Advice for Aspiring Coaches

Life Coaching. It attracts people as a profession.

And for good reason.

There are a lot of us out there wondering if we are doing it right.  We question how we can be better. We seek self-help support and we attend classes and events like Leslie Knope seeks waffles (Parks and Rec Reference – watch it if you haven’t, it’s awesome and hilarious).

We are told we offer great advice and people constantly come to us for our wisdom and support.

We think, “I should get paid for this.” When we look at how it’s possible, the easiest path appears to be Life Coaching:

  • Becoming a licensed counselor of any sort requires schooling and there are tons of restrictions.
  • Writing a book feels super hard for reasons from the physical writing to the finding a publisher to the dubious path of self-publishing and rejection.
  • As we cast about for an option, Life Coaching shows up, because it is truly an open field = literally anyone can name themselves a life coach and so it is.

I get approached on this A LOT.  A. LOT.  Emails, coffees, “Quick questions” and clients interested.  Some are interested in how I did it so they can do it too.  I share the same advice over and over, it makes sense to share it here.

Some Facts about the Industry

In 2016 the International Coaches Federation published a Global Coaching Study.  This study shared a few facts like:

  • More than 53,000 Life coaches are working today
  • The average hourly rate for a life coach exceeds $200 and coaches earn an average $51,000 per year
  • 99% had some sort of coach specific training and 81% received accredited training to become certified as a coach

I encourage you to read this brief on the study which shares the highlights.

You can download additional information and/or purchase the full study here .

I share these specific facts because it is easy, super easy, to get caught up on the idea that glamorous lifestyle and coaching are synonymous.  We aren’t all Tony Robbins or Martha Beck.  We aren’t all taking monthly trips to Bali for “retreat” and it isn’t raining $1000s in our living room.  That, my friends, is amazing marketing by business coaches.  It is tough to achieve in 30 days, or even 1 year.  It does take work.

Yes. It is possible to create a successful career as a life coach.

Here is a great satirical look at this phenomenon…good for a giggle ( I LOVE JP Sears work, seriously check out his videos, super awesome):

 

Six Pieces of Advice

Here is the advice I give to people who ask me about being a life coach:

  1. Research:  Put all your questions into the search engine of your choosing and see what kind of answers spew out. You definitely need to read more than just this post – there are tons of experts out there with more than tons of opinions, information caches and expertise to offer.
  2. Ask and Answer these Questions: Why DO I want to be a Life Coach?  What kinds of Problems do I want to solve?
  3. Visit the ICF website and consume all you can about the industry.
  4. Identify how comfortable you are with marketing and sales – you will have to do this as a life coach.
  5. Talk to those closest to you in your life and see what they say.  Take their questions or concerns and research them further.  Figure out how you can make this work – and if you still want to.
  6. Once you have done all of that: engage a life coach.

This last one may seem self-serving.  It’s not.  Having a life coach gives you the exposure to what it feels like to be a client – you need to be a client. Your coach can help you make sense of all the things you researched and discovered in steps 1-5, organize your plan of action and help you move through the process of transforming from where you are to where you want to go.  I won’t advise someone on coaching unless they are willing to be a client themselves.

What?  I need a Coach?

Just like an athlete is coached to improve time, speed, accuracy, strength, skill.  A life coach can help you navigate your improvements to confidence, clarity, and decision making while offering support and accountability.

It is quite possible that even if after spending the time researching all you can, you still have reservations.  A life coach can help you work through those to get the answers right for you.  Life Coaching may not be the answer to your career or calling question.  But following this path can help you discover what is.

A great book to read in this area of calling and sticking to things is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I love everything she has to say about goal setting, purpose finding, and sticking with things. I recommend grabbing a copy and a highlighter and get to reading.

The First Conversation with an Aspiring Coach

I love helping people answer this question of “How do I become a life coach?”.  I love it. And I will tell you, the conversation usually starts out like this:

Me:  Soooo tell me why you want to be a life coach!

You (ubiquitous form): 

“I love people and they are always coming to me for advice and telling me I give such good input.”

OR

“I want a job that pays me well and provides tons of freedom. I love helping people so this made sense.”

OR

“I want to help other people do something they love. My life is kind of a mess right now and if I can start a job I love then I think it’ll straighten out and I can help other people do the same”

And my Favorite – this is the answer I want more than anything:

“I want to work with people to realize what they are capable of and help them get it in a specific area of their life.”

