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!

Being right vs being hooked

When we play the right/wrong game with people we end up being hooked. We’ve got a nice little bit of land called being right and we don’t want it conquered. In fact, we’d like very much to conquer the land of the others’ rightness if possible. But when you let go, when you make the other person right, when you become willing to take a look and see how rightness doesn’t make you happy or open—just cold and grasping—you can let go. 


You can find the rightness in what they are saying, you can be clear on your boundaries, you can do your work, and you can be free. Because when you step out of right and wrong, you also detach the hook.


Anytime we add extra energy, assessment, judgment, evaluation, celebrity, grandeur, meaning, impact, emotion, thought, or resistance to something. We can have a fly land on us and simply feel the legs or we can run around screaming that we have been infected by a deadly disease I KNOW I’M GOING TO DIE NOW. The latter is a form of significance. Somethings we add significance to on purpose. Weddings, graduations, funerals etc. which is good it increases the way they are created and the impact they have on us. So significance isn’t bad, it is simply something extra. The key is to be conscious of where we add significance and to only do it when and where we declare it serves our values.

5 Ways To Become A Better Coach

Becoming a “great” coach is nebulous but I’ve put together a list of articles to read that will help you become a better coach.

  1. Take 5 minutes to recommit to being a coach. Consider your why. Read Be A Better Coach In 5 Minutes.
  2. Transform your life. Do the work and be ready to coach others to do the work. Read 7 Steps To Transform Your Life.
  3. Make the choice to be a coach. I know you already chose to be a coach, but really choose it. Read Choosing To Be A Coach.
  4. Get comfortable going deep. Coaching requires deep conversations. Read The Fear Of Going Deep.
  5. Join containers and groups that stretch you to grow. Join the waitlist for The Embodied Coach Mastermind.

Coaching Is Always On | Should Coaching Require Permission?

Why I’m a yes to coaching. 

In a lot of coaching groups that I’m a part of the agreement is that there’s no coaching without permission. And while I get the value and appropriateness of that agreement I don’t actually think it’s the most powerful way to play. In the groups I create and lead we have another way of playing called Coaching is always on, and here’s why I think it’s a better way to be in the work, creates more powerful containers, and helps people learn how to be leaders. 

1) Trust is the default – 

Very often when I ask people about why they don’t want to let someone coach them without permission and they’ll talk about how they haven’t established trust with people and I get that.

In my normal life trust needs to be built and grown in order for relationships to develop, but this shifts inside intentional containers. If the container is created in the right way I believe we can turn trust into a default. 

This is especially true inside a leadership container because as a leader I need to learn to generate and create trust even in situations where trust may not normally exist.

By practicing with trust as a default we can be more present about what gets in the way of trust and how vulnerable trust really is. 

I’ve also found that in groups of leaders people are more cautious at first anyway, they tend to hold back rather than lean in. So the challenge is usually how to get people to be more in than out and this agreement pushes on the right edge. 

2) There is gold in all feedback – 

Another reason people object to coaching being always on is that they don’t have confidence in other people’s feedback. They think people are assuming and projecting, and on some level they probably are. In fact people tend to project even more and become more solidified in their projections over time, especially the people who know you. It’s why often some of the best and most accurate feedback about who you are being comes from people who don’t know you. 

Putting that aside, even if the feedback is muddied up by people’s projections almost all feedback has some gold in it. I’ve received some really messy, projecty, feedback from people and I’ve still been able to sort through what it is that I can learn. In fact, if I’m training as a leader I need to master this skill, because very often as a leader the feedback I get is messy and unclear. To get the most out of the people I lead and train I need to be able to find the gold, sort through their projections, and let go of the judgments flying at me. This is why the practice of coaching always being on is so valuable to leaders because it puts the impetus on us to find the gold rather than on our peers to deliver pure gold. 

Learn to want more feedback even if it’s messy because more feedback means more opportunities to learn. 

