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Home of the Samurai Coaching Dojo blog where Toku McCree, Matt Thielman, and other guest Sensei share their philosophies and practices for deep coaching and honorable enrollment. SUBSCRIBE for updates to be notified of new blog posts, special opportunities just for subscribers, and more!

How To Un-Learn Disappointment

When you were growing up it was never quite enough. And so you learn to live with disappointment. You learned to be anxious when you weren’t 100% sure you’d covered all the bases, to check and recheck in the hope that this time it would be enough to get love and praise, and to be disappointed in yourself first, before anyone else could. You also learned to be disappointed in others. If they stood up to the test then you could love them, just like if you stood up to the test you deserved love. 

And so now you live in the constant state of fear that you’re letting others down, not because you are, but because that fear feels familiar. You live in a state of being disappointed in yourself because it protects you from the disappointment you project onto others. You express disappointment in others when they fail to meet the exacting standards you set for yourself because after all, it’s only fair to hold them accountable to what you are holding yourself accountable to. That’s love. . . right?!?

What’s possible is to honor your commitments and trust yourself. To look for satisfaction and to choose to be satisfied. What’s possible is to learn to be with others’ disappointment and let that be about their feelings rather than your performance. What’s possible is to hold others in their potential not their performance, and love them in the midst of that. What’s possible is to love and reparent yourself, so that you create for yourself the approval, love, and encouragement you so craved growing up. 

Once you learn to see and be with disappointment, what is possible is a breakthrough in love, connection, acceptance, joy, and ease.

Success vs. Adventure

Mostly we don’t like to fail. Kids at school who failed got in trouble, had to repeat the test, got held back, and were shamed by their peers. We often noticed they had qualities we didn’t want: they didn’t regulate themselves well, they acted out, or maybe their clothes or appearance seemed a bit off. 

We decided success was good, it got us praise, maybe not TOO much success, but at least not failure. We learned to do what we were good at and avoid places where failure was likely. 

And then we got present to adventure. In adventure, failure wasn’t just an option, it was a likely outcome; the risks were high and the results unpredictable. Discovering this thrilled us and yet we were sure what to do. Failure was dangerous and yet dangerous was exciting. 

Maybe we chose to avoid the adventure deciding it was for someone else. Or maybe we decided to take the adventure on, but we tried our best to limit the possibility of failure, like bowling with the bumpers up. Or maybe we went for it and had HUGE success or catastrophic failure. There’s two parts of us. There is the part that LOVES the danger of adventure and the part that FEARS the impact of failure. No matter what, we struggled to resolve these two parts. 

We spend most of our lives negotiating between these two. 

What’s possible from this place is to choose failure, not just as something to put up with, but as something to embrace as we go on adventure. Moreover, we can choose our fear of failure, notice it arise and greet it like an old curmudgeonly grandpa and then invite it inside for tea. 

We can see and be with it and learn to find the joy in the adventure even in the moments that are a bit scary.

Are You Committed or Defaulting?

We all default to things: fear, insecurity, or old ways of being. These all naturally arise in us and will likely continue to do so throughout our lives. Most people operate from default, from the past, or from their dysfunction most of the time. The goal is not to erase your default mode, but rather to operate from it as little as possible. 

The first part of this is to notice when you’re operating from default mode. Once you notice it, you should then learn to see it clearly, to forgive yourself for coming from that place, to be authentic about where you’re being inauthentic, to clean up any impact, and to get back into leadership. 

Leadership is simply an act of choosing to be responsible and to bring something into reality. Responsible leadership is responsibility for both your own actions and the actions of others as you move along that path. 

It begins with you getting clear on what you’re creating, and then declaring that you will create that. Then, being with and choosing what shows up on the way to creating it. 

Your default is part of what shows up. It’s normal, natural, and incredibly powerful. 

The choice for you is moment to moment, default or commitment. 

