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Life Coaching and Post-Healing Society

Posted by Julia Stewart

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There is a broad assumption in our society that many, if not most people need to heal, as in restore health or be made whole. And while healing is a phenomenal process that can restore life to millions of people, and for which I am most grateful, I believe we are increasingly moving into a "post-healing society" and I'm not alone.

Post-healing is itself an extraordinary milestone in human evolution, which deserves to be talked about and clarified, so we all know when we are experiencing it and so we can have more of it.

I'm sometimes surprised by people who are unaware of even the possibility of a post-healing society.

So what am I talking about when I say, "post-healing society?" I'm calling it "post-healing", because at the start of something that is this complex and revolutionary, it's helpful to make a distinction between newly emerging conditions and that which went before, gave rise to the new, and is now distinct from it. Over time, I believe a different name will emerge that describes more fully what "post-healing" really is, but for now, let's look at how it is different from healing society.

Post-healing society and healing society currently overlap and will do so for the foreseeable future.

I'm talking largely about psychological healing here, but body, mind, heart, and spirit are so entwined that that distinction may not be altogether important. In fact, appreciating the inherent wholeness and interconnectedness of body, mind, heart, and spirit is a feature of post-healing.

From a psychological perspective, healing society arose and reached its zenith in the second half of the 20th Century when defining mental illnesses, cataloging their symptoms, and finding effective treatments for them became the primary focus of the fields of psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. As treatments became more effective, the impact on society was seismic. People started to understand their own differences and difficulties, as well as those of others, learned to ask for what they needed, began to experience wellness, spoke up for their rights to be treated equally and with respect, and for many, to a large degree, suffering was diminished.

When there is less suffering, new possibilities emerge.

But by the end of the 20th Century, many professionals seemed to believe there was something psychologically wrong with us all. I heard one psychologist say that everyone had something, either a neurosis, personality disorder, or psychosis; or else they had addictions, brain damage, or other neurological disorders. Another told me that in therapy, neurotic is what you want to be, because everything else is worse.

So what is healthy if everyone is ill, including apparently (since everyone has something), the therapists, themselves?

I wasn't the only one wondering about this, because positive psychology officially emerged in the 1990's as a sub-specialty of psychological research. Positive psychology is specifically concerned with studying people who are doing well, who enjoy well-being and are flourishing, so that others can learn from them and enjoy greater well-being, also.

The pioneers of positive psychology, notably Martin Seligman, went so far as to declare that the goal of positive psychology was to render itself obsolete. In other words, that the larger field of psychology would return to its original intent and cover the entire range of human behavior, rather than just focusing on what was wrong.

Here's a real-world example of post-healing. Seligman was asked by the United States Armed Services to help returning servicemen and women who have developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a debilitating illness that is particularly difficult to heal. After surveying a large number of soldiers, Seligman's team found that a small percentage, who had been exposed to many of the same horrors of war as those who developed PTSD, actually seemed to grow through the experience.

The key to growth rather than illness? It was the story they told themselves about it, in other words, the meaning they attached to the event. If a soldier told him or herself that they were at fault for the deaths of their buddies, or that they should have been able to save a friend, they were more likely to develop PTSD. If on the other hand, they told themselves that they must have been spared for a reason and that now they had an important purpose to serve with their lives, they were more likely to experience what Seligman calls, Post Traumatic Growth.

Now there is training for soldiers that can help them grow through trauma, instead of being damaged by it.

We could call this pre-healing, since it precedes the need for healing. I call it a post-healing intervention, because it comes from a mindset that sees the limitations of healing and, instead of allowing a problem to continue and then waiting to heal people from it, it has found a solution that eliminates the need for healing (An even more advanced post-healing society would eliminate the need for war.)

As an aside, I want to mention that 20th Century psychology has focused, from a scientific and medical standpoint, on many of the same issues that were once thought to belong to the realm of spirit, spirituality, and religion. Afterall, its name is derived from the Greek, "psykhe", meaning soul, spirit, or mind.

