Episode 16: The Top Three Mindset Blocks for Coaches (and what to do about them)

In this week's episode, we're exploring the top three mindset blocks I see coaches experience most often - and how to move through them.
Coach With Clarity Podcast Lee Chaix McDonough

16: The Top Three Mindset Blocks for Coaches (and what to do about them)

This episode is going to be a little different now that we've finished with my Getting Started series. So far, we've been focused on the foundation of the business of coaching and many of you have reached out to me to share the amazing results and shifts you're seeing in your coaching practices.

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Show Notes

This episode is going to be a little different now that we’ve finished with my Getting Started series. So far, we’ve been focused on the foundation of the business of coaching and many of you have reached out to me to share the amazing results and shifts you’re seeing in your coaching practices. I’ve loved hearing about your experiences and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to connect with you!

Today I want to talk to you about something that comes up a lot once we start to see real traction in our businesses. People start reaching out, wanting to work with you and after the initial happy dance, you might hear a little voice planting seeds of self-doubt.

Rest assured, you’re not alone – I’ve yet to meet a coach who has never experienced this. Experienced coaches aren’t immune either. I have internal messages that creep up from time to time, especially when I’m about to take a big step forward so today I want to share some strategies I love that you can use to combat these top three mindset blocks. Whether you’re a novice coach or you've been coaching for decades, I suspect you're going to find value in this episode.

Topics covered

  • When mindset blocks come up for us as coaches
  • Why you don’t need years of experience before charging for your coaching services
  • The most important competency you need to develop to be a good coach
  • Remembering your role as a coach
  • How you can benefit from continued coach education
  • Why you only need to be a few steps ahead of your clients
  • The synergistic nature of our coach-client relationships
  • Why your voice needs to be out there
  • The abundant approach to connecting with your ideal clients

Resources mentioned

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Well, hey there, my friend. Welcome back to the Coach with Clarity podcast. This is your host, Lee Chaix McDonough, and I am thrilled that you're joining me for another episode of the show. And today's episode is a little different than the ones we've had in the past. 

Up until now we have really focused primarily on the business of coaching, and the steps that you need to take in order to get your coaching business up and running and to connect with your ideal clients. I called it my Getting Started series, and I've heard from so many of you just how valuable that series has been. It's helped you identify who it is you most want to serve. You've clarified what your coaching approach will be and how you can serve them. You've done the hard work of creating and pricing your coaching package, and you've started getting out there and sharing your services with the world.

And I have to tell you, it completely lights me up when I hear from you how what we are talking about on the podcast is directly affecting your coaching business. Some of the emails and Instagram messages I have received have just been so extraordinarily powerful, and I want you to know, first off how grateful I am, that you are sharing your experiences with me, and how grateful I am to have this opportunity to connect with you in this way. It is my mission to bring talented experienced driven professionals into the coaching profession, and so when I hear that this podcast is making a difference, I just can't ask for more than that. 

So thank you so much to those of you who have reached out to let me know just how the Getting Started series has helped them. And so if you have been listening to past episodes and putting the Clarity in Action moments into action, then I suspect that you are starting to see some traction in your business, you are starting to have people express interest in working with you, or maybe wanting to refer a friend or colleague to you. That is so exciting. 

And in Episode 12, I walked you through the process of what to do when someone says, “Hey, I'm interested,” or “Hey, I know someone you might want to work with.” So if you'd like some specific pointers on that conversation, definitely head back to Episode 12 and take a listen. 

But today I want to talk about something a little different. I want to talk about what happens internally, when someone says, “Hey, I'm interested in working with you, let's talk.” Because on one hand, you're probably doing a little happy dance inside, and you should be because that is really exciting and worth celebrating. 

And on the other hand, there may be a little voice that creeps up and starts planting seeds of self-doubt in your mind. If that little voice is saying something like “Who do you think you are? Who are you to be a coach, how can you help this person?” Well, first off, I want you to know that you're not alone. In fact, I've yet to meet a coach that at some point in the process has not had those same questions emerge for them as well. 

And when I say all coaches, I mean it, this is something that I also face. I have my own inner monologue or internal messages that will creep up from time to time, especially when I'm about to take a big step forward in my business. And I want to share with you the three most common messages that I hear coaches telling themselves when they are feeling scared, or when they are experiencing doubt about their ability to be a powerful coach. 

So that's what today's episode is going to be all about. We are going to dive into some of the most common mindset blocks I see emerge, especially with newer coaches when they are first starting to gain some traction in their business, and preparing to work with some of their first coaching clients. 

