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Steve Mitten's Life And Business Coaching Notes - March 2009

RC Sunrise

A spring sunrise over a foggy Vancouver.



1) Why remain optimistic?

2) What is on your marketing dashboard?

3) Feedback wanted - Where do you want more support?

1) Why remain optimistic?  

In the trough of a deep recession, optimism can be a scarce commodity. As wave after wave of negative economic news washes around the globe, anyone who struggles to find silver linings can feel like an endangered species.

However as someone who does believe in humanity's ability to adjust and adapt to new circumstances, I was bouyed to read Dr. Sonja Lyubormirsky's THE HOW OF HAPPINESS, and find more hard evidence on the benefits of remaining optimistic.

To be clear, when I talk about optimism I am not advocating ignoring the real challenges of life. As you look around the world these days, you can see ample evidence of humanity's seemingly limitless capacity for self-interest, greed and general stupidity.

Nevertheless, if you look for it, you can also see countless situations where the best in humanity comes forth in beautiful displays of compassion, creativity and selflessness. Both these truths exist, and the point is it matters which perspective you choose to focus on or put in the forefront of your experience of life.

There is overwhelming evidence that people who choose to cultivate the habits of optimism, that believe in silver linings and that things will work out in the end, enjoy; greater health, greater longevity, lower stress, more energy and higher achievement. As an optimist you will not only enjoy far more happiness, but are also far more likely to persevere, stick to your goals and respond better to challenging situations.

Cultivating optimism is not only worthwhile, it's achievable, even for those of us raised in fearful or skeptical environments. Research attests to benefits of optimism fostering strategies ranging from; expressing gratitude, regular exercise, practicing kindness, developing greater mindfulness, cultivating social relationships, and learning how to savor more of life's simple joys. (Sonja's book is a very good summary of these strategies and includes practical advice on implementation.)

Not only can the habit of optimism make you feel better, it can also influence what you manifest or make happen in your life. In this regard, psychologists have long distinguished between primary and secondary control. An example of primary control is your ability to directly influence existing realities - the rain, the economy, your boss, etc. Secondary control refers to your ability to adapt to reality. (I cannot change the rain, maybe I can learn how to have more fun on rainy days?)

While most of the social science research focuses on helping us cultivate greater secondary control and thus better respond to life, the spiritual traditions (and Keynesian economics) teach that what you think, believe, and act on, absolutely influences your primary reality. If you think it is a dog-eat-dog world out there, you are going to be fearful and that will influence your behavior and what and whom you attract into your life. (Pessimists tend to attract more pessimists. Optimists attract people of a similar energy.) If you think the economy is going to get worse, you will hold back on your spending, and your spending is someone else's salary. They pull back on their spending and that can affect your income. In short, you create the very future you fear.

How you see the world can definitely influence, what you think, how you feel and what you act on. As such, your view of the world can directly shape the future you are creating.

So, cultivating more optimism not only makes you happier, healthier and a heck of a lot more fun to be around, it will also have a positive impact on creating a better future for everyone.

Every roller coaster ride has its share of heart stopping plunges. Choose to have faith your little cart is firmly fixed on the track it is meant to ride. On the roller coaster of life you might occasionally lose your favorite hat and possibly your breakfast, but that is all part of the journey.

Lighten up. It's not personal. Take some time today to enjoy the spectacular view and count your blessings. It will all work out in the end.

"The most important decision you will ever make
is deciding whether or not you live in a friendly universe."

- Einstein

2) What is on your Marketing Dashboard?

There is an adage that you cannot manage what you don't measure. Small business folks (especially coaches) often remain oblivious to the key measurements that can tell them how well they are doing in their practices and which of their marketing efforts are really working. As such, far too many coaches stick with ineffective marketing approaches struggling to attract sufficient numbers of clients.

If you stop to think about it, this is one of those things that defies logic. I am pretty sure every time you get in your car you have some sense of where you want to end up, your rate of speed, and how much gas you have in your tank. However as relates to your business it is a rare coach who has a feel for how well their marketing efforts are really working and whether their current efforts are going to get them where they want to go.