Today's "spiritual-but-not-religious" movement focuses on healing almost as much as the psychological field.

But modern spirituality also focuses on the transcendent, trans-personal, upon enlightenment, and other lofty states. Like the field of psychology that is envisioned by Seligman, spirituality focuses on the full range of human behaviors and experiences.

An example of post-healing spirituality is Zen Master, Genpo Roshi's, brilliant integration of voice dialogue therapy with modern Zen, called Big Mind. The goal of Big Mind isn't healing, but Buddhist enlightenment. It begins with the assumption that the student is already whole, complete, and perfect; including the parts s/he would like to eliminate!

An example is what Roshi calls a "disowned voice", a part of us that we judge negatively and may want to eliminate and that can become a problematic shadow. One such voice is what he calls, "The Damage". Most of us who seek out healing would love to eliminate what we consider damaged in ourselves. Some of us go from therapist to therapist, spiritual healer to spiritual healer, for years hoping to finally be healed.

Don't go to Roshi for healing, though. Instead, he completely reframes the role of The Damage. He will tell you that you are already whole, complete, and perfect, including The Damage, which is perfectly damaged. It's perfect, because it has accepted all the slings and arrows of your life, so the rest of you can remain undamaged. No more, no less.

What would you call someone who took a bullet for you? Your hero?

The Damage is a hero who accepts all the damage we would otherwise endure, allowing the rest of our selves to remain whole, complete, and perfect. It deserves to be honored and embraced. Instead, we cause suffering for ourselves by framing it as imperfect, not good enough, broken, or sick. When we go through life believing we need to heal, we sometimes keep old wounds open, we feel less than, we sometimes give away our power to healers, or we may use our condition to be less than fully responsible for ourselves.

Once you embrace that you're whole, complete, and perfect, there are no more excuses.

I'm not suggesting that these two examples of what I call, post-healing, are what everyone needs. Remember, both the healing society and post-healing society will exist side-by-side for quite a while, if not forever. I am suggesting that healing has opened the door to post-healing.

I'll use myself as another example. As someone who grew up in the proverbial dysfunctional family, I worked with a number of therapists over the years, believing there was something wrong with me. They made a big difference. But one of the most dramatic shifts that I made with any therapist was with the last, who at one point said, "Read my lips, you're healthy." Accepting that there was nothing seriously wrong with me was like waking from a dream. Suddenly, so much more was possible. I felt confident and believed in myself.

Of course, I wouldn't have gotten there without the help of some wonderful healers. And that's my point. Therapy got me ready for post-healing. And it got me ready for coaching, too.

Life coaching is, as far as I know, the first and perhaps only profession that is completely post-healing.

Life coaching and its siblings, including business coaching, executive coaching, and more, don't focus on healing clients, but rather assist clients to shift into more resourceful, and some would say, transformative mind-states that help them see solutions to problems and pathways to goals, while inspiring them to take action and create the outcomes that are best for themselves and others.

We see our clients as whole, complete, and perfect. We believe in them from the very start. We help them reframe limiting beliefs, integrate disowned voices, and experience their interconnectedness with others. As a result, they become more confident, believe in themselves, evolve into who they want to be, and create valuable changes for themselves and others. It's both an honor and an interdevelopmental experience to work with people who are discovering their true selves for the very first time.

They step into their greatness and go on to change the world for the better.

Imagine a world where all people not only heal, but reach their full potential and are inspired to transform the world. It's not a dream. Because of the good work done by healers, clients are becoming ready for post-healing and coaches go on to make transformative possibilities real everyday.

Would you like to join the post-healing society?

Find a coach here. Or become a coach. Your first step toward professional coaching might be to download the  FREE Become a Coach eBook.

Get a free Become a Coach eBook here.

Topics: business coach, executive coach, become a coach, Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, free ebook, post-healing

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

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check Out Coach Training Programs Here.

