Coach Carlene

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from potential clients about the rise of business & life coaches they are seeing on social media since COVID19. Most are confused and suspicious by the “Trust me, I’m a #lifecoach” message. And, rightfully so.

This isn’t really new. The coaching market has always been muddied by the untrained, self-anointed “coach”. It seems some people have re-evaluated their lives and what they do. They say, “My passion is to help people find their passion.” “My purpose is to help people find their purpose.”

This is a noble and beautiful goal; to dedicate your life to empowering others to reach their full potential. According to a Gallup poll, 70% of Americans are disengaged with their jobs, and millions of people are depressed and unfulfilled. 

We need more coaches. More business coaches, relationship coaches, career coaches, leadership coaches, communications coaches, and even more life coaches. But we need coaches who are honest about the services they are able to provide to their clients. And more importantly, to be just as authentic about the services they are not qualified to offer.

In 2012, the International Coach Federation (ICF) reported that life coaching is a $2 billion a year industry. Since there is wide disagreement on the value of professional coaching certification programs and many coaches don’t pursue formal training, this number is probably higher.

Here’s the rub. It feels like every third or fourth post on my Instagram feed is a quote from some “guru” or a perfectly manicured story of how a coach has experienced self-growth and personal a-ha’s and somehow their personal revelations alone, now makes them qualified to help you. Low barriers to entry are allowing more people to anoint themselves as coaches – and that presents some issues.

Just to confirm, I am a huge fan of coaching. I am a Coach. I’ve had numerous coaches (business, life and otherwise) in the years I’ve been an entrepreneur and they’ve had a positive and significant impact on my life. Some of the most successful people in sports, business and in life all have coaches. A legitimate coach can take your life or career to a whole new level.

Yet most of these new coaches are not legitimate. Reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, watching a Dr. Brene Brown TED Talk and learning about chakras doesn’t give anyone the expertise or the talent to shepherd others through the major healings, breakthroughs or life changes they need to make – personally or professionally.

There are dangers present with this new dynamic. If you fall prey to, no fault of your own, a fake-it-till-you-make-it coach, they are not just being an imposter, they are misleading people at best, and potentially harming their lives at worst.

So what should you do if you want to get a coach?

Here are 3 questions to ask when looking for a legitimate coach who can serve your needs.

1. HOW RELATABLE IS THIS COACH?

Do they get you? Can they relate to what you’re going through? Many cannot. 

If you seek personal help, ask if this has coach been through and overcome the things you’re experiencing. This could include being stuck, low self-esteem, work/life out of balance, non-existent self-care, limiting beliefs, self-sabotage, trust issues, ADHD, parenting challenges, divorce, loneliness etc.

On a professional level, ask if this coach has started a business, created wealth or been at the levels that you want to reach? Ask them about their career and what they’ve actually done. Having a career of their own, does not make them qualified to be a career coach. 

In fact, while you want someone who can empathize and truly understand what you’re going through, their personal experience alone is not enough. Beware of the coach who over-shares their story. If it feels egomaniacal to you, it’s probably best to move on. 

Have they been coached?

A good coach usually has a coach. They understand what it feels like to sit on the other side of the coaching conversation. They know first-hand that coaching can be uncomfortable in a good, life changing way. They know what it means to be vulnerable and how difficult it is to do the difficult work of change. If you look at sports, a majority of sports coaches have played the game. They’ve been coached. 

2. HOW CREDIBLE IS THIS COACH?

Do they have training?

While many coaches undergo some type of training, in theory, there’s nothing stopping anyone from sliding “coach” into their Instagram bio or LinkedIn. Coaching is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced. A coaching conversation is much different than giving advice. Training isn’t a one -time thing. Most dedicated coaches are life-long learners, engaging in new methods and practices to stay current and relevant. 

First do no harm. 

