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6 Keys Needed To Escape The “Not Enough” Stage

It takes more than a map to arrive in Stage 2 of the 4 Stages of a Coaching Business. You need to have the fuel and ability to make the distance.

We know its possible to escape the “not enough clients or cash” stage. We looked at each of the phases we’ll go through to break free and rise out of Stage 1. 

So armed with this information, what does it actually take to make it through those phases? 

The 6 Keys To Creating Escape

Here are the keys that will make escaping level 1 more likely to happen:



Looking for the Gap and Committing to Closing It – We can fool ourselves for years about what’s going on inside our coaching and our business. You know your sessions are kind of meh, and your sales calls are lacking, but you ignore it.

It’s a powerful skill to be able to look at your coaching and your business, see what’s missing, and commit to changing it.

Often it shows up in your sessions – People leaving calls with little more clarity then they came with, sessions that ramble and are formless, coaching that feels vaguely powerful, but doesn’t really inspire your clients. Often you know somethings missing, but you don’t want to face it.

The key then is to figure out what’s missing (usually through feedback) and then make a commitment to creating it. 



Getting Into Action and Establishing a Practice – Once you’ve identified the gap, you get started practicing it right away. You don’t get caught in the endless web of answers and quick fixes out there.

Instead, you get into action. But make one of your first actions to establish a practice.

Set up a focus, a way to get feedback, a system of support, and find mentors who are skilled at what you want to improve.

This way, when you falter or hit resistance, you’ll have the rhythm of your practice to rely on.



Focusing on the Fundamentals – While there’s a lot about coaching and building a business that’s confusing, the fundamentals never change.

Are you connecting with your clients at the start of each coaching or sales call? Finding out what they want to create? Supporting them to move from insight into action?

When coaches falter they lose track of these fundamentals. They stop creating sessions with powerful drops. They stop having sales calls where they listen to their prospects.

Instead, they listen to their egos and the siren songs of easy answers.

This is going to happen to you. So you want to get good at noticing when your fundamentals are slipping and returning to them.

The world’s best coaches, the world’s most successful coaches don’t try to do a lot of impressive things, they do a few things very impressively. 

So no matter what your practice focus is, it’s essential you keep your fundamentals solid. 



Working On Your Being/Mindset/Inner Game – You’re going to run into resistance at some point.

And when you do, you’ll have to rely on your commitments to carry you through.

But all of your commitments rest on your integrity, your being, and your ability to be with your mind as it runs around in fear.

Which is why deep work matters so much, because if you can’t rely on yourself who can you rely on?



Getting Quality Feedback – There will be times where you won’t notice what’s missing.

Your gaps will be small and subtle until they grow into BIG GAPING gaps that begin to weigh down your coaching and your business.

Get quality feedback along the way instead. Don’t be fooled like most coaches are, that getting ‘feedback’ from your clients is enough.

They don’t really understand coaching and they aren’t looking with an objective eye, you need something more if you want to keep growing.



Getting Supported – Doing this alone is challenging, almost impossible really.

Most coaches live inside what we call the coaching bubble.

They only ever see their email inbox, their Facebook feed, and if they’re lucky a few clients and prospects. Without outside support and a community of other dedicated coaches, this path is hard.

Which is why you need support. And not just the kind of support that offers easy answers at a low low price, but the kind of support that tells you the truth, helps you do the hard work, and cheers for you along the way.


These 6 keys to escaping stage 1 overlap obviously and you can practice them over and over again for the rest of your coaching career.

They aren’t fancy or flashy, but they work.

They are the easy answer you’ve been looking for; the shortcut of  ‘no more shortcuts’. 





PS – At the October Half Day Dojo we’ll be focusing on how to avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKE 80% of coaches make in 90% of their sessions. It’s a common factor that can have you STUCK in stage 1. So if you want to know how to nail the DROP and improve your sessions, join us and few other dedicated coaches at the HDD: http://bit.ly/HDD-OCT-01


PPS – The BIG MISTAKE I’m talking about is the GAP that happens when you FAIL to find out what your client really wants.  And that is, above and beyond, the #1 reason why most coaches sessions end up sucking. Please don’t let this super easy-to-fix mistake take you out.

You can be a great coach if you simply learn to practice like one. 


Escaping The First Stage Of Coaching

There are a lot of coaches like you who are trying to escape the first stage of coaching.

What is Stage 1? A stage I often call the not enough stage, because there’s not enough clients and not enough money.

This stage is where most coaches live and why the majority of coaches don’t make enough. If you aren’t familiar, you can read up on all 4 Stages of a Coaching Business here.

Today, I want to tell you how you can map your own escape of Stage 1.


Let’s start here:


Not only have I done this in my own business, but I’ve watched and helped dozens of coaches do this inside the Coaching Dojo.

It’s not always easy – in fact, it can often be very challenging – but it’s absolutely possible.


