That’s easy – the toughest challenges all centre around business aspects as opposed to actual coaching. While there have been certain coaching sessions that I’ve walked away from mulling over the specific wording of a question I have posed or an unconscious gesture that could have revealed an element of internal uncertainty or made a decision to continue working with a particular client as the remit of the original contract shifted due to wider organisational factors, the trickiest tests I’ve faced time and time again are linked to the running of Reach for More.
Each time I have had uncertainties with coaching, supervision sessions have provided the space for me to explore each situation, often exposing deeper unconscious bias, limiting beliefs or perceptions against long standing professional ethical guidelines. Once uncovered, I have been able to subsequently refine and develop my practice. However, you can become the best and most highly skilled coach in the world yet if you’re missing business acumen; you haven’t got a business.
Business name - Yes
Logo - Yes
Website - Yes
Business cards - Yes
Networking - Yes
Business strategy - Yes
Social media presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram - Yes
Working all hours - Yes
I’ll admit I was incredibly enthusiastic though potentially rather (read very) naïve when I dived feet first into establishing Reach for More. My action focused task list and meticulous tracking system measured productivity as day after day I cajoled myself to drag myself out of the door for another breakfast networking event, track endless bits of paper to keep the taxman happy or draft another blog that could simply disappear into the black hole of LinkedIn’s latest algorithm.
It was tough. The glossy, chirpy social media façade can sugar coat reality and although the high points have been beyond my wildest dreams; the lows have at times felt bottomless. Yet slowly, what seemed to be one step forwards and two back, started to change to two steps forwards and one back. The ability to embrace failure, shed a few tears, dust myself off and get back up again, time after time has meant my business, is still in business.
It took time to embrace the natural coaching cycle and accept the finite nature of each coaching partnership. You work with a client for a period of time through a particular challenge or reach a specific point then part company until future support is once again desired. This cycle creates an inevitable need for constant business development to keep feeding the pipeline. I’ve experienced ebbs and flows as the business year unfolds with seasonal changes linked to the beginning and end of the financial or cultural year. These fluctuations initially created an element of uncertainty in the present moment and insecurity towards the future; though I’ve learnt over time to appreciate the bigger picture and longer term trends.
On a day-to-day basis, it is always a challenge to temper my perfectionist workaholic streak. The inner voice that constantly strives for more is paradoxically a blessing and a curse. My deeply engrained mantra which forms the basis of my business name “Reach for More” embodies my unrivalled passion and perseverance within the business and ultra-running arena; yet unchecked can slip into an unhealthy, downwards spiral towards obsession where it feels impossible to relax, recharge and recover. There’s always something to do; more research, more business development, more networking, more social media traction that (in my mind) “needs” attention but I’ve learnt it’s vital that I consistently place quality over quantity with a high priority on self-care and restoration.
My business ripples across everything I do. I made the conscious decision to step away from the “normal” nine to five, office-based five-day week and its expectation that you are “present” in a particular place for a fixed working day and instead embrace the digital nomad community building a portfolio based lifestyle. While the traditional work-life divide has morphed into a what sometimes becomes a blurry muddle, the freedom and flexibility this offers has enabled me to study and adapt my own working habits to optimise productivity and performance. For example, I’m currently in Lanzarote on “holiday” tapping away at my keyboard drafting this blog post; earlier I responded to a few emails in my role as co-leader of the International Coach Federation Executive and Leadership Community of Practice, and later I’m looking forward to reading Roar by Stacy Sims that links food and fitness to female physiology for optimum performance (but only once I have made best use of the Club La Santa 50m pool). Healthy body = healthy mind.
I currently travel regularly between Chamonix, Malta and ultra-running race locations (Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Morocco are current favourites) where work doesn’t grind to a halt because I’m on a train, an airplane, boat, or perched in a café waiting for my transfer. These periods of time are often when I’m at my most creative and productive; a delicious chunk of undisturbed time waiting to be savoured.
I’ve discovered my most creative thoughts materialise in association with movement while my most productive time of the day is early morning (0700-0900) post Headspace sat on the sofa drinking a cup of tea with my laptop. As time is a valuable resource, it’s the discovery then consistent implementation of seemingly simple hacks that optimise the rhythm of each day and improve performance which is why I intersperse walk breaks throughout my day and have ring-fenced as sacrosanct 0700 to 0900 each day before I’ve polluted my mind or been distracted by emails or social media. I will only give up this time or the walks after rigorous deliberation.
Seeking balance does continue to be “work in progress” and every day presents the opportunity to learn, develop and grow a little bit more. I’d be interested to discover what’s been the toughest challenge you’ve encountered in establishing your business; either within the coaching profession or beyond. If you know anyone who’s interested in discovering more about coaching; either to support their current role, or move into the coaching profession longer term I’d be grateful if you would share this post.
This “Discover Coaching” series was designed to consolidate my thoughts, experience and knowledge around coaching and present it in an accessible format for anyone who’s interested in moving into the coaching profession, introducing a coaching-culture in their organisation or simply becoming more coach-like within their everyday life. This is the fifth blog with previous posts covering the following questions:
What’s your personal coaching journey?
What coaching websites would you recommend?
How did you know what coaching niche to specialise in?
What coaching resources would you recommend?
The idea was formulated after receiving several emails over the last few years, which usually follow the format below:
I hope you don’t mind me getting in touch, but I was wondering if I might be able to ask for some advice? I’m thinking of gaining a coaching qualification and given your experience, I would be grateful for any thoughts/ideas you might have whenever you have a spare moment.”
Many thanks for your support and enjoy developing your coaching skills, knowledge and expertise.