Recently, I sat on a training course delivered by a business coach. He expressed the interesting (and quite divisive) view that you can only be a proper coach when you work on people’s businesses. He mocked the concept of a ‘life coach’ as someone who isn’t measuring any real goals. They instead waffle on about vague concepts such as ’emotions’ and ‘spirituality’.
Despite of the inelegant way in which this view was delivered, I believe there is something to be said about coaching being most effective when it’s concerned with performance and results. There has to be measurable progress. Yet, I have never really wanted to be a pure ‘business coach’, and this is why.
As a small business owner, freelancer or solopreneur you are investing emotionally in your business. It is the vehicle to your personal freedom and your happiness and it is usually directly linked to your self-esteem and self-confidence. In many ways, it is an inseparable part of your life.
Before even looking at your cashflow forecasts, your accounts, your business plan and even your 1-year or 3-year business goals, you must consider putting your mindset in order. If your emotional ‘head’ stuff is not sorted, it will invariably get in the way of the practical ‘business’ stuff. As soon as stress, fear and insecurity knock on your door (and the nature of running a business is such that they will at some point), your coping mechanisms will be tested. The most likely outcome will be that your conditioned emotional response will kick in action.
If this response is not aligned to the behaviour that is likely to help you achieve your business goals, then you will find it as an obstacle on your way. Self-destructive behaviour and self-sabotage will increase the likelihood that you fail to achieve your goals, even knowing what it is you need to do in order to be successful. Protective mechanisms directed by your unconscious mind will endeavour to maintain the status quo by reintroducing old behavioural patterns which might have served you in the past, but are detrimental in the present.
Unfortunately, starting or growing a business demands the exact opposite; in order to get different results than in the past, you will need to adopt new behavioural and thinking patterns, new habits, possibly a new identity and certainly a new mindset. A good coach understands that doing this, will help you gain much more for the long term than purely focusing on the current business results.