Can Coaching Become A Career?

In This Episode, Mike Bledsoe is back and we took a deep dive to see if coaching can become a career, what it takes , and how to cope up with it’s ups and downs. Enjoy!

Podcast, Shows, Introduction

Can Coaching Become A Career?

26 October 2019

In This Episode, Mike Bledsoe is back and we took a deep dive to see if coaching can become a career, what it takes , and how to cope up with it’s ups and downs. Enjoy!

Table Of Contents‚Äč

  • Being Unreasonable AF
  • Can Coaching Be A Career?
  • The Best Way To Learn How To Make Coaching As A Career
  • Factors In Play When Building Your Career As A Coach
  • The Need For Support When Starting A Coaching Career
  • Being Entrepreneurial In Your Coaching Career 
  • Coping Up With Ups And Downs Of Coaching, & Closing Thoughts

Being Unreasonable AF

April:    All right, we are back. I am April, back for another Strong Coach podcast and today I’m talking with Mike Bledsoe. Our topic today is, can coaching be a career? Mike, how’s it going today?

Mike Bledsoe:    It’s going really good. Really, really good.

April:    Hey, sweet t-shirt.

Mike Bledsoe:    I’m knocking out the work. Got the caffeine flowing.

April:    Good deal, me too. Mike, what’s on your shirt there?

Mike Bledsoe:    Unreasonable AF.

April:    Nice. Those are our Strong Coach T-shirts, huh?

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah. Yeah. We’ll be handing these out at The Strong Coach summit here next week and I made one slide and one piece of curriculum a year ago and I was talking about the value of being unreasonable and it was really cool to watch students really hone in on that and it really shows as someone who’s creating content or teaching that I rarely know what’s really going to stick and what’s going to stand out to people and it’s been a real pleasure to things that I would normally overlook be something that people really love and so paying attention and interacting and yeah, digging in on that and going further on that is always really nice.

Can Coaching Be A Career?

April:    Yeah, the unreasonable part of The Strong Coach was really powerful for me because I had been working too much within reason and the concept of just being unreasonable really allowed me to open up and really get creative with a lot of aspects of my life and my coaching business. So, that was something that was really, really cool for me. Speaking of being unreasonable, let’s talk about coaching as a career and just start off, can coaching be a career?

Mike Bledsoe:    Absolutely. The way that coaching is done by 99% of the coaches out there, it can not be a career.

April:    That’s very interesting. Tell us why.

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah. And that’s because 99% of the coaches are doing the minimum and they’re only looking at what other coaches are doing. So, there’s a lot of people that all they see is what they see for one, they see only what’s happening on the surface and too many coaches that I know of, they want to show up to a class and they want to coach a class and the idea that, “Okay, I know movement. I know program design, I know what people should be eating,” used to be special, but now that’s a commodity.

Mike Bledsoe:    So, we have to go the extra mile as coaches and so if that’s the only thing you’re offering, it’s the same thing that everybody else is offering and we have an entire industry that has created coaches that think that they should be able to have a career by just showing up and coaching in some classes here and there, or they take a few personal training clients here and there and they run out of time.

Mike Bledsoe:    I heard somebody hit me up on Instagram a few weeks ago. I had sent out an email saying something like, “Do you want to make five or 10,000 or more dollars a month in your coaching business?” And they responded with, “Are you crazy? I’m having a hard time making three to $4,000 a month and I’m maxed out on time. I don’t understand this.”

And so that is very typical thinking from somebody who only sees one way to do coaching, or maybe they see two or three different ways for coaching to be delivered and they’re charging what they’re charging, their business model is built in a way that it’s very typical, which means that they’re going to get typical results. So, my belief around coaching is everybody has the ability to create a coaching business that makes them six figures a year as a part time job. So, it is possible to make six figures a year and only work 20 hours a week.

April:    That’s incredible and that is certainly something that in the sense of having a career I think is very desirable, especially for us as coaches because as a coach, it takes a lot of energy and attention and time to put into our business and our clients and our career. So, to have that schedule where we can put 20 hours of concentrated time and effort into something that we love and have it be a sustainable career, I think that’s something that’s really, really cool, and to continue to have a big impact with that as well as a coach.

The Best Way To Learn How To Make Coaching As A Career

April:    So, that’s really cool that it’s possible and I think one of the first things is just opening up your mind to the fact that it is possible to have a career like that. You mentioned just a bit ago about basically other coaches out there right now are watching how everybody else in the coaching industry is doing things and they’re trying to replicate it and learn that way. In that case, you mentioned that that’s not really a good way to learn. So, what is the best way to learn how to create that coaching as a career, if not by watching what other people are doing?

