Why it’s not a good idea to compare yourself to other coaches when starting out as a life coach
When starting out as a life coach, it’s natural to look to other coaches for inspiration and guidance. However, this can be counterproductive if we only compare ourselves to them instead of seeking inspiration.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Different starting point: Have you ever considered that each coach has a different starting point? I could go on and on about various case studies but, let’s take the case of a coach who chose a niche that revolves around an area where they already have a lot of contacts. For example, an executive coach for HR professionals who has previously worked in HR and has an extensive network of contacts in this area. Is it not only natural that this coach has a head start on finding clients?
- Others may have more financial resources at their disposal when they begin. In fact, many coaches can afford to outsource everything and do so indeed. I’ve known a few coaches myself who struggled to build their websites and social media presences on their own, whereas others could afford to hire professional developers, virtual assistants, digital marketing strategists, and business coaches to assist them.
- Lack of time. If you already have a full-time job outside of coaching, you may find it difficult to devote enough time to the latter. It all makes sense. Again, for others, this may be their only job, they may have plenty of free time, no family or social obligations, and so on.
- Different skillset. The person you are comparing yourself to may be skilled in some areas while you may be skilled in others. Once more, let me use the website development example: When I first started my coaching business, my colleagues were shocked to learn that I had built my website over the course of a weekend only and had already set up my Facebook and Instagram pages. And, in turn, I was surprised that they had already started going live on social media! The reason? I am an expert in website development and social media marketing, but going live on camera was a no-go for me at the time. On the contrary, they lacked web development skills but were self-assured enough to launch. Since we excelled in different areas, comparing our success rates would have been absurd.
- You make incorrect assumptions about other coaches. And this is true not only for coaching.
Let’s take social media as an example and how we occasionally see people posting photos where they are constantly on vacation or going out every other night, drinking fancy cocktails by the pool, socialising in fancy clubs, and so on. But guess what: many coaches are introverts, so you can’t expect everyone to post similar content.
Second, this says nothing about the coach’s success. I’ve attended webinars where we were encouraged to post as frequently as possible on social media and even record our daily lives. This is not bad advice, except when some people take it too far and fake it. The fact that other coaches appear to enjoy life more on social media could mean a variety of things: they could be influencers who are paid to do so, or they could go on vacation once a year and stock up on hundreds of photos.
Or more extreme situations: a friend once told me how she felt unworthy and surprised to see a fellow coach who had attended the same coaching programme as her and was constantly bragging about his accomplishments. He used to post photos from expensive locations, wearing expensive suits and living the high life. She only found out later that her colleague was a multi-hotel owner who could not only afford this lifestyle but also took most of the photos in his establishments. You say it’s a rare case? Still, it demonstrates how false assumptions about other people can be. When she spoke with him, he also admitted that he still had no clients!
In this case, it is essential to remember that documenting one’s personal life in order to gain the trust of prospective clients does not imply exaggerating or lying. In fact, realistic photos of a daily routine are frequently more reliable than extravagant shots. It also depends on your target audience: introverted clients will identify with the former, whereas socialites may prefer the latter.
- Different goals: This is self-explanatory. Your goal may be to help as many people as possible, whereas someone else’s goal may be to earn more money and live a better life. And, of course, both reasons may be valid for another coach. Focusing too much on what others have accomplished can cause you to lose sight of your own goals and priorities.
What happens when we compare ourselves to there, and what could we do instead
First, we lose our individuality. Your energy and presence are what set you apart and make you authentic. Clients will come to you because of who you are, not who you want to be.
Second, we feel less motivated to carry on. Constantly comparing ourselves to other coaches can be demotivating, leading to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and self-doubt. So what can we do?
Below are some pointers that might be useful:
- We can try to be mindful of our own personal journey instead of someone else’s
- We could focus on our unique skills and abilities
- What if we simply understand and accept that everyone has different available resources when they start out their business? In this sense, we may also want to avoid comparing ourselves to unrealistic standards of success.
- Let’s not take other coaches’ social media presence for granted. Unfortunately, our assumptions are not always reality.
- Rather than feeling envious or disappointed, we can be open to learning and being inspired by others.
- People are waiting for our services. By comparing ourselves to others and postponing our business launch, we are doing a disservice to them. The 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study states that “there were approximately 71,000 coach practitioners in 2019, an increase of 33% on the last estimate calculated in 2015.” Why put off becoming one of them?
It follows that comparing ourselves to others can be counterproductive. While we should not try to imitate other coaches, it is critical to remain open to learning and growing or finding the right tools. Remember that the key word here is authenticity. Instead of trying to be someone else, why not attend conferences, read books, and take courses that align with our interests and goals? In the end, clients value authenticity, which is one of the primary reasons they will choose to work with us.