7 Traits Of Successful Life Coaches

In the last post I talked about the 8 Things That Make A Great Life Coach. In case you didn’t read it and can’t be bothered to go back now as you have shit to do and want to be on your way, then they were:

  1. Being a great listener
  2. Being a great rapport builder
  3. Being skilled at understanding the levels of rapport
  4. Being a world-class question asker
  5. Having no problem with silence
  6. Being able to reframe any event
  7. A love of helping people
  8. To not take things personally

All of these are what are needed to make a Life Coach successful at the actual task of coaching.

However, there is zero point in having all those skills if you have no clue what you need to do to run a business and acquire clients.

As I never tire of saying, a poor Life Coach with great marketing skills will kick the ass of a great Life Coach with terrible marketing skills.

Then she’ll kick it again.

And then once more just for fun.

The coaches who fail are more often than not the ones one who think branding is purely for big business, a niche it like at itch, just deeper and more intense. And Social Media is just for kids and sharing the occasional dog on a skateboard video.

So let’s take a look at 7 traits of successful Life Coaches

1. Successful Life Coaches Are Patient

Our industry isn’t Silicon Valley in it’s heyday, chock full of people who got rich really quickly.

And the ones who have, in my experience tend to have done so using dubious methods.

Do you know how long I had been coaching before I was self sufficient and not relying on my wife to earn some money so I could occasionally eat?

Close to three years.

Scary right?

Well, yes and no.

I was flat out lazy. I morphed from a workaholic into a napaholic with consummate ease when I left sales. I’d done with working crazy hours.

Also, there was a severe shortage of sites like the one you are reading now offering free (or even paid) information to new Life Coaches.

A lot of my laziness stemmed from not knowing what to do and taking the easy option of doing nothing.

There is a LOT of help out there for wannabe or new Life Coaches, but, and it’s a big but, you still need to be patient as you build your practice.

You’re probably not going to build a six-figure practice in three months, or even six for that matter.

I think you need to give yourself one to two years. 

It can be done quicker, but only if you are a marketing genius or have contact list full of burnt-out executives who want training.

2. They Have A Strong Work Ethic & Can Self Motivate

I was working with a Coach earlier on this year who was complaining that his business wasn’t doing as well as he needed it to.

He’d left a well paid corporate job to become a coach without any real plan as to how he was going to generate the level of income he needed (sounds a bit like me in my early days!), so he hired me to help him get up and running.

After the intake session I had him keep a diary of everything he did to grow his business and acquire clients for a 7-day period.

I’d like to say I was shocked by what he came back with, but after several years of working with other coaches, I wasn’t.

He was only devoting about twenty hours per week to his business and most of that work was of the superficial nature, such as hanging around on Twitter with no particular place to go and trawling other Life Coaches websites for ideas.

He hadn’t even noticed he was effectively working part-time and expecting to succeed in a competitive industry against people putting two or even three times the effort in.

Imagine you and a friend decide to compete in a marathon in six months time with a side bet of $1,000 on who comes first.

You’re of equal ability because neither of you have ever run further than the distance from your car to Bloomingdale’s when it’s raining.

Now imagine you can only train once for every time your friend trains three times. Are you confident of grabbing the cash?

I guess you could, and I guess you can succeed in coaching whilst spending half your week binging on Netflix, but it sure as hell limits the likelihood.

If you cannot motivate yourself to do the work, then here’s a link you’re going to need.

3. They Know How To Work Smart

Yes you need a strong work ethic, but that doesn’t mean running around like a headless chicken with a strategy that only includes running around like a headless chicken.

Whereas I said it would be hard to grow a practice only working twenty hours per week, it would be even harder to achieve it working forty hours with no semblance of a plan.

Whatever you do in your quest to acquire clients you need to know what the ROI (return on investment) on your time is.

I could tell you exactly what works for us here at Coach the Life Coach when it comes to growing the business (maybe another post for another day or even for an ‘Insiders Guide’ at some stage that just goes to the newsletter list) and also how much it costs us to gain a new subscriber.

If you’re not testing, measuring and then testing and measuring some more you probably don’t truly know what you’re doing is working and what isn’t.

I presume you know of the Pareto Principle. The 80-20 rule that suggests 80% of your business success is dictated by 20% of your actions, well by and large it’s true.