Because there is no single regulating body that imposes oversight in the life coach industry, and when “experts” are self-anointed, there’s much potential to do damage. During my 2 years of coach training we explored the many differences between coaching and therapy. We were trained to not cross the line into therapy. Most well-trained coaches know just enough about psychotherapy to be dangerous. 

And while not every potential client may be rushing to unpack their most serious trauma, stakes run high when issues that are typically handled by a highly trained psychotherapy professional fall into the hands of an undertrained “expert.” 

Do they have certifications?

Many of the top coaching certifications cost several thousands of dollars and help provide tools and frameworks for coaches. While certifications aren’t everything, it’s certainly important to consider as a method for measuring substance and commitment. There’s no standard signifier indicating training, education and certification, such as MD for doctors or LCSW for social workers. 

Do they have references?

One quick way to validate a coach is to ask for references. If they are experienced, and effective, then they will definitely have great references. 

If the coach is too new to have references, that’s ok. Yet, they should be upfront about it. Then you can make a judgement call based on how you feel about them and their pricing.

BEWARE of the fake testimonial. 

Even if there is a name and picture, some self-anointed coaches have had a friend pose as a client. Watch the language used too. If there is marketing lingo like “I’ve been transformed.” “Something inside me has been ignited.” “My life was forever altered after only one session.” – It’s probably a total fake at worst or embellished by the so-called coach at best. If you wouldn’t use those words yourself, that’s a good sign neither did an actual client. 

How long have they been doing this?

When researching a coach, you should inquire as to their experience level in terms of number of clients, years of practicing, & hours of coaching. The latter is the best sign they are credentialed. Every credentialed coach has to track coaching hours. If they’ve just started, then it’s reasonable to assume that they don’t have the expertise, or they may not even be as committed to the work. If you see some history, that’s a great sign that they are committed, experienced and have value to bring.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to start from somewhere, yet an inexperienced coach can simply charge as much as an experienced coach. It’s important to understand the value proposition. 

A legitimate new coach commonly offers pro-bono and reduced cost sessions. It’s their best way to practice honing the skills of coaching. They are upfront with you that they are practicing. Do not get stuck paying top dollar for an inexperienced coach who is only using you to reach their own personal income goals. 

3. HOW LIKABLE IS THIS COACH?

First impressions are everything. In this digital age our first impression is usually on-line. Peruse their website. Research them on social media. Listen to your gut as you’re scrolling through Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Do they have a good photo so you can see who they are? Yes, that is important for first impressions. 

Or is every other post a picture of them followed by a caption saying, “Listen Babe, blah blah blah advice.” Coaching is not about giving advice. It’s quite the opposite and that’s for another article. 

If something turns you off, move on.  

FINAL WORD

While there are exceptions to every rule, determining if a coach is Relatable, Credible
and Likable
are effective in sniffing out any red flags. You want to feel comfortable on both pragmatic and intuitive levels. At the end of the day, you want to look for honesty, authenticity and expertise.

Use your mind to evaluate their legitimacy and use your intuition to feel out what is best for you. Then dive into the work. Good luck.

Tuning out her son army crawling across the floor to grab his headphones and helping her daughter make homemade tortillas for her Spanish class all while running a virtual team meeting was the breaking point for one of my executive clients.

Let’s call this client Claire. During our last conversation I could hear her exhaustion, frustration and overwhelm.

She sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can do this. I’ve hit the wall!”

Can you relate?

After weeks and weeks “safe-at-home” we are hearing more and more that people are feeling overworked, distracted, stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Adrenaline got us through those first weeks. Now we’re reaching into our energy reserves to get us through.

Claire knows she is not showing up for her team or family like she wants to or like they need her to. Not only is she distracted, but she’s got a short fuse. She says she doesn’t have any patience to listen to her family or team. She wants to simply tell them what to do and move on. Her stress is at an all-time high.

When our brains are flooded with stress chemicals, we lose the ability to show up with empathy.

Add to that, we are no longer getting that great energy from being with others in person.

