3 Things You Need to Know About Becoming A Strengths Coach
I love Strengths! Heck, I even considered having my TOP 5 tattooed on my right bicep just above my I <Heart> Mom ink.
I love it so much that I became a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach last May (2014). And if you are familiar with the certification price tag, then you know it was no small decision.
Now that I am a year deep into my coaching practice, I will say that it was totally worth the investment! I figure that if I can help at least one single person every month understand the massive potential, talent, ability and overall Strength they possess, well…that’s pretty cool and satisfying.
And it’s all about helping others, right?!
YES. But, there’s also that not so small part of the equation that has to do with generating income and building a business around professional coaching. I could talk Strengths all day, but at what point do we begin slapping a price tag on our passion? And how do we do it without looking like some kind of snake-oil salesman who’s only focused on stuffing their pockets full of our client’s cash?
There’s a dark side to coaching. Not like a good vs. evil type of thing, but more like a “I love this!” vs. “What the #@x*$ am I doing?!”
Building a business is hard regardless of the sellable product or service. It takes a massive amount of time, energy, finger nail chewing, and a few grey hairs until you feel comfortable calling yourself an entrepreneur.
In an effort to both vent, and help others understand what it really means to be a “coach for hire,” I’m going to highlight the three largest hurdles I’ve experienced over the last year.
1. Sometimes…People SUCK!
As coaches, we try to look for the best in people. But some people just suck! It’s not my fault that they were asked by their manager to sit down with me and discuss Strengths. I understand the pain associated with being “voluntold” to do something. I didn’t have much say in my day’s activities when I was in the military. I get it. But why not make the best of it?
My goal is to facilitate a conversation that is focused on you, not to steal your time.
Now this isn’t the norm, and I’m sure many of you out there have sat across the table or next to a Gloomy Gus. In the beginning it hurt…like real bad! It would ruin my day to think that someone out there could not see the value in what I was offering. But after time, I began to realize that it takes an open mind and a willingness to learn something new in order to bridge that gap between where you’re at today and where you want to be in life.
Not everyone is willing to invest in the lumber necessary to build that bridge. Don’t take it personal.
2. Never Undervalue Your Services
Pro-bono was my middle name! “If I do this for them now for FREE, they’ll remember it and hire me in the future.” WRONG! I was giving away coaching sessions like Halloween candy. It was an endless flow of supermarket aisle coaching sessions, shoulder crying, and “Hey man, you gotta a minute?”
I saw little to no value in the words that were coming out of my mouth. All I wanted to do was help, and it wouldn’t be sincere if I sent an invoice…would it?
People are willing to pay if they see the value in what you have to offer. In order to enhance the perceived value of my services, I had to understand that I was not selling the concept of Strengths-based development, I was selling me, Andy Sokolovich. They were investing in ME as a professional, and not so much in my knowledge as a coach.
Sure, my certification proved that I wasn’t just blowing smoke up their tailpipe, but the way I chose to interact, dress, and present myself held all of the truly massive selling power! Once I began to build confidence in my abilities, it became easier to send out those invoices and proposals.
I knew I could deliver! And that same confidence revealed to the client that they were indeed investing in the right person to take their business to the next level.
So here’s my quick equation:
Proof (testimonials) + Self-Confidence + Trust + Knowledge = Getting Paid What You Deserve
3. Be Yourself
Don’t try to emulate other coaches that you feel are successful. You can only fake the funk for so long before it becomes apparent that you are uncomfortable.
In the beginning, I spent more time mimicking the presentation styles of others rather than spending time on creating a presentation I knew I could absolutely kill anytime…anywhere! I’d stumble on the profiles of other coaches via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, and the Gallup Coaches Directory. I’d see what they were doing, and think to myself “I can do that.” So I’d try…and I fail…always.
What does this remind you of? Duh! The entire freakin’ concept behind Strengths-based development!!!
I was trying to emulate the talents of other’s without even realizing it. In doing so, even though I HATE PowerPoint, I’d create a PP presentation. Even though I hate stopping the momentum of a dynamic conversation to watch a video, I’d stop everyone in their tracks and force them to watch a video.
Why? Because I thought if it worked for others it would work for me.
Bullocks! My presentations only became completely radical when I began designing them in a way that best meshed with my individual style and ability. It was wayyyyyy too hard to fake the funk! It was exhausting, and the audience was quick to notice that I was *uncomfortable.
*Speaking of comfort, I have gone so far as to walk around, and sit at tables while actively speaking. At first I thought that would be viewed as unprofessional, but I found that it makes the audience feel more chill and relaxed. It’s like a giant house party with the DJ spinning some sick beats by Andy Sokolovich, the lyrical genius Strengths Coach!
While I continue to grow as a coach, I want you to understand that it’s going to take time to find the perfect fit. There’s no cookie-cutter approach or magic method to becoming successful. No matter what somebody tells you, the only way to grow is to take chances and be yourself. As a fellow lover of Strengths, you already know that what I’m saying is true. It’s too damn hard to go against the grain and be the coach others want you to be. You have to do it your way. It’s the only action that’s sustainable.
And being a little weird helps too. ~Andy
P.S. I understand that not everyone will agree with me, and that’s totally cool! These are just my experiences. Some of you have developed systematic methods to generating a fat income overnight. I applaud your efforts, but so far, the only thing that’s worked for me is the action of staying true to myself and knowing that I’m Andy Sokolovich. The one and only.
P.P.S If you enjoyed this blog post, be sure to subscribe to our Strengths-focused podcast THEME-ADDICTS! We interview people who have grown to love, live, and learn based on their individual talents. You’ll hear stories of success, failure, and inspiration.
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