 

You don’t owe anyone an explanation:

Explanations are great, they help people learn, help us feel heard, and create community and connection, but you aren’t owed explanations. Our mind likes them because they present an understandable world to us, but the world is mysterious and your job isn’t to save people from that. 

If you think someone is open to hearing you, or if you’re ok offering an explanation knowing it may not be heard, you can offer an explanation but you don’t owe it to anyone. 

It’s an offering of love when done well. It’s a defense of a choice or a false sense of security when done to placate or take care of others. 

 

Practices:

  • Conditions Of Satisfaction for relationship
  • Choose one place where you ended to draw a boundary and consider doing it without an explanation. 

This Is What a Master Coach’s To Do List Looks Like

Mastery is not a one-time event. It’s a series of small choices and overriding commitments that are made and empowered over and over again. Developing a set of strong habits that helps you grow every day as a coach and improve your business can help you avoid common pitfalls and take advantage of more opportunities to learn and grow as a coach. 

 

Here are the strategies and practices I have observed the best coaches engage with on a regular basis:

 

  1. Work with a coach – You can’t see your own blind spots. If you could, they’d be called hard to see spots. Great coaches work with coaches so they can uncover and work through what is hidden for them. They improve as humans and improve as coaches. They also learn a TON that they can bring to their own clients. 

 

  1. Create things – You can write, draw, record, sculpt, or choreograph. Creation demands that you choose to have something to say and learn how to say it. Both of which are essential skills in coaching. 

 

  1. Teach – Translating your thoughts and ideas into a format that others can learn from, forces you to develop a deeper understanding of what you’re talking about. If you can’t teach it you don’t really understand it.

 

  1. Connect with other master coaches – You almost never find completely isolated masters. It happens, but it’s rare. Spending time with other coaches, especially those who challenge your thinking, will expose you to new ideas and invite you to consider new perspectives. Like stones in a riverbed, this process of the community will smooth your edges in important ways. 

 

  1. Practice – Not all great coaches have a formal practice regime, but they all take a practice attitude to their work. Rich Litvin once told me about how he would listen to Michael Neill’s radio show and then pause before Michael would ask a question to see if he could guess what it would be. Other coaches I know watch recordings of their sessions to see how they could improve their work. There’s no one way to practice, but finding some way to become aware of your work is vital. 

 

  1. Read – The world is full of great books and great ideas, but master coaches don’t read for knowledge, they read for understanding and application. Knowing lots of stuff isn’t always that helpful, but being able to distinguish and talk about different concepts is. 

 

  1. Become Spiritual (or just have faith) – Coaching requires an enormous amount of faith. If your client’s success is all on you, it’s easy to become egotistical or resentful. When you can let go of that burden and trust the client and the process of coaching, you enjoy the process more. It’s often through meditation and/or prayer that master coaches find a faith that feeds them through hard times. 

 

  1. Connect with People – Great coaches are great connectors. They don’t just reach out to people in order to sell something to them. They find joy in connecting from a place of curiosity and love. 

 

  1. Take Care of Yourself – Despite the #hustle mentality in most of the world, master coaches handle their personal well-being. They get sleep, they exercise, they eat well. Master coaches understand that their mind and their being are their greatest tools. Neglect those at the risk of losing what makes you great. 

 

  1. Have a Life – Coaching is only a part of life, but personal development can sometimes feel like a monster that eats all of your time, attention, and energy. Everything you do doesn’t need to be optimized, analyzed, and examined. Sometimes you can just eat ice cream because it tastes good, play video games because they’re fun, and go for a walk because you feel like it. Master coaches love coaching, but they love life too. 

 

Get Good At Coaching

 

Once you’re clear on what there is to do, the rest is execution. But while it may seem like figuring out WHAT to do is the hardest part, often it’s the DOING IT that gets in the way. 

 

Which is why great coaches put themselves in exceptional containers. They hire amazing coaches, they train with masters, and they surround themselves with incredible peers. 

