Boundaries in Spiritual Coaching

May 26, 2012

In this 25 minute podcast, I was interviewed by Joanne Stein of Joanne is a Joyologist, Potentializer and Success Coach with over 20 years’ experience helping others to experience more joy, prosperity and success. The subject is, “Boundaries in Spiritual Coaching,” and I know you’ll find it fascinating to listen to the repartee around these questions.

You can listen to the Boundaries in Spiritual Coaching here.

What is your experience of bringing spirituality into your practice? In other words, do you let your clients know that you are a spiritual coach, or do you simply utilize your spiritual practices “under the radar”?

That’s something that’s really tailored to the individual client. I’ve really evolved into this. When I first started coaching, I was coaching a lot of entrepreneurs who were very spiritual people and some of them knew it and some of them didn’t. So initially I did not include mentions of spirituality on my website or business cards or in my speaking. I never called what I was doing as “spiritual” – I called it business coaching or life coaching – yet I would talk about spiritual principles. Now I wouldn’t use terminology such as “the law of attraction,” but I would say “based on attraction principles.” The reason I didn’t come right out and say it was because business people were resistant to it. There were still lots of folks hungry for that knowledge and wanting to create that way, but not quite willing to state that. And frankly, I wasn’t willing to state it. And the people I was attracting didn’t necessarily want to talk about spiritual principles “over the radar.”

Once I got involved with coaching and as I’ve evolved, I’ve been attracting more and more spiritual people and coaches to my practice, and I started to put it out there on my website. Five years ago I said that’s it. It’s been an evolution for me; it was all about me and my readiness. It would have thrown my energy off if I had talked overtly about spirituality, before I was ready. When I WAS ready, then people came.

How do you stay positive when your coaching schedule isn’t as full as you want it to be? How do you get the support you need?

If I were to say to myself I want to stay positive, that would put a bit of pressure on me. If I say that I always focus in a positive direction, that eases it up for me a bit. It releases resistance and possibility of self-criticism. One way that I stay focused on a positive direction is that I have regular coaching. 😉

Coaching is the answer for everything for me. At any given time in my practice I’ve had between 1 and 3 coaches. And I’d say for about 80% of the time I’ve been coaching, I’ve had 2 or more coaches.

Currently I have 3 coaches. One coach focuses on marketing my business because that’s her specialty. Another coach is a personal coach who’s been my coach for many years. So I bring my history and she’s seen my evolution. More recently I’ve been working with a coach on physical fitness and health. Because of our schedules, I’m usually able to get 1 or 2 coaching sessions a week with any of the three of them, so whatever’s on my mind, whatever’s just happened, I bring to my coach – no matter which coach I happen to be meeting with. They help me to focus on the positive for example, when I have gaps in my schedule. Always bring it to coaching. If my energy is off, a coaching session will really help me align it. It doesn’t matter which coach and which subject. Any coach I have, I can bring my whole self.

What do you do when a friend calls and wants advice? How do you set boundaries if you decide to coach friends? (And, should you charge for your time?)

This idea of coaching friends. Is it right to coach our friends because those are the people that know us? I did. If you feel you can coach your friends and maintain boundaries then great, but otherwise I wouldn’t go down this path. I explained this is what the coaching relationship is like, if we ever find it’s getting in way of our friendship, (you or me) we’re going to bring it to the table.

I was also charging my friends for my coaching services. I gave them a discount in the beginning because most of them had known me before, they were my first level of clientele and I had wanted to get my coaching practice rolling. I would tell them my regular fees are X and I really want to give you a little bit of a discount because we’re friends. My friends are like me, and I always like a bit of a sale (I love shopping at Loehmann’s!). I felt when I coached my friends, I didn’t have to establish as much of a coaching relationship. It worked out really well for me. I still do to this day. My sister asked me to coach her assistant (who was thrilled). When I offered a discount to my sister, she said she wanted to pay full price.

