When I was first introduced to the idea of a coach, I was a little hesitant. In my mind, a business or life coach was meant for people who were lost or in need of serious guidance. Whereas I had been writing down goals, drawing up vision boards and dreaming big since high school! I didn’t understand how a coach could help my business, especially since I had already surpassed my own expectations and was running a successful story branding studio.
I put my fears aside and decided to work with Carolyn, a friend of mine who had recently launched her own coaching business. I offered to help her with her story and address the misconceptions people often have with coaching, and in return she offered to work with me for a year to prove that having a coach in your corner is an invaluable asset, especially when you are riding the wave of success.
Carolyn de Voest launched Better Your Best in 2008 because she wanted to help people realize their dreams. A year earlier, she listened to her intuition and literally changed the course of her life by following her own dreams. She had previously worked as a personal trainer, where we first met, and later as the Athletic Director of a country club. She met her future husband, a professional tennis player whose life consisted of travelling around the world from tournament to tournament, and decided to build a business that she could take with her on the road.
Carolyn is an amazing athlete, and the more athletes she met travelling the more she recognized the similarities between professional athletes and business owners. She learned to incorporate the sports mentality into her coaching style, helping athletes see their career as a business, and entrepreneurs train for their business the way one would train for a match.
I quickly discovered that Carolyn’s insight into the challenges and triumphs entrepreneurs face made her the perfect person to bounce ideas off of – and the perfect coach for someone like me.
Day 1 – Discovery
I have held dozens of discovery / story sessions over the years so I thought I knew what to expect. When Carolyn and I first met to go over my business plan and lay out some goals, I was amazed at how quickly we got to the core of why I do what I do. This for me is the key question that every entrepreneur should ask themselves. It is where the story first forms.
Day 30 – Breaking Free
After working with Carolyn for a month, my goals started to shift. I recognized my own limitations and started to put a plan into action to grow my business beyond what I alone could offer. I was breaking free from the constraints that many entrepreneurs place upon themselves…I was learning how to ask for support.
Day 160 – Halfway Point
This for me was probably the most challenging point in the year. I look back now and see that this is where my fear kicked in. I was asking questions that I was not quite ready to answer, and it scared me to reach beyond my safety net.
Day 365 – The End is Just the Beginning!
On our last call, Carolyn asked me to reflect on the past 365 days. She reminded me of things I said in our first meeting and I laughed in a gentle, loving way. I had placed a glass ceiling on my business without even knowing it, and it wasn’t until I started to set goals that were above that ceiling that I saw the forest for the trees.
Having a coach taught me that no matter how goal-oriented you are, there is always a blind spot. It is actually similar to what I do – I help people tell the story of their business by interviewing dozens of staff, clients and people invested in the success of a business to give a 360′ view of what that business does. In the same way that a story should have multiple narrators to be effective, a business should have multiple people gazing in and offering support.
While my first year of coaching may be over, there are lots of ways to introduce fresh eyes to your business. I am excited for Vancity’s new initiative supporting Women Entrepreneurs – they are hosting a series of free workshops for female entrepreneurs in Vancouver. I am also part of the Hive Mind, a collaborative think tank in the DTES and regularly attend events like Detail Communications’s Socialab, Creative Mornings, Likemind and YES networking events.
Once you know where you want to go, it makes it that much easier to get there!