And the cherry on top is that connecting virtually comes at a cost. According to Harvard Business Review, we are suffering from “Zoom fatigue”. They have found that when we are on virtual calls, we have to use so much more energy to focus. This explains why Claire is so exhausted after meeting on-screen at least 6 hours a day.

Meeting in person is like having a healthy, well-balanced meal and meeting virtually is like eating cheetos for dinner.

After talking more, we discovered Claire is not taking care of herself. Her sleep is erratic at best. Exercise is non-existent. She has her leaded coffee for breakfast, cheez itz for lunch and M&M’s for dinner.

Claire wants to do better.

I asked her what she could do now to empty all the crap out of her cup and fill it with things to reduce her stress and give her more energy and focus.

She said, “I think I need to make wellness part of my job description. Framing it that way will help me make it a priority.”

I usually don’t encourage clients to take on more than one change at a time. But Claire is ready to do radical self-care. She decided to tackle three areas that will have the greatest positive impact on her overall well-being.

Eating

  • Claire has committed to eating something high in protein with her morning coffee.
  • She’s blocking 30 minutes at noon each day to eat a healthy lunch with her daughter and catch up with her.
  • She’s telling her team that her workday is done at 6pm and will make a weekly plan with her family for getting a healthy meal on the table every night.

Movement (Exercise has a negative connotation for Claire.)

  • Claire committed to doing 15 push-ups as she rolls out of bed.
  • Claire will set her timer to go off 30 minutes into each meeting and have everyone get up and move for 5 minutes.
  • She committed to walking the dog with her husband every night after dinner.

Sleep

  • Claire will go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6:30am every day.
  • She will do a 5-10 minute meditation to wind down from the day and clear her mind.
  • She will not check her phone in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. She will check her phone after she has had her breakfast.

This is the time to double down on our self-care.

In fact, Claire told me she was never this “messy” with her self-care. She can’t even believe what bad habits she has adopted these past several weeks. She’s confident she can get back on track.

If you’ve got some messy self-care going on, make your own action plan of specific things you’re going to do to start feeling better.

You know that one person in your life…the one who knows just what buttons to push to get a rise out of you?

Usually, this person is someone we love. Someone we trust. We give this person all this power over us, our moods, our days. It’s a choice based on the stories we tell ourselves.

We keep tripping over the same issues, and after we fall, we find it hard to get back up again.

Here’s how you can change your story.

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What if you can’t remember your past because you never actually made memories? Is that worse than making them and then forgetting them?

I wonder who will tell this present when it becomes the past? Will future grandparents have stories that start with “I remember when I was your age…?”

I don’t know the answer to that but I do know these things to be true.

  • I can’t go back and live the past because it’s gone. Poof! Doesn’t exist.
  • And I can’t live in the future because it doesn’t exist yet.
  • The only thing that does exist is the present.

So, if I’m not existing in the present, do I exist at all?

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So you got ADHD and you want to start doing things differently. Good for you! Deciding to work with an ADHD coach is a big step. It takes tremendous courage to admit conquering ADHD all alone is, well…it’s hard! Many often feel unsure of what ADHD coaching is and even more unsure of what to expect from an ADHD coach. Here’s what to  look for in an ADHD coach.

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Refreshing and Positive

How I think about my ADHD has shifted since coaching with Carlene. Now I can move myself out of the negative thinking and set myself up for wins. It was so refreshing to talk to someone who would celebrate things that felt big to me but were never a big deal to “normal” people! I moved out of an unhealthy living situation, see my friends more often and made peace with past family issues. Today, I’m more confident and have the tools I need to move forward with my life!”

Jennifer, Adult Client

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Approachable and Trustworthy 

“When I came home after only one semester at college, I started coaching with Carlene. She allowed me to come up with MY best way to do things. She knows what a college student with ADHD can use and implement to keep their lives and mental health as balanced as possible. I took one semester off, and returned to college completing another two semesters with less anxiety and better grades. No more doubts. I will get my degree!”