 

 

 

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

Should Business and Life Coaches Ask "Why" Questions?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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

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

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

Some powerful awareness-building questions:

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

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

So why shouldn't coaches ask, Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WHY matters more than anything else in coaching!

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

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

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

Here are some Why questions you MUST ask:

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

Powerful Why questions uncover what the client most values.

Values are the Why.

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

Values are what matter most. 

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

So should coaches ask Why questions? YES. 

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

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

Curious about positive psychology coaching? Get the free eBook:

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

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

Should Life and Business Coaches Give Advice?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Most people assume that life, business, and executive coaches give advice, because that's what most professionals do: give expert advice. For instance, if you hire an attorney, s/he gives you legal advice. If you hire a broker, s/he gives you financial advice. And if you go to a hair stylist, you expect some advice on your hair. But coaches really aren't advisors.

By the way, this answers the question posed to me years ago by one coach wannabe, "How do you charge for free advice?" Most new coaches ask some version of this question when they first set up their coaching businesses. The answer is, "You don't." Free advice is everywhere, but that's not what coaches do.

Huh? What do coaches do then, if they don't give advice?

Well, here's one of the most succinct definitions of coaching, from David Rock, who pioneered brain-based coaching. He says, "Coaches help people think better."

"Why would anyone pay hundreds of dollars per hour to have somebody help them thinking better?" you might ask.

That's certainly an understandable question. Because Rock's definition is so simple, it doesn't even hint at the power of coaching. In fact, most coaching definitions don't. Here are two coaching definitions I borrowed from the blog post, "What is Life Coaching?"

School of Coaching Mastery (SCM) definition of coaching: Coaching is a customized conversation that empowers the client to get what s/he wants by thinking and acting more resourcefully.

International Coach Federation (ICF) definition of coaching: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

These definitions get closer to what really happens in an effective coaching session, but if you've never been coached, it's still hard to imagine the value, so it's no wonder untrained coaches tend to give advice and then wonder why they don't have more paying coaching clients.

If your "coaching" is really about giving advice, you're not coaching; you're consulting. Sometimes the client needs consulting, so if you're qualified to consult within your specialty, go ahead and consult. But don't call it coaching, because your clients won't know what they're buying.

And don't ever call yourself a coach just to get around the fact that you don't have the credentials to do something else. Coaching is unregulated virtually everywhere, but If you're not qualified to be a counselor, psychotherapist, financial advisor, legal advisor, or health professional, etc.; it's unethical to advise people under the heading of "coach", because coaches don't advise and because calling your service one thing, when it's really something else, is false advertising. And finally, because these specialties are usually regulated.

What coaches really do is shift their clients' mind-states. This is pretty profound, requires skill, and it results in dramatically better outcomes. We don't heal our clients, but we do bring out their personal greatness, which has in common elements from Presence, Flow, Love 2.0, and more.

In short, coaching clients think better. Way better.

When clients think better, they see solutions to problems and pathways to reaching goals. They sometimes realize they don't even have problems (or maybe what they have are really good problems) and they even become grateful for what they already have. Sometimes, they find strengths they'd forgotten, or values they truly treasure that pull them forward. Sometimes they realize they already have the people and resources they need, or that they know where to find them.

And occasionally, they discover a gap that needs filling.

There may be a gap in knowledge, vision, plan, or relationships. In these rare cases, the coach may prompt clients with a few possibilities they didn't know about. The coach might say, "I've seen others try X, Y, or Z in this type of situation and it was effective for them. What do you think?" But a great coach will never say, "You should do X." The first is offering options; the second is giving advice.

Even offering options is ineffective unless it's really needed, which is pretty rare.

Do you know how to help people think better? Do you how to shift people's mind-states so they think and act more resourcefully? Do you know how to elicit people's personal greatness? And when and how to offer options?

If not, or if you're unsure, the upcoming Coaching Groundwork Advance course may be perfect for you. Find out more and download the face sheet, or even register, below.

