On a scale of 1-10, when it comes to coaching, I’m a 10. I love coaching others, I love being coached, and I love training others to become coaches. For me, coaching feels like I’m doing good works and making a difference in the world.
It’s a different story when it comes to marketing. On a scale of 1-10, I’m about a 3. I hate having to reach out and remind people about who I am, what I do, and the benefit I can bring to their lives with my services. This attitude costs me dearly, both emotionally and financially.
Early in my career as a budding coach, I mentor coached with an amazing human being named Judy Santos, who was welcomed into the arms of heaven a few years ago. (I still miss her dearly!) At the time, she was teaching a foundational coaching course that started me on the road to become credentialed with the International Coach Federation. I knew I needed to be coached if I was going to be a successful coach, and so she was a logical choice to be my mentor coach with her vast coaching experience and former business background.
We worked on a number of projects together, initially to help get my new career coach training certification program up and running. I’ll never forget being just half way into the four-month foundations class and announcing to her that I had decided to launch a career coach training school and teach others coaching. I could tell she was impressed with my enthusiasm but taken back by, what I now label in hindsight, my naivety. I was a brand new coach—how in the world could I presume to train others when I’d only been learning just a few months myself! But with the passion of a new convert, I just had to share the good news of coaching with my colleagues in the careers industry, and so I forged ahead. I loved the curriculum development portion of getting the school up and running. I loved developing coaching techniques, wrestling with how to articulate the challenges people in career transition experience, and creating exercises to help others learn how to shift from career consultants and advisors into true career coaches.
But always, marketing took a back seat. I didn’t want to bother people. Able to see my blind spots better than I could, Judy would bring up the topic of marketing and ask what I was doing to market the program. I would respond with my list of excuses and what wasn’t working: no one responded to my email campaign, I couldn’t close the prospective student who had expressed interest in registering, I didn’t have time to offer a free preview call to give people a taste test, and so on.
I was oblivious to my attitude about marketing and how it was impacting my success (or lack thereof) in the realm of bringing in new students. I procrastinated and rationalized and procrastinated and rationalized.
Judy used all the right coaching techniques: she looked at the root of my procrastination, we explored limiting beliefs around my marketing phobia, we identified actions, and we discussed the best methods for accountability, even agreeing at one point that I’d make a financial contribution to an organization that was against my moral values if I didn’t follow through on my marketing commitments. All these things certainly created more awareness for me around marketing, but it hadn’t shifted me into full-scale action.
Finally, one day Judy asked me about my least-favorite topic: “How’s the marketing going.” I bemoaned my plight, reciting my favorite tape about the things I wanted to do, needed to do, but wasn’t getting done. And that’s when she asked me a question—THE question—that has stayed with me and served me well for more than 10 years:
What will happen if you don’t?
The question did what a powerful question should do: it took me into the future, it made me examine my thinking, and it shifted me into action. Since that question, I have never thought of marketing in the same way. And now, I no longer rate myself a 3 on that 1-10 scale for marketing. It’s more like a 7 or even an 8, which is saying a lot for a ultra-sensitive introvert who still doesn’t want to “bug people.”
I now see marketing as an opportunity to bless the people I serve: to offer them value in the midst of the marketing message, to inform them of new opportunities, and to remind them of the positive future they can create for themselves. And yes, sometimes their future involves taking advantage of our services. I have come to even love the opportunity to market. The consequences of not doing so are dire, while the outcomes of doing so are enormous.
Coaching the Coach Tip:
Are there tasks in your life or work that you dislike or procrastinate on? What will happen if you don’t do those tasks? Step into the future and consider the consequences of procrastinating or doing them haphazardly. If those tasks are important to your success, how might you reframe the task so that there are positive instead of negative thoughts associated with it?
Is it that the task is simply something that you don’t know how to do well YET? (Remember that everything that’s essential to your success is learnable!) If so, enlist in a course, mentor coach with someone who’s mastered it, or find an accountability partner who will help support you in the process. Or perhaps you can explore ways to delegate the task, whether by paying someone or bartering the services.
Finally, reverse the question from “What will happen if you don’t?” to “What will happen if you do?” Envision your world with that new task mastered, operating well, and bringing the results needed. What will be different? How will it equip you to serve the people you are called to serve? How will it expand your reach, voice, impact, and success?