Erin, College Student

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Tapped Into My Talents 

“Through coaching, I discovered I had many strengths I was not using. Understanding how to use these strengths in my business has helped me stay focused. I’m more organized and productive. Carlene taught me how to coach myself through challenging situations so I can stay on track and have a successful business.”

Brian, Business Owner

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A True ADHD Expert

“Managing my son’s behavior was a daily struggle. Carlene helped me understand how his ADHD brain works. I’m more confident in my parenting. I can help my son in ways I never could before.”

Amy, Parent

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My Biggest Cheerleader 

I was afraid of not being ready to go off to college. My strengths were always there. It wasn’t until I started working with Carlene that I found them.

Kerry, College Student

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Improved My Productivity

“My “to-do-list” was the boss of me. I was overwhelmed. Coaching with Carlene helped me learn ways to take control of my work. Now I’m hopeful about the future!”

Keith, College Professor

You’re thinking, OMG I need an entire team? Yes! You probably already have lots of peeps on your team already and don’t even know it.

When I work with parents of younger kids we talk about the team. We name the team after the child like, “Team Joshua”. Kids relate to the team idea early on and are not intimidated by it. The team consists of different practitioners, teachers, counselors, parents, family and friends.

We get older and some of these team mates change or go away. But what about the people we need when we reach young adulthood and beyond?

Here are some team players who will support you in the most important ways. Who do you have in your life to fill these spots on your team?  Usually, these peeps are right in front of you but you’ve never noticed.

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Do you treat “help” like a 4-letter word?

What if you had more freedom to ask for what you wanted and for specific support from other people? What if you could ask for help in a confident, humble and empowering way? What if you remembered that you are worthy of other people’s help and that they want to help?

While it sounds simple enough, accepting help is challenging for all of us. It’s especially hard for those of us that believe that seeking help undermines our independence and our ability to cope.

There is a tendency to think that you “should” be able to cope alone, to manage without help, or that “life shouldn’t be this way”. It’s a tendency to see the world as it “should be” as opposed to as it actually “is.”

Wanting something to be, or something not to be based on unrealistic standards is only wishful thinking.

8 Reasons You Don’t Ask For Help and What To Do About It

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Do you define success by “you having to do it all yourself”?

Imagine feeling peaceful, experiencing a deep feeling of well-being – my definition of success. How I get there is merely a strategy.

If you’re never feeling successful in your days, it’s time to start doing something different.

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There is no such thing as an unselfish gift. Have you noticed that “feel good jolt” you get when someone accepts a gift from you with excitement and energy? Unless you’re giving someone chicken pox, it’s hard to think of giving as a bad thing. And we can’t help it if it makes us feel good.

So what happens when someone gives us something and we don’t receive it with the same energy and excitement? We take that “feel good jolt” away from them.

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Who is this older gentleman feverishly taking notes, wearing a business suit at the CHADD Conference? I assumed him a physician or school administrator. WRONG! He raises his hand and asks, “How can I be there for my granddaughter to support all her interests. She has so many. I want her to know I care but it’s hard when her interests change daily.” Wow. What a lucky girl his granddaughter is to call this gentleman Grandpa.

In another session, for women with ADHD, many women stood up and shared their struggles with ADHD and what they’ve learned to do to live with more ease. Their honesty, vulnerability, and sense of humor moved me beyond words. Talking about it with each other gives us community, support and understanding. Ladies, we are all stronger when we lean on each other. I urge you to find support in your community or start your own group!

For some at the conference, they would come out of a session and say, “I thought the speaker was talking about me! He described me, my habits, my fears, my goofs, my oops, my need for speed. He even knew of my desires to do more, to do it better, to do it without reminders, to not let others down, to not let myself down. I came here for someone else I care about with ADHD and discovered my own ADHD.”

