There’s a common conundrum that many coaches suffer from at some point in their careers.
That conundrum can sound like any of the following:
“I’m a relationship coach but I just got divorced. How can I coach people if I couldn’t make my own relationship work?”
“I’m a business coach and I’m having some cash flow issues in my own business right now. How can I possibly coach someone on how to run their business?”
“I’m a health coach and I just gained unwanted weight because I haven’t been taking care of myself. How am I supposed to help my clients?”
Does any of this sound familiar yet?
There is a common misconception in the coaching industry that assumes coaches need to have their lives together.
If you’re a relationship coach then you’ve obviously been married for 25 years and have the best marriage ever. Your work life never gets in the way, the sex is always great and you and your spouse probably never fight.
If you’re a business coach then you must be raking in six or seven figures in your business. You don’t have any financial hurdles and people just want to throw their money at you.
If you’re a health coach then you must never gain weight and never suffer with not wanting to exercise. Additionally, you’re probably a vegan who eats with a smile on their face and never craves chocolate cake or fried food.
The craziest part about these assumptions is that most of the time coaches are placing them upon themselves.
At some point, all coaches will have a fear of how they are perceived if they happen to be struggling with the very niche they coach in.
Granted, sometimes a few people in your market may question your ability to coach them – but these are the very people you don’t want as clients anyway because they are shooting for unrealistic expectations.
The bad news is none of us are perfect. We will have hurdles, including in areas where we’re supposed to be coaching others.
The good news is vulnerability is hot right now.
Not only is vulnerability in style, but your market is also craving it from you.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how you can actually leverage your vulnerability for your business.
You Are Often a Teacher, But Always a Student
“The teachers who get “burned out” are not the ones who are constantly learning, which can be exhilarating, but those who feel they must stay in control and ahead of the students at all times.” ~ Frank Smith
This quote perfectly summarizes the angst many coaches feel at some point in their careers.
Because some coaches may place unrealistic expectations upon themselves, usually out of wanting control or out of fear of how others will perceive them, they become exhausted and burned out trying to keep up appearances and staying ahead of the curve.
However, it’s important to note that as a teacher you are also always a student.
You don’t stop learning about your niche just because you coach others on their own paths.
To be able to teach from a place of authenticity and admit that you are still learning on your own path is powerful.
It’s your authenticity and vulnerability that often times attracts people to you, not your ability to be perfect.
People Don’t Relate to Perfection
This is especially true in our crafted online worlds where we’ve become accustomed to Instagram filters, airbrushing and carefully thought out social media posts, as a result of which we only have access to the “best” parts of other’s lives.
I’ve even had conversations with aspiring coaches who were told by their business coaches that they must look like they have what their market wants, even if they don’t actually have it yet.
Obviously, this causes an internal struggle because it means you’re not marketing from a place of integrity.
Additionally, your market isn’t stupid. If you’re trying to be something you’re not they will notice.
And even if they don’t notice, the ironic part about not being totally authentic is that your market cannot possibly relate to perfection.
If your life is perfect and you don’t experience any bumps along the way, it makes you nearly impossible to relate to. In fact, it makes you untouchable.
This can actually repel people because they either feel like you’re faking it or they feel like they can’t relate to you as a person.
Additionally, you can’t do a good job because you’re feeling out of alignment with your values and your integrity.
Believe it or not, the more yourself you are, the easier it becomes to run and fill your coaching practice.
Often times people decide to work with you because they trust you and relate to you, and it’s by being openly vulnerable that you can begin to foster this trust.
In a world where everything is online and we see the world through Instagram filters, people are craving real human interaction.
This is precisely why you’re seeing a trend of live streaming services on Facebook and new social media channels like Periscope.
Periscope, for example, let’s you broadcast live to your market while they interact with you via comments and give you hearts.
One of the reasons it’s gained so much momentum in the few short months it’s been around is because it fosters trust with people.
