Coaches Can Be Overwhelmed Too!
Article by Monique Y. Wells
Many people who use coaching services do not stop to think that their coach may have challenges that could adversely affect the delivery of these services. They may unwittingly consider her to be immune to such problems. But coaches are people too, and are susceptible to challenges in their businesses just as other groups of professional service providers are!
I recently polled several women coaches, asking if they experience any particular kinds of “overwhelm” in their practices. Responses indicate that there are many reasons for “coaching overwhelm.”
Meridith Elliott Powell, internationally certified coach, speaker, author, and owner of MotionFirst (www.motionfirstnow.com), shared the following:
“I do my own strategic plan for my business every November. Last November, I noticed that if my coaching business was going to grow, I was going to have to transition to more phone work and some group coaching. There was just no room in my schedule to add clients. I was seeing all of my clients in person, limiting me both geographically and from a time perspective. So I made the conscious decision to transition my business this year to more phone work and to group work. It was the only way to expand my business.
“I think that this is a natural transition, a natural growing pain, meaning, I would not change how my business has grown and developed. Growing pains and being overwhelmed is a natural and helpful part of growth. Without that pain, I wouldn’t stop and figure out the next steps – I wouldn’t open myself to stretch with more challenging clients.”
Tanya Smith, business coaching and marketing consultant for small business at BePromotable (www.bepromotable.com), has a series of about 7 key business systems that she helps her clients (coaches, consultants, freelancers typically) to implement for growth in their businesses. She defines systems as “a combined series of processes/steps that are interdependent, predictable, and repeatable so that you get similar results every time.” Regarding overwhelm, Tanya states that:
“I believe this is a common ailment for coaches and consultants these days. I’ve had to get back to my ‘systems geek’ roots to be more strategic and I finally did hire a VA (virtual assistant) this past month, which has helped me tremendously.”
Stephanie McDilda, coach and speaker at Flashpoint International and partner at Roving Coach International (www.rovingcoach.com) told me:
“I don’t know that I feel overwhelmed in my coaching practice, but there is something that gets me overwhelmed that some coaches might experience. I actually have two businesses, and this is because I am inspired to walk two paths. I am a high achiever, and often want to feel that I can ‘have it all’ – even when there are only 24 hours in a day. I have a partnership with two other coaches in a business called Roving Coach International where we specialize in employee engagement by providing coaching for mid-level managers and other key employees in mid- to large-sized corporations. That in itself can sometimes be a full time job. My other passion is individual life coaching and motivational speaking, which I pursue on my own in a business called Flashpoint International. Some days I have to do a lot of juggling so I can have two things which are equally important to me.”
Stephanie went on to say that, for various reasons, many coaches don’t have a practice that can sustain them financially. These coaches may decide to practice part-time while they continue to work full-time to pay the bills. Not only is this demanding from a time perspective, but it is also a tremendous energy drain. Often those coaches are not doing work they love in their “job,” but feel that they can’t afford to leave it. At the same time, their full time jobs may be preventing them from doing what it will take to build their businesses.
Berni Xiong (www.bernixiong.com) is a “shin-kicking life spark” who experiences overwhelm due to being “overly” passionate about her desire to help and serve others through personal and professional coaching. She says that the most important thing to do to conquer overwhelm is to make sure that you balance your life by making time for self-care. For this, she makes time for reading, writing, Bikram yoga and performs Reiki self-treatments to reduce stress and increase relaxation.
Berni also has her own coach – an accountability partner who helps her to “check herself “when she feels overwhelmed and needs a sounding board before making various decisions.
Berni commented that she believes many coaches are overwhelmed by fear – of failure, of success, or of the unknown. Regardless of the cause of the fear, she says that coaches should ask themselves the question “As you live your life, are you ‘leading’ with fear, or with passion for what you do?” She says that living your life with fear as your primary driver will forcibly alter your journey and make life a much less pleasurable experience.
One source of fear of the unknown is not knowing how to run a business. Berni commented that many great coaches have no idea how to market themselves, or even how to use the Internet effectively. Stephanie concurs, saying that “many people find out that they love to coach . . . but being in the business of coaching (including the marketing and sales, administration, and maintaining sufficient income to make a living wage) is something they don’t love so much.”
Gila Joy Pascale, certified professional life coach at Coaching for the Soul (www.coachingforthesoul.net), was a psychotherapist and counselor prior to joining the coaching profession. She stated that during her training, no one ever taught how to avoid burnout (overwhelm). Because of her passion for her profession, she did not know how to stop helping people when she needed to set boundaries to protect her own health and well-being. She learned it the hard way and suffered two burnout episodes when she was younger. Later she offered workshops for “The Helpless Helpers” to share what she had learned, to close a gap, and to support those in the helping profession.
Now, as a coach, Gila Joy “checks in” with herself physically and spiritually so that she can detect the first signs of overwhelm and do what is necessary to avoid it. She teaches other professional helpers how to balance their work/life and how to avoid “compassion fatigue” and burnout.
Cheri Ruskus, president of Business Victories (www.businessvictories.com) and founder of Victory Circles (www.victorycircles.com), talked to me about several additional causes of overwhelm for coaches – one of which is that coaches often feel that they always need to work on new ideas. They may have only partially implemented an idea when they get a new idea and feel that they need to begin working on this one as well. Cheri also says that business coaches are frequently called to work with entrepreneurs, and yet they have not been taught and do not understand the entrepreneur mindset. She cites this mismatch between coach and client as an important source of overwhelm.
Cheri finds that coaches are frequently intimidated by the idea of hiring help or outsourcing to tackle operational aspects of their businesses. Things like bookkeeping and keeping up with technology (Web site design and maintenance, operating membership sites, using social media . . .) are often best left to someone else who likes dealing with them and has more experience in them. Yet many coaches resist hiring an assistant (real or virtual) to take care of these matters, and Cheri believes that one of the reasons is that they do not realize how inexpensively this can be done. Her assistant is a college student from a local business school who comes in twice a week and does everything else virtually, for a maximum of 15 hours per week at per hour. Her bookkeeper comes in once a month for a fee of 0 per month.
Based on the comments from these experienced coaches, overwhelm in your coaching practice can be a positive thing – it can be a sign that it is time to re-evaluate your business and take steps to make it to grow. The comments also indicate that coaches can – and do – benefit from being coached themselves.
About the Author
Dr. Monique Y. Wells is the Paris Muse of Time Management™. Her mission is to help women solopreneurs “get over the overwhelm” that they feel in the workplace so that they can experience less stress, earn more income, increase their job satisfaction, and find more time to spend with family and friends outside of work. Watch her free video series on “getting over overwhelm” at http://gettingoveroverwhelm.com.
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