3) It creates a brave vs safe space – 

A lot of spaces emphasize safety which I think is great, but safe spaces tend to relate to the people inside them as fragile. If you are really fragile because of trauma, injustice, or because the topics are edgy then yes an emphasis on safety is key. But in leadership spaces leaders take on the role of creating safety for themselves. So what’s called for is more bravery. 

Leaders are people who choose to relate to themselves as not fragile but resilient, they are saying I can take my licks and keep stepping up. It’s not that they’re not human and shouldn’t set limits, it’s just that they choose to relate to life from a place of power and responsibility. 

A brave space invites brave people to be inside of it, people who trust themselves and honor their limits. It shifts the responsibility for safety from the group to the individual. It means that not only do I work to understand the difference between danger and discomfort, it also asks other people in the space to feel into what each person can handle and what’s right for them. 

Which leads me to my next point. 

4) It puts the responsibility on the coach vs the client or recipient

The fear that arises for most people is about getting more coaching than they can handle which may happen. But part of the challenge of no coaching without permission is that it sets a clear gate to action. Which coaching is always on, the gate to action is more subtle. As a leader I’m always asking what someone can handle and the way I learn that is by giving people what I think they can take and them being responsible for the impact. 

Sometimes I’ll give too much, sometimes not enough, but the only way I can learn that really well is to be in the practice of it. By removing the gate you move from a switch to a dimmer. I have to learn the right level of feedback and coach in the moment. This coaching without a net demands WAY more attention from me in the space, both on what I can handle and what others can handle. It demands I create more and notice more rather than leaning back on the gate. 

Final Thoughts

It’s so easy to say “well they said yes to coaching” or “I’m not going to offer anything because I’m afraid about getting permission”. You can always seek extra permission when coaching.

Coaching is always about space but it’s on you to decide when to ask and when to offer. YES, you’ll make mistakes but the mistakes will help you learn. And in a space for leaders that’s what we want to emphasize over almost anything else. 


And if you are ready to embody a great and masterful coach, join the Embodied Coach Mastermind Waitlist.

Join The ECMM Waitlist

Interpretation (success/failure) vs Investigation

What worked, what didn’t, what’s next?

We like to play the success/failure game. It’s simple and gives us the emotional hit of arrogance or shame which our ego loves to feast on. But success and failure are just interpretations. If we look, there’s always something that works, something that doesn’t, and the possibility of next time. When you can let go of the interpretation you can discover something new in each moment of practice whether or not you decide it was a success or a failure.

The Critical parent, the loving parent, the adult, the adaptive child, the free child – This is a concept from a certain branch of psychology, but we don’t need to get bogged down in the theory. For now, you’re noticing that you can hear the critical parent quite clearly and are able to get space. This might also be a time to see if you can listen for and hear the voice of the loving parent as well.

Life: Put Down, Take On, Heal, Transform

Everything we face in life goes in one of these columns, you put down what we’re done with, what needs to be pruned so we can focus on the healthy branches of life, you take on things that scare you or challenge you, things that will increase your integrity and well-being, you heal the past, your wounds, your soul fractures, the places in you that call for love and tenderness, you transform the parts of your life that you choose, yourself, your relationships, and the areas you’re committed to. 

Sometimes in life, we encounter things that are in breakdown, relationships, organizations, communities, and spaces. When we do it’s important to choose one of these 4. If you choose one of these four a lot of things are possible. You can put down relationships and ways of being that aren’t working or you can transform them into something healthy. You can take on a challenge and heal the past along the way. Or you can put down a challenge that won’t serve and heal the pain that arises. 

The danger is when we do none of these. When we HANG ON, when we survive, when we avoid, blame, and become a victim to our lives. From that moment we are simply dying, because to survive as a human is to die. Because that’s where we are headed. 

If we choose these four we step into life, whether we have one day to live or a hundred. 