Join Coaching Groundwork Advanced and Save

Topics: business coach, life coach, executive coach, Coaching Groundwork, consulting, Flow, coaching definition, personal greatness, coaching presence, love 2.0

Why Life Coaches Should Never Get Botox (and Other Surprises)

Posted by Julia Stewart

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Life Coaches and their colleagues (such as business coaches and executive coaches) need empathy, that sense that you can identify and even feel what another is experiencing. It's an important part of what leadership coaching and emotional intelligence expert, Richard Boyatzis, calls "compassionate coaching", the type of coaching that's been found to be most effective.

Have you ever wondered how we know what someone else is feeling? 

Neuroscientists tell us that we have something called mirror neurons that cause us to experience what others experience, both physically and emotionally. You're even more likely to feel what someone else is feeling, if you're closely bonded to them. That's one of the reasons that connecting with a client is so important.

Why does it matter that life coaches have a strong sense of empathy with their clients?

A tremendous amount of information passes between a coach and client during a coaching session. We think about six times faster than we can talk (Rock, 2006) and we feel almost instantly, so if we over-rely on the content of the client's words, we will understand only a thimble full, compared to the volumes of information we can glean via empathy. Of course, we need to be sensitive to that information and accurately interpret it, while checking in with the client, in order to stay on track. This can take considerable practice.

So why should life coaches never get botox?

The concept of mirror neurons doesn't really describe the complex wiring that goes into empathy, which is an evolutionary enhancement that many animals don't have. The more social a species is (think: reptiles, to mammals, to primates, to us: the world's most social animal) the more sophisticated our emotional wiring must be.

As Stephen Porges, author of The Polyvagal Theory (2011) tells us, all animals have something called the vagus nerve, a conduit for a host of smaller nerves that connect the face, throat, chest and abdomen, and communicate between our organs, facial muscles, and brain. It is this collection of nerves that is the seat of emotion. That's why you feel emotions in your torso, throat and/or face.

In reptiles, who experience little or no emotional bonding, emotions are simply about survival. Reptilian vagus nerves enervate the gut and produce "gut feelings" that signal danger, while the reptilian brain (analogous to the human brain stem) signals a "fight, flight, or freeze response." Humans and other mammals also possess this primitive wiring, which Porges calls, "the vegetative vagus". 

It's official; your gut feelings are real.

But mammals are more social and need more complex emotional wiring to navigate relationships. We also possess the "smart vagus" that enervates the heart and lungs. This is the vagus that has gotten a lot of press lately, since scientists discovered that the vagus delivers oxytocin, the "love hormone" that triggers much of what we call bonding between humans and other animals.

Hold on, I'm getting to the botox part.

In primates, and especially humans, vagal nerves also enervate the throat and facial muscles which communicate so much to empathic others via our facial expressions and also via our voices, which change slightly according to muscle contractions in the throat. This is why we can intuit what someone is feeling when we talk to them on the phone. In turn, the listener experiences minute contractions in their own face, throat, chest and abdomen. It's those contractions that tell you what someone else is feeling, because you are then feeling it too!

The most highly empathic people respond to tiny, almost invisible contractions around the eyes, rather then just the mouth. In fact, people who are autistic, and therefore are not usually highly empathic, tend to avoid looking at eyes and so miss important information.

When you talk to someone face-to-face, or on the telephone, you intuition is highly influenced by the minute contractions around your own eyes and other parts of the face and throat. According to Porges, if you've had botox, you will be cut off from that information. Plus, others will have a harder time reading your feelings. Less empathy all around. Bad for your relationships. Super bad for your coaching.

Botox literally cuts you off from your complex and subtle ways of knowing.

Would you like to learn more about the science of coaching? Consider joining the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program or simply take the modules you're most curious about. All are ICF approved and IAC licensed. Click below for more information.

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

Topics: executive coach, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Neuroplasticity

Before You Become a Coach: Seven Serious Questions to Ask Yourself

Posted by Julia Stewart

Become a coachWritten by Julia Stewart

Are you wondering if you should become a coach? Or how to get started as a coach? Or whether you should get certified as a coach?