I recently polled a number of established coaches to see what were the basic variables they track in their practices. Here are a few basics items that I suggest you want to keep track of if you desire to get much better results:

  • How many hours a week do you currently spend on active marketing that directly leads to conversations with qualified potential clients and, on average, how many hours of marketing does it take to land a new client? - Coaches notoriously underestimate how much time it takes to fill a practice. If you are just starting out, and want to build a full practice, I suggest you market for at least 5 hours a week. Many new coaches find it takes 3 to 5 hours of marketing to get a new client. (It gets much easier once you have a niche and have established some regular contact strategies.)

  • Which of your marketing activities (networking, direct contact, articles, web marketing, etc.) translates into the most clients? - The most effective method will depend on your clients and your own strengths, but ideally you want to have at least 3 contact strategies that you know work to raise your visibility, credibility and over time attract a steady stream of ideal clients.

  • What is your average charge out rate and how many clients do you need to work with each month to meet your revenue targets?  - It's simple math, but if you want to earn close to, say, $80K a year then you better be averaging 22 clients a month at an average fee of $300.

  • Also, since sustaining a successful practice is so much more than marketing, I suggest you keep track of your overall level of stress, inspiration or balance. Call it taking care of the "being" factor, but if you are too stressed, you are not going to be productive, you are not going to really connect with your clients (or potential clients), and you are not going to enjoy the journey.

There are many other items you could track if you were so inclined. (And some coaches are.)  However if you are like most of us and prefer to spend as much of your working time as possible coaching clients, this should at least give you a place to start.

Finally, if you are still coaching at this time of the economic cycle, cheer up. You have just endured the scariest section the roller coaster has to offer.  There may be more bumps and turns ahead but chances are things are going to get  a whole lot more fun, soon.

It Felt Love

"How did the rose ever open its heart
and give to this world all its beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light against its being.
Otherwise, we all remain too frightened."

- Hafiz

3) Feedback Wanted - Where would you like more support?

These are unusual times. While much of the world carries on with life, far too many people struggle to keep their lives and businesses afloat. So, I was wondering how I might be of greater use to you.

Here are a few ideas and possible initiatives I could provide, that might be of help or interest to coaches.

Learn to Mentor - More and more coaches appear interested in learning how to mentor - share your experience and knowledge with your clients (members of your niche that have similar challenges) in a coach-like way. If there is enough interest I could put together a program.

Support For ICF Credentialing - Lots of coaches need help taking their skills to the next level and fulfilling the ICF credentialling requirements for working with a senior coach. Let me know if you are interested in this sort of assistance.

SOS Program - I used to run my SOS program for new coaches several times a year. It is an 8 week teleclass focused on helping new coaches understand the basics of what they need to do to get a successful practice off the ground. With so many other practice development offerings out there, recently I have been funneling my free time to help other coaches with my 6 Figure Practice Mentor Program - which is more focused on coaches who know the basics but have plateaued out below where they want to be. If there is enough interest, I would be happy to run another SOS program. (You can check it out at SOS.)

Yoga For Coaches - Well this one is hard to describe. However some of you know how important I believe energy management and increased self-awareness is to your overall success and happiness. And you have also probably noticed the difference between getting something intellectually and actually getting it into your body. As a long time student of the best that modern psychology and the wisdom traditions (particularly Yoga) have to teach us, I believe there are some really valuable lessons coaches could immediately adapt in their practice regarding the finer points of such topics of:

Balance - identifying and optimizing your natural energy setting and establishing a sustainable and effective daily renewal practice.

Intuition - better cultivating your innate silent wisdom.

Overcoming blocks - getting past those most persistent places that keep us stuck.

Presence - cultivating a deep and abiding sense of purpose and calling.

I believe, as did Joseph Campbell, that the teachings and practices of the yogic tradition provide us with one of the most sophisticated and elegant pathways to greater happiness and success. If you have an interest in a program to learn a few of the most powerful techniques, (applicable to your own life as well as your clients) please let me know. (I am an RYT - Registered Yoga Teacher)

Small Business, Leadership or Executive Coaching - Too many coaches stay away from coaching business or executive clients out of fear that they may not be enough, or know enough, to succeed. The reality is that if you are a good coach, it will not take you long to learn some of the particularities that will give you the confidence you need to access this huge and well-paying segment of the coaching market.

If you think any of these areas would be of interest to you, please let me know at If there is enough interest, I will put something together.

"The optimist sees opportunity in every danger;
the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity. "

- Winston Churchill


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Life Coach and Business Development Specialist Steve Mitten B.ApSc, CPCC, MCC helps individuals, professionals and leaders find their niche, be their best and make an impact.

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