The founder of Periscope was recently quoted in Fast Company as saying that Periscope’s fast success is the fact that real-time broadcasting with your audience fosters trust and empathy. It shows the reality of things, not an edited version of them.
In fact, Periscope started gaining major traction when it was used by individuals to film unrest in Baltimore in real-time, versus the edited and spinned versions of news stories people were hearing on news broadcasting stations.
From a business perspective, many coaches including Gabby Bernstein and Derek Halpern have begun using Periscope to broadcast and interact live with their audiences with great success.
There is no editing.
There is no planning in advance.
It’s live so if there are “Ums” or your camera falls over as you’re recording you just have to deal with it – and it’s become an utterly charming tool as a result of this.
In fact, I myself did a broadcast where I accidentally knocked the glasses off my face twice. I knocked them off so hard I actually broke them.
The incredible thing is since that made me human I was able to sell three seats to an online coaching workshop I was conducting.
Not only did I sell the seats, I sold them live on the broadcast. The PayPal notifications came in as I was still talking to my market on Periscope.
We’re clearly seeing a trend in the market that is calling for more vulnerability in social media and in business, so don’t be afraid to share your vulnerabilities with people since they are obviously craving it.
The most beautiful and powerful thing you can do as a coach is use your story to serve others.
Everything you go through can be used as a lesson to not only teaches you something about yourself, but also as provides a lesson to teach your clients.
Gabby Bernstein is an excellent example of how coaches can actually benefit from their vulnerabilities in business.
She is extremely open about her past as a drug addict. Even now, after 10 years of life coaching, she openly admits when she falls and had to learn a lesson the hard way.
She knows she is not perfect. And she doesn’t pretend to be perfect either.
The most she can do is use her challenges as a way to teach others how to use the tools she talks about at her talks and coaching events.
In many ways this is actually more powerful because you’re not just telling people what to do, you are leading by power of example.
For example, if you’re a relationship coach going through a divorce how can you use that to coach people on their own relationship journeys?
The answer is actually quite simple.
Relationships are not always happy go lucky and it would be naïve to assume otherwise.
Divorce happens. It’s a real-life issue people have to deal with often in relationships.
By using your own divorce as a catalyst you can teach others how to come out their other side of a painful situation in their relationships.
This may sound absurd, but it’s actually already been done with great success.
Katherine Woodward Thomas is the bestselling author of Calling In the One.
She made her entire career out of coaching people how to manifest the love relationship of their dreams.
Well, she got divorced a few years ago.
Instead of getting bogged down by “Oh my gosh how am I possibly going to coach people about having better relationships if I got divorced?” (Which probably did cross her mind), she got to work.
As a result, she now has a new course called Conscious Uncoupling ,which helps people deal with breakups and divorce.
If the term “conscious uncoupling” sounds familiar it’s because this is the exact term Gwyneth Paltrow used to describe her divorce from Chris Martin.
And where did Gwyneth Paltrow get this term? Why from Miss Katherine Woodward Thomas herself.
To say that this catapulted her career as a relationship expert into the stratosphere would be an understatement.
As you can see, if a relationship expert who wrote a national bestselling book about manifesting true love can get divorced and still take her career to the next level, then you clearly don’t have to hide your vulnerabilities and challenges from your market.
At the end of the day Katherine Woodward Thomas realized that her challenge was also a part of the complex world of relationships.
Being a relationship coach did not mean having the perfect relationship, it meant teaching how to deal with every aspect of a relationship – including the ending of one.
Final Thoughts on Vulnerability in Business
It used to be that vulnerability had no place in business, especially if you were a coach.
If you were teaching something it meant you had to master it before you could even think about helping others.
The reality is we will never be masters. In fact, unless you’re Buddha under a Bodhi tree you are always evolving.
By embracing your vulnerabilities and sharing them with your market you’ll actually foster trust, gain credibility and most importantly coach from a place of authenticity.Like This Article? You Will Love Rich Litvin’s Prosperous Coach Power Pack