This last person is clear on what they are looking for in seeking coaching as a career.  The previous 3 answers aren’t horrible entry points because they all possess a sincere desire to figure out how to help someone live optimally. An awesome starting position and in many cases help is only needed in getting specific.

These answers create different starting points into becoming a life coach:

  • You may need to do some work in your life first.
  • You may need to do some work getting clear on what you want to do and how.
  • You may need to clarify your own vision.

Being a Good Listener isn’t All there is to Being a Life Coach

Wait. Whaaaaaaaaaaat?

Giving advice is very little of what we do – we are here to help others discover their strengths and what optimal living looks like for them.  That isn’t advice based on our personal experience, it is expertise based on research, experience and training.

Yes, you must be able to listen.  Then you translate what you have heard into insight for the client – actionable insight: a question, an observation, a clarifying point to validate.  You guide them through self-discovery exercises and exploratory experiences.  The focus is 100% on what the client can discover through the lens you can share with them.

You must be able to set ego aside and be fully present – this may be the first time this person has ever been truly heard.  It’s life changing.

Again, another giggle worthy take on this: Shit Life Coaches Say

It’s funny, cuz it’s true.

Your Next Steps

If you are ready to do your research on this as a career, follow the 5 steps I outlined above then contact a coach.  I’d be happy to do a free 1-hour session with you to follow up on your learning and help you find a coach whether it is me or someone in my network based on what you want to do.

We may also find you are a good fit for my Coach’s Collective Membership Group where we explore coaching from multiple dimensions and share expertise among professional coaches across the globe.

Email at jennifer@nolimitslife.guru and we will get something set up.

And in case you haven’t yet caught on, I do view coaching a serious business.  These are people’s lives. And yet…life is funny.  Look for the giggle worthy.

Best of luck on your exploration!

P.S.  You may have noticed I didn’t talk about business plans, technology, websites, blog presence or networking.  I advise getting clear inside on what you want and how, first.  Once you get clear, you’ll be able to whip that stuff out much easier. Your web designer will thank you.

 

 

 

photo jun 20, 8 27 31 am

Jennifer Murphy – Certified Personal and Executive Coach

I am a certified personal and executive coach ruthlessly focused on helping people live awesome lives.  I spent a large chunk of my life pursuing other people’s ideas of success and while those experiences were sublime in some cases, they weren’t the “more” I was seeking and I just never felt full. In 2011, I made the commitment to live life on my terms and everything changed. The life I love today was created.

My background is 10 years in the US Army as an officer, 10 years in Corporate America and then the last 6 running my own business. I have deployed twice in combat scenarios, worked with foreign governments and militaries and worked extensively in international business.  I have an undergraduate in Criminology, an MBA and certification in Positive Psychology. I have led organizations from 3-400 and love developing people and helping them create their next steps in life and work. 

I am founder of No Limits Life Empowerment Institute as well we a working glass artist, Reiki Master,  Partner in Shaman Grocer in Iowa City, and Co-founder of the Midwest Reiki Festival.    My favorite time is spent doing anything soccer related with my aspiring world cup soccer player, 10 year old Alexander.  I am also a pretty big fan of gaming (PS4) with my partner Craig while solving the world’s social problems. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read this Before you Dismiss your Dreams Again

Today I got to see me a few years ago, not in any one person, but in many.  Of course, it got me thinking…let me share:

Some would be surprised to know that my default is introvert.  I would rather be alone or with a few I truly trust – which is only a few – than a roomful of people.

I love to observe people rather than participate with them.  As a species we are interesting.  Simply fascinating.

But wow, interacting with my clients, my groups and the places I get to go speak and deliver workshops is so powerful!  When you are with the right group…interacting the THE BEST.

Outside of those situations, it is often, really often, that I find myself not quite a part of what is going on.  I don’t mind.  I see it most keenly when I am at my son’s activities because the rest of the time, I tend to be with people more like me: wandering, seeking, creative spirits who want to be authentic and real.

I welcome the separateness I feel.

It’s not that the people I see when I am at my son’s activities aren’t that…it’s just that in general, they are more like the life I took action to move away from than the life I have now.  My life isn’t for everyone.  It is for me and I love it.  I love my life.  I love the randomness, I love the creativity, the lack of a 9-5, the sometimes unstable nature that has me wondering where that next grocery trip is coming from.

While to some it would feel chaotic, to me, it is simple.  There is a simplicity in doing what I love. My soul sighs in love for me as I do it.

I spent today watching people as we went to a soccer tournament, me and my squeak.  I saw the new vehicles, the workout gear never sweated in, the mass produced jewelry, the china made goods, the GMO laden food…I saw my former life reflected in many people around me.  It just is no longer my choice.

