Many people don’t realize that, beyond my work with the Bold Leader Collective, I have multiple business coaching certifications from other organizations. My first certification in business success coaching was through CU Boulder, and then I went on to get my Strengths Coach certification and later became a regional director of Business Networking International. I even became a radio show host on Experience Pros, where I would pose monthly challenges for small business owners and then provide education and strategy to help them accomplish that challenge (more on that later!).
Getting all these certifications made me realize something:
If you’re just looking for a business coach, you’re doing it wrong.
Here’s what I hear when a future client walks through my door: “I can’t get the right employees.” “Millennials are lazy.” “My profit margins aren’t up.” “My equipment is breaking.” “I don’t have the right solution for my clients.” “My industry doesn’t allow me to charge my worth.” “People won’t pay what I need to make this work.” Does any of this sound familiar?
At the end of the day, if you’re feeling stuck with no possibility, it’s because of your own belief system.
For one particular episode of Experience Pros, I challenged small business owners to prepare a 3- to 5-minute video educating their online community about their trade, and then post it to social media. I also convinced the radio show host to give each of these business owners a spot on the show to come talk about their business and “be the expert.” It was a great opportunity to get their businesses out there.
Almost everyone opted out of it. All I got were grown-ass people complaining that they “weren’t good on video.”
Beyond these surface-level excuses, deep down, these business owners didn’t believe they had something to speak about that their community would find value in. They opted out of a free spot on the radio for a local business community because they were afraid of asserting their own voice as the expert.
No business strategy can overcome that.
If you’ve hired a marketing company or business coach to help take your business “to the next level,” but you’re too afraid to use your own voice, no amount of strategy can help. Marketing and most business coaching focuses on numbers, strengths, results, strategies. No business strategy can overcome a small business owner completely rejecting an opportunity to further their business because of their own limiting beliefs about themselves.
Think of yourself as a boat: If your belief system isn’t working at a core level, you have holes in your boat. You can’t simply plug all the holes with business plans and think that you’ll float. You have to start with the foundation. What’s causing the holes?
Our belief systems about ourselves and the world start when we’re infants. Think of your brain as one giant computer. You type “blue house” into your brain and it finds all the blue houses. When we’re babies, we have a negative experience that happens to us or around us, and our brain forms certain conclusions to interpret and understand that event. “Why did Dad leave? It must have been because I was bad.” Whether or not the conclusion is correct, our brain stores the information away to interpret future events in the same way. It’s a protection mechanism.
If you think we grow out of our limiting beliefs as we get older, think again. Because these beliefs develop from a place of pain, they never truly go away because it’s our brain’s way of trying to protect us from future harm.
My limiting belief is that if I don’t measure up, I’ll get left behind. This belief first took hold when I was around four years old. My family had just relocated to a nicer neighborhood because my parents were doing well financially. The relocation meant that I was no longer in the same neighborhood as my childhood friend. After we moved, my friend’s mom got into a fight with my mom, saying, “I just don’t think our worlds go together anymore.” The next week, I was supposed to go play with my friend at the park and I sat at the window waiting for them to come pick me up. They never came, and I never saw them again. “Sometimes we just can’t measure up to other people’s standards,” my mom said by way of explanation.
My mother meant well, and as a parent myself now, I know it’s impossible to always say and do the right thing to help our children process when something sad or unexpected happens. Regardless of my mother’s intent, this belief solidified itself into my brain. If I don’t measure up to other people’s standards, I’ll get left behind.
This limiting belief has shown up in a number ways throughout my teenage and adult life. Flash forward to my early twenties, when I was giving myself human growth hormone (HGH) injections as a physique model and bodybuilder. I was addicted to the rush of winning. More importantly, I had to keep working hard to achieve those medals because I was not going to get left behind again.
Our brain will keep looking for information that confirms that belief over and over again.
If this all sounds like a bit of a buzz kill, it’s not! Our destiny is created from our high points and our low points in life. I’m able to talk so openly about my limiting belief because I’ve done the work. I see my limiting belief clearly and I’m able to identify when it’s showing up and how to work through it so I don’t get stuck.
This is the crux of the work in truly effective business coaching: your strategy has to involve becoming aware of your own limiting beliefs so that you can learn to identify them and then make a plan for how to advance your business goals in spite of those beliefs.
If we’re clear on our purpose, we’ll be clear on why we started our businesses in the first place, and we’ll actually use our pain to our advantage, to drive us when times get tough.