Here’s how the change most often happens in my experience:



Struggle and Denial – This phase lasts for years for many coaches.

You got into coaching because you loved this work. Some of you were the person your friends came to for advice; you loved having the big conversations, the ones that really matter.

And so you started a business, maybe you left your job, or did it on the side. But in either case, you started excited and lived on that excitement.

You took a course, hired a coach with a great sales page, got a certification.

But it didn’t work. You didn’t do the work, you checked email instead. Or you did the work but it didn’t click right away, and so you took another course instead.

You knew it wasn’t working, but you just moved from one course to the next, one teacher to the next. Hoping that the next thing would be the answer.

Let’s call this PHASE 0.



You Realize It Isn’t Working – One day something clicks inside of your, or breaks inside of you.

This is when you realize that it isn’t working.

It dawns on you that all of the “standard” advice has gotten you to where most other coaches are, in a cycle of constant struggle.

For some people, this means hitting rock bottom: maxing out your credit cards, having to move back in with you parent, or relying solely on your partner’s income.

At other times it’s an inspiration that causes it to change. A determination to succeed where others have stumbled.

This is PHASE 1.



You Make a Commitment (Probably with Some Enthusiasm) – Phase 2 is when you decide to change how you’re doing everything. Maybe you finally make a BIG investment into your coaching. Or hire a really incredible 1-1 coach, or set up a home office, or create some sort of structure for yourself.

You decide you’ll make it no matter what, you decide to really get good at coaching, and really learn how to enroll clients even if it’s hard.

For most people this ‘surge’ of commitment lasts a few days for others it’s a few weeks, but it rarely last a month.

This is PHASE 2.



You Discover It’s Harder or Different Than You Thought and You Struggle A Little – You start to realize why all those step by step methods were so appealing.

The process isn’t as simple or clear as others make it out to be. This can cause most coaches to stumble or even quit this new path.

If you stick with it you can move beyond this phase but that’s easier said than done.

The challenge is that this didn’t match your expectations. All of those sales pages made it seem like becoming a coach was easy, anyone could do it.

And so when you encountered setbacks, confusion, and uncertainty it brought up fear and doubts in you. Maybe you did some free coaching, but it wasn’t mind-blowing.

Perhaps you proposed some coaching and people told you they’d think about it and then never got back to you.

You bought the course that promised the stars and you got a bunch of confusing videos and worksheets instead.

It can be discouraging. Sometimes coaches simply don’t do the work or keep chasing the next sexy fix. It’s a sign they aren’t really ready to blaze their own trail which is vital for making out of stage one.

This is PHASE 3.



You Stick With Your Commitment and Begin to See Progress – If you move beyond this initial struggle and stay focused on your commitment to do the work, to keep getting better as a coach, to learn from every conversation and enrollment call you have, you’ll soon start to see some progress.

This will feel inspiring and hopeful. You’ll start to have coaching sessions you feel proud of.

You’ll sign a client or two. If you get to this stage CELEBRATE!

Very few people make it this far.

You’re probably in the top 10% of coaches who experience real traction in their businesses.

Let’s call this PHASE 4.



You Hit Resistance and Return To Practice (or not) – At some point, you’ll face some sort of set back.

It’s inevitable. You’ll get 3 or 4 no’s in a row. A client you love will want to quit. You try to raise your prices and do an awful enrollment call.

While this phase is not necessarily the end of your escape velocity, it is for many coaches.

They hit this second wall of resistance and they give up, or distract themselves, or grope about for an easy answer and all of these lead back to PHASE 0 and back to the endless cycle of struggle so many coaches know so well. But it doesn’t have to be the end.

You might get discouraged even hopeless. You might not even want to think about coaching anymore or your commitment, because thinking about it makes you feel like a failure.

But you remember why you did this, you lean on your support and the rhythm of your practice and you decide to face this failure head-on. You focus on the basics and you start again.

This is PHASE 5.



You Find Your Practice Groove – This phase feels a lot like PHASE 4, because again you start to make progress on a consistent basis.

At this point, you get into a groove of connecting with clients, serving them powerfully, and signing them as clients. In this phase you encounter challenges but you learn to use them to keep growing. Or maybe not.

You might actually just be in a repeat PHASE 4 here and if that’s the case you might have to lean HARD on your practice and your commitment as you go through a few more cycles of Stage 4 and 5.

But when you do finally reach PHASE 6 it can start to feel like you’ll never have to worry about going totally broke or failing as a coach, because you develop this confidence that you can coach your ass off and sign clients.

This is PHASE 6​.



You Stumble in Stage 2 Until You Recommit – At this final phase of the Stage 1 escape plan, you’re entering Stage 2 of coaching growth which is all about “too much” (too much to do, too many clients, and too many opportunities).

And while this may sound great, at some point you might get so scattered and distracted you forget about the fundamentals and the simplicity of practice, or you might get overextended and get caught up in a get rich quick scheme just to find yourself low and cash and clients again.