As we drove down to the games, my son and I were talking about how his brothers ate when they were home versus him.  It startled me to be reminded of a time when I was trying to feed my family well, making that transition, but hadn’t yet heard of the local Co-op.  I wondered how many people fit that description today. 

I wondered how many would say they are looking for more and better for themselves and struggling to find it.  Because the “it” is not yet defined for them.

A few key questions come to mind: 

 1. How do you define your “it”?

The “it” is personal, it is carnal, it is real and it is scary sometimes.  It can be real scary to know that your life does not suck, but that you know it can be different and be even better.

2. But what is that path to get there?  How do you navigate that? 

We all have that potential for more within us. We all can discover what “it” is in our lives and go after it.

Many who want to be coaches and inspirationalists find themselves in this boat.  “I have an idea, I want to help people, I want my life to be more…BUT” ….and then fill in the blank.  It might be time, money, others taking priority or lack of confidence. Or maybe something else for you?

3. If you can’t make time to live your dream, how do you think that inspires others?

What I find it really boils down to a true lack of order and clarity in your own life if this is you.  Once our own house begins to find order order, once we start the actions to clear away the self imposed chaos, we can find that direction and pursue it with a vengeance…as if angels carried our bags and forged ahead of us marking the path.

4. What needs to be put in order in your house? 

For me, one things was to reconcile with the fact that I enjoy being separate.  I don’t have to be the center of attention to feel valid.  I can be separate and still support my son. I can interact with others but not participate in what doesn’t agree with me.  I can disagree respectfully and not engender hatred.  I can own my decisions.

What is boils down to is truly loving who I have become.

Do you?

You can get to know you and love you if you don’t. Start with the intention to do so and allow the actions come in to your life. Most of us need to increase the time we spend with just us.  Book an hour for just you this week.

Immediately all the reasons that is too hard may have just spring up.  Too bad.  Push through them.  Is this important to you or not?  Do you believe you deserve this or not? 

If you don’t, then even more you need to force this time for you into your life.

Do it and let me know how it felt! 

Jennifer Murphy is a life coach, glass artist, creator of The Art of Living Dangerously.  Learn more at http://www.nolimitslife.guru

3 Ways to Work the Hustle for Determined Entrepreneurs

There was this musician my former husband and I really liked. When we’d hear of her playing in town with her band, we’d make a point go and enjoy.  She was a little grungy, a lot talented and played rock like it came straight from her soul’s connection to spirit.

One day, my then husband came home from working in one of the neighboring cities and he shared he had seen our favorite musician working at a sandwich shop near his work site. We were surprised, we had seen her only in her element, working her guitar and pushing her passion through to the audience. Making sandwiches seemed…weird. And truthfully, it made us uncomfortable.  I wondered if she was embarrassed at having to work another job, and what was happening with her music if it wasn’t supporting her?

I could not have been more clueless.

My life at this point had me making a six figure income and combined incomes had us pushing multiple 6 figures.  We had little worry about in the material realm and tended to be extravagant.  The tips we’d give musicians, artists, servers and the like were simply part of our lifestyle, what as expected. Though we had both grown up without much, we had become accustomed to having.

She was simply working the hustle.

I didn’t know it at the time, but seeing our musician on both sides – the stage and the sandwich shop – it was water on the seed of my own calling.

Since then, life has gotten different. I have returned to my roots in many ways and created new ones in so many more. In the course of creating 5 businesses, and closing three of those, I have learned a few things about following your calling as a business and what it can take sometimes to keep the faith and do what it takes to work the hustle.

  1. A part time job can be your best friend.

I recently took two.  One is very synergistic with my coaching –the lead coach in The Wealth Creation Institute for Intuitive Business Coach Michael Mapes.  I lead the WCI social media group and do the private coaching appointments for the group.  The second is as a merchandiser where I stock a company’s product in a store account.  It is oddly fun and I get a unique experience of watching all sorts of people at all kinds of hours. Observing humans IS my favorite spectator sport.

The first time I ran into someone I knew when I was doing my merchandising job, I was embarrassed.  I was embarrassed and wondered if they’d react to me the same way I reacted to my musician those years ago.  And then I kicked my inner bully to the curb and embraced what I was really doing: Whatever it takes to keep pursuing my dream and gathering experience along the way.

