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

The Illusory Safety Of Preparation: The Land of Lies

There is a magical land I see many coaches living in, called the land of preparation

In this land your dreams are safe, your risk of real, rejection is minimized, and the hope of one day being a great coach is ever present. It is so lovely in this land because it feels so real and so justifiable. There are so many programs you can buy here, guru’s you can listen to, so many books you can read, and so much you can do. 

The gentle lie of this land is that if you spend enough time in it you will someday be ready to leave and that when you do, the world you encounter will be one of success and accolades. 

The gentle lie of this land is that you are gaining something by being here. The promise of confidence, competence, a winning formula, a secret method, and a savior are ever present and yet ever out of reach. 

Because each time you go to the door-of-starting and open it to look out, all you see are dark woods, familiar monsters, and the same doubts and fears that have kept you trapped here for years maybe even decades. This place is a false paradise. It is a prison made to look like a school, a community, and a facebook group that encourages you at every turn. 

There is no amount of preparation that will get you ready for really being an incredible coach. The journey to mastery is one that will have you standing naked before the universe. 
It’s one that will have you doing battle with the shadows of humanity in yourself and in your clients. 
It’s one that will have you question everything you thought you knew about how life worked and who you are. 

The lie, the people, programs, and companies who live in the magical tell you is that you’re not ready to face it. 

That’s BULL F*CKING SH*T. 

You are not some delicate little lily of the field. Your ancestors fought wild animals. Traveled across oceans. Dug in hard earth with their bare hands to plant seeds they didn’t know would grow. 

They nearly starved to death and were killed countless times. 
They were f*cking bad asses and so are you. 

You are ready to face it ANNNNND facing it is really scary sometimes, it can feel really hard sometimes, and you’ll want to run away. 

That’s why you need support. But not the kind of support that will have you keep living in the land of preparation. No you need the kind of support that will have you living in the world of heroes. The world of coaches who actually make money and have clients and run a real ass business like a grown ass adult. 

It’s time to leave the fake paradise and get to work. 

Go hire a coach who will get you there. 
Join a group that will get you there. 
Find some friends that will get you there. 

I’d love to battle with you and have some fun along the way. If you want to join me and the mastermind to actually do the thing you want to be doing or do it better let’s talk. 

But get out the door and make it happen. 
The world needs you. And your life needs this before it’s too late. 

Love, 
Toku





Six Reasons Coaches Make Less Than Minimum Wage

After being a coach for 18 months I was earning more than six figures (a somehow magical number for coaches) and yet I often connected with coaches who had:

  • multiple certifications
  • years of coaching experience
  • stories of amazing workshops
  • and ton’s of books on coaching and business on their shelves.​

And yet . . . many of them were making minimum wage. Sometimes they made a bit more $50k – $70k a year, but often they were baffled at why they hadn’t achieved the success of their peers. I get it. I’ve been in the coaching industry, what sells is fast, short cut, get rich quick trainings, and books.

I know a coach who teaches FB messenger strategies and his group is full of coaches. Another coach I know teaches big live workshops that are always sold out. But in the shadows of both groups and beyond the success stories that are on their websites, many coaches who continue to struggle blame themselves for not being successful.

After working with and training coaches for several years—many who have gone on to run highly successful coaching businesses and even become CEOs of major coaching companies—here are the six things I’ve seen that keeps coaches from being successful.

1) No Purpose and No Identity –

Often when I talk to new coaches the reason they go into coaching is because
A) they had a great coach or
B) people always come to them for advice.
While both of these are great reasons to get curious they aren’t enough to keep a coach going through the challenges of building a practice.

What I’ve noticed is that coaches who have a clear sense of themselves and a clear purpose for their work stay focused, work through resistance, and build their practices with consistency and creativity. If you want to be successful you need a good reason to be facing your fears and resistances.

2) An Inability to Create Commitment –

Building a practice takes personal commitment, but it also requires that you learn how to support others to make powerful and lasting commitments in their own lives. Some people call this skill “sales”, others call it “enrollment”, but behind it all is an ability to support people to make commitments that scare and confront them.

If you don’t know how to do this you’ll either set your bar so low that your fees won’t pay your bills, or struggle to get any clients at all. Learning to create commitment is a learnable skill (aka NO ONE IS BAD AT SALES), but it requires a willingness to learn to create clients with integrity and a little bit of fun.