After all, that desire for easy answers didn’t go anywhere, so it’s easy to get caught chasing them again.

I see this most often with coaches who’ve been at this for years and find themselves struggling to make ends meet, even after creating some success.

Some of these coaches go back to years of PHASE 0 thinking maybe the first escape was a fluke. But some others remember what got them there in the first place and they recommit, to being a great coach, to serving people powerfully, and to enrolling people in what’s possible.

This is PHASE 7.



It gets easier the 2nd and 3rd time around because the fundamentals become more and more obvious!

So, as you can see, it’s not a straight and narrow path. That’s why I so often rail against all these people that offer a paved roadway out of stage 1 because they often hide the truth of what it takes.

There are ups and downs. Moments of great hopes and dark nights of the soul.

There are days where it all works and days where nothing seems to work

There are paths to escape and move beyond STAGE 1, but not at the pace we’d like and not as smooth as we’d like it to be.

This is the process of growth and change… The same one we learn to lead our clients through.





Next: Read up on the 6 Keys you need to ESCAPE the first level of building a coaching business. | Join us at Open Mat Sparring each month.



Consider joining our upcoming Half Day Dojo [http://bit.ly/HDD-OCT-01] where we embark on dojo inspired training on one of the BIGGEST MISTAKES coaches make in their sessions, that contributes to keeping them stuck in stage one.

The Four Stages of a Coaching Business

When I first started coaching,

I thought . . . If I can just charge a hundred dollars an hour, then I’ll have made it.

Then I thought . . . If I can just go to a Rich Litvin intensive, then I’ll have made it.

And then . . . If I can join 4PC, make over six figures, build a scalable business, hire a great assistant, write a book, write a speech…

On and on and on.

For years I chased the next milestone, the whole time missing what was right in front of me.

And then I started reading books about business.

Scaling Up, Predictable Success, Small Business Life Cycle, The Pumpkin Plan, Run Like Clockwork . . .

At a certain point, I started noticing that as MUCH as I knew about coaching I knew SQUAT about business. Even worse MOST of the coaches I had been listening to knew even less.

Slowly, I began to see that there are…

Four Evolutionary Stages to a Coaching Business

Stage 1 – Not Enough Clients or Cash – this is where most coaches are and this is where most of them stay. They can’t support themselves or they can BARELY support themselves. This stage is dangerous for two reasons:

  1. You’re Prey – At this point, you on at the bottom of the coaching food chain and thus are prey for the larger more dominant predators in our industry and because you don’t know much you can be easily fooled.
  2. There’s No Going Back – unlike coaches at later stages of growth, the only way out is up. If you stay here for too long you’ll quit, either because you run out of cash, credit, or hope. So it’s vital you move beyond this stage quickly.

Stage 2 – Cash, Clients, and Chaos – Most of the coaches you think of as successful are here. They’re running around making deals, signing clients, and bragging about it all. They LOOK impressive, but they are just one bad month or two away from stage one.

If they stop hunting they starve and so they talk about how great they are at hunting. They tell you about the niche they’ve carved out in the market and encourage you to find a pack of wildebeest to follow just like them. They are having fun, but they are always on the move.

The biggest dangers in this stage are burnout or growth. You will either run out of steam or grow so much that you have to expand or collapse under your own weight.

Stage 3 – Too Many Clients, Too Many Projects – If a coach keeps pushing and growing eventually they end up here. They start burning out, or their business or lifestyle get’s too expensive. They’re coaching a LOT of clients and they start to resent them. They miss the days when things were simpler.

So they downsize, they fire their assistant. They go back to hunting. They come up with a few new projects but it’s still all on them.

A few coaches move beyond this: they expand, they give up control, they create structure and learn to evolve from hunters to farmers. But this takes courage and discipline and humility.

The biggest dangers of this stage are fear of the future, not being willing to get support, choosing the excitement of signing clients over the mundanity of running a business.

Stage 4 – Balance, Flow – This is rarefied air. Most businesses are aiming for this place, but most coaches don’t even know it exists. This is a place where you stop being the business and the business becomes a thing unto itself. You no longer do the thing, you now can make the thing happen. What you choose to do here is up to you. You might step away or you might choose your favorite part of your business and give yourself that job.

This stage offers true freedom. But it also requires you to let go of your identity and embrace something new.

THIS is the success I had been seeking when I started my business and for most coaches, it is as well.

They want freedom, they want time away, they want something that has an impact bigger than them. And they THINK they’ll get it by getting to stage 2, but stage 2 is a trap. It’s a job in coaches clothing.

The true freedom comes in stage 4 if you’ve got the courage to get there. And for most of you, that means getting OUT of phase 1.

It means getting to a point of making JUST enough cash to earn a living and then figuring out how to do that month after month.

You need to STOP worrying about anything beyond a basic website, a simple text logo, a few coaching packages, and a simple fee structure.

