I’ve never been very good at saying good-bye. This made life difficult when I was a tour leader in South-East Asia, where good-byes were part of the job description. Of course, there were many passengers I was happy to see the back of – I’m no saint. But when I’d bonded with someone over an intense cross-country adventure, it never became any easier to bid farewell.
We humans become attached – to people, to outcomes in our business, to our identities as a self-employed person – regardless of whether or not we appreciate that desire is at the root of all suffering, according to Buddhism.
One of my biggest lessons from my last 10 years of self-employment is the delicate dance between the power of focused ambition towards a desired outcome, while also being unattached to the outcome, so as to preserve sleep, sanity and happiness. This is also one of the key teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.
This play of paradoxes is very apparent in business coaching.
Putting your all in
Around seven years ago, I began running public courses for business owners on digital marketing where a course participant asked if I offered one-to-one business coaching. And so I began.
Over the last several years, I’ve transitioned from implementing digital marketing for clients to coaching and training on digital marketing and thriving in self-employment.
As a digital marketer, I can write website navigation and design user experiences, weave words, create social media materials, give direction to my website designers and graphic designers. I can point to the tangible digital creations that I’ve created.
As a business coach, my work is words: advice, insight, questions and information.
At first, it was strange just to talk and listen. I put a lot of emotion into my coaching sessions, perhaps as an attempt to replace the tangible. If I felt a client was hard done by, I’d get angry on her behalf. If a client was depressed, I’d attempt to cheer them up.
But it’s not sustainable being emotionally provoked by your clients. It’s not good for you, nor the client. As time went on, I took a step back and became a little more zen.
All care and no responsibility
The old adage “all care and no responsibility” particularly applies to business coaching. Since evolving my attitude, an interesting thing has occurred: I’ve attracted far more emotionally mature clients who take responsibility for the wins and disappointments of their businesses.
They’re far more likely to question my advice to ensure they’ve thoroughly understood what I’m saying and tested out my ideas. They’re far more likely to discuss ideas and advice on equal footing and far less likely to treat me as an information-dispenser or take every word I say as gospel.
They ask intelligent, thoughtful questions, learn from mistakes quickly, and are keenly interested in how their socialisation, beliefs, attitudes and habits impact their actions in business.
When you deeply appreciate that every individual is an independent agent, you cannot take credit for their business wins. Taking an attitude of all care and no responsibility means less drama and more progress, less spinning your wheels standing still and more enjoyment and satisfaction of business (and life).
Your marketing repels and attracts a very particular type of person
The inconvenient truth of business coaching is that there’s far more involved in a successful coaching relationship than the skills of the coach. The particular type of person that the coach attracts is pivotal.
A person who’s energetic, emotionally mature and resilient is likely to get more out of business coaching, and likely to give better testimonials, than someone who’s seeking a coach to emulate, rather than learn from.
Not only will their results be poorer, because trying to emulate someone else is a recipe for disaster, but the coach will get referrals from other, similar people, which perpetuates the cycle.
Mutual respect and admiration
Our businesses are about far more than profits. When our marketing is powerfully compelling to an exact type of perfect-fit client (otherwise known as ‘your ideal client’), then the client/coach relationship is one of respect and admiration, where the collective energies are complimentary and productive.
This is one more reason why I care so much about marketing – your marketing attracts a particular type of person to you, which influences what you’re capable of delivering, the results you’re able to achieve, and who comes next. It’s about far more than pretty pictures or clickable headlines. Marketing matters: to your profits, your business’s sustainability, and your own satisfaction and happiness.
When we appreciate that we’re all intimately connected, we become far more discerning in what we say, how we say it, what we do and how we do it. Our focus becomes clearer and our discernment sharper. We get better at saying ‘no’ as well as ‘hell yes!’ And our marketing becomes far more natural, relevant, and powerful, as our trust deepens that we have everything needed to thrive in business, now and in future.