Both of these jobs provide me incredible insight and perspective I can use in my writing, in my glass, in my own growth and in my practice. In a choice between abandoning my calling and doing what it takes to keep going, I choose keep going. I believe so heartily in my calling to partner with others, to inspire others to create the life they love, and creating functional glass art, that I will do what it takes to keep moving it forward – working the hustle. 

  1. Haters gonna Hate

Yep, you will have naysayers. There will be voices in your life that attempt to crush your energy.  Usually these voices fall into one of two categories: people who are too afraid to do it themselves or people who are faking following their dream and are afraid of exposure through the mirror of your authenticity.

These people can be both in your face and passive aggressive.  In both cases your reaction is the same: keep going.  Keep pursuing what you want, they only get the power you give them and you can choose to give them none.

There is a third hater voice you might hear, your own inner bully. Overcoming this hater can be the hardest because it goes right for your deepest insecurities.  This is exactly where external perspective of a coach or another trusted source can be vital to keep you on track.

  1. Focus equals flourish. Fear equals failure.

Where you focus flourishes, it will grow under your attention and nurturing.  This is important because if you are focusing on the administrative side of your business only, you will not grow sales or gain clients through marketing.  If you are an artist and all you do is create and never showcase your work or go public with it for sale,  you will never sell it. There are multiple pieces of the puzzle of being in business for yourself and each must be focused on in turn.

Fear is a terrible decision maker.  Inaction in the face of fear is tantamount to failure.  When you let fear take the driver’s seat, your focus on everything else becomes moot. Fear may be always present, what matters is the role it plays in your life.  Is it the muscle bound monkey on your back, or is it the fly buzzing around, the one you can smack with a proper swatter?

You choose what you focus on.  As I work multiple jobs these days, this has become crucial. To line up what I need to focus on and when I smack fear down and simply focus.  I am present whichever job I am working: merchandising, coaching in my practice, coaching for someone else, working in my studio on my torch, or parenting my son.  I have to be ruthlessly present, ruthlessly focused and passionately dedicated to doing the best I can in each place.

What does all this mean to you? Well, where are you? Where do you find the parallel in what I described above?

Meditate or journal with these questions if you are a dedicated entrepreneur who sees him or herself in the words above: 

  1. Would a part time job enable me to continue to pursue my calling?
  2. Who are the naysayers in my life and how can I make them less effective?
  3. What am I focusing on? Is it getting me where I want to be? What action can I take now to shift the energy and the results?

Hustle is hustle, it is energy and focus and motion and taking action.  Your actions define you more than  your words, much more. Your calling demands action from you, working the hustle however it manifests.  There are many more aspects to working the hustle – what are yours?

If you need help getting your hustle on track grab a free 30 minute confusion to clarity strategy session on my website at www.nolimitslife.guru

Comment below or email me at Jennifer@nolimitslife.guru

Learn more about Life Coach, Glass Artist and Creator of The Art of Living Dangerously (un)Program,  Jennifer Murphy at www.nolimitslife.guru

5 things I wish I understood fully BEFORE I decided to become a Life Coach

Life Coaching is a tough business.  One that just about everyone seems to think they’d be amazing in, and maybe they are right.  A lot of people are empathic, great listeners and offer great advice.  The world needs those talents and needs them in lots of locations and with lots of groups of people.

Life coaching is a bit more than being a great listener and offering great advice  though. For example one of my favorite sounding boards isn’t a coach, he is a person of too many passions to succinctly describe (and none of them would be adequate anyway), which is why I seek his counsel often.   But I don’t think he gives me life coaching, he gives me friendship and counsel.

I don’t pay for friendship.

I do pay for accountability, objectivity and to learn new tools and techniques to optimize my life.

When a client signs up for coaching with me, that is what I want to give them – I want them to find that so that they can have healthy friendships where they can receive friendship and counsel and offer it in return and whatever else they want in life.

As I hit my three year anniversary as a coach I find my business in a tougher place than it has ever been.  It is the hill that won’t seem to stop going up.  But I am determined to see its peak and am not going anywhere.  Why would I?  I feel like I just figured out why I am coaching and what I am here to coach people on!

The Art of Living Dangerously as the core of my work emerged a couple of months ago and I feel like I found my message.  It took three years, but I am so glad it is here.  The Art of Living Dangerously is about creating the life you feel meant to live. It is not about following a step by step method or program, it is about getting some guidance and intense one on one work to allow you to create your path one step at a time.  I have some information on the (un)program here if you are interested.