Your LIFE should be about clients. Finding them. Serving them. Selling to them.

You’ve got to MASTER sales and connection, NOT branding and marketing.


The Stages Are Simple

What can seem complicated to figure out, is how to keep them that way.

Your first job is to figure out what evolutionary stage you’re in. (For most of you it’s stage 1)

And your second job is to figure out how to solve the problem of THAT stage.

I know you want your problem to be more complicated. I get it. Logos are easier to make than clients are to enroll.

But that’s EXACTLY why most coaches have a logo, but not enough clients to eat.





If you’re looking for more practice or want to join me live with other dope coaches, join us for our next Monthly Public Open Mat Sparring – our free recurring container for deliberate practice, Q&A and connecting with dedicated people from around the globe. Click Here For More.


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The First Rule of Open Mat Sparring…

“Gentlemen, welcome to Fight Club.

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is: YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB.
Third rule of Fight Club: Someone yells “Stop!”, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over.
Fourth rule: Only two guys to a fight.
Fifth rule: One fight at a time, fellas.
Sixth rule: No shirts, no shoes.
Seventh rule: Fights will go on as long as they have to.
And the eighth and final rule: If this is your first night at Fight Club, you have to fight.”

–Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Okay, so the “rules” of Open Mat Sparring are a little different than those of Fight Club…  

But the concept of the two is much the same (minus the beating each other up part). Like Fight Club, Open Mat Sparring (OMS) is a place to push yourself, to see what you’re made of as a coach. And to be supported and challenged and encouraged and tested by a group of like-minded people who believe coaching is an art, and who are in pursuit of the same goals: to improve the art of coaching through deliberate practice, to walk the path of coaching mastery, and to change the coaching industry in the process.

This is why we gather as fellow Samurai Coaches and enter the sparring arena.

Here are the rules of this arena:

1-2. The first (and second) rule of Open Mat Sparring is: We DO talk about Open Mat Sparring. We know this simple practice has the power to change someone’s coaching profoundly in just a few minutes, so we want as many coaches to experience it as we can. Know a coach who’d benefit? Invite them!

Here is where we skip the Fight Club rules about tapping out and no shirts (who wants to see that, unless you’re Brad Pitt?)

3. Our third rule is an adaptation of the rule above that states: “fights go as long as they have to”, because in Open Mat Sparring, the limited time simulates all the other pressures of the “real” coaching conversation. On our mats, coaching only goes as long as the Sensei allows.

4. The fourth rule of Open Mat Sparring is: Coach like it’s for real, because it is. And it’s just practice. Keep these two contradictions in mind as you spar.

5. The fifth rule of Open Mat Sparring is: Well, there is no fifth rule. There are guidelines, suggestions, and even a few safety tips. Open Mat Sparring has just enough structure and just enough chaos to maximize practice and accelerate mastery.

6. The last rule of Open Mat Sparring (and here’s where we and Fight Club agree): If this is your first time at Open Mat Sparring, you have to spar. (We encourage you to spar every time – that’s where the fun is!) Don’t worry – we’ll be gentle. Mostly.


Open Mat Sparring newb?

If you’re curious and want some more context, check out Sensei Toku’s primer on Open Mat Sparring HERE.

Then, RESERVE YOUR SPOT and JOIN US Wednesday, August 28th, 12pm EST. Consider it a one-hour investment (or a one-hour experiment) in the craft of your coaching.


Open Mat Sparring regular?

Cool. It’ll be good to see you again! For you: See Rule #1. Find a coach friend (or enemy!), and invite them. Share this post, or simply give them the registration link: https://samuraicoachingdojo.com/spar, then call them before it starts to remind them.

You already know how powerful an experience this can be. Why would you deny someone else that opportunity?

Remember to reserve your own spot HERE. See you on the mats  Wednesday, August 28th at 12:00 PM (EST)


–Your Sparring-Obsessed Sensei and Dojo Support Team


Take the Crap Out of Your Coaching

Let’s forget about coaching for a minute. I want to know: how are you taking care of yourself? Are you getting enough sleep? Eating right? Exercising? Meditating?

Are you going to the bathroom regularly? (Yes, I really went there.)

I’m asking this because I care about your well-being. How well you take care of yourself reflects in your practice. And not just your physical health. I’m also talking about your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. All of these aspects combined build the foundation for your daily mindset.  

In the coaching realm, the foundation of your mindset affect your ability to adapt, reflect, and correct your actions. Performing at your best requires focus and clarity. As you continue on the path towards coaching mastery, it’s important to fuel your input so that you have consistent, powerful output.

It’s easy to forget self-care as you’re putting in the long hours to meet your professional goals. Today, I am reminding you to do something to take care of yourself. Take a walk. Read a book.  Or drink a glass of green juice. You can spare 10 or 15 minutes to do something for your own well-being, guilt-free. Consider it an investment: better self-care = more powerful coaching.