 

If you’d like to train like this, I’d love to invite you to apply for the Spring 2021 Dojo — over the course of 8+ weeks, you’ll get more time on the mat and more feedback on your coaching than most coaches get in a lifetime. 

 

Apply here.

Be a Better Coach in 5 Minutes

Take five minutes to connect with your commitment as a coach. My commitment is to serve those walking the path of awakening. I am NOT committed to getting likes or getting people to like me. When I forget this I get lost in whether my lack of likes means a lack of worth. 

So take five minutes right now to connect with why you became a coach, which likely has something to do with helping people, doing work that’s meaningful, and living a life that feels good to you. 

Feel that commitment in your body, take that commitment out on a walk, write your commitment down, or call a friend and share your commitment. It doesn’t take a long time to remind yourself of your commitments. And this small shift from how you’re doing, to why you’re doing it can have a HUGE impact on what you experience as you engage with the challenges and joys of being a coach.

You Don’t Have to Listen to Your Coach

I’m an executive coach. That means people pay me an incredible amount of money just to talk with them. So much so that I once explained to a stranger that my business model was actually most similar to a phone sex operator.

Why do they do this?

Well I could give you a long list of the changes I’ve helped my clients create, the single conversations that changed relationships, saved business ventures, and led to more joy and satisfaction. This is probably what should be on my website.

I could say people pay me to tell them the truth in a way they can actually hear. Or more simply I could say people pay me because coaching works. Not just coaching with me but coaching in general.

If you work with a skilled coach you will improve, enjoy, and thrive more than you thought possible.

But sometimes coaching doesn’t work, and when that happens it totally sucks, but the reasons are actually pretty predictable. This is true whether your coach is someone you’ve hired or just someone who’s trying to offer you feedback in the moment.

This is why coaching doesn’t work and how you can fix it –

1. You’re not listening

We have an incredible ability to ignore other people’s feedback even when it’s obvious. When you get new information that challenges the way you see yourself it’s easier to ignore the feedback then face reality. The feeling of being exposed, even to yourself is painful and humbling. So you avoid seeing these things or you explain them away.

Coaches are very good at pointing out what you don’t want to see. We practice looking for the blindspots that other people miss. Your coach is likely telling you again and again what’s missing, but you’re not listening to them. Instead, you are justifying why what you’re doing is right, understandable, or situational. Which is fine, if you want to stay the same.

However, if you want to change, try to listen to your coach and take on what they have to offer. If it doesn’t work you can put it aside but start by listening.

2. You don’t actually think change is possible –

If I came along and told you to jump over a ten-foot fence, you’d look at me like I was an alien. When people ask us to do the impossible we respond with confusion and incredulity. Regularly I see something my clients can do that they don’t think is possible. Sometimes they doubt their abilities because of limiting beliefs, sometimes they simply don’t understand that pathway from here to there. They don’t listen because they have doubts. There’s nothing wrong with setting realistic goals and working to achieve them, but often their realism is just pessimism in disguise.

A good coach will see more options than you do, they’ll see things you aren’t aware of, they’ll believe in a version of you that you’re becoming rather than who you are right now. But if you don’t think change is possible, you’ll end up stuck where you are. The way to change this is to notice where you shut down and start to argue for your own limitations. When this happens try coming from the point of view that it IS possible and then asking yourself IF it was possible, how would you get there? This is also a great place to get your coach to help you.

3. You’ve already quit –

My clients want to quit all the time. This may seem like an odd thing to say, but to me, wanting to quit is a sign of growth.

Think about a really tough workout you’ve done. At some point, you likely wanted to quit. I remember when I ran marathons and triathlons there was often a place during the race where I just wanted to stop. My legs were tired, my feet hurt, and I didn’t care about getting a stupid t-shirt. But each time I managed to push through and find more energy on the other side. When you’re developing yourself as a leader or working to change your life, you’re going to run into places where you want to quit. When this happens you have three options – quit, keep going, or pretend like you’re going to keep going while you’re actually quitting.

