17th – 23rd May was International Coaching Week, and during this weeklong celebration of all things coaching, we decided to create our own theme for the week: The good, the bad and the (subjectively) ugly in the coaching industry. As part of this we held dedicated discussion spaces for our community to explore the good, bad and ugly that we each see within the coaching profession, as well as inviting them to contribute articles on this theme for a community competition to win a free spot on an Animas CPD.
We received 9 brilliant articles and will be sharing each of them on the blog for you to enjoy. Here’s Animas coach and Creative Producer Sarah Longfield’s article.
I didn’t really have much experience of coaching before I started to train to be one. I’d had 5 sessions with a coach the year before, which I found really useful, and I knew that I wanted to invest time and energy into refining my skills to support people more effectively. Coaching seemed the perfect path, so I took a deep breath and dived in with the Animas diploma.
And then something strange happened. It seemed that coaching was suddenly everywhere. There were hundreds of coaches all over the place! There was this whole huge world of coaching I’d previously known nothing about. Who knew?!
Social media plays a part in this of course. Mention coaching in a post and the algorithms set to work, showing you stuff you’ve never previously been party to. Suddenly, I was getting lots of targeted ads about how to become a better coach. Blimey. That was a bit eye opening. I’d already invested what I consider to be a huge whack of money in the diploma, but if I were to believe some of the ads or posts in coaching related Facebook groups, I’d need to keep on investing mega bucks for eternity!
That’s the trickiest word of all in my book. One that comes up again and again in my coaching practice. That feeling that to do things properly, there are things I should do. Not because I necessarily want to, or need to, but because other people, those vague judgemental others are somehow telling me in my head what I should do.
First thing I decided to do in order to combat the negative mindset was to put “should” in the bin. That’s no easy task. My shoulds have become pretty ingrained in my 43 years. The shoulds of the people I feel intimidated by, the shoulds of those I love but perhaps don’t always give me the best advice, the shoulds of the imaginary perfect people. They like to linger, all those pesky shoulds! But I’m getting better at catching them when they surface and putting them back in their box.
The second thing to combat that negativity, was to properly embrace the notion that there are over 7 billion people in the world. All of whom, I believe, could benefit from coaching. But not the same coach. Just as all of humanity is so beautifully and heart warmingly diverse, so coaching needs to be to effectively serve that diversity.
Again, just with the shoulds, this is a hard one to stick too, but it’s so worth it. When you see that coaching diploma advertised on Facebook which tells you that you can become a qualified coach for £15, it would be easy to feel really annoyed or angry, right? Well, if you’re embracing the fact that there are over 7 billion people in the world who would benefit from coaching, then there’s every possibility that someone with that £15 diploma might be the perfect match for someone out there. It might be a little less likely, but it is possible.
And more importantly, it stops me having to dwell on the outrage of it all. That negativity will only hold me back. Accept it is what it is and move on.
Putting myself out there as a coach was another hurdle. An area where the shoulds were so out in force it was a proper battle to rein them in. Especially as there was all this increasing noise every time I went online about coaching, specifically but not exclusively all that chatter about becoming a 6-figure coach. Yuck. That might be the right story for some: the right goal to aspire to. Not this good pirate. Would I like to earn six figures? Sure! … Maybe someday. But will I give someone money so that I can accelerate that process and find out their secrets? Not on your nelly.
So how to put myself out there in a way that felt authentic to me?
After a decent helping of soul searching and a good dollop of coaching, the penny dropped. It wasn’t the HOW that I was struggling with. I’ve been an entrepreneur all my life. I know how to market and promote things. It was the WHY that felt icky. So, I faced the facts: I needed to promote myself and my coaching practice to make some money and to help people.
AND, If I approached it as telling stories… something I’ve spent decades doing, I’d feel comfortable. So, I write blogs, like this one, that share a story or two. It’s a slow burn kind of approach, but by reading some of my blogs, a potential client will get a feel for who I am. And those who choose to work with me seem to do so because of what I say on my website and my musings on my blog. They like the cut of my gib because of the stories I tell. That feels authentically wonderful to me.
So that’s the journey I went on, from those early days when I felt that everyone was becoming a coach, to now, a year later with a thriving, wonderful coaching practice. I initially thought this would be a blog about some of the bad coaching out there with some positivity, but by following my own principles, this became a celebration.
Maybe because the coaching world is unregulated, there’s such a brilliantly diverse range of people out there doing it. Some perhaps doing it better than others, but I guess that would depend on the scale you’re measuring it from. For me it’s all about the ICF core competencies – if I feel I’m truly upholding those, then I feel I’m doing a good job. Not because I feel I should do, but because I want to and because I believe my coaching practice needs those standards for me to feel like an effective coach.
I’ll leave you with a thought… just imagine if everyone found their right coach: all 7 billion plus of us. What might the world be like then?
If you would like us to help tell your story or you would like to share your coaching niche, philosophy or agenda in the form of a blog, like this one – contact Sam to express your interest: [email protected]