Toward the end of Level 3 of the course, we completed an exercise around planning our coaching offer. We were asked to visualise where we felt we would be when we were settled into the life we wanted as coaches. We were then asked to physically walk in a straight line, visualising ourselves moving along a timeline towards our ideal coaching life. The idea was to stop when we had at arrived at our ideal point as a coach.
Regardless of how many times I tried, and how far I walked, I never visually arrived at where I wanted to be. Each time, my visualisation seemed to have me within reach of my ideal life as a coach, and then it simply disappeared from my grasp. I could see nothing in my visualised coaching future, and I was devastated.
When I reflected on this a little later, I formed the assessment that I was operating from resignation about my coaching offer. Resignation is quite a sneaky mood, because it uses the story of “What’s the point, it won’t happen anyway…” to close down possibility, and it does so with the skill of a master. I find that it usually takes a long time for me to notice resignation in myself, and almost as long for me to shift it. My experience of it is that it is quite an exhausting mood.
On this occasion, I accepted my assessment that I don’t find shifting resignation an easy thing to do. I then decided to sit with my resignation and watch it. I stayed with it, trying to apply curiosity to the way in which I watched it, until I felt ready to shift to something more useful. Interestingly, I became more and more curious as I watched and, eventually, I started to think about what it was that I could create. This was pretty cool. I feel as though curiosity and wonder have served me well in the past, so I was happy to use these as a starting point for my way forward.
Although I had shifted from resignation, as the course came to an end I still hadn’t defined my coaching offer. It was as though I would not give myself permission to progress until I had completed the course. Once the course ended, I placed a lot of pressure on myself to make a start. I was terrified that I would procrastinate and not get anywhere with my offer, and so it felt important to achieve something as soon as possible. I also thought that everything felt so big that I had no idea of where to start. I didn’t want this to stop me from making progress.
One day when I was contemplating the size of what I wanted to achieve, I started to think about a conversation that I’d once had with our instructor. I had said that I had heaps of ideas and no clue as to how to implement any of them. At the time, he had responded with a simple “YET, Deanne. You don’t know how to implement them YET”. Hmmm. How would it feel if I accepted that I don’t know how to do any of this YET? How would it feel to be in wonder about what lies before me that I haven’t achieved YET? Would some ambition help with this? And so started my process of adding the word “YET” to every piece of self-talk that started with “I don’t know how to do this”.
Within a week of the course finishing, I was having lunch with a friend. We talked about how I was putting pressure on myself to define my coaching offer immediately because I was scared of not starting at all, and I mentioned that I wasn’t quite sure where to start. He asked what would happen if I did nothing for the majority of summer, and instead simply enjoyed having time to be with my family for the first time in 18 months. I could feel my chest tighten and my breathing start to shallow when he mentioned doing nothing. There is no way that I could intentionally do nothing! If I do nothing, I will never make a start, and then I will fail! Before I responded, I took a deep breath, tried to be curious, and asked myself what the minimum was that I would give myself permission to do; perhaps I didn’t have to do everything straight away.
What I arrived at was that I would give myself permission to do what I wanted to do with regard to my coaching offer and not what I felt that I had to do. As soon as I said that out loud, I could feel the pressure escaping from my body. A feeling of freedom and enthusiasm started moving in. Suddenly, it was ok to focus on what I wanted to do, rather than to push myself to focus on what I thought that I had to do. I can’t describe how amazing and wonderful that felt.
OK Deanne, what is it that you want to do?
I had already started to think about my business website, so I decided that I wanted to focus on that. It felt to me as though having my website planned and implemented would provide me with something tangible that I could then call my business. So, I continued with planning the website. I researched other coaching websites and came up with something that I thought would work for me. I scribbled notes, took snips of websites that I liked, and listed all of the details out in a document.
Although I work in IT and was once a technical person, I am no longer interested in being the person who makes technology work, and the prospect of creating a website did not excite me one little bit. But the website needs to be done. Yes, it does. So what requests can you make that would help you to create your website?
I decided that I was going to pay someone to create my website. I would update content and perhaps complete some minor changes to aesthetics ongoing. I would provide someone else with the opportunity to do the rest. This would save time and effort that I could devote to my business and what I wanted to offer. With that decision made, I sent my list of specifications to someone and asked them to create my website.