Mike Bledsoe:    The trouble is that the people that most coaches are looking at are not doing it well themselves. So, they’re choosing the wrong people to look at and even if someone looks at me, for instance, I’ve created coaching businesses that were seven figure businesses, they did over $1 million a year and even if they want to mimic what I’m doing, and back in 2013 when we started putting out coaching programs that were very new to the space, we were doing it in a way that other people weren’t doing.

A lot of people copied what we did, and I’m friends with a lot of the people who copied what we did and what I noticed is, the results they got was about 30% of what we were able to achieve because two reasons, they were only able to copy what they could see, so they didn’t really understand everything that was going on in the background.

And then nothing will ever work as good for you as the person who created a system for themselves. So, I’m in the business of creating a business that works around how I work and so I have specific skillsets, talents, natural abilities that I have created a business that leverages those things so if someone doesn’t have my personality and experience then, if they try to copy what I do, they may get good results, but they’re not going to get the same results I get.

So, that’s something to keep in mind too and that’s why I’ve been a really big proponent of teaching people business principles so that they can then go and create something that works specifically for them instead of saying, “Here’s the method.” And I can give people templates and copies and stuff like that and they’ll likely make more money than what they are right now but if they really want to go big and they want to create something that’s also going to fit with their lifestyle they desire, then there is going to have to be a process of creation, of getting in a place to where, “Okay, I know where I want to go, this is where I’m at, this is the gap, where do I need to fill in?”

And then also doing a lot of things that are not going to work. Nine out of 10 things that I try to do to this day still don’t work for me that do work for other people, and so it’s a constant learning of how to do it better and the industry is shifting and culture is shifting all the time. So, as much as we’d like to have figured it out and then be able to set and forget it and then just go on about our coaching, unfortunately that’s just not the case.

And I’m going down the entrepreneurship route a bit here because there’s two ways you can make it a career. You can find somebody who is really good at business who has created a way for coaches to come work for them so that they can make it a career. So, you either got to find someone who’s running a  business that has the mission of making coaching their career, which most business owners that are running gyms or an online coaching business, a lot of the times it can be difficult.

They just don’t have the system to support career coaches, but there are a lot, I’ve done it. So, where I have coaches that they can make it a career to be coaches and they don’t have to run their own business this whole time but what most coaches will likely need to do is create their own business and be entrepreneurial themselves.

April:    Yeah. So, it sounds like there is a huge element of learning the principles and then on top of that there’s another element of getting into this space of creation. Is that accurate?

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah. And when I say creation, it’s getting out of the box, getting out of the box of what you already know, going through a process of unlearning because the majority of what’s holding people back is what they think they know to be true that just is not so. A lot of times it takes breaking things down before we can build them up.

Factors In Play When Building Your Career As A Coach

April:    So, is it the learning process first and then the creation process or vice versa? Or can you explain a little bit more how that factors into starting and then building your career as a coach?

Mike Bledsoe:    Sure. Learning is creation and so that’s because I define learning as behavior change. So, if your behavior changes, now you’re creating something new and I really like defining learning as behavior change and I heard that from somebody, and I don’t know where I got it from, somebody I heard years and years ago, and I like that definition because most people in our culture have been taught their entire lives that learning is regurgitation, it’s memorization and regurgitation.

So, people get a nice little dopamine hit because for 12 or more years they sat in a classroom, they memorized information, they regurgitated it and then they got a grade for it and so they got this dopamine hit. They got this feeling of satisfaction from being able to regurgitate information.

So, what that does is that’s set us up as human beings to think that it’s as if we give ourselves little pieces of fulfillment, little pieces of satisfaction for just thinking about things, which as we know, thinking about things and taking action are very different.

April:    Super different and on that note as well, this is really the same thing, knowing something in your brain and then actually doing it is also a big difference there. I’m thinking about just how you may know that you need to do something but you haven’t done it yet. So in that same sense, it’s still just in your brain and you haven’t taken action on it and I think that comes into play a lot.

For me, it did especially because I was not knowing or even if I knew what to do, I was afraid to take action on it. So, there’s moving into this process of the creation of your own career as a coach. I didn’t even know what I wanted at first.

I didn’t even know how I could create it because I didn’t know what I wanted and so that was a big thing for me to learn first and really dive deep into and get really detailed and specific about. So once I learned what I wanted, that made a huge difference in allowing me to take action and really applying the principles that I learned as a Strong Coach.

Mike Bledsoe:    What got you to a place where you knew what you wanted?

