Change is happening, again. Brexit, upcoming US elections, political polarization, financial market gyrations – looks like we may be entering another period of heightened global uncertainty.
Over the past week I have talked with a number of coaches worried what all this change might mean to them, their business and the overall demand for coaching. They are also wondering how to best prepare themselves, and best support their clients, in these more volatile times. As someone who has been in coaching since its early days, I wanted to pass on a few observations that may help any of you feeling a little apprehensive.
“We didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning.” – Billy Joel
First, please know, we have been here before. In the past 20 years coaches and the coaching industry has survived, adjusted, and learned to thrive through many political and economic upheavals including 9/11, the Gulf War, the Global Financial Crises and a protracted period of slow global growth. In fact, times of heightened uncertainty can actually stimulate many people, businesses and organizations to reach out to coaches to help them grapple with the torrent of change in their lives, careers and businesses. When the status quo is breaking down, a whole new order is seeking to emerge. This creates opportunity for those that are looking for it.
To better help you come to terms with what is unfolding now, and whatever lies ahead, here are a few practical suggestions.
“Action is the antidote to despair.” – Joan Baez
Step 1 – For Yourself. It is human nature to be scared when things are changing rapidly. And fear is a powerful contagion. If you get stuck in fear, anger or despair, you simply cannot be an effective coach, and your business development efforts will be fruitless. You end up being part of the problem. If you give too much attention to your negative thoughts and worries, you are simply not channeling your precious energy into productive activities such as recognizing new opportunities, supporting your clients, or re-positioning your business. Thus the sooner you move from fear, to acceptance, and then begin to earnestly look at how you can most help those you serve, the sooner you become part of the solution.
Step 2 – For Your Business. Your clients are facing the same uncertainty you are. Particularly during times of rapid change you want to stay very close to your market or ideal clients. Reach out and connect. Get a good feel for where they are struggling now. What are their new chief concerns, challenges and top priorities? Once you see what is happening with them, you can adjust your marketing message to what they are truly interested in and genuinely committed to change. The more relevant you are to their most pressing problems; the more business you will attract. And history has shown us that coaches that position themselves to best assist their client’s most urgent needs, thrive in any economic environment.
Step 3 – For Your Clients. We are hired and trained to coach our clients on the agenda they bring to coaching – the “small a” agenda. However, we also have an overarching responsibility, or “Big A” agenda, to ensure that all the work we do with clients is ultimately in service of their greater good – i.e. aligns with their values, leads them to more engagement, happiness, success, health, etc. In times of greater uncertainty, it is natural for our clients to look to us for reassurance as they sort through their current concerns and challenges. And, it is in the tougher times that we as their coach have a special responsibility to help them overcome the downward momentum of fear.
We humans are hardwired to give at least 3 times the attention to negative events, than we give to positive ones. Our clients need our help to turn this around. We need to believe in their resilience and potential when they might not. Help them identify and move past their automatic negative thoughts. Revisit their values, vision and “Big A” agenda. Help them reconnect to what is important to them and call them forth on what matters most. Remind them what they are committed to, encourage them, and otherwise champion them to bring out their very best and make the most of the new reality.
Who knows how this latest wave of change will play out? No doubt, there will be many twists and turns along the way. Nonetheless, we professional coaches are in the business of helping our clients adapt, evolve and thrive in any set of circumstances. This is a time to explore and embrace new possibilities.
It is in times like these, you are needed more than ever, and fortune really does favor the bold.