3) A Lack of Connection –

Consistently the most successful coaches I’ve seen are the ones with pre-existing networks.

These coaches have professional networks that enable them to tap into a bank of connections they have built with skill their entire career. But if you don’t have this kind of network that’s not a problem. I didn’t have one when I got started. Before becoming a coach I was living at a monastery which gives me a cool resume but not a great place to look for clients.

You can learn how to attract and connect with people. Some people call this marketing but really it’s just about connecting with people. If you do this consistently and powerfully you can build a practice from nothing. But many coaches avoid connecting in the hopes of using brute force (aka bad marketing) as a way to get clients.

4) Not Enough Personal Integrity –

Most people relate to integrity as a moral issue. If you don’t have integrity you’re a bad person. I know because that’s how I used to relate to it. But for me low integrity is like a leaky boat. The boat isn’t evil, it’s just leaky. And while a leaky boat can get you somewhere, you’re going to be spending excess time and energy bailing it out.

Integrity is really just about doing what you say you’re going to do. You don’t need to be perfect (which is impossible) but you do need to be reliable. When you have integrity people feel it and your business grows because of it. When you don’t it tends to be very stop and start.

And again integrity can be learned. Most people fail with integrity because they lack the systems and processes that support it OR they don’t empower the structure they’ve created. When this happens coaches don’t take consistent action which is what is needed to build a practice.

5) Thinking You Have Too Little (or Too Much) Time –

Most of us have an unexamined relationship with time. It always feels like we have too little or too much of it. I can’t tell you how many coaches have blamed a lack of time on their ability to build a practice or (ironically) having almost too much time on their hands.

Time is much more flexible than you realize. Every coach in the world has the same 24 hours you do to build a practice and many of them do it with families, elderly parents, and even second jobs. This doesn’t mean that it can be hard to work with time. But it DOES mean that if you have a crappy relationship with time you’re likely to struggle as a coach.

6) You have a Weird Relationship with Money –

One year as a coach I made over $300k, but in my books I lost $10k. The reason for this was that I had a weird relationship with money. I liked making it, but I didn’t like managing it (or dealing with it, as I used to say) so I didn’t do a very good job.

Being ‘successful’ as a coach for most people means making money, but many coaches think they need to make some money before they can deal with their issues around it. That doesn’t make any sense. When I see coaches with a weird relationship with money I notice they often struggle to make any money or hold onto any of it.

If you want to make good money as a coach and hold onto that money, you need to be able to deal with money in a powerful way. If you don’t, you’re going to have a hard time achieving the goals you want.

Final Thoughts

None of these challenges are terminal for you or your coaching career. I’ve spent years working through these issues with myself and with the coaches I’ve trained and worked with, but 90% of the training you can get won’t address this stuff directly.

Instead it’s WAY more likely they’ll just hack their way around these issues.

Well it doesn’t have to be that way. You can actually shift these things, but the key is to deal with them directly. Create a purpose for your business, learn to master commitment, connect with people, develop integrity, overcome your challenges with time, and develop a new relationship with money.

This is exactly what I do with coaches who are part of my Embodied Coach Mastermind.

I help them move beyond the surface level strategies and tactics to the deeper issues underneath. Yes I teach them the systems and techniques I’ve used to build my practice (including the mistakes I’ve made along the way), but the center of what I teach is all about how to overcome the big things that stop most coaches from creating success.

It’s not a skin deep approach but a bone deep one. So if you want some support in overcoming these challenges Let Me Know.

And if not then please, please, please find another way to get supported. Anyone who wants to become a coach has the intention to help others and NO coach should struggle in purgatory trying to get there. The solutions aren’t rocket science, they don’t require secret knowledge, but they do demand you fundamentally shift something about yourself before you can create an incredible impact for others.

You’re Sitting Too Close To The Screen

​After having spent weeks watching a group of 15 incredible coaches training week after week 90% of them got better whenever they didn’t sit so close to the screen.

No, I’m not talking about ergonomics or visual fatigue. I’m talking energetically.

Most coaches tend to get right up in there with their clients. There is nothing outside their visual field except for what the client is saying. When you sit that close all you can see is the drama.

