When I told people I was transitioning from software development and machine learning to become the entrepreneurial business coach, I got puzzled looks from some and support from many others.
While this change may seem abrupt and unexpected, for me it's the next step in the journey that I am on.
To start, let's take a look at what coaching is, and how it differs from consulting, therapy, and mentorship.
Therapy, Consulting, Mentoring and Professional Coaching
Here's the difference between these four rather similar professions…
Therapy focuses on the past. Therapists work with you to fix what's broken.
Consultants provide quantitative analysis, create roadmaps for organizational change, and get paid to provide better answers than you already have.
Mentors help those with less experience. They are already experts in their field and help others reach success in the same ways they have.
Professional Coaches do a lot of asking and not much telling. They are focused on helping you design your future and goals. Coaches are though provoking and inspirational. You work on your topic and a professional coach focuses on you. Coaches are discerning listeners, empathetic, creative, intuitive, and curious – they are your partner, advocate and champion.
With that groundwork let me talk about why I work with entrepreneurs.
Why I Work With Entrepreneurs
I'm an entrepreneur – always have been, always will be.
I remember creating my own school newspaper on my Mom's Mac in fourth grade and distributing it to the other kids. I had a lucrative candy business for years, and would trade my “healthy” snacks to the other kids for their “unhealthy snacks” (and still don't know why they traded me).
I quit my real full-time job (my first ever computer job) after 6 months to do it on my own. I didn't have a college degree, business experience or money in the bank – I just went for it.
I've had a number of full-time jobs where I learned a ton, met many excellent people, and received a number of opportunities. But through it all I've felt an energy driving me to work for myself and do my own thing.
The entrepreneurs I work with are a lot like me – they dive in head first despite not knowing, because the thrill of the adventure they set themselves on is greater than the fear of the unknown. They are action takers and continuous learners. They are driven individuals seeking to blaze their own paths and follow their own journeys.
But somewhere along the way the stories they tell themselves stick them in place. “Should”, “have to”, “could have”, “must”, and “need to” become overwhelming to the point of downshifting them into neutral.
That's where I come in…
What About Consulting?
Let's be honest with each other – the last thing any of us needs, especially entrepreneurs, is more information. We're so inundated with information that we've created large computer systems to make sense of it all and tell us what's going on! And as an entrepreneur, you already know how to get any information you need – you've been doing it for years! You don't need my help with that.
Additionally, consultants get paid to give people a “better” answer than they already have.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret – it's great to know what other people have done to achieve their success, but true success comes from knowing yourself, doing what you feel is right for you, and following you own journey in life – not someone else's.
I'm done giving people answers. You already have them, they're just buried under all your stories.
So How About Therapy?
Therapy is great if you work from the premise that you're broken.
Are you broken? Have you ever been broken? Really?
I thought I was broken for years until I began to surround myself with other people like me.
I'm not saying therapy isn't useful or for some what's needed, however I don't believe people are broken – I think they've wandered (sometimes very far) off the path they feel they should be on. And on those other paths they have collected a set of stories that's clearly not working for them.
I'm a this-point-forward kind of guy. There are techniques to go back and clear up “old stuff” to help you continue moving forward – I've done them myself and they have been enormously useful – however we can't change what we've done or said, so let's learn from that, look to the future, and chart a new course.
And What About Mentoring?
I was having a conversation with a potential client yesterday who thought what he needed as mentoring. He came to me because he wants to do what I did – build and sell online products. He wanted help and guidance to avoid the pitfalls along the way.
And then I asked him this question – “If I were to tell you exactly how to do it, would you do everything I say?”
His answer was a telling “no”. And he shouldn't!
If I know anything about myself it's this – you can tell me all about how something worked for you, however if it doesn't align with who I am and what I want to do, I'm not going to do it.
Hell, no one wants to be told what to do.
Now I'm not suggesting mentors simply tell you what to do – they've been there done that and provide powerful wisdom that can help you along the way. I've had many wonderful mentors over the years.
But again, for me, it's not how I feel entrepreneurs can best be served.
So what's left?
What Being a Professional Coach Means
I chose coaching for a simple reason – it's how I can best serve others.
What I do is this – I create a safe space – a space of trust, of confidentiality, and of non-judgement. And in this space you can be who you are, you can want what you want, and you can become powerfully connected to your “why”.
In that space you can open up, be vulnerable, be honest with yourself, and open your eyes wide to the fullness of your current situation in this life.
From that place of clarity we chart a course to your future self, so you can become the person you feel deep in your core is truly who you are.
Providing that space, helping you create that chart, and supporting you along your journey is how I can best serve you, and why I became a professional coach.