9 Steps To Design, Price, and Sell a Coaching Program | Creating a Powerful Coaching Engagement

People get all tied up in knots about how to price and design their engagements with clients. This is especially true when moving beyond a 1-1 coaching format. I often get questions about what to do if a company wants you to coach their entire leadership team, two co-founders, or some other type of engagement. So I’ve created a simple outline for the process that I use. 


9 Steps for building a powerful coaching engagement

  1. Consider what would serve the client, no price tag or considerations for time.

  2. Consider what options might exist in that realm of service. What’s the most invested client engagement and what’s the minimum?

  3. Once you’ve created the package, consider your own time, the value of the engagement, the context of affordability and possibility for the client(s).

  4. Craft a package focused on benefits and resting firmly on the thing that would serve the client most.

  5. (If needed) compare those options to previous investments, the market rate (which is incredibly variable), and how it feels energetically for you. You might then ask a few other coaches to look over your proposal to uncover what exactly you may be missing.

  6. Create the conversation with the client inside a context of what they want to create and the commitment required from them. This is centered around what they want to create, the impact of taking no action, and what’s in the way of them creating what they want. 

  7. Be with them fully as their resistance and challenge to commitment arise.

  8. Support them to make an empowered yes or no around that commitment, while standing for the structure and commitment required to make the change they want to make.

  9. Throughout keep your attention on two things   
    1.  A willingness to say no to your client if what they want won’t really serve them or be enough to create the change they are seeking to make.
    2. Trust yourself and your instincts as a coach because that’s all you got. 

The Nine Principles of Setting Fees | How To Calculate Your Coaching Fees

Principle 1 – All fees are made up. While they may be referenced by other fees, types of value, and what we consider affordable they are still basically just made up. 

Principle 2 – Fees are more related to the level of commitment than they are the level of value. Even though we tend to think that we’ll pay more for something that is more valuable, that value is always referenced related to what we’re committed to in our lives. 

Principle 3 – You can charge whatever you want so long as you can enroll someone at that level of commitment. 

Principle 4 – There are no groups of people out there for which creating commitment is inherently easier. While some people’s context of affordability, experience investing in coaching, and funding sources are different, creating true, deep, and lasting commitment requires effort for both the coach and the client. 

Principle 5 – Commitment and/or investment that comes easily and without examination is almost always based on attraction, projection, and pedestal-izing or guru-izing of the coach. Which is a shaky foundation for transformation at best and tends to disempower the client over time. 

Principle 6 – You can almost always charge more than you think you can if you are willing to stand more powerfully and lovingly for your client’s possibility, do the work on your own being, and practice being truly unattached to the outcome. 

Principle 7 – To you, your fee is your rent, to your client your fee is their rent, vacation, future investments, etc. Your fee has less to do with you than you could ever realize and way more to do with your client’s belief in themselves and how present they are to their own possibility. 

Principle 8 – While coaching fees certainly have an impact on how accessible your services will be to people from a certain socioeconomic status, they are still essentially amoral. It’s almost always better to discount or offer scholarships to people of color or people with fewer resources than it is to charge less in an attempt to be a ‘good person.’ There are almost always better ways to support people from diverse backgrounds than making less money.

Principle 9 – The conversation you have with your client around money and their willingness and desire to commit is actually the conversation that will change their life. Rather than money ‘tainting things’ it tends to clarify what people are really willing to put on the line and what they are really afraid of. This conversation may be the most important one you ever have with this person: be present, and serve them.

how to set your rate for coaching

Case Study: How Claire reinvigorated her practice and created $14k in new business all while planning a wedding, getting married, moving houses, and becoming pregnant.

coach case study claire

The Catalyst –

Claire is a life coach that left a successful career to follow her dreams of fulfilling work and adventurous travel. She coaches people who want to change their careers and/or follow their dreams. She joined the Embodied Coach Mastermind in November of 2020 here’s her story – 

What were you doing before the Mastermind?

