As I approach my 10 year business anniversary, I reflect on how much my understanding of my own job has changed since the beginning. I used to believe that basic coaching was enough to get someone unstuck — and it was for a lot of people! But over the years as I expand my skills and work with more and more people, the outliers, the people who don’t fit in that box of “easy” coaching, have become fascinating to me. Wonderful people with great intentions that just can’t seem to get ahead on their goals. They do what they think is right by hiring a coach, but over and over again they’re disappointed because they still don’t make progress.
Why is that?
I really wanted to find out.
I often hear coaches blaming the client, saying they weren’t an “action taker”, or saying they were “uncoachable”, but that hasn’t been my experience. The people that hired me were highly coachable, and took massive action in other times in their life. They weren’t broken or lazy. I was just missing something.
I was sick of this. I needed to find some answers.
And then I found Self-Belief Coaching.
(I recorded a podcast episode about this topic here, if you’d like to explore further and hear more examples)
What is self-doubt?
Self-doubt is the way we protect ourselves from psychological risk.
Risks like: failure, success, complexity, disappointment, rejection, conflict, and judgement.
The way we cope with these risks has been developing since we were born, and it shows up for all of us in different ways. Over time we have learned to deal with risks in ways that don’t necessarily serve us now in the present. We resist doing things now because of the patterns we’ve created to keep us safe from perceived risks in the past.
What protected us in the past, doesn’t always serve us in the present.
You may have heard people talk about the “inner critic” or “self-sabotage”, but a self-belief coach believes that these behaviours are there for a reason and they’re not bad or something to go to battle with. We instead use the word “Protector” to refer to all the coping mechanisms we have developed to keep us safe our whole life. Our Protector is there for a perfectly good reason and has gotten us through life so far.
Our Protector is incredibly resourceful, and often goes about their work undetected. But resistance can show up in lots of ways, in particular: perfectionism, procrastination, people pleasing, passive behaviours, proving, and paralysis. Whenever we face something that our Protector thinks is risky, they’ll use all the tools at their disposal to keep us safe.
Of course this safety has a downside. It can be incredibly frustrating to have a goal that matters to you but that you’re never able to reach. Or you may be doing work that’s unsatisfying because it’s safe. Likely you’re not reaching your potential, or you have a list of unmet goals and dreams you long to achieve.
Our Protector is just one of the parts that make us whole. We also have a variety of healthy parts that might be hiding or not fully present if your Protector is quite strong. Self-doubt is present when those healthy parts are in shadow or taking a back seat.
How does self-doubt show up in business?
As an entrepreneur you might notice self-doubt showing up in all sorts of ways, like:
· Taking on clients that aren’t a good fit
· Not reaching out to potential clients or partners
· Avoiding sharing your work online or in conversations
· Hiring the wrong people over and over again
· Looking everywhere for advice and not tuning inwards to what you think is best
· Jumping around from one strategy to the next
· Getting into total overwhelm with too much work for too little money
· Having too many offerings and trying to please everyone
· Feeling dissatisfied, misaligned, or bored with your business
· Resenting your business or getting frustrated with it
· Not staying consistent with content, offerings, or ideal clients
· Knowing that your business can be better but not knowing how to make it happen
· Doing busy work or household work instead of the real work in your business
Sometimes these things are legitimately business problems. If you find yourself taking on the wrong clients, for example, you may just need a better intake process to screen people. But if you’re ignoring your screening process or holding on to bad clients long after you know you’re not a match, then it’s likely a self-belief problem showing up. No matter how you try and solve it with tools or systems, it will keep showing up until you address the underlying beliefs.
The freaky part is most of us just assume they’re business problems, so we try to solve them with tools and tactics. We might try to pay someone who we think can do it better, or simply work harder to fix things.
The truth is, it’s incredibly hard to spot and acknowledge a self-belief block yourself. That’s because our Protector wants us to keep us safe, so they don’t want us to see what’s really going on.
So you can see why it’s essential that your coach is trained in self-belief…
For years, I didn’t know any of this. Most coaches don’t.
I did all the normal coaching stuff like:
· Looking at the problem from multiple perspectives
· Anticipating obstacles
· Providing accountability
· Helping to arrange their schedule
· Encouraging self-care
· Setting better, more compelling goals
· Coming up with a detailed plan
· Looking at their big “why”
· Breaking things down into smaller pieces
· Learning more about everything
· Bringing in outside support
The list goes on.
And many people made progress.
Yet there were still people that, despite doing everything and more, couldn’t make progress on their goals. They would say over and over they wanted to do something, but they couldn’t bring themselves to take action. This was so frustrating for the client, and it was also frustrating for me.
Learning about self-belief coaching was a lightbulb moment for me. It was the thing those clients needed in those moments when nothing else seemed to be working.
Now self-belief coaching is a tool in my ever-expanding toolbelt. I use many things to help my clients get where they want to go, and not everyone needs this kind of coaching. But for those clients that do, I’m ready for them.
If you’d like to hear more examples of how self-doubt can show up in your business and your life, and some stories about how it has impacted my own life, listen to Episode 11 of Ah ha! right here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if this resonates with you and you’d like to learn more about how this might apply to you and your business.