April:    It really took a lot of deep reflection and thinking about one, all of the things that I truly wanted and the things that made me happy and the things that I am willing and excited to spend my energy and attention on because I noticed in my own life, and I see it in others too, a lot of going through the motions and, “Oh yes, I can teach a squat, I can teach how to progress a pull-up from a ring row,” and that’s cool, and that’s exciting. Yet, at one point it just gets to be just repetitive and over, and over again.

That’s what it started feeling like to me is, I was going through the motions because it was something that I had always done and so I didn’t know if I still really wanted to do that or if I was just doing it because it is what I had always done and so after a period, especially after the guidance and the principals of The Strong Coach, I set time aside to really stop and think and reflect on all the things that I love, all the things that I want to do and even look forward into my future and see what I wanted to be doing in my future and some of it includes coaching, and some of it doesn’t.

Some of it was just, “How much do I want to keep coaching?” The answer for me is, “I do want to keep coaching in some capacity throughout my life and it’s going to be in different capacities throughout my life as well.” Ultimately, what I really learned in that deep reflection was how much coaching I want to do and all of the other stuff I want to do as well. I’m the kind of person that really wants to do a lot of different things and provide a lot of cool things and services to people, and so once I got really, really clear on what that was, it felt so much more easy to just take action on things little by little.

So, that clarity really gave me direction and then once I learned the principles, it just really, really made sense to do that. Now, another thing on that same note, I want to talk about coaching as a side gig versus coaching as a main gig as far as what you’re doing for a living or what you’re doing for a career.

I imagine that there are other people out there that are in the mindset of, “Well, my coaching career or my coaching business isn’t making me a full time income yet, so I have to have this kind of supportive main gig and then I’ll just do the coaching on the side.”

The Need For Support When Starting A Coaching Career

April:    That’s something that I thought for a long time, but now that I’ve learned these principles and I’m applying them, it makes a whole lot of sense to really be able to make coaching a main gig. So, what do you think about that idea of, “I need to have something to support my coaching career as I’m building it.” Is that true?

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah, I think it’s good for people to check in too. Some people I think only do want it to be part time. They wouldn’t want to do it full time and that’s okay, but also be tracking that over time and see if that remains true because we’re poor predictors of how we’ll feel about something in the future. What I see more often than not is people who would prefer, and we’ve seen this in The Strong Coach program, people who prefer to make it a full-time gig and there’s a degree of, depending on how much responsibility you have in your life, if you have a wife and kids, or a husband and kids and there needs to be some income, then create benchmarks.

Because if you’re going to go off of a feeling, if you’re going to go, “Well, when I feel like I’m ready to make the jump, I’ll make the jump,” it will never happen. So, if you want to cross over from leaving a corporate gig or something that appears to be really safe into something like your own coaching business, it’ll never happen because you’re going off the feeling and that feeling is being driven by fear.

It’s not a data-driven decision and so in business, we get to learn about data-driven decisions and so one of the ways that I do that is I create benchmarks and I say, “Okay, when there is 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000, whatever number you pick, when I have that much money in the bank, I will pull the trigger.” And so creating those benchmarks. I really like making financial benchmarks specifically. If you’re single and don’t have a lot of overhead or you can minimize overhead, you can move into a smaller house, you can do all sorts of things to minimize how much money you’re spending.

I find that most people think they need more than they actually do to make the jump. So, I’m a big fan of creating a benchmark, working your way towards it and then I’ve also watched people create benchmarks and right before they get to it, it’s as if they find something to spend that money on. So, notice if you’re sabotaging yourself because you’re afraid of making that jump and so see if that’s a problem too.

For me personally, I’m not very risk averse, so everyone’s got a different relationship with risk and so I’m willing to sacrifice just about anything in my life to live my best life, and so big screen TVs and big houses and cars and all that kind of stuff, when I sit and reflect, really don’t mean much to me. Those things aren’t really what are going to make me happy. So, I’ve done a lot of work to find out what makes me happy and I find a lot more happiness in the ability to travel and to have autonomy and to be able to connect with friends and being able to put my health first, and all those types of things don’t really cost that much money.

I’ve definitely set goals of, “Okay, I want to have this kind of house, live in this area, and have achieved those but I would never sacrifice my day-to-day happiness and my working and filling into my purpose and really doing what I love to do for my work, I would never sacrifice that for nice things or for some type of status play or something like that.