The other part of this is that I’m a big proponent of competency-based training which is a fancy phrase for saying, “acknowledging what I want to see in the behavior of others.” So when my friends did listen to me with full acceptance without giving me advice I would say to them, “I really appreciate how you’re listening to me. I’m listening to others all day. It makes me so happy that I have someplace that somebody can listen to me.” I would reinforce that with them.

How do you determine if therapy or coaching is the right modality for a given client?

The biggest reason I want to find the best and right modality for the client is that I want them to be well! I can tell as a coach if things aren’t working and I’ll say something. One is if I get a feeling – every spiritual coach has a high intuition and feelings and a sense of what’s going on. For example, if I’m in an initial complimentary session and I have a feeling of a victim mentality – whether I hear “I statements” or “you statements,” that gives me a hint of what the client needs. I may also ask, “On a scale from 1-10, how responsible are you for what happens in your life?” I can also simply listen to the way they’re speaking.

Early in my coaching career, a woman had called me in tears, “I need an emergency coaching session!” I said, ok come by to the office. She’s sobbing in my arms. She was really upset about the state of her marriage. I said I think you need marriage counseling with your husband. She said she had already done that and it didn’t work. “I want coaching and I want you.” So I responded, “Listen we’ll coach for a month (foundation + 3 weekly) and at the end we will check in with each other. If you are making some progress, then we’ll know. If you’re not, would you be willing at that time to go to a therapist?” She agreed. But you know what, she made so much progress and coaching turned out to be exactly the right step for her. We coached together for a couple of years, and within a few months she even took a big driving trip with her husband. So determine what’s right for a client by using all your best skills, refer them if you get a feeling, and make a deal with them if you have any hesitation as a coach. Say, “OK we’ll start coaching and check in after a month.” And then you’ll know.

Again, thank you, Joanne, for your great questions!

What are some boundaries you’ve established or that your coach uses, that you find to be really effective? Please share your tips below.

The Nuts and Bolts of Coaching

May 19, 2012

In this 24 minute podcast, I was interviewed by Joanne Stein of Joanne is a Joyologist, Potentializer and Success Coach with over 20 years’ experience helping others to experience more joy, prosperity and success. Joanne’s questions revolved around the logistics of coaching, the “nuts and bolts,” if you will.

You can listen to The Nuts and Bolts of Coaching podcast here.

{Please note that Karen shares some technological tips and pricing towards the end of the interview. As the podcast was originally recorded in October 2006, any mention of technology/pricing is subject to change. As Karen mentioned, technology choice is a personal decision and should be researched.}

At what point do you know you need (virtual) assistance?

I went for about three years before I hired a virtual assistant in my business. I live and swim and even enjoy a certain amount of overwhelm. It feels good to me when I’m having fun and I’m doing activities. But there’s a certain point where it gets to be too much for me. I once shared with my coach, “I cannot do this anymore, I have too many things to do, I’m getting too many things going, I’m starting to lose it.” My coach naturally explored further and we discussed if I knew of anyone (which I did!). Then my coach requested that I give her a call. I had 33 administrative items on my to do list that day, I was totally overwhelmed and not inspired to do any of them.

I reached out to Kim Stacey who I had worked with previously in another capacity. Kim is a copywriter – and I approached her by saying, “I don’t know if you’d like to do this – I really love the way that we work together and the rapport that we have.” I made her an offer and she said yes. I gave her that whole list of 33 items. In 8 hours, she cleared the list. I was just amazed! I was so happy!

Quite frankly my resistance was that I simply didn’t know how long it would take to handle these administrative tasks, nor if I could even afford to outsource them all. Kim and I worked together really well. I simply set up guidelines, “If you need more than 10 hours a week, please send me an email.” It turned out that she was putting in about 8 hours a week (roughly 32 hours per month). I was almost getting back a whole week of my time! Which in turn allowed me to create revenue opportunities such as developing curriculums and creating information products. Hiring a virtual assistant took away activities I didn’t like. My energy shot up and I was able to do a whole lot more. Having a virtual assistant really helped me increase my income!

