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The Distraction of Comparison

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…and the ‘Amazing’ that has me love this work.

“He’s out there making a million dollars or more, and I’m struggling to make a living for my family.”

We’re all familiar with the clichés about comparison:
‘Comparison is the thief of all joy.’
‘Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle.’
’Don’t compare your behind the scenes with everyone else's highlight reel.’

I’ve had many conversations with people caught up in these kinds of thought storms. Unless the comparative thoughts help me to feel good, they serve no purpose whatsoever. And even if they do help me feel good, they are still just as irrelevant.

I’ll break down why that is, into two parts, specific to coaching, but no doubt applicable elsewhere.

Firstly, things are rarely as they seem. (Although this is also irrelevant, as you may see later.)

A few years ago, when I was caught in a similar cycle of comparison, I decided to take a closer look at apparent successes and it became clear that in some quarters embellishment was rife. Coaches claiming to charge the price of a small house secretly discounting significantly behind the scenes, stories twisted in ways that empowered the coach over the client, insolvent businesses presented as exclusive and thriving. Some so exclusive they consisted only of the coach, with no clients at all. Even coaches on podcasts claiming thriving practices who confided elsewhere their businesses were on the floor.

In the same way as we agree it’s not healthy to aspire to photoshopped body images, I don’t think it’s either healthy or helpful for people to aspire to a photoshopped image of this profession. This train of thought became the inspiration for my podcast, The Coaching Life, where you may have heard me say ‘we peel back the bull-crap, and brush away any photoshopping, to give you an unfiltered look at what it’s like to live a coaching life.”

That’s not to say there are not super-successful coaches out there, there certainly are, and in my experience they tend to be quietly getting on with their work, focusing on being of service to their clients. More on that later…

Most coaches I talk with want to run a coaching business, rather than the massive and calculated marketing machines run by some prominent figures we might see.

So that begs the question, when we look at the reality, do we really want to be running a business that depends so much on embellishment and manipulation? I’d guess for all of us, the answer would be no.

So why compare ourselves to someone else who’s doing something we don’t want to do anyway? That would be like me getting pissed that Ronnie Biggs was a better train robber than me. SFW?

Furthermore, when it comes to actual coaching ability over marketing, in my experience some of the coaching behind these marketing machines is mediocre at best. Certainly the term ‘powerful conversation’ seems to get a downgrade from business class to economy.

Secondly, part of this comparison often has people doubt the value of their coaching. ‘If I’m not making as much money as others, maybe it’s because I have a lack of belief in my own abilities, or I simply don’t value my coaching enough. Maybe I don’t think enough of me!’

This might seem a little more helpful direction to look, but it’s also just as irrelevant. Whilst we could look at ourselves objectively to help us feel better about our own capabilities as a coach, and the value of our own coaching, it simply doesn’t matter whether I believe in the value of my coaching or not - I’m not the one who pays me for it! Who cares what I think?

But don’t I have to believe in what I am selling?

Well, maybe, but I’m not selling my own opinion of the value of my coaching. I’m selling a service, the value of which can only be ascertained by the market, by the client.

In conversations with clients I want to explore what the value of change and transformation would be for them.

Aha, yes! Clients! Remember those? We haven’t talked about those much yet…

Since it’s only clients that will pay us for coaching, there’s a pretty strong argument that their opinion on it’s value matters much more than ours. If my clients think the value of any such changes they desire is only twenty cents, it wouldn’t matter one iota if I had a totally embodied belief my coaching was worth a million dollars. Or even a dollar for that matter.

If my clients see value in what they want to create in a favourable way to my fees, it’s game on. Even if I think my coaching is only worth two cents.

What I think doesn’t matter, unless I allow it to.

Do you get a sense of who is the biggest distraction in serving your clients? I’ll give you a clue. It’s not anyone else…

Anyways, yes, back to clients…

Here’s one thing, one shift that I’ve made that has changed every-flipping-thing!

I find I enjoy my work so much more when my focus is on how completely and utterly amazing the people I work with are.

That’s it!

People are amazing!

I almost forget about me.

Instead of being concerned with my capabilities or value as a coach, seeing relentlessly the infinite potential for transformation in the person in front of me invariably helps them see it too. I am unwavering in this respect. Any thoughts about me are simply a distraction. As are any thoughts about other coaches and marketeers.

Who cares what anyone else is doing? Let them embellish! Let them eat cake. I don’t care anymore. I focus on amazing instead.

People come to me and get glimpses of how they are creating their entire experience of life, how they are connected to a greater intelligence, connected to Love, and in the freedom of seeing that, increasingly seeing and understanding that, go on to create amazing changes and amazing things in their lives.

They gain promotions, write books, grow their businesses. They fall in love, with a new life-partner, with their current life partner. With themselves.

Amazing people!

They start having more fun, some in jobs they thought they hated and wanted to leave. Then find they have more time to spend with their family. They reconnect to friends and family with whom they’d previously believed there was some kind of feud.

They go dancing, despite believing for years they were an introvert or scared of mixing with people.

They lose weight, move to their dream country, quit their job and create their own mobile businesses.

They tell me they are happier than they even thought possible. They tell me they feel a deep peace they didn’t know existed. They tell me they feel free.

One of my recent favourites - ‘I have what I’ve always wanted, and didn’t even know I wanted it.’

I could talk all day about things my clients are up to and creating, and there’s so much more joy in looking at that, looking at how amazing they are, than any kind of comparative thinking.

When I think of just how amazing these people are, I don’t have time to think about me. I’m filled with joy, honour and privilege that I get to witness such transformations.

If I play any part in any of it at all, it is my relentless seeing of them, who I know them to truly be, irrespective of any stories, of any comparisons or fears they show up with in our conversations.

I often make a promise to my clients at the outset: ‘I promise to only speak to the person I see. That might not be the person you think I should see.’

I’m filled with delight when they start to see that person for themselves, some telling me - ‘Aha, now I know what you meant!’

Those are the moments for which I do this work.

And here’s the Lindt Chocolate topping on all of this:
Without any consideration to what anyone else is doing in this profession, without any consideration of my own opinion of value, without any focus on me, with just my focus on relentlessly seeing the beauty, the infinite potential and possibility in my clients, exploring what they’d love to create, people seem to want to work with me. And they value doing so.

Irrespective of any of my fearful, comparative, and really rather selfish thinking.

People really are amazing.