For coaching clients, quitting looks like going through the motions, showing up to coaching calls without anything to work on, not applying any of the insights you gain, getting stuck in the same cycle of complaints, or focusing on what isn’t working about your life or coaching. This is a way to quit without actually admitting that you’re quitting.

Coaching almost never works when this happens because if you’re not engaged and committed to change, you won’t change.

The good news is you can bring this to your coach. You can simply tell them that you are losing faith, not really giving this your all, or just going through the motions. A good coach will know how to with with people when they falter on the path to a new life so they should be able to help you get back on the right track.

Final Thoughts

Look, you don’t have to listen to your coach. Whether it is someone you hired to help you change or someone in your life that’s just trying to help you out or mentor you. But the cost of not listening can be high.

You have the chance to listen or to ignore. Most people ignore, they hide, and they avoid. But life isn’t meant to be survived — it literally ends with death — it’s meant to be lived. You’re meant to grow and develop as long as you’re alive.

And this simple act of listening and being open to the coaching around you can have an incredible impact on who you are. If you’re open to it.

There Are Many Kinds of Coaches… And They All Suck

There are different kinds of coaches in the world

There are life coaches – “I don’t have a real job”
There are executive coaches – “I have a fancy name for my not real job”
There are career coaches – “I don’t have a job, but maybe I can get you one”
There are business coaches – “I want to sell you facebook/linked in lead generation tools”
There are sex/relationship coaches – “I’m single let’s see if I can get you to be single too”

And yet if you’re in any kind of coaching group people call themselves all sorts of things: transformational, ontological, manifestation, intimacy, etc. etc. 

It’s not that these words have no meaning, or that they don’t distinguish different types of work. It’s just that they don’t matter to most of your clients or the people who will become your clients. 

Despite this coaches spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what kind of coach they are because . . . 

 

THEY DON’T WANT TO BE CALLED A LIFE COACH

 

Life coach is a strangely dirty word in the world of coaching. It’s a dirty word because people see it as fluffy and meaningless, because… well it is. 

There are a ton of people trying to solve this. 

Certification agencies try to lend an air of credibility by offering people a piece of paper that doesn’t really mean that much. 

Marketing companies encourage you to create a niche so you stand out among the world of other life coaches. 

But none of these solutions really work. 

The truth is what you call yourself as a coach doesn’t really matter. 

Life coaches are awful because they can totally suck at what they do and they can still call themselves coaches. 

Business coaches are awful because they only care about numbers and strategy and are more likely to give you advice than actual coaching. 

Relationship coaches suck because you keep having the same fights. 

Career coaches suck because they just get you another job you hate. 

You can call yourself the 4th grand pooba of coachsylvania regardless of if your coaching is good. 

The real problem here isn’t the kinds of coaches. The real problem here is your coaching. 

It’s part of the reason we don’t talk about types of coaching in the dojo. 

What we talk about is mastery. What will make you get better? What will have your clients lives change? How can you be in a state of optimal improvement? How can you get more mastery in less time? 

These are the things you need to pay attention to as a coach. 

Stop worrying about whether being a life coach has any meaning or not. Instead, learn to become the kind of coach that stands above any category you put yourself in. Develop the confidence to talk about your work with pride. 

Be the one kind of coach you are, a you coach, a good coach, a coach that actually changes things.

Once you do that, you can call yourself whatever you want. And you’ll still get clients. 

4 Simple Truths About Being a Coach

You didn’t get into coaching because of the numbers. I mean maybe you wanted to make money at it, you wanted to take that instagram picture from your little casita in tulum and talk about how #blessed you were, but you didn’t really care about the numbers. 

You didn’t care about getting rich, you said. You didn’t need to be wealthy, you said. But you did want to pay your rent and do meaningful work. 

So you became a coach. They promised it would be easy. They told you to focus on serving, to let go of the outcome, to follow their step by step system. But it didn’t work. The numbers didn’t add up, and instead of questioning all of this common wisdom you ended up questioning yourself. 

