One of the most common things standing in the way of my clients reaching out for help earlier in their lives as business owners is vulnerability, specifically a fear of putting themselves in a place of being vulnerable. Vulnerability for many of us feels like a risk, like standing on the sharp edge of a canyon looking down into an abyss of uncertainty and danger. However, what happens if you look up instead? You see the other side of the canyon. As a business coach, my job is to help you build the bridge that gets you safely to the other side by giving you the tools and support you need.
Don’t let vulnerability be a dangerous place for you.
I understand just how challenging it can be to put yourself in a place of vulnerability. But, if I may speak to my own personal experience for a moment, here is an example of why you should WANT to put yourself in that place. In 2015 I gave a TedX talk on a topic that was controversial, and something that I felt could put my entire career at risk because of the nature of the content. However, being a born teacher and leader, I willingly stepped into that vulnerable position and gave a talk on my own experience with depression and attempting suicide. I spoke about what it is like to be in a very dark and difficult place and what it is like to come out the other side. The vulnerability, uncertainty, and discomfort that I felt about giving that talk was what I saw when I looked over the edge and into the canyon.
And you know what? While I had felt that after the talk people may not respect me as much, or they may even question how I could be a business coach and claim to help others while dealing with my own personal struggles, ultimately that TedX talk has helped my career. Prospective clients are able to hear me speak to overcoming my most challenging circumstances and relate that back to their own vulnerabilities, regardless of what those might be. They see that I’m not just someone to sit on the other side of a Zoom call and preach the business coaching bible at them. I’ve been in places of challenges and vulnerability, walked miles in their shoes, and I understand the steps that it takes to overcome and succeed.
All business problems are personal problems.
Many of my clients end up stepping outside of their comfort zones and hiring me because they reach a point where the stress and overwhelm they feel has moved beyond their business and into their home life. So why is it so important for business owners to open themselves up to that vulnerability and find a coach to work through these often very personal problems? Because again, everything they want is on the other side of that canyon I keep bringing up. And, if they could fix their problems on their own, they would have already done so.
See, you were born to live, not to run a business. Your business, on the other hand, was born to give you, the owner, the life you want. Business owners end up feeling immense amounts of stress, pressure, and fatigue because they get that backwards and let their businesses run their lives. They work hard over long hours, they sacrifice family, personal, and recreational time only to come home at the end of a long month with less money than what they expected, or even needed.
So, over time, business problems become personal problems. Many owners expect that upon hiring a business coach they will get down to work improving their business; they think they will start to work on daily operations, schedules, teams, financials, etc. Often this isn’t exactly the case, because if the owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner. That’s why when I work with clients, we often spend a lot of time working on coaching the human behind the business owner. That means developing leadership, improving mindset, becoming more capable of navigating problems and setting goals… to name a few things. Once we take care of making YOU a better OWNER, solutions to what you thought were strictly business problems will start to fall into place.
The unique loneliness of being a business owner.
Another common factor amongst business owners that end up hiring coaches is simply feeling lonely. They could be surrounded by staff, clients, friends, and family every day, but still feel an incredible, and unique, sense of loneliness. I realized this when speaking with a client whom I had been working with at the time for about four months. I asked them what they thought was the most valuable thing they were getting out of their coaching with me, and they said “It’s nice to have a friend.” At first, I felt embarrassed. How could I be running a coaching business, yet this client seems to think they are paying me to be their friend? Well, that’s not the case, and here’s why:
As a business owner, you are under a constant pressure to perform - to keep things running, keep money coming in, put food on the table for your family, and the like. And with that pressure comes inevitable problems, bumps in the road, and potentially even very large scale challenges. Who do you turn to with these problems? Not your staff, not your competitors, not your banker and other business colleagues you work with on a daily basis, that’s for sure. So what about friends and family? Sure, you could, and you likely do, but it can be hard and time-consuming to describe problems to these outside parties in context, and in the end, the advice you receive (while well-intentioned) isn’t usually that helpful or relevant. And that’s just because of the unique nature of being a business owner. You have problems that your friends and family just don’t understand, and having a lack of people to turn to who can really, truly help you with your problems leads to loneliness... even if you don’t really realize it.
Enter a business coach. Someone to be your biggest champion and your harshest critic. Someone to empathize with you, offer perspective, ask leading questions, and guide you to a resolution that works. Someone to turn to with your most challenging, guarded problems and in return get feedback that is unvarnished and serves YOU best, with no sugar coating or ulterior motives. And in a way, that someone is not only a business coach but a type of friend as well.
You’re not achieving what is important to you right now because of the things that are standing in your way.
Trevor Linden, former Vancouver Canuck, says that what you resist, persists. So, if you want to be successful, stop resisting what is getting in your way. Stop resisting putting yourself in that place of openness and vulnerability, because again, everything you want is on the other side of it. And a coach is your best way forward. I want to help you get clear about what exactly your barriers to success are, and what it takes to get through them.
I have a coach myself. This is because I believe in what I teach, which is that business coaching is an essential element of being a successful business owner and creating the life you want. Having a coach also allows me the understanding of what it’s like to be coached and what it’s like to make those weekly, monthly commitments to a coach who holds me accountable for following through on my word. I also use my coaching sessions as a way to get ideas out of my head and into the universe, which forces me to act on them instead of leaving them as undeveloped thoughts. Coaching has helped me immensely like it has my 280+ clients.
What’s that first phone call all about?
I only work with people who I believe I can help. This is because business coaching is a partnership where both parties are engaged and willing participants. I don’t want to waste your time, and I don’t want to waste mine. In the first 15-minute call that you can book at timewithjohn.com, I want to learn a little bit more about you and your business. Essentially, we are both looking for an indication that we are a good fit and will be able to work together to develop a trusting partnership.
If that 15-minute call goes well, we’ll schedule another longer call, this time about an hour. Again, we’re getting to know each other, I’m learning about your business, you’re learning about my W5 Coaching philosophy, expectations, and how my sessions work. If we decide there’s an opportunity here, we’ll get started. And if not? Well, I’ll try my best to point you in the right direction, because at the end of the day I want you to succeed.
Everything that is discussed between us is absolutely confidential. As Warren Buffett says, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only a minute to tear it down. Besides my personal ethics standing in the way of me breaching the confidence of a prospect or client, I can’t afford to tear my reputation down by ‘spilling the beans’. I also encourage you to contact any one of my past clients that you can find on my Testimonials page to learn more about what it’s like to work with me.
If you have questions about business coaching or are at all curious about whether coaching is right for you, I encourage you to book a free (yes, this part IS free!) 15-minute conversation with me using my calendar link here.