So, I really encourage people to check in with themselves and see what’s really, really important. I find a lot of people’s fears around, “What will people think of me if I make less money and I don’t have these nice things?” I’ve seen so many people make a lot of money, buy the car, buy the house, whatever, still miserable, and then when they want to change careers, they feel like they can’t change careers because they have all this stuff that they have to maintain.

So for me, I’d rather start at the bottom, get rid of all of this stuff, make my day-to-day work really exciting, really fun, really fulfilling and then from there go, “Okay, what do I really want and what can I achieve?” And be okay with things moving slowly. I’m very okay with things moving slowly as long as they’re doing the right things.

There have been periods of time where I start getting into a crunch zone and I look up after a month of work and go, “Wow.” Day by day has gone by and I’ve enjoyed myself less and less and for what? To try to go faster to make more money faster? It’s like, “No, I’m going to slow down and live my best life.” And there definitely will be times where we pushed harder and then we needed to take a break and all that kind of stuff. So, I’m not saying that every day should feel good all the time. We definitely need to push into some discomfort around our work a lot of times but yeah, really look at what you’re sacrificing.

April:    Yeah, and that goes with any career is ultimately when you’ve figured out what you want your life, whether you’re in the coaching industry or the food industry or whatever finance industry you’re in, if you are happy with the work-life balance that you have, then that’s ultimately I think what we’re all looking for.

I’m glad you brought up the idea of sacrifice because I wanted to go into that next and talk about the idea of burnout in your career and sacrificing certain things because you think you need to do it to make this career work in general. Burnout happens again in any, and every industry and or any part of your life, you could burn out in any way.

Being Entrepreneurial In Your Coaching Career

April:    How do we continue moving forward in a coaching career like this that is very entrepreneurial and it’s the kind of thing where you have autonomy and can make your own schedule and things like that, how do you really make sure you’re still moving forward, avoid burnout, and also not sacrifice the things that are important to you?

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah, I’ve burned out a number of times. I’m not sure.

April:    So, it’s a natural part of being an entrepreneur maybe?

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah, I think it’s a natural part of being a human being and no matter what our vocation is, we’re going to experience burnout, and when we look at people who are older and have a lot of experience and we go, “Oh wow, that person has a lot of wisdom. They seem very chill. They seem very zen.” That person, if you talk to them, they more than likely have experienced some burnout and gotten their ass kicked over the years.

I have mentors that are in their late 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and when I talk to them, they have war stories. “Oh yeah, when I was 35 this shit went down,” and I go, “Yeah, yeah, I had some similar shit go down.” And burnout is, it’s simply not recognizing the signs early enough.

And so this is where being more sensitive is a practice that I have is, “How can I improve my, my sensitivity? How can I sense that something’s off a lot sooner?” And sensitivity has gotten a bad rap and that’s because people confuse sensitivity with fragility and so I can be sensitive and strong, I can be with whatever discomfort is happening.

I can sense it, I can have a discomfort and I can be with it, that’s being strong. Hiding from the discomfort, that’s weak, and so a lot of people are desensitized because they’re so afraid of feeling something that when burnout hits, it’s a surprise, they go, “Holy shit, what happened?” And if you’re experiencing burnout, it is a lack of sensitivity, a lack of listening to what’s going on and so that’s why the wise man or wise woman is really good at spotting fatigue and burnout way ahead of people who are less experienced, because the person who’s experienced, even if they are sensitive, they may not know that’s what it means.

And so the person who’s older goes, “Oh, I’ve seen this before. I’ve had this feeling before.” So, they spot it way sooner and they start making course corrections ahead of time. Whereas the inexperienced person, they’re getting the signals, but they don’t know what it means and they just keep plowing forward and then one day they wake up and go, “Oh shit. What happened?” So, I think burnout is a natural piece to the pie and having a support system so when it does happen, you have people that will help you to make sense of it and give you direction on how to recover from it and what to do next.

April:    So, a support system in colleagues, coaches, friends, things like that.

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah, it could be friends, it could be colleagues, it could be business partners. Unfortunately, most people are not very good at supporting people through something like burnout because most people who are in a typical nine to five job, their burnout happens a lot slower and there’s usually a lack of control over their life because they’re working a nine to five and then there’s no control over what’s happening so they just keep plowing away.

Whereas somebody who’s running their own business is entrepreneurial, they may experience more high highs and low lows. When I’ve talked to people in the entrepreneurial space, this is very, very common and it’s less steady because the entrepreneur knows more about what’s going on in the business than someone who’s working a nine to five. A nine to five person doesn’t really know what’s happening in the business and one is not more safe than another, one just has more awareness to it than another. So, a typical nine to fiver, a lot of the people get fired and they didn’t even see it coming, it’s because the business needed to make some cuts.