Now a little caveat, if you are an experienced coach, if you've been doing this for a few years, I'm going to encourage you to hang in there with me and listen to this episode as well. Because as you know, regardless of whether you've been coaching for one month, one year or 10 years, we all have mindset issues that come up, and so I'm willing to bet that some of what we talked about today and some of the strategies that I'm going to suggest newer coaches use to combat some of those mindset blocks, you might find some benefit from them as well. So stick around because whether you are a novice coach or you've been coaching for decades, I suspect you're going to find value in this episode. 

So in today's episode, we are going to explore three of the most common mindset blocks I observe in newer coaches, and the very first block I want to explain is the idea that because you are a new coach, and because maybe you don't have all of the knowledge and experience that a more seasoned coach might have, that you can't serve your clients powerfully. 

I hear this a lot from newer coaches, especially when they are about to start charging for their services. And in fact, a lot of newer coaches will stay in what I consider to be the safer territory of providing free or pro-bono coaching, because there is this belief that since the client isn't paying for it, it can be kind of a practice round, or it's okay if they're still working out the kinks of their coaching approach, because the client isn't paying for it. 

But the minute we start talking about charging for services, that's when the fear and the self-doubt emerges and this question of, but wait, I'm so new, who am I to charge money for this coaching especially when I don't have all of the experience that I think I should have in order to be a really good coach. 

So we can already hear that some of the shoulds and self doubts are creeping into that message, and when I am coaching my clients through this mindset block, I want to remind them, and I want to remind you, that as a coach, your job is not to have all of the answers for your client. You don't have to know everything. You don't need to be the expert, because the expert in this situation is the client. No one understands the client's internal world better than they do. No one understands their life experiences, what they want, the obstacles they're facing, and what it will take to overcome them better than your client does. 

So remember that you as the coach are not meant to have all of the answers. That is not your responsibility. Your responsibility is to provide structure to the coaching relationship, so that you can partner with the client to create the container in which powerful coaching can happen. And powerful coaching means guiding the client through a process of self-discovery so that they are coming up with the solutions. It's not your job to tell clients what to do, and it's not your job to have all of the answers. Your job is to create an environment in which the client feels free to explore, to innovate, and to create. 

And as coaches, we do that from the very beginning, by being good listeners. And in fact, in a coaching session, if you are doing more talking than your client is, then there's probably a disconnect. Powerful coaches know when to be quiet, and they know when to let the client take the lead and talk things through. So truly, to be a really special coach, above all, you need to be a very, very good listener. 

That's one of the reasons why Active Listening is one of the Core Competencies for the International Coaching Federation. And in fact, within the Coach with Clarity membership in the Q&A session that we held for the month of May 2020, we spent about 20 to 25 minutes doing a deep dive into the Core Competency of Active Listening, what it means to be an active listener, what active listening requires, examples of inactive or passive listening, and so through that process, my members and I were able to explore techniques that as coaches we can use to deepen our listening and create the environment for the client to grow. 

Active Listening then sets the stage for another ICF Core Competency, which is Powerful Questioning. Coaches understand how to phrase questions to maximize the client's potential for insight, and for innovation. So really, our job is to carefully craft questions that are going to gently challenge our clients, perhaps push them just ever so slightly out of their comfort zones, so that they're starting to come up with new ideas, new approaches, and different ways of moving forward. 

But clients are only able to do that when they feel safe, when they feel heard, and when they feel understood. And that's why active listening needs to be at the basis of every interaction with clients because if they don't feel safe, heard and understood, then they're not going to feel free to stretch themselves and innovate. 

So as a coach, if you are telling yourself I'm so new at this, I just don't have the knowledge or experience to be a coach, I want to press pause on that message and remind you that you don't need to be an expert in the client or the client’s life or problems or solutions. What you do need to be an expert in is listening, questioning and partnering with the client. 

Now if those are areas in which you would like support and you want to develop your knowledge and skill base, there are opportunities to do that, one of them being the Coach with Clarity membership. The membership is an ICF-accredited continuing coach education program, and it's a chance for my members to build their coaching skills as we explore the Core Competencies together and we use the hot seat coaching sessions as modeling coaching in action. And we pair them with the Q&A sessions to go deeper into the concepts that we're exploring and coaching. 

So if you would like additional support and education around coaching, the membership is one option. You may also want to explore other ICF programs as well, whether it's a full coach training program or other continuing education opportunities, I do believe every coach, no matter how experienced they are, benefits from continued coach education, because that's how we hone our skills and how we improve as coaches. 

But we want to make sure that we are pairing that education and that knowledge with action, and that we're not allowing ourselves to get stuck in research mode and thinking okay, as soon as I know enough, then I will be good enough to actually coach other people. Nope, that's not how it works. We need to pair knowledge acquisition with skill application, so you need to be out there learning and going out and coaching and applying those skills. 