Pull back a little bit and you’ll become aware of the conversation and relationships they have to their problems and desires. This is the frame of the screen. But from here all you can see are solutions.

Pull back a little further and you can see that the frame is inside a space. This is the context they are speaking and living inside. Now you can start to point out that context and work with it.

Pull back a little further and you can see the whole room around the screen. Or the map of interlocking context inside the client’s life and the world in general. Now you can see larger patterns, new options, and the impact of various contexts and ways of being.

Pull back even further and you can see the viewer (you as the coach) and all the stuff going on for them. Now you can notice your own reactions, account for them, and use them in your coaching.

Pull back even further and you can see a second screen which is your context and reality. Now you can talk about the context of coaching and reality itself. You can also own and be with your own humanity as a coach.

Pull even further back and you can see the witness. The one who is witnessing all the screens and is able to be fully engaged while also being fully unattached. Now you can be and coach from that place.

Pull back even further and you can see the abyss under the ground. The nothingness that pervades all being. Now you can talk from a depth beyond your humanity and speak for the universe itself.

You don’t have to pull back this far. It takes a fair amount of practice and it may not be the best place to coach from. But it IS helpful to notice how close to the screen you’re sitting.

Because often it’s too close.

10 Thing You DON’T Need To Do To Raise Your Rates

Most coaches I meet don’t charge enough. And when I say enough I mean enough to live on, create commitment that are meaningful, and be aligned with the depth of work they are offering their clients. 

And most often the reason why is that they think they need to do something in order to raise their rates. They’re wrong. And here’s a list of the top 10 things you don’t need to worry about. 

 

  1. Become a better coach – Yes you should always try to be a better coach. But becoming a better coach is an endless game. If you’re very new to coaching then charge less and get some experience, but if you’ve been at this a few months to a few years, have worked with a good coach and gotten some training you can probably still raise your rates.

    There’s no magic ability to cash connection in the coaching business. YES better coaches sometimes make more money, so work on getting better and ALSO raise your rates. If you want to become ‘good enough’ you’ll never get there. 

 

  1. Change your packages or offerings – Back when I charged $1000 a month my packages and offerings were more complex than they are now. Over the years they’ve gotten simpler and simpler. If you want to shift what you’re offering because you’ve changed or it feels aligned GREAT, but this isn’t needed to raise your rates. In fact it’s probably better to charge more for something you’ve gotten good at doing than charge more for something you haven’t worked the kinks out of yet. 

 

  1. Sign more inspiring clients – I don’t really even know what this means anymore though at one time thought this was THE answer to becoming a better coach. The truth is being inspired by my clients is on me not on them. Yes it looks good on your website if you coached a king or presidential candidate, but it does NOT make you a better coach. It may make you a more well connected one, but not much else.

    Some of your current clients might struggle to pay more. Some of them could pay more right now. Some of them may not even be able to ‘afford’ what you’re currently charging. New clients or more inspiring clients change nothing. If you want to raise your rates do it, the clients you serve will likely change. But clients do NOT make the coach or the higher rates. 

 

  1. Update your website – My first website was horrible. Even now my website needs an update pretty bad but it doesn’t stop me from getting clients. So go ahead and update your website. But a new website has never gotten any of my client’s to pay more money. If your website is total dirt and you can afford to pay someone to help you, do it. The money will be well spent. But your website should be a reflection of your being not a fake it ‘til I make it kind of thing.

    Your current website is probably fine and also a year out of date, which are the same things. Again your website should slightly follow or slightly lead your level of success. If you want to raise your rates do it. Don’t wait for a page full of copy which probably won’t change anything. Besides websites are about attraction, enrollment is about commitment. Don’t confuse the two. 

 

  1. Discover some new fancy way to ‘sell’ – When I was new and charging very little for coaching I thought coaches charging $10k+ a year had some magic formula. Now that I’m a coach that makes 10x a year I can assure you there isn’t. Yes there are techniques. Yes there are different ways of being. But it’s become less and less gimmicky. The processes I learned in the past, the sales books I’ve read have helped a lot, but they never ‘fixed’ my fear. They just gave me new things to fill my mind with and ‘use’ on my prospects.