Not-so-subtle ulterior motive: we want you well rested to give it your all at our next Open Mat Sparring on February 8th, 12 pm EST! You can reserve your spot HERE.

Is Your Coaching Masterful, or Just Mediocre?

As you walk the path toward excellence as a coach, how do you know you are following the right trail? How do you ensure you don’t look back ten years from now and see yourself in the same place, the same mindset, with minimal growth?

Practice, Practice, Practice is the way, as you have heard every elementary school teacher tell you.

Excellent coaches don’t become mired in stagnant learnings; they continually reflect on their actions, face their hard truths, and correct their course accordingly. It’s not the easy way, but it’s the most effective way to hone your skills.

Take Sensei Toku for example. He has learned, learned from others and himself, and will never stop learning. Such a simple act for creating such  long-term impacts instead of quick fixes.

What does excellent coaching look like? It begins with an agenda, overflows with confidence, and ends with both client AND coach gaining satisfaction.

Now is the time to watch yourself in action and reflect on your own approach, your soul searching, how you look for unanswered and unknown questions. Compare yours to the methodology of those coaches you strive to mirror. Where do you climb and where do you falter? Pat yourself on your back for your brilliance, but remember, facing the hard truths of your opportunities is an important step along the path to excellence.

Take your chance to practice and strengthen your coaching skills, and join us for our next Open Mat Sparring on February 8th, 12pm EST! You can reserve your spot here.


The Amazing Power of Sparring

In the Dojo, we talk about coaching as a martial art, because coaching is about the battle for possibility in the face of cynicism and resignation.

Some people talk about coaching from an academic perspective. They talk about practicums, supervision, and certification.

Some people talk about coaching from a spiritual perspective. They talk about energy, intuition, and flow.

But in the Dojo, I talk about coaching from a practice perspective, borrowing heavily from Zen and the martial arts. I do this because coaching is more than what you can know and study like an academic. Coaching is more than what you feel and intuit like a wise person.

Coaching is the art of bringing knowledge, being, doing, and nothingness into the arena and intending to create what seems impossible.

Why We Call It Sparring

If you have ever done sparring in boxing or another martial art, you know that sparring has an element of safety. There is usually a teacher guiding you, you wear pads, and there is an agreement not to go full out.

But in sparring there is also an element of danger. You are hitting and getting hit. Things get messy. The careful rules of the kata turn into reality. And in this controlled chaos so much of what you think you know evaporates, and yet you learn something you can’t learn in any other way.

This is why we call the practice sessions we do in the Dojo “sparring.” We want to invoke the realness of the practice. We want to invite you to consider that your practice matters, that something is at stake. We want you to feel safe enough to take risks, but we want you to be on the edge of control.

How Sparring Prepares You for Coaching

We create sparring this way because of what it makes possible. When you’re in a real session, you aren’t in control, there aren’t rules. Your client (if you are lucky) will bring all of themselves to your coaching. Things will get messy, confusing, and dangerous.

If you have had practice—practice being a little out of control, of pushing your edges, of stepping into the unknown—you’ll be ready. If you haven’t, you’ll scramble. You’ll buy into your clients limitations, you’ll try to force them into a process that makes you feel safe. This is not the best you can be as a coach.

This is why we create a place to spar as a coach. In some ways it’s just like other forms of practice. You coach and get feedback, you get coached and give feedback. You get hit by insight, you offer hits of insight.

But because of the way we frame it, people show up differently. They’re less stuffy, less controlled, less worried about doing it right. Which is why we get better results. You may not think it matters or that it will change you, and yet, you might be surprised.

What to Expect When You Spar

If you decide to join us for sparring, you can expect: 

Practice and Pressure

  1. When you come to spar you’ll be paired with another coach to practice.
  2. You’ll get a chance to coach them for 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. We encourage you to coach them just like you would any other client. Pretend it’s real.
  4. You won’t be able to go as slowly or get as much done as you’re used to. This is on purpose.

When you’re in a real session with a real client you feel pressure. You feel pressure to perform, to sign them up, to adapt, to be a good coach. The way most people practice, you feel no pressure. You go slow, you take your time. It’s not real anyway.

In the Dojo, we trade that real-session money pressure, performance pressure, and ego pressure for time pressure. So you won’t have enough time, or at least it may not feel like it. And that’s okay. It’s an invitation to trust yourself, to be confident, or to stumble and feel what it’s like to cave to pressure… so that you won’t cave to pressure in your REAL sessions.

  1. The session will end, because all sessions end and you will have coached how you coached.

Being okay with this is one of the most powerful aspects of sparring.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

After each round of sparring you get feedback.

In the Dojo, we give feedback using BO. We call it BO because it makes people laugh and when people laugh they chill the F out a little bit. It’s just feedback.

B Stands for Brilliance. There is ALWAYS Brilliance in your coaching. This is a chance to see that. Even in the WORST SESSION YOU’VE EVER HAD. There is brilliance. So your partner will tell you what they loved about your coaching. This is the stuff you should do more of.

