For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10, NIV
On a scale of one to ten, when it comes to love of coaching, I’m a ten. I love coaching others, I love being coached, and I love training others to become coaches. For me, coaching feels like I’m doing good works and walking in my Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) gift: “. . . created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
It’s a different story when it comes to marketing. On a scale of one to ten, I was about a three. I hated having to reach out and remind people about who I was, what I did, and the benefit I could bring to their lives with my services. This attitude cost me dearly, both emotionally and financially.
Early in my career as a budding coach, I mentor coached with Judy Santos, who has since passed away. Many consider her to be one of the most influential voices in the field of Christian coaching because she defined and moved the profession forward. At the time, she taught a foundational Christian coaching course that started me on the road to earning my credentials with the International Coach Federation. I knew I needed to be coached if I was going to be a successful coach, and so she was a logical choice to be my mentor coach with her vast coaching experience and former business background.
We worked on a number of projects together, initially to help get my new career- coach-training certification program up and running. I’ll never forget being just halfway into the four-month foundations class and announcing to her that I had decided to launch a career-coach-training school and teach others coaching. I could tell she was impressed with my enthusiasm but taken back by, what I now label in hindsight, my naivety. I was a brand new coach—how in the world could I presume to train others when I’d been learning just a few months myself! But with the passion of a new convert, I just had to share the good news of coaching with my colleagues who were also career consultants. I forged ahead. I loved developing the curriculum while getting the school up and running. I loved developing coaching techniques, wrestling with how to articulate the challenges people in career transition experience, and creating exercises to help others learn how to shift from career consultants and advisors into true career coaches.
Always, marketing took a back seat. I didn’t want to bother people. Able to see my blind spots better than I could, Judy would bring up the topic of marketing and ask what I was doing to market the program. I would respond with my list of excuses and what wasn’t working: No one responded to my e-mail campaign, I couldn’t close the prospective student who had expressed interest in registering, I didn’t have time to offer a free preview call to give people a taste test, and so on.
I was oblivious to my attitude about marketing and how it was impacting my success (or lack thereof) in the realm of bringing in new students. I procrastinated and rationalized and procrastinated and rationalized.
Judy used all the right coaching techniques: She looked at the root of my procrastination, we explored limiting beliefs around my marketing phobia, we identified actions, and we discussed the best methods for accountability, even agreeing at one point that I’d make a financial contribution to an organization that was against my moral values if I didn’t follow through on my marketing commitments. All these things certainly created more awareness for me around marketing, but it didn’t shift me into full-scale action.
Finally, one day Judy asked me about my least-favorite topic: “How’s the marketing going?” I bemoaned my plight, replaying my favorite tape about the things I wanted to do, needed to do, but wasn’t getting done. And that’s when she asked me a question—the question—that has stayed with me and served me well for more than ten years: “What will happen if you don’t?”
That question did what a powerful question should do: It took me into the future, it made me examine my thinking, and it shifted me into action. Since being asked that question, I have never thought of marketing in the same way. Now, I no longer rate myself a three on that one-to-ten scale for marketing. It’s more like a seven or even an eight, which is saying a lot for an ultra-sensitive introvert who still doesn’t want to “bug people.”
I now see marketing as an opportunity to love the people I serve, to offer them value in the midst of the marketing message, to inform them of new opportunities, and to remind them of the positive future they can create for themselves. And, yes, sometimes their future involves taking advantage of my services. I have come even to love the opportunity to market. The consequences of not doing so are dire, while the outcome of doing so brings blessing both to me as well as to the people I serve.
Coaching the Coach:
Do you dislike or procrastinate doing certain tasks in your life or work? What will happen if you don’t do them? Step into the future and consider the consequences of procrastinating or doing them haphazardly. If they are important to your success, how might you reframe each task so that you associate positive instead of negative thoughts with it? What might God’s perspective be on this topic?
Is the task simply something that you don’t know how to do well yet? (Remember that you can learn everything that’s essential to your success.) If so, enlist in a course, mentor coach with someone who’s mastered the task, or find an accountability partner who will help support you in the process. Perhaps you can explore ways to delegate the work, whether by paying someone or bartering the services.
Finally, reverse the question from “What will happen if you don’t?” to “What will happen if you do?” Envision your world with that new task mastered, operating well, and bringing the results needed. What will be different? How will it equip you to serve the people God has called you to serve? How will it expand your reach, voice, impact, and territory? What do you think the Father would say to you when you’ve persevered and done this task with excellence? Remember that He is “. . . able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).
Susan Whitcomb is a leading authority and media resource on career and leadership coach certification training, and the author of eight books featured in retailer booksellers worldwide, including The Christian’s Career Journey, Resume Magic, and 30-Day Job Promotion (JIST Publishing). An inspirational presenter and engaging trainer, Susan has logged more than 3,000 hours teaching the Certified Career Management Coach program, Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach program, Certified Job Search Strategist program, and Certified Social Media Career Strategist program offered through www.TheAcademies.com.