At this point, I had absolutely no content, only an idea of the structure. However, working out what I thought I wanted it to look like and making the request for someone to create it helped me to feel as though I was on my way. I could feel my enthusiasm growing.
The web developer was keen to complete their tasks quickly and, to do that, they needed me to make decisions. So they kept asking me to make decisions and, if I didn’t respond quickly, they asked again. I learnt to make decisions quickly, and the process continued until we eventually had the basic structure sorted. I was so very grateful for the web developer’s approach; being forced to make decisions suited where I was at in my way of being at that time and was incredibly useful.
Once the basic structure was in place, I assessed that I couldn’t put off building the content anymore. I don’t know how to write content. I still don’t exactly understand my offer, and all of the professionals say that content is important. Deanne, become curious. And remember that done is better than perfect. Embrace the freedom to not get this perfect and see what happens.
And so I started googling.
The majority of websites were recommending a formulaic “salesy” approach to writing content. There is a reason for this: it works. However,
I didn’t feel comfortable writing my content by following the bouncing ball of a formula. When I considered doing so, I felt inauthentic and exploiting. I tried to become curious, and I asked myself what my goal was for my content and what it would mean to achieve that goal. I was reassured by my response to myself: My goal isn’t to make millions. My goal is to genuinely support people in being what they would like to be. I want my content to sell my services and programs so that this can be my main source of income. However, my goal is to support and help people through my career; it is not to become a multi-millionaire. So, what way of being would help me to write content that sells my services in a way that is focused on helping people and feels authentic and non-exploiting?
I decided that one way in which I could make my content authentic was to simply own my story and put it on a web page. It would either resonate or it wouldn’t, and that was ok. So I started to put myself on a page and see where the story went. What requests can I make that would help me? I asked some friends to look at it and give their advice. Some made tweaks; some didn’t. Both reactions helped me to feel a little more comfortable about my approach.
My next reflection point was when I discovered that the professionals all seemed to recommend selling a “system”. When I read this, it made sense. Except that I didn’t have a system. Great. I don’t have a system. I knew this wouldn’t get anywhere. Umm, no Deanne. What would it take for you to feel at peace about this, and go get a system? Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You didn’t know how to make a website happen a few days ago, and you are sorting that out. Now you have a great opportunity to design a system. Imagine how cool and satisfying it will be when you have done it! Now, what way of being would help you to develop a system? I chose to be curious, with a sprinkling of hope and enthusiasm.
Coming up with a system was actually a lot of fun. I pulled out my trusty whiteboard and started to scribble. My first step was to think about what having a system meant to me. What I decided was that I didn’t want a massively complex system or program. Rather, I wanted something straightforward that would describe the approach that I use. I wanted it to be able to be described in three words, and I wanted to be able to graphically represent it in a way that could easily be replicated on a whiteboard in a workshop if required. After some scribbling and brainstorming, I arrived at the following:
As I stepped back from my whiteboard and reflected on what I had written, I felt ever so slightly awesome. OK, the next step was to create a slightly more professional looking visual so that I could use it to support my new system.
How might my scribbly diagram be represented in a way that will engage people?
As I reflected on this, I decided to start by googling similar graphics, to see what I may be able to leverage from. When I had found a graphic that resonated with me, it then occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea of how to create a graphic similar to the one I had found. I also couldn’t afford a graphic designer. OK, Deanne, what requests can you make right now that would help you? It was at this point that I decided that I would pull together all of my requirements into a document and make a request on Fiverr. And so I did. My system was born:
At this point, I was feeling quite excited. I was curious about where my website would go and what other systems I would eventually create. Ok, it was time to face my content.
As I was developing my content, it occurred to me that I could no longer delay developing the finer points of my offer. Most coaches seemed to offer programs rather than offering their time to individuals, so at first I judged myself for not having a program to offer immediately. Then I thought about my goals. In time, I wanted to develop programs, however it was also important to me that I work with individuals. I decided that working with individuals was how I wanted to start my business; I could create programs later. I had my Be. Do. Learn. system. I would use that as the foundation for the coaching conversations that I would offer. As I progressed and became more ready to present programs and other offers, I could change my website.