How do you find your spiritual clients?

For the most part my spiritual clients find me. I made a conscious decision to speak about spirituality “front and center,” to really talk about it, share it. The more I spoke about it, the more people found me. I will speak about spirituality anywhere! Consider workshops and places where people hang out, like metaphysical bookstores, unity church, Wayne Dyer seminars, Sonia Choquette seminars. Those are places where a lot of spiritual people are congregating.

Mostly what I find is that people loved to be listened to. As coaches, we know how to listen. When I’m at these events, I listen. I might ask a couple questions just because I’m interested. And naturally, the person will respond with, “What do you do?” I share that I specialize in working with new coaches on business development who want to create practices through spiritual principles. Then they might say, “I’m not a coach, but I would love to learn” and we get into a dialogue.

What files might you choose to keep on your clients?

I keep very minimal files because I like to keep everything very simple. I use a two-page Coaching Agreement that spells out: this is how much it costs, this is how many meetings, please call me at this number for our coaching sessions. I also request the client to sign their consent that I may use their contact information for ICF coaching credentialing. This way I don’t have to ask again later; I already have it available.

I also provide a four-page Welcome Packet where I request goals for coaching, how the client would like be acknowledged, what they’re most proud of – all prior to my very first coaching/foundation session. After that I just have a regular notebook with white paper! As clients are speaking I’m writing notes, drawing pictures, creating lines and arrows. Most importantly, I write a list of coaching requests, so when I open the client folder, I can see immediately what the requests were before starting the next session. I also keep a copy of the client’s check or PayPal information in the individual file.

What policy do I have regarding last-minute cancellations?

I really don’t have very many no-shows. I do request 24-hour notice for cancellations/reschedules and state otherwise I will charge for the session. I request it in the coaching agreement to set the stage for coaching commitment. However, if there’s a problem, they’ll almost always let me know in advance. Even if when a client comes to the session I am sometimes inspired to ask, “Are you in the space for coaching right now?” I have a lot “Recovering Type A’s” as clients and if they miss a session or they’re late, they beat up on themselves. I say not to worry, we can always find a way to reschedule. I’ve never not been able to reschedule. I hope this inspires a higher level of acceptance and trust in me as a coach.

Can coaching be considered “preventive maintenance”?

I schedule a coaching session every week so that I have “preventive maintenance.” It’s like taking your car to the mechanic when there’s a flat tire. Without regular car maintenance, the probability is much higher that I’ll experience issues that leave me little choice for solutions other than getting towed. The same is true with coaching – this way I regularly release my gremlins and self-sabotaging behaviors. Otherwise by the time I feel the “need” to schedule a coaching session, I’m probably way far gone and on my way to a meltdown. For one client who showed up for the session but was considering rescheduling, he asked, “Well what can we talk about today?” I reviewed my notes from our prior session and made some suggestions of what we could discuss. I honored where he was coming from, and ultimately let my client decide how he wanted to proceed. He decided to continue. It turned out to be one of our best coaching sessions together.

Again, thank you, Joanne, for your great questions!

What are some tools that have helped propel your business forward? Please share your tips below.

The Qualities of a Magnificent Coach

May 6, 2012

In this 24 minute podcast, I was interviewed by Nicki McClusky of Nicki asked, “What are the qualities of magnificent coaches?”

You can listen to The Qualities of a Magnificent Coach podcast here.

Exquisite Listening

One of the qualities in magnificent coaches is exquisite listening. These coaches have a way of listening from the soul, for their clients’ values, their vision, their purpose. They’re listening for the person’s soul to speak, really listening to their words.

I asked one of my clients, “What is my greatest strength and hallmark of my coaching?” The reply was, “Listening. Karen when you listen to me, I know you see me at my very best. And you really know I can do anything I want to do, I have my own answers, and I’m 100% convinced.” I tend to think in metaphors – people are diamonds at the core and during the course of life, mud got caked on. A little splatter of wet mud, then it dried, and we added on another. And another.

