How to Grow Your Coaching Practice AND Your Confidence with Authenticity

Did you notice something happen when you completed your life coach training?
Or maybe you experienced it during your course?

I’m not talking about noticing the new skills and knowledge that you have learnt, or even the transformations you and your clients/case studies may have experienced either. I’m wondering whether you noticed the assumptions that others started to make? Friends, family, colleagues and even strangers, when they heard that you are now a Life Coach? There seems to be an assumption that occurs automatically; “Oh right, You must have life sorted now and be supremely confident.”

I don’t remember seeing that on the training information when I booked: Take this course sort your whole life and automatically gain supreme confidence. So I find it funny that others make that assumption. Even now, with a decade of running my coaching practice, I have the same assumptions thrown at me. Especially the supreme confidence one, as I specialised as a Confidence Coach.

These assumptions can be challenging and, as I experienced both professionally and personally, can create the need to pretend. Pretending that we, as coaches, have it sorted and always feel confident, when in fact that may not be the case at all. This can create a web of pretence and end up with an avoidance of opportunities that we know could help us build our business.

So, is it possible to grow your coaching practice and your own confidence authentically, whilst facing these assumptive challenges? I believe so.

When we assume, we are taking something for granted. We are not questioning or inquiring as to the truth of the situation. Assumptions are therefore views and opinions. Views and opinions are, of course, valid, and yet, they are not the truth. Never be afraid to challenge or be honest with them. In the time that I have coached, I have been through a divorce, family illnesses and deaths, a car crash and even a friend taking her life. So do I have life sorted? It depends on what that person means by sorted.

I do not have the power to stop things happening. That is life. Things happen. The only thing that I have control over is how I deal with them. How I face them. And I don’t know how I will face them until they happen.

The reason I specialised in confidence, was because I didn’t have any confidence. I did not understand it, what it was, where I could get it from or if, in fact, I had missed the boat on that one. So I studied it and now have a much clearer idea of what it is and how to develop authentic confidence, and it starts with letting go of the need to fake it or act as if you have it when you don’t have it.

Now don’t get me wrong, both faking it and acting as if you have confidence have their place. They are starting points to give you a boost or motivate you to do something that takes you out of your zone of comfort.

This pretence, though, does have a drawback. When we have been pretending/faking/acting to have confidence and then receive positive feedback, we do not associate it with us. Instead we tend to think ‘if they knew I was pretending they wouldn’t have said that.’ We associate the positive feedback with the ‘confidence character’ that we have been acting/playing out rather than to ourselves.

But, even if you have been pretending you still must have the skill/ability to do whatever you just did, right? Even a top actor who is playing a character has to have a connection to and potentially a development of that skill/ability in order to act it, so even when they stop acting that character, they still have the skill/ability.

The same goes for you.
So use the fake it til you make it rule sparingly and remember that even when you have been pretending, YOU can still receive the positive feedback as it was YOU doing the pretending.

To move from that pretence into authentic confidence is a process that takes awareness. Authenticity is about being real and genuine. For me, that is about being real and genuine with what is, and having awareness gives you the opportunity to sense that.

One of the most common questions I get asked when people discover I am a Confidence Coach (and make the assumption that I must have supreme confidence) is, “do you ever get nervous?” I love watching the reactions when I reply “yes, I am human“. The difference for me now is that I don’t look to hide, cover up or deny it when nerves arise for me. In others words, I don’t try to push them away. I notice that they are there. I experience them and do not amplify them. Just notice them.

I then check in with myself as to what the nerves are about. First I check my safety. I literally ask myself “Am I safe?” That may seem odd, but so many of our nerves and fears are actually our thoughts feeding our primal mind, and the primal mind’s function is to keep us safe. If it is receiving information that we are unsafe it triggers the fight/flight or freeze mode. Once it knows that I am safe, it starts to relax, which enables me then to look at what those thoughts are saying. Often they are linked to whether I am qualified enough to do whatever I have been asked to do. If that means I need to remind myself of my education then I do. I then remind myself of what other experience I have that is directly or indirectly linked. By this point the nerves have become background noise and I start to look at logistics.

Let’s put this into a real world scenario that happened just over six months ago. Out of the blue, I received a call from the BBC. I am often asked to appear on BBC radio, so was surprised when the producer said that he worked for BBC Breakfast TV and wanted me on the show the next morning.

Nerves kicked in.

I had never been on TV and they were asking me to talk about happiness, when my specialism is confidence. Argh!
Am I safe? Of course. There is no physical danger here.
Am I qualified? I am a qualified life coach, and they are looking for a life coach, so yes.
What other experience do I have that is directly or indirectly linked to this? I have been on a number of happiness workshops and read books on the topic. I also used to work backstage at the BBC in London, so I have been in a TV studio before.
What logistics do I need to sort? Reschedule my appointments. Decide what to wear. Pack a case and get to the station.
The nerves were still there, however they were no longer looking to run the show.
Finally I check in with myself.

What thoughts could I be thinking that will support me to take this opportunity? This is where authenticity is even more important. I could big myself up and think ‘I’m amazing, I rock, I’ll ace it’ and yet, they are not truthful for me. It is more real to remind myself that I can handle it. I will find a way, I always do. I am only speaking to two new people on a sofa. And a really important reminder, “it’s OK to feel nervous, I have never done this before. Keep taking deep breaths and focus on those two people the same way that you focus in a coaching session.”

That was my focus for the rest of the time. Whilst waiting to go on. I kept taking slow deep breaths and remembering that I was talking to two people on a sofa, that were curious about happiness.
If you want to know how it went you can take a look here

So now over it’s to you.

Think of an opportunity that you could take to grow your business – networking, giving a talk, delivering a webinar etc. If this takes you out of your zone of comfort, first ask yourself:

Am I safe? And remember that we are talking physically here.

Am I qualified? Have you done professional training? In fact, you may also be accredited by an organisation too. So take a moment to remind yourself. You are qualified.

What other experience do I have that is directly or indirectly linked to this? Think about all the experience that you’ve had, it may not be as a coach. For example, I had a client who was going to court as a witness and was nervous. When it came to this question, she informed me that actually she had been into court many times before, due to her work. So I asked her how she dealt with that and we were able to map the same principles across to help her with the next court experience.

What logistics do I need to sort? – Getting to and from places, practising with the technology, rehearsing etc.

And finally check in with yourself.

What thoughts could I be thinking that will support me to take this opportunity? I can handle this. I will find a way I always do, I know what I am talking about.

Confidence isn’t about always being right, it’s about not fearing to be wrong” – Pete McIntrye

So I wonder, even if you have never done it before, what opportunity CAN YOU take to build your business and your confidence ?