Michael McDonald, Transformational Coach

A See of Monkeys

Published about 2 years ago • 2 min read

A See of Monkeys

We’re surrounded by monkeys.

And no, I’m not referring to those adorably (or perhaps creepily) well-branded brine shrimp, sea monkeys.

I’m referring to the old saying “Monkey see, monkey do.” And when it comes to the coaching business, it's an apt metaphor for the water that most coaches are swimming in.

As coaches, we’re surrounded by all sorts of business advice: you should use social media, you should have a tribe, you should get paid for your coaching, you should give away your coaching, you should have a niche, you shouldn’t have a niche, you should have a standard offering for everyone, you should create a custom program for each client, etc. Etc. Much of it is well-intentioned, and some of it could even be helpful, but most of it is a distraction. (And distractions can sink your business, especially at the beginning.)

We see other coaches doing those things, so we assume that’s what we should do. When we’re struggling we fall into the trap of focusing on “How do I…?” and marketers are more than willing to sell our insecurities back to us by telling us what to do.

”Monkey see, monkey do.” – “The saying refers to the learning of a process without an understanding of why it works. Another definition implies the act of imitation, usually with limited knowledge and/or concern for the consequences.” (courtesy of Wikipedia)

All of this advice, all of the templates, formulas, and prescriptions and “just do this and you can customize it later” tends to fall flat, because there is no understanding of why it works. And without that understanding, you lack the discernment to know which tactics might be a good idea for you and the current stage of your business.

Understanding trumps advice.

For example:

  • What are the ingredients that lead to someone committing to a paid coaching program, independent of what enrollment looked like, what kind of coaching you do, and what kind of program it is?
  • What is the real value of coaching for a given client, and how does that relate with the pricing of coaching?
  • How can you use monologues (such as speaking, writing, etc.) to create dialogues (the stuff of 1-on-1 coaching)?
  • What’s going on when a coach can charge $1000+ ‘per hour’, with clients who not only renew but refer friends and family to the coach?

Blindly following the monkeys will at best bring you some accidental success, but you need a solid understanding for what’s going on underneath the surface of paid coaching relationships in order to create a sustainable, thriving business.

And one of the cool things is: once you have that understanding, the ‘How To’s become useful! You get a good sense for which ones to try, and why. The tactic that might have tanked your business 6 months ago could be the tactic that can double your business from where you are now. (And then you might need to let it go next year!)

Q What are some of those monkeys you’re ready to let go of?

Q What’s an example where you’ve seen how something really works, and then what to do became obvious?

Michael McDonald, Transformational Coach

P.S. Want to bring your business to the next level through intimacy and impact instead of marketing and sales? Through loving service instead of people-pleasing or manipulating? The Coaching with Integrity 6-month coaching business school is currently enrolling.

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