This time of year, I hear from folks all over the world who are thinking about becoming life, business, or executive coaches. Their questions inspired this post.

Although the questions vary, the subtext is always the same: Can I succeed, as a coach?

That one, I can't answer, but you can, after you've asked yourself the right questions.

Here are seven questions to help you determine if becoming a coach is right for you:

1. What's your reason for becoming a coach?

  • If you love to help people, or you got coached yourself and loved it, or personal and professional development are your passion (see #7); these are great reasons. If you're out of work and out of money, or you just got diagnosed with a serious illness; these are poor reasons. As with any business, you'll need time, energy, money, and passion to succeed as a coach.

2. Is now the right time for you to become a coach?

  • Speaking of time...timing is half the secret when it comes to succeeding at anything. Do you happen to have the time, energy and money to work on your new business, right now? Or did you just fall in love, are getting divorced, making a big move, or going back to grad school? Major life transitions take up huge amounts of energy, focus, and time (and usually money). Starting a new business is a major life transition. The more you pile on, the harder and slower it will be to succeed. I'm not saying it can't be done, but be prepared.

3. Do you have the skills you need to become a coach?

  • Virtually everyone underestimates the skill required to become an effective coach. Most think they learned what they needed in school or on the job. Probably you have some of the skills and that's good. But it's extremely rare to have all the skills needed, without substantial coach-specific training, or a decade of full-time professional coaching. Get training, rather than education. Education gives you context, history, theories, etc. What you need is skill. Get the skills you need to succeed more quickly.

4. Do you have the financial resources to become a coach?

  • Coaching is often cited as one of the easiest and cheapest businesses to set up. While that may be true, as with every business, "it takes money to make money". In the case of coaching, be sure you have an alternate income source until your coaching practice is full. You should have clients within your first three months, but a full practice can easily take a year, sometimes more.

5. Do you have the emotional resources you need to become a coach?

  • Great coaches believe in learning opportunities. There's no better learning opportunity than starting a new business, because it'll bring out all your insecurities. Capitalize on this opportunity by working with a mentor coach. S/he'll believe in you until you believe in yourself and will help you build a community of ardent supporters. 

6. Do you have the business know-how to become a coach?

  • People who already have experience running a small business, tend to hit the ground running, when they launch coaching businesses. If that's not you, work with a mentor coach who knows the business of coaching, inside out. Get advice also from a small-business attorney, accountant, financial adviser, and more.

7. Do you have the passion to become a coach?

  • This is the biggy. If your answers to the first six questions feel like too much work, maybe you just don't have the passion for coaching. On the other hand, if you feel curious, excited, but with a few butterflies (think: waiting inline for the ferris wheel), you've got that illusive IT, the passion needed to succeed. Passionate people dive in and do what others complain about, cut corners on, or procrastinate over. Passion will carry you forward. Add a great strategy to make it simple.
If you can say, YES, to #7 and can arrange for the other six, then coaching could be an awesome profession for you and, YES, you can succeed at it!

 

Ready to become a coach?

 

Click me

Topics: executive coach, mentor coach, coach training, become a life coach, become a coach, Coach 100, become a business coach, becoming a certified coach

New Stanford Study Says CEOs Want a Lot More Executive Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Executive Life CoachingEverybody knows that CEOs and Executives are the folks who all have high-priced executive life coaches. But a new study from Stanford University says there's a big gap between the number of executives who want coaching and the number who actually get it.

How many executives want coaching? According to Stanford, virtually 100% want coaching and consulting. How many actually get it? Only 34%. That's a lot of need for executive coaching services that's not being met.

By the way, what's the difference between life coaching and executive coaching? Not much, according to Sherpa. Executive coaches use many of the same communication and awareness-building skills that life coaches use. The difference is largely in who gets coached and how much is charged for it, with executive coaches averaging roughly double what life coaches charge. 