Before the Mastermind Claire had always been serious about being a good coach. She had trained 1-1 with a powerful coach I know in the UK. She had been a part of 3 other programs I’ve run for coaches in the past and had even begun to train herself to train with and work with other coaches. 

And yet Claire seemed to be stuck in the cycle I see a lot of coaches stuck in. She would have a pretty full roster of clients that would fade away over time, followed by long stretches of few to no clients. These fits and starts were not only tiring they really impacted Claire’s confidence. After all there were other (less good) coaches around her with thriving practices. 

What hesitations did you have about joining the mastermind?

The Experience – 

What did you like best about the Mastermind?

On our first call Claire had been deeply moved by her connection to her essence, but she wasn’t getting that out into the world. Like many of the other programs I had done with Claire she was engaged, inspiring, and radiant as a member of the community 

But something wasn’t quite right. Even though I worked with her before, the action oriented stance of the Mastermind started to reveal that despite showing up as a good student, Claire was taking enough action outside of the classroom. I knew we needed to shift something. 

The Breakthrough –

How did you benefit from the Mastermind? 

I can still remember the call where things shifted for Claire. It was a Friday accountability call and she was talking about why she hadn’t sat down to work on her business like she had committed to. She was talking about her limiting beliefs and how she needed to shift them when I stopped her. I said to her 

“When I just got to commit and get to work. That’s when you’ll really start to shift your beliefs and start to see things in a new way.”

After that things changed for Claire, she created a structure for herself and most importantly she empowered it by showing up to it consistently. She used the group to keep her accountable and to inspire her to get back into action when she got stuck. 

It was so simple, but it was just this simple step that had such an incredible impact on her as a coach. 

Pretty soon Claire started signing clients, and by the time the Mastermind was done she had created over $12,000 in new business. 

What specific results have you achieved as a result of being in the Mastermind? 

  • A client for 3 months @ £2000 
  • A client for 3 months @ £1750 (has committed to next 3 months too) 
  • A client for 6 months @ £2500 
  • A client for 3 months @ £1000 
  • An ongoing client @ £200 a month 
  • An ongoing @ £50 a month

This is what is possible with both a commitment to coaching, some simple structure, and most importantly a willingness to empower that structure on a regular basis. 

Conclusion –

Would you recommend me and the Mastermind? If so, why and to whom?

Claire created something that’s so hard to create. She shifted something that she had struggled years to shift. And it wasn’t because of some crazy hack, or sales funnel. It happened because she applied herself in a new way, she made a commitment and worked through what showed up in the face of it. 

Claire embodies the truth that very often the biggest results aren’t the dollars (or pounds) we earn, but the changes we make in ourselves. That’s the real reason I love doing the mastermind, because not only do people create the foundation for a sustainable practice, they step into their calling to become a coach, and to me that’s the thing that can start to change the world. 

You can learn more about Claire at

I’ve only got one spot left in the upcoming mastermind so if you’re ready to make a change, nows the time. Let’s Talk



Should I coach my best friend?

If you’re a coach for any length of time the question about who you should and shouldn’t coach will come up. Eventually, you’ll either want to coach a close friend or family member or they’ll want to work with you. But can you or should you do this? 

Recently a coach posted the following question in a community forum I’m a part of: 

What are your thoughts about coaching close friends/ having them participate in programs you facilitate?


And here was my response. 


I think this is dicey at best (This is coming from someone who coaches their own father soooooooo….. 😱😱😱😱😱) 


I think it’s 100% possible but you need to get very clear on a few things:


Priorities – If the friendship/relationship is the priority how will you deal with it if the coaching impacts the friendship. What’s the bail/pull the chord agreement? 


The last time I was in business/coaches a close friend we agreed beforehand the friendship mattered more to us than our business. Which made a HUGE difference when he wanted to bail suddenly. I could have held it against him, but I reminded myself of what we had said. I let the business go and kept the friendship and our relationship was even stronger as a result. 