O Stands for Opportunity. There is also always opportunity in your coaching. Sometimes it will be things you missed or things you could have done better. Sometimes it’s just another path you could have gone down. In the Dojo, we don’t believe in a ‘right’ way to coach.

There is the way you coached, and there are moments of brilliance, and there are opportunities. The Samurai Coach learns from both. So the opportunities are offered in this spirit—the spirit of learning.

Going from Coach to Client and Client to Coach

At the end of each round of sparring you change places: the client becomes the coach and the coach becomes the client.

This is helpful because this is what the life of a coach is. Sometimes you are the coach; you are standing in possibility with your client and creating. Sometimes you are the client; you are getting supported and challenged in the midst of creation.

Then the session ends and if you gave feedback before you get to give feedback now.

This get a chance to be generous. But you also get to learn.

When you get feedback, you are being told what clients never tell you: what worked for them, what didn’t, what we missed. Clients rarely tell us the truth about our coaching.

Your clients want you to feel good and they want to look good. So they say nothing. They tell you they’ll think about it and then never answer an email again. When you get feedback, you’re experiencing the generosity of honesty that you rarely get as a coach.

But when you give your feedback you are learning about coaching as well.

You are learning to see coaching from a client perspective. You are learning what your view of coaching is. When you see your view of coaching, you learn from it. When you don’t see it, you don’t learn from it.

This is perhaps one of the most overlooked values of sparring. Getting to be the client observing the coach will teach you more about coaching than you could ever realize. When you are the client you mostly think about yourself.

Through sparring, you get to be the client and really think about the coaching and what’s happening for the coach, as well as inside of you.

Gathering Together

When the sparring ends, we gather in the great hall.

This is a chance to share what you learned with other coaches, other Samurai. This is a chance for your wisdom to wash over other people. Perhaps there will be a short demonstration or discussion, but you will learn from other people’s learning.

This is how we create sparring. It’s unlike any other kind of practice and yet it’s a lot like other kinds of practice. You may think, “I’ve done this before, I know what this is like.” But in truth, we’ve created sparring differently in big and subtle ways.

You may be intimidated by sparring. You may worry that you will be very bad, or that you’ll be so good that you won’t learn anything. But there is always something to be learned by practice in this way…

If you are willing to be brave enough to try.

If you are willing to be humble enough to practice.

This is why we spar in the Dojo. Because sparring gives you chance to see all the angles of a conversation in just 30 minutes. We assume that mastery can happen quickly, that insight is right there, ripe for the picking.

So if you want to get better, to stop being lonely, or having doubts, or being bored, or wondering if you’re any good, or wondering how you could improve… Or if you just want to have fun again.

If you just want to enjoy coaching and have some fun and try out a wild style or see how other people do it.

If you’re just a little curious, sparring is for you. Sparring is for anyone who’s open to it. That’s how we created it. With no right or wrong way. Just coaches, committed to practice, stepping into the arena together—to push each other to be the best version of coach they can possibly be.

We’d love to have you join us.


How to Turn Shifts into Clients

Some coaches say clients pay you for results. Others say they pay you for the powerful insights you generate. And still others say it’s the possibility you get them present to.

But no matter how you talk about it, what your clients are paying you for directly or indirectly is what happens in the insight creation, or Shift, part of your coaching conversations. The reason is simple: the Shift is where things change. It’s where clients see their lives differently. It’s where they get present to possibility. It’s where they realize what they’ve been missing and create what wasn’t possible before.

If you understand this, you can use the power of the Shift phase to sign clients. If you don’t understand this, you’ll squander the Shift, it will create powerful conversations, but no clients.

This is how it normally goes (hint… not well).

Normally, you coach a client, they get present to what’s possible, they see themselves in a new way, and they get interested in your coaching.

Then you try to ‘SELL THEM ON COACHING.’

But you don’t sell them the result of their Shift ; you don’t help them get present to the impact of what’s going to happen if they keep living from the old point of view versus the new point of view. No, you forget all about that. You try to sell them on a package, a program, a set of future goals that are dead and boring.

Before long, the magic they felt in the Shift is gone. Your interaction seems average, just like every interaction they’ve ever had with a sales person. They say they’re interested, they say they’ll think about it… and then you either get a polite email from them telling you no (but just for now), or you never hear from you again.


What it does mean is that their context won. The context of resignation and cynicism. The context that nothing will really change for them. And it happened because you squandered their Shift . You went from “SO MUCH IS POSSIBLE!” to “Here’s my $599 coaching program.”

How to make it abnormal and thus successful.

If you want this to stop happening, here’s what you do. When your potential client has a Shift in your session, write it down. Keep track of these Shifts carefully.

THEN when you get to the proposal phase, which is IDEALLY before you get to the proposal conversation itself, write down each Shift and draw two lines from each one of them.