To become an executive coach it's important to have a recognized coach certification. Currently ICF certification is preferred by large organizations. You also need experience, a great track record and training in areas like positive psychology. Understanding corporate politics may matter, but some coaches say it's more advantageous to come from a background that's completely different from that of big business. To understand why, read the four main reasons CEOs and executives want coaching...

Why do 100% of CEOs and Executives want coaching?

  1. They want to learn how to handle conflict better. 
  2. They want to learn to mentor and develop talent.
  3. They need to learn to share leadership and delegate.
  4. They need to improve team building.
These skills are all about cooperation, not the competitive, swim-with-the-sharks approach that the upper echelans of business are known for.

 

What are CEOs and Executives NOT interested in? Motivation, compassion, empathy; these life coaching 'soft' skills aren't sought after by executives, but can be powerful add-ins when combined with the more tangible wants, above. Smart coaches have always marketed and sold what clients want, while adding in important soft skills as their 'secret sauce'.

 

CEOs and executives also want advice, because they make big decisions daily and they know they don't know it all. But there's a big difference between wanting advice and taking the advice given. That's where coaching skills trump consulting. Coaches communicate in ways that make it far more likely that clients will act upon good ideas.

 

For more on why CEOs value executive coaching, watch this Forbes video interview of Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, who says the best advice he ever got was to get a coach.

 

Want to become an executive coach? Get the coach training and certification you need. If you're a high achiever, get your own executive coach, as well.

 

Learn About Elite Coaching for High Achievers

Topics: executive coach, executive coaching, ICF, life coach salary, Coach Certification, Become a Certified Coach, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology

Top Ten Reasons You Need a Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do I need a coach?

 

Have you ever wondered, "Do I need a coach?" If so, this post is for you...

 

I've put together 10 of the best reasons to find a coach. And when I say, "coach" I mean a certified life coach, business coach, executive coach, career coach, relationship coach, wellness coach, etc. Make sure your coach has a reputable certification and some excellent recommendations. Most good coaches do.

 

Here are the Top Ten Reasons You Need a Coach:

 