Confidentiality – How will you handle information inside/outside the container? Can you ask questions or reference things you know about them as a friend? Or can you only talk about things that get brought up in the group? If it’s the latter how are you going to navigate that? 


If things get brought up in the group can you talk about them inside your friendship? And how are you going to make sure things stay sealed? 


I’m very clear with my father that I won’t bring up coaching things outside of our coaching, but sometimes things do come up when we spend time as a family. For me, the line is to reference things only in an energetic sense, but never directly. Luckily he generally talks about things like business with us in a family setting as well, so I trust us in how to navigate that boundary but if he was more private it might be more challenging. 


Roles – What roles do you currently play in one another’s lives. How will you discern between the coach/client role and the friend/family role? 


When I’m in sessions with my dad I refer to him as Al, I call his wife Peg, I’ll even mention his children. I use these named protocols two separate the two types of ways we relate to each other. I developed this technique when I worked for his company many years ago. It isn’t perfect but it helps. 

In addition when he wants to discuss personal issues during our coaching time (like the next time I come to visit) I ask that we bring those things to our weekly family call instead. I’m not saying there’s never any overlap, but I work to be constantly attending to the container so it’s as clean as possible. 


I think this is esp. important if you’re very different as a coach than as a friend. In my relationship for example I tend to be more empathetic and offer witnessing more than I would in my coaching relationship. Sure I hear my clients but if they loop, if the same pattern shows up again I point it out and challenge them. If I did this in my romantic relationship without checking in first it wouldn’t go very well.


If your friend expects you to show up as a friend and you show up as a coach how is that going to go? 


Consider how it impacts the space: Will you be able to be in the space and be impartial with your friend? Can you make sure not to use any inside jokes or inside language with them? How are you going to share the fact that there’s a different relationship in the space? 


When I run strategic planning sessions with my father’s company I presence the fact that we’re related to one another, esp. when a new team member is in the room. I feel confident about my ability to treat him the same way I’d treat any CEO. but I do know this is harder in group coaching when I have a close relationship with a few of the members. 


When I run Half Day Dojo’s and dojo alumni show up I have to be careful not to talk to only them, because it can leave other people feeling like they’re on the outside of the group. So I do my best to treat everyone the same. I might check in with someone I know well, but then I move my attention on to the group as a whole. 


Ideally, you need to let people know that there’s a relationship there and how you’re holding it. People will almost always pick up on it if you don’t. 


Are you getting supported? – Since coaching a friend may bring up your own stuff, how are you going to get supported so you can show up cleaning in the relationship or space you’re creating? 


I could never coach my own father or have a friend in my groups unless I was working with a coach. If you’re going to take this on, bring it to your coach (and if you don’t have one get one), talk it out and see what you would need to be a strong stand for them. 


I also bring these kinds of questions to my close coaching peers. It’s this kind of thing that the Pilea consultation groups are great for. Because you can discuss how other coaches handle this while also attending to your own boundaries. 


Final thoughts – 

So should you coach a family member or close friend? 

In most cases, they will be better served by referring them to another coach. Because the relationship is cleaner and the work can be more direct. But if you really want to do it, make sure you really consider the issues above. 


Yes, you can do this but it requires a lot of attention and work before, during, and after the engagement. It should only be done with the support of a coach and a group of peers and being able to be very clear an why you’re choosing to work this way. 


For me and my father, this arrangement works great for us. We both like being in charge in a way and both get a lot out of working together. Because in a coaching relationship the coach is in charge of the container and the client is in charge of the process it balances our relationship in a way nothing ever has. When I worked for him and disagreed with his choices I would get frustrated and annoyed especially when it impacted my day to day work. And I doubt he would enjoy working for me for the same reason. 


By coaching him I can give him my best insights, offer my best questions, and then let him choose what he wants. My role as a coach works for our relationship, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it for anyone else. But my hope is that what I’ve learned from working with him will help you work with your clients as well. 


Love, Toku


Additional Resources