It was amazing that the majority of this decision making and effort took place during the four weeks after my friend had suggested that I do nothing. Before that conversation, I was worried that I would get nothing done and, after four weeks, I had designed a website, developed a system and corresponding graphic, and designed my offer as a coach! I had also started to plan out my future programs. This, in my assessment was amazing. All I had done was to give myself permission to take the process wherever it went, become curious about what I might like to do, and roll with whatever challenge came up! And I had allowed plenty of time to be with my family and relax as well!
There were a couple of times when I felt as though I was about to get stuck, usually when I started to tackle something new. My inner voice would say “But I don’t know how to do that”, and I would say “Yet. You don’t know how to do it yet.” Then I would become curious about how I was going to complete the next step, and I would keep going.
It took three lots of going backwards and forwards with the web developer before my business website was complete. The to-ing and fro-ing was totally my doing and not the web developer’s doing; my web developer was awesome. The issue was that I simply didn’t know what I wanted until I arrived at each stage. To be honest, I think this is why I was drawn to completing my website first; I held an assessment that I wasn’t going to know what I wanted until I had been through a process that enabled me to physically see it.
At each stage, I accepted that we would get as far as my way of being allowed Then, I would pay the web developer, congratulate myself, and start figuring out what I wanted to be in order to attempt the next stage. Throughout this process, I kept observing how I was being in language, emotional spaces and body, and shifting these when I thought it would be helpful to do so. I loved how the whole process allowed me to collect my thoughts along the way. Sometimes, I made significant changes to what I wanted to offer. Sometimes, I didn’t want to budge in my thinking. It was all learning, and I had a fabulous time.
When I had arrived at the point of having a website ready to launch, a defined coaching offer, and a list of programs to start working on in my future, all I could do was smile. In the past, I would have given up at the beginning when it all felt too hard. I would have become overwhelmed, and I would have found a reason, justifiable in my own mind, for not continuing. Then, I would have given up. This time, I hadn’t done that. I had given myself permission to go slowly, I had remained curious, and I had achieved my first significant business milestones.
An ontological approach had helped me to re-write the stories that I would normally attach to new challenges; it had helped me to carve a path towards my dream. Wow.
Something that was coming through strongly as I wrote this was just how much our moods can impact the actions that we take. Our moods and emotions predispose us to specific actions. If, for example, I am in a mood of resignation, I am predisposed to shutting down possibilities. If I had not seen this, then it is possible that I would have continued down the path of shutting down possibilities. As I discovered with regard to my coaching offer, noticing and understanding our moods can help us to identify possibilities for shifting to other moods that might be more serving.
Another point that occurred to me is that this experience also highlights the importance of understanding the standards and expectations that we are applying to ourselves. Until I had lunch with my friend, I was expecting that I would work out the final version of my coaching offer, complete my website to a point where it had exceptional content and lots of value and be ready to have my marketing strategy perfect within a month or two. Talking with my friend enabled me to review my standards and turn them into something more manageable (and with less self-judgement attached to them).
I’ve mentioned requests in a few blog posts now, and this is because I hold an assessment that requests really can help to turn a situation around. In situations where I am not feeling at my most resourceful, one of the first questions that I now ask myself is “What request could I make right now that might be helpful?”. Often, simply identifying that I could make the request if I wanted to is enough for me to shift my way of being. However, if I assess that making the request is necessary in order for me to move forward, I try to make the request without delay, because I find that it is much easier for me to make progress once I have made a request that I feel is important.
My final point, which I have mentioned in a few blog posts now, is that I find it very useful to sit in the question of “What possibilities am I not seeing at the moment that might be useful?”
Points to Ponder…
Think of a situation that is currently not working as you would like it to:
- What moods do you assess to be present?
- What moods might be useful to add to your way of being?
- What moods are currently not helping you?
- What requests can you make to others that would help you?
- What are the stories that you are attaching to this situation?
- What stories might it help to rewrite?
– The featured image in this blog post is a photo by Marko Blazevic from Pexels
– The Be. Do. Learn. graphic was created at my request by fatinkhan_noor on Fiverr.
– The scribbly whiteboard photo and diagram are my own.
Who am I?
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.