  1. Your life, business, career, relationship, etc., is already good, but you want it to be much, much better. Coaching isn't a crisis intervention. Nor is it a substitute for psychotherapy, or advice from a professional such as an attorney, accountant, physician, etc. If things are basically good, but you know they could be a lot better and you're ready for that to happen, that's a great time for you to hire a coach.
  2. You want YOU to be much, much better. Just because most things are going well, doesn't mean you don't want to improve them and that includes yourself. Many people hire a coach because they know they are built for more and they want to reach their full potential sooner, rather than later. This is different from being insecure. People derive considerable joy from stepping into their personal greatness. In fact, some people believe this is the single biggest source of happiness. Great coaches are experts at eliciting their clients' personal greatness.
  3. You're going through a big transition. Change can be difficult, even when it's what you want. Anytime you go through a big transition such as starting a new business or career, getting divorced, moving to a new city, going back to school, etc.; it's a great time to have someone who believes in you and who can help you make the most crucial choices as smoothly as possible. A good coach won't take you on unless they truly believe in you.
  4. You're a high achiever. This is the type of client I prefer to work with. High achievers tend to be driven and good at success, but they don't always create the success they really want. If you're ever wondered, "Is this all there is?", or "How did I get myself into this and how do I get out?", you could really benefit from working with a great coach. Everybody has a few blind spots. In fact, neuroscientists say we are unconscious of 95% of what goes on in our brains. Think about that! A good coach can see you as you are, without judgment, and help you be your best and achieve what you're built to do. Just ask Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, Who needs a coach?
  5. You want more meaning in your life. "Meaning" is what makes your heart sing. It generally comes from doing what matters most to you. This gets much easier when you understand what you most value and find cool  ways to express it. If life feels a little shallow, or you don't know why you do what you do anymore, you could really benefit from working with a great coach.
  6. You want to take better care of yourself. Most of us were taught to take pretty good care of ourselves. That's fine if you want an average life. But people who accomplish great things often need to upgrade their lives tremendously before that's even possible. They need clearer boundaries, a physical environment that's supportive, more organization (or an organized assistant), enough rest, great stress management, and/or people who "get" them and who are actively supportive. Otherwise, "death by a thousand cuts" will slice their dreams to shreds. Good coaches know how to assist their clients to get the wonderful self care they truly need, to step into the lives they were built to live.
  7. You want to upgrade the people in your life. I don'tknow about you, but I used to choose my friends according to who I had the most fun with. They weren't always the nicest or most evolved people. Eventually, I realized I wanted to upgrade my friendships. Then I realized (gulp), I needed to upgrade myself in order to attract the people I wanted to spend more time with. It wasn't that hard, because my coaches helped me do it. I set higher standards for myself and started living up to them. I found others who lived up to similar standards and we were naturally attracted to each other. Now when I choose friends, I find people who are supportive, really supportive. And they've got a friend for life.
  8. You want to make more money. It might seem crass to bring up money right after talking about meaning, values, high standards and good friends, but let's face it, a great life or career usually includes enough money, sometimes lots of it. Many people hire coaches when they want to upgrade their careers or launch a new business. The funny thing is that values, high standards, good relationships, etc., tend to make people more successful in many areas, including finances. One thing a great coach can do is help you get over any internal blocks (we're back to that unconscious 95%) you may have about making plenty of money. In fact, eliminating all sorts of internal blocks is one of the ways good coaches help their clients enjoy success of all kinds. 
  9. You're willing to invest in yourself. This is about so much more than money. Are you prepared to take the time, effort, risk and yes, money, in order to have the life or business of your dreams? Or are you satisfied playing small? Are you ready to stop talking about your dreams and start living them? If you had the right coach in your corner, would you have the courage to step into your greatness? Only you can answer that.
  10. You're a coach. If there's one profession where you really do need a coach most, it's coaching, itself. Although coaching is still one of the fastest growing careers, success with coaching is definitely not a slam dunk. Every successful coach I've ever known has had his/her own coaches, usually several. It helps us keep growing and stay out ahead of our clients. And it's an integrity issue for us; we can't expect people to hire us, when we're not willing to hire our own coaches. That's one reason I offer a coach training, plus mentor coaching package for coaches who are high achievers.

 

 

This is a recent testimonial from one of my clients:

 

"When I hired Julia as my mentor coach, I wasn't entirely sure I needed it. I had quite a bit of education and experience already and the industry does not require certified coaching credentials to be recognized as a coach. I wasn't sure it would be a good investment for the money. After coaching for 3 months with Julia and taking several classes at SCM, I can say that not only was this a great investment but possibly the best investment I have made in my career. I would recommend this to experienced coaches as well as inexperienced coaches. The value of the service far exceeds the cost, which makes this a savvy investment in YOU!" - Patrice Swenson, CCC, Winona, MN

 

I have a couple of spots open for new coaching clients. If you'd like to discuss how Elite Coaching for High Achievers might help you, click below:

 

Learn About Elite Coaching for High Achievers

Topics: business coach, life coach, executive coach, coach training, coaching clients, Coach Certification, Great Self Coaching, certified coach, FIND A COACH

Life Coach Salary Rate: the Free Guide to How Much Coaches Make

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life Coach Salary Free eBookHave you ever wondered about life coach salary rates or how much money executive or business coaches make? Or are you setting up a coaching business and wonder how to set your own coaching fees? Or are you wondering if you should become a coach? If you said YES to any of these then you need to read the new information-packed FREE eBook: Life Coach Salary.

We took several of our most popular coaching blog posts and added the 'How to Set Your Coaching Fees' worksheet, previously only available to SCM students. Then we combined them into an information-rich free ebook. It's a quick read that will help you understand how much professional coaches make, how coaches set up their businesses for profitability and how to set your coaching fees with confidence.

