What I learned building a 6-figure coaching practice…
Thank you for being a part of the Eternal Leadership community. We are leaders helping leaders live life fully alive.
So, some of you know the whole story, but some of you might not. For the past three years, my life has been one incredible journey…goodness it has..
Since starting my coaching practice three years ago, my passion has been to follow the path and achieve success and significance (at the same time). Every small step forward was taken through my trust in Jesus and with the help of the incredible people He has brought into my life. Starting any business is incredibly hard and there were times when I didn’t think I would make it. I was scared and I doubted myself. But, I want to share with you what has happened over the last three years in the hope of encouraging and equipping you to realize your dreams, just as Donna and I have.
It was March 15th, 2014. I was driving away from my last day at work to bootstrap my coaching business from ground zero. Mixed emotions were running through me like electricity: joy and excitement! As I recovered from a near-fatal accident two years’ prior, there was one thing I knew. In front of me was an incredible gift: the gift of life and a second chance to start over. I had an opportunity to live the full life that God wanted for me, but that I had never connected to. Prior to my accident my focus was on building my income, personal brand and seeking the approval of “they.” For each one of us, every day is a second chance. As you read this, I want you to embrace yours.
Looking back before the accident, I was not happy. I wasn’t even fun to be around because of the stress I carried with me. I never felt fulfilled, regardless of the wins that those around me applauded me for. I was in a place of smoldering discontent. I was frustrated…
Have you ever felt this way, or do you feel that way right now? I was lacking the passions, relationships, and values in my life that truly made me come alive. On average, I’d put my “life satisfaction” scale on about a 3/10 on any given day.
Three questions burned inside of me:
- How can I connect to my calling?
- How can I live a life fully alive?
- How can I live my life so the use of my life outlives my life?
The answer(s) were this:
Be present with unconditional love in the lives of my wife, my three sons, and in the lives around me.
And…to become a coach and be catalyst for others to bring their unique value out in the world in a powerful way.
What I was about to do was the least logical choice for me according to conventional wisdom. Good thing God’s wisdom isn’t conventional!
The accident had left me in chronic pain and only able to work 20 hours per week. My wife had chosen to leave her physical therapy job 15 years earlier to raise our boys. This meant that she wouldn’t be able to go back to work again until she studied for and passed the national medical boards, which took her almost 18 months.
I was committed to follow my calling and start a coaching practice. Even though I was excited about the future, I had no idea where to start and I knew I had serious limitations. After two years in the hospital, no income, bills to pay and a severe traumatic brain injury that made it very difficult to be in any social situation I was starting with no capital and virtually no network.
The best advice I have ever received in life was from my Dad. He told me just before I started Navy flight school to find the one person that is doing the best, that went through training and met the high bar to get into jet training and ask him what he did.
That advice put me on the path to fly the F-14 Tomcat from aircraft carriers. So, the first thing I did was hire a coach who had a very successful leadership coaching practice. I also knew that marketing coaching would be unlike anything else I had ever done, so I hired Kim Avery who is an expert at coach marketing.
The next thing I did was enroll in the Essentials of Coaching course at the Professional Christian Coaching Institute. The start of my coaching career hit a major pothole when I had to miss my first coaching class because I was hospitalized from a complication from my accident. This was a real gut check.
Doubts flooded in that I wouldn’t be able to do the work. My family was depending on me. My health was very fragile, I had no resources, and the negative self talk started to consume me.
Maybe you have been there before. You look at the long and steep road to success up a path you have never walked and doubt if you can make it. You wonder if it’s truly worth the effort, over the many years, that this will take.
The Way Forward
God had been so faithful healing me and taking care of my family that I made a choice. I decided to trust Him and keep taking those small steps forward each day. Some days I could only work a few hours and some days I couldn’t work at all. But I kept on moving forward in faith.
I spent my time digging deep to understand who my ideal client was and what their compelling desires and their urgent needs were. The CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs I wanted to work with weren’t going to buy coaching, but they were willing to invest in getting the outcomes and results that were important to them. This was my first business challenge: discover what the biggest problems my ideal clients had and what solution I was uniquely able to help them realize.
As coaches, we need to be able to explain the problem people are facing with more clarity then they can explain themselves, and then help them define what they want. Once they see this success path clearly, they can connect emotionally to why it is important to move in this new direction.
They can imagine what it will give them personally. To do this, I scheduled interviews with ten people that I thought would be my ideal clients. A few of these were friends of mine, but six out of the ten were not people I knew well.
What I found out is that people love to help. I reached out by email and asked for 15 minutes of time for help on a project I was working on. When we got on the phone I asked two questions:
What is front of mind for you as you drive into work on Monday?
If you and I were talking in a year what would you love to be sharing?
Regardless of where your coaching practice is or who your perfect client is, I would encourage you to do this, too. It was key in helping me connect my unique value with how I could help those whom I was called to serve as a coach.
Although every step forward was into uncharted territory, the path led to success and significance. There were many celebrations and some setbacks along the way. The good news is that in six months my coaching schedule was full and we had an income that met our needs each month. Praise God!
I truly hope this message has been helpful and inspirational in helping YOU achieve your goals and dreams in 2017. Watch your inbox for part two as I share more about how this all came together.
To Your Success,
P.S. – Leave a comment below and share one thing that helped you the most in building your coaching practice