 

So here’s the hard but simple truth about being a coach – 

 

#1 Shortcuts are easy to sell but hard to execute on – 

If it’s simple and easy, everyone would be doing it. So the fact that everyone isn’t doing it means it’s not simple and easy. 

Building a business and being a great coach takes work, dedication, time, and effort. You can skip a few steps if you’ve got a bunch of money and spend it well or have a natural network of incredible people, but most of this stuff isn’t shortcuttable. It’s better if you do the work. 

Doing the work means talking to people, connecting with them, figuring out what makes them tick, learning to sell to them, and dedicating yourself to improving as a coach. 

You want a shortcut, so the world of coaching obliges, but a shortcut rarely works. 

 

#2 You have to learn to sell – 

This is perhaps the hardest thing for most coaches to grasp. You have to learn to sell, to convince people to give you their money, and then to stand by your work no matter what results you get. 

Selling is hard for most people. It’s scary, it’s challenging, and it means overcoming a bunch of internal resistance, but despite what people tell you about being successful without selling, no coach I know that makes good money does it without selling. Some of them love selling and in truth you’d love to be sold by them. 

Selling isn’t evil or pushy, it’s simply the art of creating commitment. Selling doesn’t have to suck, but you do have to learn to master it. 

 

# 3 You will always be worse than you could be – 

Looking back at my clients from 2 years ago… I sucked at coaching them. I mean not really. Even two years ago I was better than most coaches. But compared to today, I gave way more advice, I got lost a lot, and I would lose my patience with them. As I continue to grow as a coach, I get better. I’m already a brilliant coach, but two years from now I’ll be even better. 

This is how it is. Always. If you’re new you’ll be fine, but not great. After a year or two you’ll be decent, maybe even good, depending on your training. It takes years to be great, but you’ll get better. You will always wonder if you could do more. That’s ok. 

Just let yourself be as good as you are and work to get better. Don’t let how much better you know you could be, stop you from being as good as you are. You’re the coach in front of this person and that’s better than no coach at all. 

 

#4 You have to care about the numbers

  • How many connection calls did you have last week?
  • How many coaching calls did you do last month?
  • How much do you charge?
  • What’s your profit margin?
  • What’s your burn rate?
  • What do you want to take home? 

You may not care about the numbers when you get started but eventually you have to. Because the numbers don’t lie. The numbers don’t have feelings. They don’t tell you if you’re a good or a bad person or if you’ve got a bad haircut. They just tell you the results and the performance of your business. 

So you have to care about the numbers. If you avoid them or make them mean something that they don’t really mean, then you’re screwed. The numbers are there to help you see where to put your attention. 

 

Final thoughts – 

Coaching isn’t for scared people. Though there are a lot of scared people in coaching. But that’s not what a master coach is committed to. They are committed to being great, to serving people, and to believing for people who often doubt themselves. Which by the way is most of us at least some of the time. 

These truths about coaching may be hard to accept, but accepting them, doing the work, and making a difference is what the life of a coach is all about. 

 

Toku

Is Becoming a Coach Worth It?

It’s hard to be a good coach. If you want to be a mediocre, sort of ok, minimum wage coach, that’s much less hard. There are literally thousands of books and courses on how to be an ok coach. 

But to be good, to be great, that’s hard. So before you take the leap, make the investment, and quit your day job, ask yourself, “Is becoming a coach worth it?”

You can only really answer this question yourself, but I’m going to do my best to help you figure this out before you get too far down this path. 

 

#1 Do you love people?  Are you also driven mad by them?

When I first wrote this, I typed, Do you enjoy helping people? But then I realized too many coaches get started because they like “helping” people. Except what they call helping people is really just telling people what to do.  

Most advice isn’t followed and it’s also not asked for. So changing someone is rarely about getting them to do something different. It’s about helping them discover what they really want. 

To be a great coach you have to love people. You have to love them even though they make stupid choices over and over again, you have to love them even when they get mad at you for telling you the truth, and you have to love them even when they are really whiney about something they can easily change. 