People are essentially big balls of mud. 😉 When they come to coaching, they oftentimes don’t understand that if they washed away the mud, there is a diamond underneath. Instead they often fear once they chisel off the mud, that there will be nothing there.

So, exquisite listening and love are essential in a magnificent coach. A coach can effectively wash away the layers of mud. A magnificent coach needs to be absolutely convinced there’s a diamond inside that ball of mud. And when we do, the magic happens.

When we or our clients are not willing to go through self-development, it can get messy. We’re scared because we’re not presenting our best self to the world, how we like to show. Top coaches understand the process of self-development, and offer to bring the chisel and help dig in.

A magnificent coach needs to love and see people in their magnificence in the diamond. You’re a diamond miner.

Exquisite Selfishness

Ayn Rand wrote a book called, The Virtue of Selfishness. Really it’s about self care and supporting oneself. It’s funny because I used to think the whole idea of self care was a very good idea. Now I think it is ESSENTIAL…much more than just “really nice.” Self-care is as essential as needing air to breathe. It’s not the icing on the cake; it IS the cake. The pot roast. It’s really really really important. Top magnificent coaches practice self care and encourage self care for their clients.

This goes back to exquisite listening. Listen for self care strategies of the client. The beauty is that the client will tell us in many ways. I once coached a hospice vice president who was very directed, really smart, sharp savvy business woman who shared in our first meeting that she loved to write poetry. There was later a time in one of our coaching sessions when she was in overwhelm – as would be expected in any top executive position. And so I asked, “When was the last time you wrote a poem?” She replied, “Oh, it’s been so long.” So I asked if that might be something she would like to do. The beautiful part is that she started sending me her poems because she knew I was interested!

Whatever the clients’ strategies are, we listen to then, we acknowledge them, we utilize them to bring clients into their own balance or “selfishness.” It is so important to be able to help our clients to support themselves. Self care moves from way down on our priority list, up to the top, just like the air we breathe.

Exquisite Coachability

One other quality of magnificent coaches is exquisite coachability. One of the top qualities I’ve seen is when a coach is open to learning and coaching him/herself. A magnificent coach sees everything that happens as a gift, a lesson to be learned. I learn all the time from my clients. Other coaches whom I admire have asked me, “How are you doing this, Karen?” CEOs ask me these questions because they’re coachable. They know, as successful coaches know, we can always learn from people no matter who they are. I know I can always do something differently. I’m open to asking, “Is this working for me? Is this the direction I want to be going? How can I get there?” There’s a certain amount of humbleness. Mindset, curiosity, interest, without judgment.

I am always interested in what somebody’s doing and why. For me this isn’t about a skill set – exquisite listening is a MINDset – really seeing another’s true magnificence means really listening from the soul and having that vision. Everything we’re talking about here is mindset. The skill set, honestly – I’m going to say this publicly as the former ICA Chief Learning Officer – mindset is 90% and the skill set is 10%. Once the mindset is in place, the skill set will come. I’ll get the skills with this openness. I’m going to practice and choose to learn the skills. For me the focus has been on the mindset, which determines the motivation and vision.

My Coaches

Personally the qualities I look for in a coach is that he/she:

  • Has A Coach. They’re having regular coaching sessions, they’re clearing out their gremlins, they really value coaching. They’re gaining the perspective of being a coaching client.
  • Listens to My Soul. I have three coaches right now. I listen to people all day – in my session, I just want to talk in a stream. Then I take a breath and ask what they heard. They’ll respond with a Top Three list. When I’m all up in my head and into the doing and messed up and just confused and disconnected, I want them to listen to my soul.
  • Encourages Self Care. My coaches focus me and remind me of exquisite selfishness. I don’t want to do anything out of obligation, only what nurtures and nourishes me. And then I want my coaches to invite me to do it.

“What qualities do you look for in your coach?” Please share your comments below.