I used to hate telling anyone I was a coach.
Honestly. I’d do anything to avoid the word. I called myself a consultant, a mentor, a people leader, all kinds of things.
It’s only really in the past couple of years that I’ve been absolutely in my comfort zone proudly proclaiming: “I am a coach.”
Why? Because back then, for me, the image ‘coach’ conjured up for me was entirely different to the way in which I wanted to be perceived.
Big, white, gleaming smile, posey pictures with flash cars and next to mansions with private pools, designer couture, high-end scent that little bit too strong, hair so coiffed and moulded it doesn’t move, perfect tan and that Photoshopped eye glint that hints at secrets that can only be unlocked at the swipe of a credit card.
The stereotypical high school jocks – or cheerleaders – in Hugo Boss or Jimmy Choos⏤maybe both, who am I to judge, in this age of flexibility?!
You might wonder what’s so wrong with that? Well, nothing per se. I don’t bleach my teeth (I spent far too long editing dental magazines and having the professionals give me all the horror stories, as well as insisting that teeth are actually meant to be cream, thank you very much), I drive a Mini (though it IS bright red and shiny, with a personalised plate), I gave up creating helmet-hair when we moved out of the 90s and ditched the ankle-breaking heels and designer suits when I found a way to escape my corporate shackles.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting orange skin and a blinding grin⏤if that floats your boat, knock yourself out. Seriously, I’m thrilled for you⏤it just ain’t my style.
What really bothered me about the coaching stereotype were the snake oil sales tactics, the selling of impossible dreams, the sales squeeze web pages that encouraged people to get themselves further and further into debt to unlock the master success blueprint, etc, etc.
In reality, for all my American friends, you guys are years ahead of the game when it comes to the whole coaching movement. We’re easily a decade behind you and Brits are, generally speaking, far more cynical.
Of course, there’s good, and bad, in all walks of life, but the rise of social media meant that it wasn’t always the cream rising to the top. When I was just starting out, Facebook was flooded with self-proclaimed gurus who threw cash at the algorithm and popped up, all gleaming and perfectly sculpted (or filtered) all over the screen.
I knew so many people who’d had their fingers burned by dodgy coaches who promised the earth, but delivered not much more than debts, and I didn’t want to be seen in that way.
The rapid growth in the coaching movement meant that even over here, networking events were filled with coaches, all professing to be able to turn our lives and businesses around; too many of them carried an air of desperation and it was never a huge surprise that they disappeared when their first chunk of membership ran out.
So many people, promising wealth and success, yet apparently unable to create clients OR afford to renew membership to their chosen networking group.
Flaky. Lacking credibility. All promise and no delivery.
I didn’t want to be tarred with that brush either.
Meanwhile, something I couldn’t understand at first was happening. While all the ‘orange coaches’ were desperately seeking clients via social media, and all the ‘please pay my mortgage coaches’ were falling away from business networking, I was getting a steady stream of clients.
People were signing up for my workshops and booking 1-2-1 appointments. And they were really happy with my delivery. They started to share testimonials online and recommend me as a coach. It didn’t matter what I was calling myself⏤my clients, and the people they gave word of mouth recommendations to, recognised me as a coach. Awkward!
By 2018, I’d grown a solid following and attracted positive media attention, as well as numerous awards and accolades⏤including being named the UK’s Best Female Coach by a prestigious national awards organisation. There was no way I could avoid calling myself a coach!
I’m still not sure when it happened. I can’t tell you what switched to give me full, unadulterated confidence to joyfully proclaim ‘I am a coach’, but it DID happen.
These days I’m proud to be a coach⏤let alone one of the best in the country. I totally believe in coaching. I use a coach, I coach coaches and I AM a coach. And I’m utterly delighted with my life, my work and my future potential.
I want YOU to experience that feeling in your own life.
How can you create that?
Well, first you need to be willing to let go of your own preconceptions. Ditch all your judgements and ideas about what it means to be successful in your chosen career, about how you ‘should’ show up to the world, and concentrate on being absolutely, authentically YOU.
I allowed my own fears and judgements to hold me back and I’m hoping that by sharing this story, you might quickly learn what took me far too long.
It doesn’t matter how others display. It doesn’t matter what’s on social media. The best way to find true happiness is to blaze your own trail, live your life for YOU and be committed to being YOUR best version of YOURSELF.
Until next time,