There are 5 things I have learned as a coach over the last three years that would have been amazing to fully understand starting out – I knew them, but understanding them has been a journey.  If you are feeling the call to coach, here are a few things to think about:

  1. There is zero stability (at certain points).

As a coach, your paycheck is entirely dependent on someone else being willing to part with their money for optimization of themselves.  And women, who make up my primary niche, can be terrible at investing in themselves.  I partner with people who know there is more to life than routine and retirement and want to give more in life through creation of a lifestyle that feels on purpose and prosperous.

There is a need for consistent recruitment, consistent attention, tracking, and vigilance about building a pipeline of potential clients if you want to reach that point of stability.

Too often the perception that it is simple – hang a sign and people will flock.  That would be nice, but you have to create the stability through your own actions and continued actions focusing on delivering your core message and service to your clients and potential clients.

  1. Not every client will do the work.

Often, those who could benefit most from coaching have over committed themselves to the point that coaching feels counterproductive to them instead of the enable it can be if they allow it a) in their life and b) let it work.

They may make the monetary investment, but they will not truly invest in the spiritual, emotional and physical work necessary to invest in the shifts and growth to get them to where they want to be.  They keep seeing the what, but refuse to see the how.

Some of these people can come around in time, I was one of these kinds of clients.  I worked with my coach for almost 3 y ears before real change occurred externally.  Internally, I was sometimes conscious of the change, sometimes not but there it was happening.

Intuition is huge here – learning to trust whether the client will ever listen or is too deeply rooted in their beliefs to want to change.  The client has to want it as least close to as much as you want it for them. You can’t take it personal when they don’t want it as much as you do for them.

  1. Sales and Marketing is a HUGE part of this career.

You can dislike sales and marketing, but you still have to do it. The ‘aha’ I had around this was when I realized when I really believed in what I was offering to clients as a transformative experience,  it felt good to offer to someone I knew I could truly partner with to create the change they want in their life.

If you authentically 100% believe in what you are offering, it isn’t sales, it is service.  If you offer it to people only when you know they can benefit, it isn’t sales, it is service.

  1. You have to talk to people.

As a business owner you have to reach out to talk to people, you cannot just wait for them to find you.  For many, many reasons people will not reach out: sometimes they don’t know they need to, sometimes they are simply afraid to. One on one or live interaction is imperative to doing this work, not just hiding behind a computer updating social media hoping that someone will find you.  They will find you that way, but not as greatly as if you get out and see them.

  1. Focus on the Service, not the Money.

Money pays the bills, we can’t ignore it.  But when you offer a service that is valuable and focus on delivering that service – people will want to pay for it.

There is a coffee house in my neighborhood that is an exact example of what not to do.  I don’t want to give them my money because every single time I go in there, it takes way too long to have my order taken – I will often stand at the counter for a minute or longer as 3 or 4 employees walk right by chatting with each other about one thing or another and not even acknowledging that they have a customer.  Then it is always as if it is there first day there as they scramble to find a coffee cup or pastry container or whatever I ordered, and these are counter people who have been there a while.  I go there only when I am severely caffeine deprived and the alternative is closed because I don’t like to give them my money.  I usually leave irritated at best and angry more often than not.

On the other hand, across the street, there is another coffee place that I adore – amazing service, great product, good interaction and I enjoy giving them my money.

I’d always rather be place 2 than place 1 in my business.  I want people to feel as though they are cared for, they get what they ordered and they are happy to pay for it.  I do what I can to focus on the service.

Hindsight is a tricky thing. 

I did  all I could to prepare myself for this business.  I took a certification course, I worked with a coach, I took classes, I used mentors, I did all I could to keep arming myself.

But being able to step back and look at what I wish I had fully grasped when I started, these are the fundamentals I am not sure I could have known fully without the experience of doing or not doing them and seeing the results then correcting or adjusting where needed.

The key I have found is continued focus on self-awareness, growth and expansion.   This is where The Art of Living Dangerously (un)Program serves aspiring coaches and people who seek to create a life they feel meant to live.  It is to create that environment, lifestyle and energy of self-awareness, growth and expansion that is uniquely suited to you and your business aspirations.

If you have inclinations toward a coaching or healing career, the Art of Living Dangerously is a great place to explore this path and lay down the framework for your exact right business and lifestyle.  Learn more here and claim a free 30 minute strategy session to discuss your options.

If you are already a coach or healer – what do you wish you had known when you started out that you have learned along the way?  I have shared my personal learning – what is yours?

Jennifer Murphy lives dangerously as an artist, life coach and writer.  Learn more about her and how individual or (un)program coaching can help you create your path at www.nolimitslife.guru