On the left line write who they are before this SHIFT :What is their view of the world? How do they act? How do they be?

Then write down the impact of this:
– What’s possible and impossible?
– What’s available and unavailable?
– How do other people feel around them?
– How do they feel about themselves?

Now do the same thing for the right line. Do this for AT LEAST 2-3 of the SHIFTS they experienced in their coaching conversation with you.


Help them get present to the impact of what it means to keep living from the left lines. Don’t TELL them, draw it out of them. Have them experience what it’s like to be the old version, the pre-shift version. Have them get PRESENT to that impact of what it’s like to be that person.

THEN have them connect with what is possible beyond the Shift : what could they do with new beliefs, what actions could they take, who could they become. Sell them on a future they create for themselves, NOT on your boring process or absurd coaching package that has them create a context of ‘just like everything else.’

If you do this, you WILL sign clients. If you do this, you can use the Shift to create a powerful opportunity for commitment.

THIS is exciting and powerful. This is what it means to create commitment through service instead of pressure. This is the Art of Enrollment with Honor.


The Drop Deeper Into Coaching Challenge – Part 2

[While this post works on its own, you might enjoy reading Part 1, which you can find here.]

I also want to invite you to practice both Calmness and Activity in the Shift phase, with us in our upcoming OPEN MAT SPARRING session, happening on Wednesday, January 23, at 2pm EST. You can reserve your spot here.

Calmness in the Midst of Activity in the Shift Phase

There’s this concept I heard when I first started coaching: the “lamp post metaphor.” The idea is that even if a person talked to a lamp post every night they would get some benefit. And while this is a helpful metaphor when we’re caught in the midst of doubting ourselves as coaches, I don’t think that aspiring to the effectiveness of a lamp post is why any of us got into coaching.

In the first part of this challenge I talked about the practice of being active in the midst of calmness, about how to be focused on the practice of being present while you create silence, space, and possibility. In some ways this is the practice of being a powerful lamp post.

But of course this is only part of the equation. To be a masterful coach, a true Samurai Coach, you must not only be a powerful lamp post, you must learn to act, speak, ask, and reflect with depth and power. And while this is true for ALL the parts of a coaching conversation it’s especially true for the part of the conversation after you choose an area to coach around or in, the part we call the SHIFT phase.

Which is why in this post I want to ask you to deepen into your coaching by practicing Calmness in the midst of Activity.

The Practice of Calmness in the midst of Activity

Coaches love to collect questions:

  • “What would make this an extraordinary conversation?”
  • “What’s the first simplest step you could take?”
  • “What’s missing from your life right now?”
  • “What are you tolerating right now?”

But if you’ve ever taken a great question from a Master coach and used it in your own sessions, you’ve probably noticed it didn’t really work like magic. Maybe it worked a few times. But just as often the question will fall flat, or confuse your client, or lead to a place you didn’t expect.

The reason this happens is that questions are magic spells. In order for a question to be powerful you have to be powerful as you ask it. And the core of this power comes from the practice of Calmness in the midst of Activity.

In the Dojo we don’t teach particular questions as the right questions. We don’t try to get you to coach like this coach or that. We don’t give you a step by step process to follow. Because that’s not what will make you a master coach. What will make you a master coach is learning to practice being Calm in the midst of Activity.

If you can learn to do this ALL of your questions will be more powerful—the brilliant, stolen-from-a-great-coach-video-you-watched, mind-blowing questions, as well as the almost-eye-rollingly-simple questions.

To practice this, begin by finding calm before the session even begins. Take a few minutes before your call to breathe, to feel into the place underneath and/or behind all of your nerves, your questions, your doubts. Then as you go through your conversation, keep checking in. Can you feel the calm? If not, take a breath, ask the client to pause and find it. Help them find it.

This is especially important as you move from context and focus into curiosity and insight creation (aka, from the Drop to the Shift), so after you find out what the client would like, after you choose a focus. Take a breath. Find your calm and then each time you ask, each time you reflect, see if you can stay in touch with the calmness, the stillness at the center of your coaching.

At first this practice might seem confusing to you. It might even seem impossible. You might get to the end of your coaching conversation and realize you were thinking, scrambling, doubting, and dreading the whole time. IT’S OKAY. This is how 90% of coaches coach. This is how 99.9% of people do almost everything in life. This is the norm.

The practice of finding Calmness in the midst of Activity IS NOT the practice of BEING Calm in the midst of Activity. This practice always goes one of two ways: Way 1: You realize you have lost calmness and you practice finding it. Way 2: You forget or are unaware you have lost calmness and thus don’t practice finding it.

The only place to go from Way 1 is into Way 2. It’s like breathing or the left of right foot in walking. It’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect.

Just practice and notice what happens. Notice what happens when you act from calmness.  Notice what happens when you act from another place—franticness, doubt, needing to be right, wanting to prove yourself, or whatever.