    Yes you can use the techniques and methods to close sales but they are a bridge to something deeper and more meaningful. As you get better at enrollment you will increase your rates. As you increase your rates you’ll get better at enrollment. But there’s no fancy short cuts. 

 

  1. Get better at ‘handling’ objections – No one likes being handled. I know I have tried to ‘handle’ people’s objections. The whole concept comes from this weird idea that sales is adversarial. It’s sort of like a psychological arms race. The prospect gets more clever at evading my tricks and I develop more ways to ‘trick’ them into buying.

    Don’t trick people into buying. Support them to commit to something they want. If you try new tricks you simply get new ways of saying no. And again learning to say higher numbers with a process that already works is generally easier than trying to get more commitment from a new method. 

 

  1. Pay a new coach a lot of money – This was tough to write because in truth I’ve seen the impact of this. I have hired coaches for big sums and then ended up charging more.

    Here’s what’s true about it. If you get into a conversation about making a big commitment and learn to sit in the center of that tension you can empathize more with your clients as they commit. If you haven’t ever made a big commitment then you are more likely to identify with your clients as they express doubts and concerns.

    They may even end up enrolling you in why they can’t do this and why the coaching won’t work (which is easier if you’ve already got some doubts about your coaching). 

    The problem is this isn’t a ‘FIX’. You can certainly make a big commitment to a coach and raise your rates as a result, but what matters is how you relate to that commitment. Hiring ANY coach will have a BIG impact on your ability to raise your rates, but throwing money at the problem won’t work at all.

    YOU DO NOT NEED TO PAY A COACH A BUNCH OF MONEY TO RAISE YOUR RATES!!!! Instead of worrying about the pay/pricing connection you’d be better off putting your attention on the way a coach changes your relationship to commitment. Money is one way they might do this, but it isn’t the only way and it’s not a magic bullet. 

 

  1. Change your niche, the type of coach you are, or your networking sales pitch – For a while I agonzied about what I called myself as a coach. I hated the term life coach. Executive coach didn’t really capture it either. It took me a while to see that what I was really wrestling with was my identity. I was trying to answer the question WHO AM I? and it was hard.

    You are already somebody as a coach. Let me say that again. YOU ARE ALREADY SOMEBODY AS A COACH. You may not know what or who that is, but it’s true. Every person I’ve ever trained has an essence as a coach that shines through. It may take time for it to emerge and working with a good coach can help it emerge. But it’s not really something you need to make up or figure out.

    A niche can help you hone your marketing, a good pitch can make you memorable, but neither is likely to impact what you charge. At least not immediately and you can raise your rates without having either of these filled out. 

 

  1. Make a certain amount of money or have asked for that amount before – For a while I sort of thought well I can’t say my rates are $1k a month until I’ve got some clients who are paying that. I’m sure you can see the insanity of that and yet many coaches think this. I can’t charge that until I can charge that. I can’t make that amount of money until I’m making that amount of money.

    The mind does weird stuff with you. It sets a barrier to you being present to what’s possible. What you can really do. The beauty is that all you have to do is charge $1000 a month to be charging $1000 a month. And to get someone to pay you that you have to start pitching it.

    The hook here is obvious and luckily the solution is too. Doing it is the way out. No one is going to give you a permission slip to raise your rates. It may take some time for you to learn how to enroll at your new rates and feel more natural saying the numbers, but you’re never going to get better by waiting to start. 

 

  1. Doing anything else that you think will ‘make it easier’ to raise your rates. – If I was only going to make this a 1 item list this is the item I would choose. Before I was charging more than $50 a session for my coaching and often even now when I raise my rates I think, well when I do x then it’ll be easier to raise my rates. But the truth is that nothing really makes raising your rates easier.

    Anytime you ask for more or commit to more, fear is likely going to show up. As my dear friend Adam Quiney says, “fear and possibility often show up in equal measure”. While there are many ways to work with fear there’s really no way to avoid it. Nor do I think you should try. Increasing your capacity for fear is essential to be a great coach and leader.

    So instead of trying to hack or avoid fear you’d be better off accepting it and learning to work with it. If you can do this then raising your rates can just be another part of your practice to be with and hold the vastness of human experience. 