They have no control over that, they didn’t know it was coming, whatever. The business owner, they know it’s coming. They’re :Oh shit,” well before the ship goes down. So, there’s a lot of a high highs and low lows that are experienced in entrepreneurship and that’s why it’s good to be a part of coaching groups or I regularly am in entrepreneurial circles where we get to support each other.

So, I’m not going to seek support from my family. You know, my mom and my brothers and sisters because they don’t really understand where I’m coming from and the type of support they offer is usually more sympathetic where it’s like, “Oh, I’m sorry.” It’s like, “That’s not what I really need.” What I really need is, “Yeah. Oh cool, I’ve been there too. This is what I did to get out. Here’s some recovery stuff. You’re experiencing burnout because you totally overworked and there’s some things not in place in your business. Okay, here’s some tools that are going to make your business run a lot smoother. Here’s how you delegate better.

Obviously, you burn out because you were doing stuff that was draining to you, but this is how you systemize it, automate it and delegate it.” So yeah, there’s the entrepreneurial circles. One of the things we have with The Strong Coach is we have the Rocket Ship. So, if people are a member of that program, then they have the ongoing support 24/7 so when things like A, we help coaches avoid burnout before it really sets in because we’re there guiding them moment by moment and there’s wisdom in the room and we can help each other, and if someone does hit that burnout, we’re there to help support that person through that.

April:    That’s really incredible, and something that I had been looking for for a long time before I found The Strong Coach is first of all, I had wanted to find a community of people and coaches and entrepreneurs that I could be supported by and also I didn’t know that I would be able to find something like that pretty much virtually and in an online community and across the world.

I thought that was one of the coolest things is that now I can reach out to anyone really within the entire community and be like, “Hey, I’m experiencing this problem in my coaching right now or in my coaching career business right now, can we bounce ideas off of each other to see if we can help each other come up with a cool solution to what we’re doing?”

And so that was one of the coolest things that I really got out of The Strong Coach program is understanding the tool that is a community and also just a virtual community that I can connect with across the world. So, really cool stuff. I’m so excited to see all of them at the Strong Coach Summit next week. It’s going to be great.

Mike Bledsoe:   Yeah, doing it virtually is one thing, in person, whole new level.

Coping Up With Ups And Downs Of Coaching, & Closing Thoughts

April:    For sure. Yeah. Oh man. All right, so coaching as a career, let’s wrap it up and ultimately, you mentioned already there’s going to be a lot more ups and downs in an entrepreneurial type career, which is coaching.

Mike Bledsoe:    I would say emotionally, ups and downs. It could be financial ups and downs too. You’re going to see more variants, period, yeah.

April:    Yeah. So, let’s just wrap up by going over one way to really get started and then how to be sensitive to your coaching business and yourself to know how to continue moving forward with that.

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah. There’s one exercise I like in particular that’s great for avoiding burnout and that I like to do every quarter. So every 90 days, make three different lists and I recommend going out in nature, don’t do it in your office, don’t do it at home. Go somewhere that’s atypical and make a list of things you want to start doing, make another list on what you want to stop doing and make a list of what you want to continue doing.

And so every 90 days it’s going to change and the more you do it, the less change there will be but like I said earlier in this interview is, we are poor predictors of how we’ll feel in the future. So if something is burning us out, there may be something I’m super excited about doing now that in six months I am sick and tired of and the start, stop continue list allows me to be more flexible with myself and understand that I am as a human being in a process and it’s changing and I’m good with that.

April:    The process of continuing to grow is definitely something that I’m still learning too, and that start, stop continue list, I do that one regularly and it always gives me more direction. I think one thing that can also happen with the burnout is you just lose direction. You feel lost.

“Oh, I could go this way, that way, any way I want. Which way do I go? How do I make that decision?” Go back to that start, stop, continue list, and not only did that help me take direction, it also helped me come back to my identity as a coach and really make decisions that made sense for what I want to do moving forward, simple as that.

Mike Bledsoe:    Yeah.

April:    Well, any last thoughts on coaching as a career, Mike?

Mike Bledsoe:    Totally possible. The coaching industry is exploding. More people are hiring coaches, more people are wanting to be coaches and I’m excited to be at the forefront of it and teaching people how to make it a career.

April:    Thank you so much for all of your insight and expertise, and if you want to learn more directly from Mike and other industry leaders, make sure you go onto today. Click on the red button and get registered for The Strong Coach Summit. It’s going to be incredible guys, and we will see you next time with some more awesome coaching conversations.

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