Another thing to consider, especially if you are a newer coach, is that you may want to seek mentor coaching so that you have someone with whom you can hone your coaching approach, deepen your coaching skills, and receive feedback on your coaching either through case study examples, or by providing coaching to your mentor coach and allowing them to provide you with specific feedback about your coaching process. I'm also a Registered Mentor Coach through ICF, and I love partnering with coaches to help them build their coaching mastery through a mentorship process. So if you'd like to learn more about that, you can head over to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/coaching, and if you're looking for a mentor coaching, perhaps we can connect and see if we would be a good fit. 

So that's my thought about objection number one – feeling like you're so new at this and you don't have the knowledge and experience to be a coach. The truth is, and I'm willing to bet because you are listening to this podcast, you care deeply about improving your skills as a public And so as a result, you are going to be showing up for your clients and being fully connected, listening deeply, and doing everything you can to set the stage so that they can deepen their self awareness and create new paths forward in their life so that they can reach their ultimate potential. 

You can do that in conjunction with coach-specific training to help you become an even better coach. So the two can go hand in hand. But you don't need to wait until you know it all to get out there and coach, seek education, seek mentorship and get out there and coach. It's through the process of coaching that we become better coaches. 

Let's talk about the second objection, or the second mindset block that I also hear from coaches quite often. And this comes up actually regardless of how new or how experienced a coach you What I hear a lot is that the issues that once clients are experiencing are so close to the issues the coach themselves are experiencing, too. And that leads the coach to wonder, “Am I really the right person to be helping them through this? If I am dealing with this myself, who am I then to turn around and coach someone through the process?” 

Well, it makes complete sense to me that this would be happening because for many of us, our ideal client is simply an earlier version of ourselves. When we think about the people we really want to serve, oftentimes, it's a reflection of who we used to be. Now I understand that's not the case for every coach out there. But a remarkable number of coaches that I work with both privately and in the membership, report that their ideal client really is an earlier or younger version of themselves. 

And in many ways, that's a strength, because it allows you to really engage with the client on a deeply empathetic level. You do understand what they're experiencing, because you have experienced it yourself. And sometimes maybe you are experiencing it as well. That doesn't mean that you are not equipped to coach the client through their experience of that issue. And in fact, because you have personal experience with it, it allows you to be a more empathetic and understanding coach, and maybe even help the client view things from a different perspective. 

Not too long ago, I heard a definition for the term “expert” that really resonated with me, because like many people, I used to think an expert was someone who was at the top of their field and knew everything and was just kind of the comprehensive go to resource on a given subject. And then I heard this definition of being an expert or expertise that really challenged the way I had been thinking about what it means to be an expert. 

And the definition I heard was simply that an expert is someone who is further along in the process than someone else. And from a coaching perspective, I think this is really helpful. It takes us off the hook. We don't have to know everything, we simply need to be a few steps further along in the journey than the people we are coaching. That way, we're able to look back at where we've come to see the pitfalls and obstacles, and maybe even the shortcuts are the clear paths. And then as we're partnering with our clients, we can use our own learned experience to support our clients through their process as well. We only need to be a few steps ahead. 

There's something else about coaching that I find really kind of magical almost, and that is how synergistic the relationship is. I actually view it as a sign that we are on the right track when my client is experiencing something in session, and I'm able to draw my own personal insight from it, there's something about what the client is going through that really resonates for me, and I can take a kernel of truth from it, and apply it in my own life as well. 

Now, of course, as the coach, I'm not doing my own work in session. I have to kind of press pause on that little internal a-ha moment and revisit it later. But the fact that my client has had a significant gain or insight that I can also benefit from speaks to the power of coaching, and that when we are connected and operating on a higher energy level, then it makes perfect sense that both parties would benefit from it. 

That's why I no longer view sharing a similar issue or concern with my client as being a limitation, or a suggestion that I'm not the right person to coach them. If anything, it just shows me how deeply connected we are, how much we're meant to work together, and that there's an opportunity for both of us to grow in this relationship. I find it really reassuring to know that through living my core value of service, and by showing up and being a powerful coach for my client, yes, my client will benefit. But there will also be opportunity for me to grow as a coach and as a human being as well. And for me, that's the ideal outcome of coaching. 

So I no longer look at it as a problem that perhaps my clients and I are experiencing some of the same issues. As long as I am a few steps further ahead in my journey, and I am grounding my work in the ICF Core Competencies and in the ICF Code of Ethics, then I feel confident in my ability to show up and serve my clients powerfully. And I share that with you because I want you to feel that same confidence as well. 

