5 Reasons You May Lack Confidence as a Life Coach
How much difference would more self-confidence make in your coaching practice?
If you lack confidence, this may be the primary issue holding you back from inevitable success. There are compelling reasons to suggest you need tons of self-confidence in order to make it as a life coach.
Selling coaching services is not like selling a tangible product, such as a television. When clients enroll, they are buying you. They must trust that a helping relationship with you will be worth the investment. If you lack confidence, they may not be inspired to give you that trust.
Clients often show up with self-doubt, discouragement and lack of certainty about their ability to achieve goals. For a while, they typically need to rely on your level of certainty and belief in them. This is tied to your belief in the coaching process, which is tied to your belief in yourself as a coach.
If you really lack confidence as a coach, however, you may not even get that far. You might be avoiding opportunities to get in front of potential clients in the first place.
High self-confidence - belief in yourself and your service - is the solution. So, how should we approach the issue?
First, we can break the issue down into cause and effect.
The effect is low self-confidence, or high self-doubt, when it comes to performing as a coach. If you’re suffering the effect of poor confidence, the best thing you can do is endeavor to discover the cause.
The cause may stem from several things in any combination. Here is a list of five potential causes of low self-confidence in life coaching:
1. Lack of experience or competence
You may need more training or practice. Of course, we’re all coaches-in-progress, practicing to the best of our abilities as we grow and develop professionally. Still, there is a certain level of skill that you absolutely must have to feel confident working with people.
How do you know you have a solid foundation as a coach? Start by summarizing a core set of skills you believe in (confidence) and use as a coach. As an NLP practitioner, I might make a list that looks something like this:
I know how to learn what people want.
I know how to discover the obvious as well as hidden obstacles in their way.
I know tools to help clients get past obstacles and move freely toward their goals.
I understand common human motivations.
I possess the right tools and techniques to help clients fill in missing gaps in their ability to self-motivate.
You should be able to honestly tell yourself, "I have faith in my ability to help people. When potential clients speak with me, my level of confidence becomes contagious. And that’s why they hire me."
How would you summarize your core set of skills? If you can’t do this at all, then you are definitely under-trained as a coach.
2. Seller’s guilt
When money is involved, your confidence can break down unexpectedly. It’s such a loaded topic, isn’t it?
Is there such a thing as seller’s guilt? Sure. It happens when you feel guilty for selling your product. Even when the client wants to make the purchase. Even though the product is valuable.
Still, you feel guilty. Why? Well, you’re charging people for your time, attention and feedback and these intangibles may contribute to the problem. After all, where’s the product you’re selling? Does it exist?
Still, this is no reason to hesitate. Your service - and the results that come from it - will impact your clients for the rest of their lives, long after all those tangible purchases have broken down and been discarded.
Contrast seller’s guilt with this:
An introverted therapist I know once smirked said, “I like talking to people, sure, as long as they pay me.” We all laughed.
Still, he wasn’t entirely joking.
And he didn’t feel bad about his money boundary. He understood the value of his professional time, attention and feedback. Interestingly, in a profession full of third party payors, this therapist was able to maintain a busy, all cash practice. No insurance companies were ever involved. That says a lot for confidence.
Let’s end the confusion about what professional life coaching really is. We get paid to talk to people. It’s up to our clients to judge the return on their investment. If investing in the services of a life coach is worth it to them, then they will remain in coaching until they achieve their goals and get to where they want and need to be. If it’s not worth the investment, they’ll find a way to leave as soon as possible. You can be sure of that.
It’s not up to you as a life coach to decide for your client whether or not your services are worth their investment of time and money.
Since we’re talking about the return on their investment, how should that return be measured?
Simple. Results. Results are the only way to measure the value of the coaching you provide. If you deliver results, then no one can tell you that you are not providing a valuable service—not even yourself.
Let’s not be confused. Coaching is a profession—charging a fee for your time, training, talent and expertise is the right thing to do.
Some coaches may have a fantasy about making big bucks and living the self-employed/work-from-home dream and feel somewhat conflicted that their motivation isn’t purely altruistic.
Again, this stems from confusion about the profession. If you’re delivering value to your clients, then you are earning your dream life. It’s all yours, legitimately!
On the other hand, you may actually be suffering from unacknowledged selfish motivations. If, after some self-examination, you find that helping people is not a big part of your motivation, you may be in the wrong profession.
If you’re only out to claim a nice lifestyle for yourself and therefore see your clients as vehicles you can ride to success, you’re going to be conflicted as a coach.
Charging money puts added pressure on a life coach. It’s no longer a drill in a training room full of people who are already sold on coaching. Clients are paying their hard-earned money and they want results. And they may begin as skeptics. Can you really deliver?
It can be hard to get around the fact that in any profession, delivering the goods is a non-negotiable necessity. Similar to our discussion on confidence, you have to not just believe, but truly know that you can give your clients the results they want and deserve.
In life coaching, you may get hooked into thinking that delivering the goods is a matter of your performance as a coach. This may set you up for a healthy dose of performance anxiety.
Most experienced coaches I know have largely moved beyond performance anxiety and into the role of ‘guide.’ As a guide, you point the way, facilitate the process, offer encouragement, support and even confrontation. But if there’s a performer in this scenario, it’s the client.
Some coaches may have that nagging voice in their heads that predicts failure and uses all of the above and more to ensure it. In other words—self-sabotage, plain and simple:)
Here’s one common scenario:
You’re a professional. You’ve been trained. In fact, you’ve spent months and years of your life invested in personal growth. Therefore, you should have it all together, right?
But, you don’t. You’re still struggling in some areas of life. Who are you to help someone else when you’ve got issues of your own?
I know who you are. You’re one imperfect person endeavoring to make a living helping other imperfect people. If perfection were required to engage in people helping, the fields of psychology and coaching wouldn’t exist.
In my career I’ve had the opportunity to speak with successful coaches, well-known authors and celebrities from sports and entertainment. Guess what? Every single one of them is struggling with something.
So, keep on stumbling over the obstacles in your way. I’ll do the same. Yet, let’s still coach as many people as possible.
Life coaching is an art and a science. To master it may take a lifetime, but you don’t have to be a master to be a highly skilled professional. Believe in yourself, and trust what you’ve learned.
Most importantly, believe in your clients, because that is what will really help them achieve their goals.
About Mike Bundrant
Mike Bundrant, founder of iNLP Center, is an NLP Master Practitioner, IANLP Fellow Trainer and retired psychotherapist (NM). He works with clients through the iNLP Center who want to resolve issues of self-sabotage. Connect with Mike on Noomii or on his website.