It’s every coach’s worst nightmare…
You sign on an amazing new client, they invest enthusiastically in a package with you, and you begin your sessions together. Then before long, the client comes to you and says it just isn’t working out and they feel like they aren’t getting the value they signed up for.
As a coach, this can feel like your lowest moment.
You’ve gone through your training or coaching certification, you’re giving it your all, and you’re just as frustrated as the client that they aren’t making progress!
When I first started coaching, I had an experience like this… A client came to me half way through our contract and told me she didn’t feel she was getting value.
I was stunned and at first, I didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately, I had an amazing mentor I could reach out to — a 36-year master coach (who also happens to be my mom). I told her what had happened with the client, and she reminded me of some key coaching principles, which I had let slip in the coaching relationship with my client.
Whether you’ve had this experience before, or you worry about it happening one day, the good news is that these situations are preventable and manageable.
When you develop coaching mastery, you’ll gain skills that can help you only sign on clients who are truly aligned with you – and fully committed to the process.
The three core coaching principles my mentor taught me changed the way I approached coaching forever:
1. I had lost the “seat of the coach.”
After I shared what happened with my mentor, she helped me dig deep by asking me some questions about my relationship with the client. I quickly realized that I had allowed myself to get into an energetic push/pull dynamic — trying so hard to help the client get a result — and completely losing my perspective and clarity as a coach. When I stepped back, got objective, and remembered to use the coaching skills of Curiosity and Receptivity, I immediately began to see more clearly.
We teach the students in our Aliveness Mastery coaching certification how to do this, and it’s a powerful shift for them once it “clicks.” You cannot see clearly if you are just having a conversation — or if you’re too caught up in solving people’s problems. In the seat of the coach, you are curious, receptive and create a space for the client to come to their own clarity, and to own what they decide to do (or not do!).
When I returned to my client to have a follow up conversation, I approached it from the seat of the coach, and the result was completely different. Rather than trying to solve her problem, I was able to hold space for her to dig deep and see what was really going on under the surface.
2. I was taking her results and progress (or lack thereof!) personally
Talking through the situation with my mentor helped me realize something essential – I was making my clients lack of progress, value, or results about ME. Worrying that I was doing something wrong, or that my coaching wasn’t good enough.
When I stopped taking it personally, I got grounded into my own energy and realized it’s not personal at all — it’s business. I put my attention back on the client and practiced staying curious and receptive with her. As I did this, some interesting things became clear…
When she got really honest with herself, she realized she wasn’t FULLY COMMITTED to going for it in the area we were coaching in. She was saying she wanted the result, but she wasn’t willing to do what it took to get there. We sat with this truth for a while, making sure that it wasn’t just her fear or resistance coming up. But from the grounded place of the seat of the coach and with my attention fully on my client, it became clear that this was what was true.
3. I couldn’t give the client her own commitment or motivation
Once the client and I got clear that she wasn’t in a place to go for the result she wanted, my mentor reminded me that as a coach, I can’t give my clients their own commitment.
If someone isn’t fully committed, you cannot make them get there. You can hold space and guide them, but ultimately, they have to follow through and take the action. You can’t take someone where they aren’t willing to go.
Today, I screen my potential clients through an in-depth interview process to make sure they are 100% ready to go for it before I agree to coach them (or before they join any of our programs). By doing this, I help set the people I work with up for success, and make sure that we don’t run into these kinds of breakdowns!
With this particular client, for the first (and last) time in my coaching career, I recommended that we end our coaching contract early. It was clear that we were no longer aligned to work together.
In the end, we closed out our coaching relationship on good terms. She shared the value she had gotten from our time together, and I wished her all the best.
It was a challenging experience, but it was also the catalyst that took my coaching to the next level.
Developing coaching mastery through the skills of the Aliveness Method® has helped me grow a coaching practice where I can confidently take every client I work with through a powerful (and proven) transformative process.
That’s why I teamed up with my mentor (who has been coaching for 36+ years to develop a comprehensive life coaching certification.
In our life coaching certification, we teach a complete coaching methodology, including how to prepare your clients for the ups and downs of the coaching process at the very beginning of your coaching package. This ensures that when the going gets tough and resistance comes up, your clients are prepared and willing to stick through it – and will trust you to guide them to their next breakthrough.
In the Business Bootcamp program that’s included in the certification, you’ll also learn our step-by-step Transformational Sales Method, which takes potential clients through a powerful transformative process before you begin working together. This way, they get an experience of the coaching and are excited to enroll – without you ever feeling “salesy.” And, you get to screen potential clients to make absolutely sure they are 100% committed to the coaching process.
So you never end up where I did – with a client coming to you saying they aren’t getting value!
If you’re curious to learn the Aliveness Method® coaching methodologies for retaining your clients and serving them deeply – apply for our coaching certification here.