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What is your Relationship to your Business - Romance or Business?

written bydavestriaron 19/04/2012

True Confessions of a Wannabe Professional Coach

I cannot remember the exact moment or when the concept of my relationship to my coaching business was introduced during the Erickson Business Center Program, but I do recall my brain’s reaction when it successfully snuck through my perceptual filters.  

Teresia had thrown the curveball question --“What is your relationship to your business?” The ‘Big Error’ message came up in flashing neon lights, what is Teresia talking about? My eyebrows went up, and my forehead got all scrunched. I was the traditional batter caught off balance, flat-footed, frozen in the batter's box, watching this so-called “softball” of a pitch flutter by me while taunting me to swing mightily, so I could knock it out of the park. This should have been a warning that when I actually allowed myself to entertain this question, I might not like the answer.

So at first, I didn’t really know who Teresa was talking to because I rationalized I didn’t have a business. Conceivably, I had a strong desire to coach, offering it to anyone who was willing to sit down with me; or possibly it was just a hobby or the pursuit of a guy who abruptly left his job after 24 years over principle and needed to do something. Even so, this hardly constituted a business or the commitment to consider one.  

I had been treading water for the first two months simply trying to figure out the logistics, mastering the online group site learning environment and engaging potentially exciting new relationships with 10 coaches in multiple time zones around the world. Early on I embraced the idea that connecting with a mentor could only improve my chances of success. I was no stranger to what a business looked like having been born into a family that turned the corner on its 3rd generation of a successful woollen mill when my brother and our cousins started their apprenticeship.  

My ‘people’ (the various voices that represented my personality) were rebelling, doubting and reluctant participants at best. My innermost entrepreneur (“Eddie”) attempted to innovate but was drowned out because he was not listening to “Ricky “ the realist, “Carl” the critic and “Patrick” the Planner. One is a lonely number as they say. “Eddie” could often piss you off with all his bright off-the-wall ideas.   It finally dawned on me that if this was going to work I needed to get serious and treat it as a business. But this self-directive did not compute as I promptly shut down. Whatever excitement or momentum I had mustered in December --trying on the Coach Suit, building my “Dave Love Club” list of 500 – more like 50 – felt like an exercise in futility. I was doing it but not really owning it. I was beginning to wonder if this lady I had signed on with was a little crazy. She asked for too much. I could hardly hit those targets let alone sustain them. I was resenting her statement that how we showed up for the program was how we were going to show up for our business. Combined with the axiom "you are your business" it was like a fastball between the eyes. I knew she was right, and I didn’t like it. I knew I needed to take consistent, focused action on the activities we discussed.  

I went into hibernation with that realization. My coaching went into a tailspin. I had moments, a good day here and there, but I could not put two back to back. I realized the honeymoon was over, and that I had fallen in love with a very high maintenance partner – a coaching business – demanding, expensive, time-consuming, alluring, seemingly impractical and definitely making me crazy. I was going to get nothing unless I aligned with my inner Genius. I finally allowed myself to conceive of coaching as something that could flow from my strengths and motivations (thanks to the Genius assessment offered in the Erickson Business Center program).  

What I have learned is that every time I trust myself to speak my truth I get a little closer to doing something I find daunting. Though I still find it challenging, I just get clearer on what I might do, so I saddle up and ride out to face what usually turns out to be not as formidable as I made it in my mind. I decided since sometimes my individualism runs strong I’ll either do it my way or her way or see what kind of outcome I get and reevaluate. What I can’t afford to do is grump, avoid or stew about it for very long.  

Today I have a website, promotional materials and coaching work because I brought on people to help me do things that I had less ability to do, nor time to learn. What I remember about myself from my time in the work world was that I got a lot done when I stopped trying to do everything myself and asked for help. Now don’t get me wrong, most of the success I have had is because I did listen to and follow Teresia’s suggestions and applied it. However, it is about sustaining, consistent, focused activity every week. It’s not easy, but important.  

So what is my relationship to my business today? Three weeks after I starting this exercise suggested by my beloved mentor Teresia LaRocque.

  1. I acknowledge I have a relationship with my business in the first place, and that I AM my business.
  2. So my business has been a little up and down, start and stop, because that is me.
  3. I have to remember I am choosing to do this business, and nobody is making me do this. It takes as much energy to not do it as it does to do it. So I’ve decided to do it and do it as my Best Self, which incidentally is the name of my business www.DoYourBestSelf.com
  4. I am liking my relationship with my business more and more and as I let my business be me and not what I think it ought to be. I am embracing it with all its idiosyncratic and individualistic features.

Now that doesn’t mean that after I hear the same feedback for the 3rd time from three different people I don’t start to make changes. It just means that’s apparently how I learn best.   I am not here trying to be like every coach, I am committed to being the optimum Dave as a coach, just as I have been committed to being the finest Dave as a husband, father, boss and all the other roles I have assumed during my lifetime that have been important to me.  

So, I suppose my relationship with my business has gone through several phases from infatuation, drug-induced high like a honeymoon, to oh my god what have I done, back to ambivalence and avoidance to recommitment on my terms. The relationship lives to see another day!