 

Final Thoughts – 

There is one thing that you can do that can help you raise your rates and that’s upgrade your commitments and who you’re being in the world. If raising your rates is just about making more money or proving yourself, it’s probably going to be harder to do. But if it’s in alignment with a bigger commitment you’ve made or the result of you doing work to deepen yourself and how you show up, then it will be easier. 

That doesn’t mean it will be free from fear. In fact facing the fear of raising your rates will likely have you deepen who you are as a coach and a leader. It’s a powerful practice. Not a thing to get right or figure out, but part of the journey of becoming a master coach. 

What To Do When You’re in the Middle of a ‘Bad’ Coaching Session

Not all coaching sessions are going to go well. Some will feel full of life and inspiration like you’re sitting in the midst of endless possibilities and inspiration. Some coaching sessions will feel boring and challenging like you’re fighting through quicksand with every step.

I wouldn’t recommend you try to make every coaching session great, you won’t succeed and you won’t really be serving your clients. Still finding yourself in the middle of a bad session can be tough so here’s what I do when I feel like I’m in a session that feels like I’m dying a slow and painful death.

1) Admit the session isn’t going very well –

If you’re brave share this with your client. Say hey I notice this session isn’t going the way I thought it might. How is it feeling for you?

They might agree or disagree with you. But by bringing it out into the open you will offer some relief if you’re both struggling a bit.

If that feels too edgy for you then simply admit it to yourself.

2) Remind yourself that everyone has ‘bad’ sessions –

Every performer, artist, master, teacher, and coach has bad days and bad sessions. It’s ok, you’ll survive. So long as you’re not being a total asshole, verbally abusing your client, or sexually harassing them, you’ll survive this session.

If you are doing one of those things please stop immediately and get some support so you won’t do that stuff again. But if you’re reading this article you probably aren’t doing that stuff so don’t worry too much.

3) Take a breath –

When I watch coaching sessions go bad 90% of what’s happening is momentum. The coach gets on the wrong foot, but they just keep going. They keep asking awkward questions. They keep interrupting their client.

So pause. Take a breath. Tell your client you need a minute to review some notes. This small break can give both of you a chance to reset and recenter.

4) Figure out (or remember) what the client wants –

The #1 piece of feedback I give coaches is that your session would have gone better if you had taken the time to find out what your client wanted.

It seems so simple. So basic. But most coaches miss this. They get to coaching and they don’t really discover and confirm what the client really wants. And even then sometimes they lose track of that in the middle of the client’s session.

So if you realize you don’t know what your client wants, pause and ask them. If you think you know, pause and confirm it again.

Just connecting with this simple anchor of desire can make all the difference in the world.

5) Let go of your agenda (or whatever else you’re holding onto) –

I once had a client that I felt was totally uncoachable. Every reflection I offered was met with a correction. Every question I asked was answered in the most disconcerting way. It felt so hard to figure out what to do next.

Then one session I simply let go of how I thought our sessions were supposed to go. I relaxed. I made each of their answers brilliant. I expressed gratitude for each of their corrections.

It was the best session we’d ever had.

Challenging your client as a coach is important. And sometimes you’re going to feel in conflict with them and the sessions may feel crunchy as a result. But it’s incredibly easy for your commitment to your client’s growth to become a grasping attachment to them being different.

If your session is going to crap start looking for what you’re holding onto. It might be an idea about how the session is supposed to be or it might be that you’re trying to hide how lost you feel. Find it and let it go.

6) Don’t decide the session is a failure –

I have literally had sessions I thought were total dumpster fires and my client said to me “Wow that session was so powerful!”

The truth is we don’t know the impact of our work. We’re not even in that much control of it. Our clients do a LOT of the work of coaching. So even if you think the session sucked don’t be too attached to that opinion.

YOUR JOB AS A COACH

Your job as a coach is to stand up for your client’s dreams, to be there with them as they make those dreams a reality, not to grade every session you have with them.

YES you should try your best to be a good coach and learn from your mistakes but in the moment the most important thing to do is stay with your client.

In some ways being willing to show up when the work is hard, your client is resistant, and the conversation is challenging is what being a coach is all about.

So be brave, take a breath, and do your best to land the plane anyway you can.

Managing Upset

The difference between breakdowns and problems

A problem is something wrong with the world. A problem happens to us, they land on us, and we have no choice but to complain about them and how unfair they are.