Do more of the 20% and less of the 80%.

And never believe you have to do something just because everybody else does.

Just because you see a bunch of Life Coaches all doing the same thing online don’t presume it’s working for all, or even any, of them for that matter.

4. They Remain Committed

If you kick off your Life Coaching career with no income or savings to push you through the early stages and your practice doesn’t explode pretty quickly, what do you think will happen?

My guess is you will do what I have seen dozens of coaches do in that situation, panic*.

Then there’s a very good chance you’ll start looking for the kind of work that previously paid your bills.

I have to admit that I panicked a few times in my early days and even uploaded my sales resume onto Monster ‘just in case’.

The only problem with ‘just in case’ was I was unconsciously telling myself I wasn’t fully committed and that it was ok to fold and give up on my dream.

To succeed as a coach you have to be totally committed, because if you’re not, the coach right behind you who is will be waiting to take your clients from you.

*I understand that some people respond better to having their back up against the wall, but it’s a dubious tactic for most of us.

5. They Don’t Fear Fear

I had a client call earlier today. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being more chilled than a Jamaican weed aficionado on Xanax, and 10 being more nervous than a caffeinated deer who has just been told to go and cross the I-405 in Los Angeles at rush hour wearing a blindfold. Where do you suppose I was?

I’d guess I was as close to our Rastafarian friend as I’m likely to ever get.

Flash back to early 2005 and I’m prepping up back in the UK for my first ever paying client and it is oh so different. I was a nervous wreck!

Unless you’re incredibly laid back or bursting with the kind of confidence that would have Donald Trump weeping with shame, there’s going to be some fear.

Fear isn’t the problem, how you react to it is.

I’ve worked with far too many Life Coaches who I pretty much knew are capable of coaching, but didn’t because of the fear of ‘getting it wrong’

We ALL get it wrong on occasions, but the fear of messing up is only an excuse if you haven’t done any training and know damn well, you’re incompetent.

If you make important decisions from a place of fear more often than not you’re going to make bad decisions.

I used to worry myself sick about public speaking and would look for any excuse to turn an opportunity down. Then I made the decision to say ‘yes’ immediately and without consideration.

This worked fantastically in getting me out there and reducing my fear through repetition.

As the seminal Susan Jeffers book said, feel the fear and do it anyway.

Note: There was one embarrassing incident where I said ‘yes’ to giving a talk at Texas Tech University only to find out they weren’t even paying my air fare to get to Lubbock. That was embarrassing having to back track.

6. They Are Always Prepared To Learn

As a coach I’m fairly sure you enjoy learning new coaching techniques, taking coach training and/or workshops and reading books on self development to broaden your knowledge.

But what about learning the difference between branding and marketing?

Or finding your way around a new Social Media platform?

Or even understanding the basics of SEO (search engine optimization)?

I’m not saying you have to love this stuff, but if you aren’t at the very least prepared to throw yourself into learning such things like the above, then, presuming you cannot afford to pay somebody to do it all for you, you’re going to really struggle.

Trust me I know it can be overwhelming. At the moment we are preparing for the launch of the next Coach The Life Coach Course in January and we have brought in a third person in to help us.

Kate is doing an amazing job, but I’m trying to learn how to use the project management tool she has implemented so we can all keep on track.

I hate it, but I have to push through the sense of overwhelm and suck it up if the launch isn’t to fail because of me.

7. They Embrace Failure

This is such a cliche, but that’s ok because as cliche’s goes, it’s one of the best.

This really should be filed under ‘duh’ and it’s not a trait needed just by Life Coaches but by humanity.

As a coach you will screw up in every single area of your business multiple times.

The problem isn’t screwing up, ok, it can be a problem at times, but bear with me because more  often than not, the real problem is either:

  1. Not learning from your mistakes and repeating them
  2. Letting your mistakes define you

You’re not a sum collection of your screw ups in life any more than you’re a sum collection of your successes.

Come on, you know this shit, you’re a Life Coach!

When (not if) you screw up just ask yourself the killer reframing question, ‘what can I learn from this?’.

Then take the lesson, vow not to repeat the mistake and then pass Go! and collect your $200.

As with the last post I feel sure I may have missed one or two off, so please leave a comment of you think of some trait that it’s important for Life Coaches to have ingrained to succeed.