Let's face it, confusion is the enemy of success. This free eBook can wipe out your confusion about coaching costs and help you take the next step toward becoming a successful life, business or executive coach.

You'll learn:

  • Worldwide trends in executive, business and life coaching
  • How much do executive, business and life coaches make?
  • How many clients does the average business, executive or life coach have?
  • Why every coach needs a steady paycheck
  • Why coaching costs so much
  • Why setting your fees too low can backfire for you and your clients
  • How to set your coaching fees so your clients get what they want and your coaching business is successful
I reference large-scale coaching surveys from the ICF and Sherpa Coaching, plus information on setting fees from three top mentor coaches, Donna Steinhorn, Barbra Sundquist and Mattison Grey.

If you want a full coaching practice, you can't afford not to read the FREE Life Coach Salary eBook:

Get the FREE Life Coach Salary eBook

 

Topics: business coach, coaching business, executive coach, coaching blog, mentor coach, become a coach, Free, ICF, Life Coaches, life coach salary, Mattison Grey, How to, Donna Steinhorn, Barbra Sundquist

Life Coach Salary: Why Every Coach Needs a Steady Paycheck

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

Life Coach Salary

Not long ago, one of my life coach students, who was transitioning from a regular job to owning her own life coach business, commented in class that she was going to miss getting a steady paycheck. I’ll bet! What life coach wouldn’t miss a guaranteed salary?

Well here’s a secret about life coach salary (or executive or business coach salary): Even if you work for yourself, you need a steady paycheck.

No, I didn’t say you need to get a steady job. Your coaching business needs to pay you a steady salary. You really can have the best of both worlds!

This is the first lesson in business finance. But unfortunately for me, I missed this lesson for several years. The result? a constant feast or famine condition that wreaked havoc in my checking account and my life.

This chaos created inordinate stress about money and made it nearly impossible for me to invest, save or even have fun with my money, because I was constantly uncertain how much would be coming in.

The answer? I started paying myself a salary. Stress canceled. Uncertainty eliminated. Balancing my checkbook? No problem!

Actually, the benefits of paying yourself a life coach salary are so numerous that I’m not going to even try to cover them all in this blog post. But before you take action, check with your accountant or attorney.

In my case, getting started with a life coach salary was as simple as transferring a set amount of money every Friday from my business account to my personal checking account. But even if you choose a formal payroll, which has some benefits, it can be simple and easy. Check with your bank or maybe check out Costco’s low-cost payroll service.

How can you start paying yourself a paycheck right away? Take a look at how much money your business brought in the last 3 to 6 months. Average it and subtract your business expenses. That’s your potential salary.

Then take a look at how much you think you need to live on (don’t forget to include estimated tax payments and savings of at least 10%). If what you ‘need’ is more than what your business can afford to pay you, start simplifying your life or get more creative. (For me, it’s a fun game to ask, ‘How could I get this for free or nearly free?’ For instance, I discovered that it’s much more fun and rewarding to check out movies from my library than it is to pay a bloated cable fee.) But if you really can't pay yourself enough, there's no shame in getting a part-time job, until you can.

The funny thing is, although what I initially paid myself seemed like too little, I nearly always had extra money left over at the end of the month - in addition to the money I intentionally saved.

Does this seem too limiting, or at least, not exciting enough? Well if you love excitement, go for the chaos. And if you’re really crazy (been there), try enforcing ‘wealth consciousness’ on yourself while you’re struggling to pay your bills.

Me? I find it much more exciting (in a good way) now that I’m free to plan my financial life based on some solid projections.

As for wealth consciousness, it’s fun watching my savings accounts grow.

And that small salary that I started out with?

One year after I started paying myself a life coach salary, I was able to double my pay.

Want to learn more about how life coaches really make money?

Get the FREE Life Coach Salary eBook

Topics: business coach, life coach, executive coach, Life Coaches, life coach salary, Life Coaching, coaching businesses

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