So we've covered two of the most common objections that I hear from coaches. And now I want to move into one more. And this is a big one. Again, it's one of those that regardless of where you are in your coaching journey, I'm willing to bet that it's come up for you. 

It's the idea that there are so many coaches out there who are already doing the kind of work I want to do and who are already serving clients. So what makes me so special? Why should I put myself out there as a coach when people are already doing it? What do I really have to offer? 

I hear this so often, from coaches who are just starting out as well as from coaches who have been doing this for years and years, and it all comes back to knowing your value and understanding why you in particular need to be out there to serve your clients. 

So here's a little example. As I am recording this podcast episode, we are still under a stay at home order due to Coronavirus and my children are still going to school virtually. So we're doing a little bit of homeschooling, and I was working with my youngest son about a math problem, and I was trying to explain to him the process to solve a particular equation. It was just really frustrating and he wasn't getting it and he wasn't getting it. 

Then he found a tutorial on YouTube that walked him through how to approach the problem, and it was basically exactly what I was trying to explain to him almost word for word, but yet he couldn't necessarily hear it from me. He needed to hear it from someone else. Now, probably because I'm his mom and so he'd had enough of mom. But I do think there was some benefit to him connecting with someone else who resonated with him in a different way. And for whatever reason, that held the key to his comprehension of this math problem. 

And you know what? I didn't take it personally. Because what I have seen in coaching is that sometimes the same people can be providing the same message or the same approach, and yet, it's not going to resonate with everyone out there. I know for a fact that I am a really good coach, and I am not going to be the right coach for every single person out there. My approach, my style, the way I view the world, the metaphors I use, they're not going to resonate with everyone, and that's okay. But I know for a fact that they are going to resonate with my people, and that my voice needs to be out there. My message needs to be heard so that I can continue to serve and support the people who need to hear it from me. 

And that's what I would say to you too. There may be other business coaches, wellness coaches, relationship coaches, life coaches out there who are doing similar work as you with a similar audience. But there is still room for you because no one has your unique perspective and approach and way of working with your clients. You have qualities that make you unique, and make you perfectly suited for the clients who need you most. 

And I want you to remember that the next time you start thinking, “Who am I to do this, there's a million people out there doing this, I would just be one more…” as long as you can ground down into what makes you different, what makes you special, and what makes you effective for your clients, and if you can share that message with them in a way that makes them feel connected to you, and understood by you, then I don't care how many thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of coaches there are out there. Those people are going to want to connect with you, because you get them and you can serve them powerfully. 

So remember that each one of us has something that makes us powerful as a coach, and there are plenty of people out there who want powerful coaching. There are plenty of clients out there. We do not have to come at this from a scarcity mindset. If we believe that there is enough for all, then there are enough clients for you. And there are people out there waiting to be served by you. 

Wow, my friend, we just went for it. We just covered three of the most common and also deepest mindset blocks that I see in the coaches that I work with, and yes, to be honest with you, the blocks that I've had to work through myself, I hope you found that discussion helpful. Let's take it one step deeper in this week's Clarity in Action moment. 

For this week's Clarity in Action moment, I want you to select one of the mindset blocks that has been holding you back. It may be one of the three that we discussed today, or it may be another one. But I want you to take that block and I want you at the top of a sheet of paper to just write it out. So perhaps it's “Who am I to be a coach, I'm not smart enough or I haven't had enough experience to be a coach” or “I'm too close to the issues my clients are experiencing.” Whatever the block is, I want you to write it at the top of the page. 

And then I want you to set a timer and just give yourself two minutes to free write all of your doubts, your fears, your worries and your concerns that stem from that mindset block. Do set a timer, because I don't want this going on too long, just a couple minutes. 

And then when the timer goes off, I want you to imagine that it's not you who have said this, but it's one of your clients. What questions would you ask them? What reflections would you share? How would you support your client who is experiencing these same blocks? I'm willing to bet that you would probably approach it with a little more compassion, and understanding and grace than maybe what you're giving yourself right now. 

I want you to write down some of the responses you would have, and just notice what comes up when you approach this work, as if it were supporting or serving someone else. Notice if any new insights, any new awareness, any new aha moments come up for you. And if they do, I would love to hear about them. 

You are welcome to reach out to me via email at info@coachwithclarity.com, or you can come find me over at the Coach with Clarity podcast Facebook page, you can just head to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/facebookgroup and request to join, because I would love to hear how today's episode resonates with you. 

My friend, thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast. It's really been an honor to show up and connect with you in this way, and I look forward to doing so again next week. So until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough and I am reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity. 

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