify for lucrative coaching contracts in large organizations, you will most certainly need a recognized certification.

What certification will help you succeed as a coach?

By far, the most recognized coach certifications are those of the ICF. They have three levels and the highest, their MCC, is only held by 4% of the coaches they have credentialed. This might suggest that you need the MCC to succeed, but that's not true. Many coaches are still uncertified and we have to count them, too. Still fewer coaches are certified by the ICF, only about 25,000, as of this writing, out of the 50,000-60,000 professional coaches, worldwide. We can estimate that 2,500-3,000 coaches are in the top 5%, many more than are MCCs. So I would suggest the next level down, the ICF PCC, is the one you want to shoot for. In my experience, those are the coaches who are succeeding.

Will the ICF PCC guarantee coaching success?

No. As stated earlier, no one factor contributes to coaching success, but certifications do matter and entry-level certifications sometimes aren't enough. When you choose your coach training path, look for trainings that are accredited for at least enough hours to qualify for the PCC. You may want to shoot for the stars and get MCC-level training, as well.

Where can you find coach trainings that are accredited for PCC and MCC credentialing?

The ICF has listings for many trainings that meet the requirements for PCC certification (125 hours) and MCC certification (200 hours). The Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program was the first positive psychology coach training program accredited by the ICF for 125 hours and later became the only one accredited for 200 hours. We are still the only positive psychology coach training, other than university training programs that are much longer and more expensive, that is accredited for 200 hours. If you're looking for evidence-based coach training, one of the fastest growing areas in coaching today, check out our program.

 

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, MCC, PCC

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