I started coaching people over seven years ago, but I had wanted to start coaching people long before that. I read about coaching and thought about coaching and asked a few close friends if they thought I would be a good coach. I was running an in-person writing group at the time, and I knew I was already effectively coaching people one-on-one, within the group. I could see the evidence all around me. I had a passion for this dream and feedback from others that I would be good at doing it professionally.
But still, it was a few more years before I actually did it.
What held me back for so long?
The fear of people hating your coaching style, or thinking you suck as a coach, is something that plagues many INFJs and INFPs who are thinking of launching a coaching business. In fact, this fear still has the power to haunt us even after we start working with our first few clients. I had this fear in the beginning too. What if I got on the phone with someone, gave it my all, and then at the end they told me they didn’t have a good experience? Or what if they didn’t say anything, but they never contacted me again? I didn’t want to end up ghosted, or feeling rejected. I just wanted to help people, and also work for myself. Did a possible solution to this fear even exist?
In the beginning, I made the same mistake many new coaches make. I assumed that I needed to become more confident and then this fear would go away. But it wasn’t until I had been coaching for a few years that I found the real solution. It wasn’t about me pushing myself to embody a false confidence that I didn’t really feel. Instead, to get past this fear, I needed to change my thinking about getting clients, and keeping clients.
One of the most frequent questions I get from INFJs and INFPs who are thinking about becoming a coach has to do with imposter syndrome. And this makes a lot of sense, because when we imagine what being a coach would be like, we usually see ourselves giving clients advice and acting in the role of “expert.” If you look around at mainstream coaching programs, this view is encouraged. Aspiring coaches are urged to choose an uber-specific niche and get as much training as possible in order to fulfill this “expert” role.
I understand this point of view, because when I first started out as a coach, I was doing the very same thing. I felt really insecure, about my knowledge and my abilities. I felt a strong calling to help people, and I had always been a natural counselor to my friends and family, but when it came to setting up shop as an actual coach, all the fears and doubts crept in. I thought that people would expect me to be an expert, and the closer I could get to this expert status, the more confident I would feel about being a coach.
Flash forward to now. I’ve been coaching for over seven years, I have a packed coaching schedule every week, I’m booking people three months in advance, and I’m teaching aspiring coaches how to coach.