The coaching industry as we know it is in a weird, prepubescent phase.
There’s no barrier for entry, which means anyone can become a life coach as soon as they hit “publish” on that vulnerable “I’m-quitting-my-job-to-pursue-my-passion” Facebook post.
I imagine if trends continue, somewhere in the near future life coaching will become more like therapy and people will have to get certified by a national standard before practicing.
Will that be a good thing? Yes and no.
There’s a lot of value in giving people the freedom to coach how they want and not have to worry about getting their license pulled for being outlandish and bold. One of my favorite things about coaching is how the lack of regulation allows for unique self-expression.
The downside to coaching being an unregulated profession is that the market is filled with people who “start before they’re ready” but ultimately burn out because they simply lack the experience to make a measurable difference helping people. And many are flat out coaching on the wrong thing.
How many coaches claim to help people with money but struggle with it in their own life?
How many coaches work with people on relationships but go home to a relationship they don’t truly love?
It’s all too common.
There currently isn’t a standard for coaches — but I’d like to suggest one, and I imagine it’s not going to be popular.
10,000 Hours to Mastery
The 10,000 hour rule, made famous by author Malcolm Gladwell, states:
To become a master in any field, someone must put in 10,000 hours or more of deliberate practice.
I’d like us to consider the idea that coaches should have to put in 10,000 hours or more in the area they are coaching on before they start seeing clients.
That would certainly change the marketplace, wouldn’t it?
But here’s the interesting part – this isn’t about sending people back to the Dojo for years of practice…
This is about discovering what areas of your life you are ALREADY an expert in and coaching people on THAT.
That means instead of coaching people on something you want to be an expert in, you coach them on the things you actually have the life experience to back up.
It’s a simple idea, yet for some people it’s a radical notion.
The funny thing is after spending nine years in the coaching industry helping coaches earn higher incomes from all different sets of expertise — health, love, business, spirituality — this one simple shift is the thing that actually helps coaches succeed.
Yes they need to be better at sales, yes they need to understand marketing, but the one thing that coaches do that consistently kills their chance of sustainable, long-term success is they try and walk their talk, instead of talk their walk.
That means instead of looking into the future and asking “how would I like to be seen” or “what would I like to teach”, we look into our past and ask questions like “What have I mastered that others would find value in”?
From this we discover the gold in the life we’ve already been living, instead of the life we hope to live.
So why don’t people already do this?
We think our coaching business is about US.
It’s all about us being seen how we want to be seen. It’s all about us covering up our insecurities by masquerading as an expert in areas of our life that we secretly struggle in. What better way for the ego to hide itself than helping others with the very thing we need help with ourselves?
Maybe the reason most coaches feel like a fraud is because they are one.
No matter how many affirmations we say, no matter how many certifications we get, nothing can replace genuine life experience — and our clients can feel that.
It’s also worth saying that sometimes feeling like a fraud can just be an insecurity. But how do we know the difference? That’s where the 10,000 hours comes in.
When a coach discovers his or her genius – their clients can’t stop talking about them. Because it’s the area of life that they are uniquely gifted in, where they naturally shine and thrive. I’ve seen it happen again and again, and I’ve experienced it in my own coaching practice as well.
When I began my coaching business 3 years ago, I didn’t help people with their relationships, I didn’t help people with their health and fitness, I helped them do the one thing I had spent over 20,000 hours learning, cultivating and mastering — enrollment. And you know what? It worked because I stuck to my strengths. I stuck to what I knew.
The Rewards of Aligning To Your Gift
The best part about helping coaches align to their unique gift is that the rewards are so much more than creating a successful coaching business. In many ways, looking back through your life to extract the gold is about discovering what your life has been all about. A process that is often incredibly deep and meaningful.
Our lives never turn out how we planned. The things we become interested in over the years – the things we practice relentlessly and what we master are often surprising. That’s why it’s so hard for us to really see ourselves most of the time.
They say the three greatest mysteries are a fish unto water, a bird unto air and man unto himself. It’s true. Looking at our life objectively can be like a fish trying to understand the water it swims in — and yet if we fail to recognize our gifts we may go through our whole life trying to be the person we think we should be, instead of relaxing into who we really are.
This is also a massive reason why I believe we should always leverage the eyes of others to help us see more of the truth of ourselves, and our blindspots.
Will you make more money when you discover what it is you are uniquely suited to help people do? Absolutely.
Will your clients see better results? Entirely.
But the best part for me isn’t externally driven, it’s existential. When we do the work to understand how we can best serve others we’re discovering the reason we were put on this planet. We’re seeing how we fit into the cosmic puzzle.
And that — is truly priceless.
There’s an exercise I want to share with you that can help you discover your unique gifts. It’s the most powerful exercise I’ve come across to help people recognize, and more importantly, OWN their gifts.
I’ve been using this for myself and with my clients for the past 7 years. My clients have said this has been one of the most potent processes they have ever gone through.
The Gifts Email Exercise
Send the email below to your top 5 personal relationships and your top 5 business relationships. The email I’ve included is a rough example and does not need to be copied verbatim. Make this your own. Start and close in whatever way feels best for you.
The most important part of this exercise is that YOU ACTUALLY SEND THE EMAIL.
YES it may be vulnerable.
Yes it may be “scary “
AND I promise you it will be one of the most incredible gifts you give to yourself in discovering your TRUE gifts.
If anyone doesn’t respond in 2-3 days, send another email to check in. Your relationships WANT to respond and give you feedback. People are also getting hit by hundreds of emails per day. Send it and follow up until you get a response =D
Opener (make it your own)
“Hey (insert name), I hope you are awesome.
Insert Point of Connection
It was so great spending time with you at __________.
Genuinely Share About Why You Respect / Admire Them
I really appreciated when you shared about your vision of ________________. I thought that message was really powerful, and I am so excited to see what you create from that.
Transition to The Ask
I’m working with a coach and am committed to taking my mission and passion out in the world in a much bigger way! I really value the life you have created for yourself. (Talk about what you like about their life here) _________________.
I really respect your feedback, and have some questions I want to ask you.
What are my gifts and talents?
What are my strengths?
What is fascinating about me?
It would mean the world to me if you could respond to this in a couple paragraphs. I’m looking forward to seeing you, ____.
Discovering ourselves through the lenses of others is a gift that keeps on giving. It’s from this place that we can truly understand ourselves and our unique purpose in this cosmic puzzle.
Even if we discover that we are on-purpose, this exercise is so potent in affirming how we’re serving the world. Serving others from our unique gift is when the most MAGICAL results transpire. Results in both our lives, and the lives of those we serve.
I believe you’re already a master. You’ve already put your 10,000+ hours in. I think we both know that you can help others in deeply impactful ways because of what you’ve learned. The question simply becomes – is that what you’re coaching on?