That first self-diagnosis can leave many unsettled. Not knowing how to tell others. Not wanting judgment. Not knowing what to do next.

I’m  grateful for the ADHD community of professionals who work tirelessly to reach others who could really start rocking and rolling in their lives with just a little support.

Mostly, I’m grateful for those who are already stepping up and supporting someone they love living with ADHD.

What can you do when someone shares they suspect or know they’re living with ADHD?

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Numerous trips to the ER were a consequence. Sophie was always impulsive. As a child, she loved risky activities like swinging in the trees and waiting until the last minute to cross the street in front of an oncoming car. She was a daredevil with her bike, including dirt bikes and ATV’s as she got older. She went as fast as possible. She loved the adrenaline rush. She had a hard time keeping friends because she would react in the heat of the moment, hurting their feelings or would blurt inappropriate things. As a teen, bingeing on alcohol, drugs and food became habitual. Now, as a young adult, impulsive decision-making – quitting school, quitting jobs impulsively and spending money without considering a budget – was common.

The pause button is the idea that the small space between a stimulus and our reaction, that tiny little moment, is a moment of pure freedom.

 Stimulus-Reaction

That little dash is our choice, to use however we want. We can choose to react in a way that makes a situation worse, or better. It’s our choice, our freedom to do with what we want.

For some living with ADHD, their little dash, their space between a stimulus and their reaction, is SUPER small. They barely give themselves time to take in a situation before reacting to it.

Decision-making is part of the prefrontal cortex, which is the thinking part of the brain behind your forehead. It is the last part of the brain to mature and this doesn’t occur until our 20s. This explains impulsive decision-making in teens. People with ADHD have an even greater delay in the maturity of this part of the brain, which may explain some of their impulsive traits.

There are certainly consequences to a child being impulsive. Why did you throw the snowball? Don’t you know that’s wrong? But as we age, impulsivity can have greater consequences across our lifespan. One of the three most frequently seen types of impulsivity, include impulsive experimentation with drugs or alcohol. Impulsive driving can lead to higher incidence of accidents and sexual impulsivity can lead to increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.

Certainly, a pause button would help. Instead of immediately making a choice, use the pause button and delay it to a later time, when you can deal with this choice more effectively. Talk it over with someone else, or imagine what your best pal, friend or coach would say about the choice.

The benefits of self-control cannot be overstated. Every study shows that those who excel at delaying gratification are happier, more successful, have better relationships, and the list goes on.

Pausing can help you to:

  • Stop reacting to your child’s behavior and become curious about what is causing the behavior.
  • Build and maintain friendships. Use the pause to listen, really listen. Use it to filter your responses.
  • Control your emotions and filter those catastrophic thoughts that create unnecessary drama, worry and anxiety.
  • Push your initial judgments aside. Eliminate any pre-misconceptions. Open yourself up to new perspectives.
  • Learn compassion and empathy for others and yourself!
  • Grow self-awareness of what’s getting in your way of being who you want to be and doing what you want to do.

If you’ve ever been around someone who has the ability to think before they react…gosh, it’s a beautiful thing. But, how do you learn to pause?

  • A good starting place is identifying your impulsive risks. For example, is it in the form of communication, spending money, bingeing on things, driving? These can be considered “critical moments” of impulsivity. Getting these on the radar is very important.
  • A second point is noticing when these critical moments occur. For example, does impulsivity come up in the context of being overly emotional or reacting to certain situations? Do alcohol or drugs contribute to impulsive choices?
  • Breath! Practice the art of taking a breath BEFORE jumping into all the yelling and screaming.
  • Come up with a signal or word with those close to you that tells you this would be a good time to pause. For example, have someone give you the time-out hand signal if you begin to interrupt or blurt during a conversation.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation. This can be so hard for those with ADHD. It’s called practice for a reason. Paying attention to our own physical and emotional triggers and responses is critical in knowing when to hit the pause button.
  • A helpful mantra might be “Just think about it.”

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