The Samurai Coach doesn’t seek perfection in practice. The Samurai Coach realizes that all practice is perfect.

And again, if you’re not sure how to do this I hope you’ll join us at our next OPEN MAT SPARRING) where you’ll get a chance to be in the practice of this and get feedback.



PS: Over the next few posts I’ll be talking more and more about the Dojo and how we help coaches develop deep confidence, learn how to do breathtaking coaching, and discover their unique coaching voice. Coaches that take the Dojo don’t just experience a small spike in insight or skill, they step on a path of mastery that leads to doing work they love, with amazing clients, and getting paid well.

This doesn’t happen because of some hack, trick, or system we teach. It happens because mastery and practice are at the heart of creating transformation in your coaching conversations and in your business.

If you’re ready to step off the path mediocre and overly marketed coaching and onto the path of lifelong mastery and success rooted in integrity, I invite you to fill out an application today.


The Drop Deeper Into Coaching Challenge – Part 1

Activity in the midst of Calmness in the Shift phase

If you care about coaching, you care about creating change. You want your client’s lives to shift, you want them to see new possibility, you want their dreams to come true.

While this can happen anywhere in a coach conversation, the Shift phase is where this happens the most. This is where they get present to possibility, see themselves clearly, face difficult truths, and come to terms with fear, grief, and pain.

After spending hours observing Master Coaches, Samurai in the Dojo, and reflecting on my own practice, the key creating a powerful Shift is clear.

The most important practice of the Shift is the practice of activity in the midst of calmness and calmness in the midst of activity.

Which is why I’d like to challenge you this week to drop deeper into your coaching with every conversation you have, but especially each time you move from what you’re going to coach about to diving into the coaching itself (aka, when you move from the Drop to the Shift). You can do this whether you are brand new to coaching or have been coaching for over twenty years.

I’m going to offer you this challenge in two parts:

  1. Activity in the midst of Calmness
  2. Calmness in the midst of Activity

I’ll offer Part 1 of the challenge to you today and Part 2 later this week.

I also want to take this chance to invite you to come and practice this with us in our upcoming OPEN MAT SPARRING session happening on Wednesday, January 23, at 2pm EST. You can reserve your spot here.

Okay, here’s Part 1 . . .

Part 1 – Activity in the midst of Calmness

When you start as a coach silence is scary. It feels like nothing is happening, and so you tend to fill each and every silence with thoughts, ideas, words, and questions.

But then as you grow in depth you begin to get more comfortable with silence. Usually you experience the power of silence from a coach you’re working with. Or you watch a session with a master coach and you are amazed by how much they get done by saying so little.

Soon you become enamored with silence and you try saying nothing at all. But eventually you go too far, your sessions lose form and then you begin to drift back, always searching for the perfect balance of silence and speaking.

Part of the reason why using silence as a coach can feel so confusing is that coaches misunderstand how silence works in a conversation. Because silence really isn’t about silence at all. At least not in the hands of a master Samurai Coach.

When a Samurai Coach is silent, they are not just not talking. They are not holding back their questions. They are not waiting for the client to give them the answer they have already come to. No, the Samurai Coach is practicing. They are deeply present, deeply curious, and deeply open. They are silent but their silence is different.

It’s not the silence of the “not-talking game” or the silence of a stand-off. It’s the silence born out of activity in the midst of calmness.

This isn’t the only time that a Samurai Coach embodies this. In fact they are in the midst of this practice in every moment they are coaching. They are in the activity of being present, of being curious, of breathing deeply, of feeling their intuition, of standing in possibility.

But this practice is the MOST POTENT in the Shift phase. So much of the set up, the technique, the exquisite creation of the container that happened in the Open and the Drop phases of the conversation come to fruition during the Shift phase, but this set up can either be squandered or deepened. And the first part of this practice is to deepen by being active in the midst of calmness.

The reason this is Part One is that if you’re like most coaches you tend to be more active than you need to. You ask more questions than you need to. You think harder than you need to. And you try more than your clients need you to.

So to start, practice doing less in your Shift phase. Shut up, say less, ask one question instead of three, speak more slowly, listen more deeply.

And as you do all of this be active. Don’t just think, think, think while biting your tongue. Don’t be silent and lazy. Stay present. So present it almost feels like you’re sweating. Be active in the midst of calmness and notice. Notice what happens. What shifts for you as a coach?

This is a simple practice but it’s a lifelong one. One that you can return to again and again as a coach. And of course this is only the first half. In the next post I’ll talk about the other half of this practice. Calmness in the midst of Activity. Because great coaching isn’t just being quiet.

A Samurai Coach coaches by using silence as powerfully as words and words that are as powerful as silence.

If you’re not sure how to practice this, that’s okay—just try it out.

And if you want support, join us on January 23, 2pm EST for OPEN MAT SPARRING where you’ll get a chance to try this out and get some feedback.