How to Be a Good Coach When You Don’t Have Your Own Sh*t Together

Written by Ivan

Many people believe that a coach has to have everything figured out in their personal life, before they can give out advice to others. This sentiment is even quite common among coaches, who often get anxious and insecure because they feel that their personal problems are not benefiting of an expert in the field. Let me give you a quick example – someone who is well-versed in all things fitness-related, but has gotten out of shape due to any number of things, can begin to think that he or she is unqualified to give fitness advice to others.

This can be applied to career and financial coaching, relationship coaching and so on. However, the problem with this type of thinking is that you only feel you are as good as your latest achievement or failure, and you totally ignore all previous achievements and positive experiences.

An analogy I like to use is that of an old boxing coach, like Mickey from the “Rocky” movies – he is old and burnt out, he wouldn’t last a minute in the ring, but he has tons of knowledge to share with a young and inexperienced boxer. And the thing is that the vast majority of life coaches out there are far from being burnouts, it’s just that they are human and experience the usual ups and downs in life that everyone else does.

You never really stop making mistakes and learning from them

The thing about life is that there is no foolproof strategy that will lead you to success and ensure that you never slip up. Things also tend to happen in cycles – you might have a large number of highs and lows, but if the overall trend is a rising one, it means that you are moving forward and improving. A lot of it is a “two steps forward, one step back” affair, and it is those little mistakes that teach us incredibly valuable life lessons.

Not every relationship is going to last for years and years or end in marriage, and even if it does, it can still end in divorce. People fall in and out of love, they fight and make up, they make stupid choices as well as smart ones, they adopt bad habits and get stuck in a rut, and they change their wicked ways and turn to the light side.

Just because you know more about a particular subject than 90% of people out there and have trained yourself to become very skilled at avoiding the common pitfalls, doesn’t mean that you are immune to failure. All your knowledge and skills help you stack the deck in your favor, but you are still going to be dealt a bad hand from time to time, and that’s ok. No one expects you to be perfect, and people will appreciate the fact that you are constantly improving and that you can keep your chin up during tough times.

It’s your failures that make you more human

Someone who has never made a big mistake or been down on their luck isn’t all that relatable, and you want to connect with people on a deeper level when coaching them. Your clients need to know that you are not just parroting empty words, and that some of that wisdom comes from personal experience – both good and bad.

People like to talk to someone who has been where they are, and has attained success through hard work.

A business coach who has started out fairly rich and has grown his or her fortune won’t be able to see things from the point of view of someone who has been near rock bottom financially, and a health coach who has trained his or her entire life and never had an ounce of fat on their body won’t be able to relate to someone who has tried to get in shape, failed, given up and tried again numerous times.

You can use the issues you have to show people that it’s ok to make mistakes, but that they don’t have to define who you are or limit your potential.

You can use your trials and tribulations to inspire people

Some of the most inspiring stories in the world are those where the underdog triumphs against all odds. Major weight loss body transformations, rags to riches stories and brokenhearted people finding love again are all a great source of motivation for those who are down on their luck. In fact, people whose lives are near perfect don’t have a need for life coach – it’s the ones that are struggling in a certain area of life, or several of them, that will approach you for advice.

All your struggles, big and small, can be turned into valuable lessons, and they only make you a more colorful and interesting character. People feel a great respect for celebrities like Russell Brand and Robert Downey Jr. who have made an astounding comeback and gotten their life together after years of drug abuse and other bad habits. The fact that they are vulnerable and imperfect actually makes them more endearing.

Become perfectly imperfect

No one said life was easy, and it is unrealistic to expect everything to always work out the way you want it, no matter how thoroughly you’ve prepared for success. Sometimes you’ll find yourself in dire straits – divorced, broke, unhappy, out of shape or falling back into bad habits – but just because you are currently unable to effectively implement the ideas and strategies you preach, doesn’t make them any less effective.

You may even find hidden gems of wisdom that previously eluded you when you are at your lowest point in life. Instead of harboring doubts and lamenting the fact that not even the best advice in the world can keep you from slipping up from time to time, you should dust yourself off and be honest about struggles – this is the best way to inspire others to keep fighting and working on improving themselves. A good coach is one who understands the struggles of his or her clients, a mere human like anyone else, but a human with a goal and a drive.

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