If you love people, becoming a coach might be worth it. If you just like telling people what to do, then work for TSA. 

 

#2 Are you curious?

Some people like being right and some people love being curious. Some people love both. 

Most great coaches I know love being right, but they love being curious even more. Curiosity has an element of humility to it. A willingness to be wrong and to not know. 

Even great coaches are wrong a lot, often they don’t realize it at the time and neither do their clients, but as we shift people, we do so from a series of guesses, distinctions, and explorations. 

Like working through a maze, there are a fair amount of dead ends. There are less as you get better but there are dead ends nonetheless. 

So you need to be curious and you need to long for curiosity more than you long for being right. If you need to be right, coaching will become about your ego and agenda. Sure some people will love that and you may find success, but that doesn’t mean you’ll find mastery. 

 

#3 Can you sell? Are you willing to learn?

Great coaches sell. They get clients to sign up. They do this in conversations and online. Great coaches simply learn how to get people to commit to change and then hiring them to create the change. 

Selling isn’t as mysterious or evil as you think it is. It can actually be enjoyable. But if you think selling is evil and you hate the idea of asking someone to pay you, you might be better off having a job where you sell once during the interview and collect a paycheck for years. 

If you sort of enjoy talking people into things or helping people get to yes then becoming a coach is worth it, if not you may want to do something else. 

 

#4 Do you really want to do meaningful work?

This may seem obvious, I assure you, it’s not. People say they want to do meaningful work, but they really don’t. They don’t like the pressure, the significance, or the depth of commitment meaningful work requires. 

You may prefer to have some lightness in your life, to keep things simple, or to not actually say your work is about changing lives. And that’s ok. 

Meaningful work sounds great on paper but what it asks of you is harder. It asks you to put your life, your ego, and your heart on the line. 

If you do meaningful work, you’ll be disappointed. You’ll wonder if it’s ever enough. You’ll work hard to change someone’s life and they won’t change. You’ll have to let go, let them be on their path, and trust that they will find their way. 

So be honest with yourself if you’re really up to this or not. 

 

So is becoming a coach worth it? 

For me it’s never been a choice. Once coaching found me, it hasn’t let me go. 

It’s magic. You get on the phone. You talk to someone. And their lives change. 

Recently a client of mine finally settled her divorce after years of strife around it. 

Another client got the promotion at work she had wanted for a long time and started enjoying her life more than ever before, she even let herself be fully committed to her amazing boyfriend for the first time. 

Another client repaired a relationship with a major client he was sure was at its end. All in the midst of the client getting some tough medical news. 

To me that’s magic. To me, all the things that are hard about being a coach are worth it, because of who I get to be for people. 

But it isn’t easy, it takes work, commitment, and guidance from a master to get great. 

So if it’s not worth it to you, choose something else. You can always be a great listener for your friends in between shifts at your amazing startup job or tell lots of people what to do at the airport while they are going through security.

Being a coach isn’t a ticket to freedom, but it IS a ticket to an incredible life, if you decide it’s worth it for you. 

 

The Coaching Superpower

Be Impactable

There are a lot of things you can be as a coach. Powerful, intelligent, savvy, clever, wise, deep, and present.

But the most important thing to be . . . is impactable. 

When you’re impactable you learn from everything.
You feel people deeply and they experience being seen by you.
You can be a great client which will help you be a great coach.
You will get more from every book you read, every relationship you have, and every course you take. 

Being impactable is a superpower. 

And the reason you lose this ability is due to fear, doubt, and the need to project strength. 

Don’t stay there.
Open your heart.
Listen for what’s in it for you.
Be impactable. 

It’s one of the keys to mastery.

Love,
Toku

 

If you’re ready to be truly impacted we’ve begun taking applications for the Spring 2021 dojo. We will sell out and you will have to wait another year to join. So don’t wait. Be impactable and make this the year you finally create the deep confidence in your coaching you’ve always craved.