A breakdown is something we can declare. It’s something that has interrupted our commitment to something. For example I may be committed to waking up at 9am. A party might happen outside my house the night before, I wake up late and complain about this problem. Or I might notice that I had an unrealistic expectation (“nothing will get in the way of me going to bed”) and so I declare a breakdown in my commitment by acknowledging that something is occurring to me isn’t the way that it should be.

Once I declare my breakdown I can acknowledge my upset, I can record the facts about what happened, and I can get into action around my commitment.

Very often the breakthrough is on the other side of the breakdown I’m avoiding. For example I might want a breakthrough in intimacy with my partner, but I’m afraid to talk to them about it because they might get upset or defensive. This would be a breakdown. One that I’m avoiding. So I survive the problem. Once I’m willing to be with the breakdown (the difficult conversation, my partners feelings, etc) then I can get access to the breakthrough created by having a conversation around intimacy.

Breakthroughs are a creation of something beyond the context of what I currently see is possible. They are something that get created when I expand or deepen my context through declaration, commitment, being with breakdowns, and revealing blindspots.

Part of why breakthroughs follow breakdowns is because it’s in the breakdowns that our blindspots get revealed.

The Most Common Types of Black and White Thinking for Coaches

It’s never ok to give your clients advice.
You should never ask the questions why?
You should never deal with matters a therapist might.
You shouldn’t promise results you’re not sure you can deliver.
You should never work with a client that’s hard to coach.
You should never talk more than your client.
Your worth and your fees are related.
You should always be good when you coach your clients.
It’s a bad thing if a client wants to quit.
It’s a bad thing if you hurt your client’s feelings and you should avoid it at all costs.
The best coaches make the most money.
Coaches that charge a lot don’t care about their clients.
Making money and being of service don’t mix.
If you have a motive to sign clients it ruins your attempts to serve.
If you raise your fees you’re limiting who you can serve.
Coaches that market themselves are only out for money.
Coaching and consulting are totally different and consulting should never happen in a coaching session.
Coaching and teaching are totally different and good coaches don’t teach their clients.
Every coaching session should end with a homework assignment.
Every coaching session has to start with a clear desire and end with a clear outcome.
Accountability is key in coaching.
Accountability has no place in coaching.
The coaches with the most training are the best coaches.
The longer you coach the better you get.
I should be smooth when I sell to my clients.
It’s bad to be awkward when I coach or sell to my clients.
Being a beginner coach is bad and means most people won’t trust you.
Certifications are crap/essential.
If there’s something in it for you it can’t help your client.
You should never bring your personal life into your coaching.
Good coaches never upset their clients.
Making six/seven/eight figures means something about who you are as a coach.

(share your favorite one below)

None of these things are absolutely true about coaching. Some point to places to start, but in the end, all of them limit you as a coach. A master learns the rules so they can break them. A beginner treats rules like religion and never learns to let them go. Please insist on becoming a master coach.

Love,
Toku

Black and White Thinking — A Common Problem With New Coaches

Often when I talk to new coaches they get caught in black and white thinking about what good coaches should and shouldn’t do. 

– You should never ask a client why? 
– You should only ever ask questions. 
– You should never teach a client.
– You should never give advice. 

These guidelines are helpful when you’re starting as a coach.

– It’s easier to talk at a client than explore with them. 
– It’s easier to give advice than be curious. 
– It’s easy to ask why when you can’t think of something better to say. 

But these guidelines are simply guidelines and too often they become a religion for new coaches. Soon enough they are zealots preaching the gospel of pure coaching and the ICF standards. 

The best coaches I know push the boundaries of coaching while acting with a high level of integrity. Sometimes from habit but more often with conscious choice. Generally, they abide by the principles of what makes coaching work, but they aren’t bound to them. 

They see all the gray in between the lines. So if you’re new to coaching YES listen to the guidelines, try them on, if they feel hard to implement GOOD! That means you’re getting better as a coach. 

But don’t fall into black and white thinking. There are no rules to coaching and that’s the best and worst part about it. Your clients need you to be flexible enough to help them while maintaining enough integrity not to get lost. And learning how to make your way through the gray is essential is you’re going to truly become a masterful coach.