Allow me a dollop of nostalgia – I am celebrating my first two years in business this month and yesterday night, on top of the busy-busy-busy I’ve created in the last few months, I applied for my Associate Certified Coach designation.
This marks the end of an era. The era of invisibility.
Invisibility is one of the oldest gremlins I know.
It kept me safe through a very dangerous time in my life – adolescence. It paved my way through a competitive family system.
Just duck down and do different things, it said – do not compete with the valedictorian (my older sister) or the social butterfly (my younger sister). Create a safe space and live there.
Nobody understands you. Keep your head down at school – the other kids hate you, envy you and will kill you just like those teens killed Reena Virk. Make yourself scarce, it said.
I was the artistic, brainy, quiet one who was on the yearbook committee. Who skipped public speaking week because I was terrified. My goal was to survive high school.
Others did. I watched.
Even when I was 5 years old I refused to participate in our circus day – I preferred to sell tickets, to be on the sidelines.
What I now hate about being invisible is that I don’t even know that I am doing it.
When I first set up as a life coach, I rented an office in downtown Victoria. I was in a beautiful historic building that gave me a profile- hello, a sign downstairs with my name – and a nearly empty echo chamber of an office to ensure my future clients total privacy. There I sat. I brainstormed people to reach out to and sometimes did, by emailing them to meet for coffee or some other inoffensive suggestion.
I volunteered with Bridges for Women but rarely mentioned my new profession. I was invited to coffee by another life coach who, lacking my timidity, tried to sell his coaching program to me after suggesting I had totally underachieved with my life so far. Or I imagined he had. I wanted to run away but stopped myself from being “impolite.”
I gave up the office, which had seen one client only. The client didn’t start to cover the monthly rent or anything else. I was tired of the echo chamber. I went to London for the summer of 2015, planning a ton of fun and adventure. I connected with friends and created new connections with startups. I created another client.
I became fed up with grinding away online to create clients. I slashed my prices hysterically and signed 3 people. I knew they couldn’t say no to that value.
It wasn’t until this summer, pretty damn recently to be honest, that I started picking up the phone and dialling. Everything previous I’d created via email. From my comfortable and safe place where it is easy for people to say no.
I still have yet to create a client from connecting by phone.
However, my very first client I created in person. I presented a talk to the Victoria photography club and I engaged an HR manager who happened to be there. I was presenting on two of my passions- photography and travel. I was coming from who I am- joy and adventure. That night I had difficulty winding down because I had been on such a high. That was September 2014.
I’ve learned what doesn’t work for me.
13 practices to keep me invisible and disconnected:
1. Not telling everyone I’m a coach
2. Spending hours refining my website
3. Waiting for clients to email or call me instead of reaching out
4. Taking care of everyone else and forgetting myself
5. Asking for likes and shares on Facebook
6. Writing blog posts for better trafficked websites to somehow promote my coaching work
7. Signing up as a Coach.me coach and writing content and asking for likes – grinding.
8. Not offering coaching for fear of it being awkward
9. Not proposing to a client at the end of a coaching session
10. Not connecting everyone I know who needs to be connected
11. Taking part in any Twitter event – retweets have never hugged me
12. Joining a Facebook group and hiding out
13. Hanging out in an office by myself
One day a coach called me because she was promoting a workshop. It was the highlight of my day. It turned out I couldn’t make it, but I felt important and human because of her call and her manner on the call. I thanked her.
I have wrestled with connection for a long, long time. Possibly forever. Picking up the phone is still edgy. I sometimes wonder if I sound dorky or desperate. Or am I imposing on someone’s busy day? Will they respond aggressively or even abusively? What am I walking into?
I have spoken to a few people recently that share my reluctance to pick up the phone. I imagine that there are quite a few of us in the world. One of these people, hilariously, is someone for whom I left a voice message. She walked into the cafe, saw me and joined me for lunch, not knowing I’d be there. I didn’t even plan to be there- I just said yes to a craving for great food.
Last month I made 10 cold calls. These are fun because I catch people by surprise. I have picked up their cards from community boards at cafes and I tell them so. I only pick up ones that speak to me. I think one man I called has a crush on me. Four have said yes to a sample session.
I now feel powerful on the phone.
Imagine a phone call that made you feel special. Who was calling and why? Imagine being the cause of that feeling. Now, what’s stopping you from picking up the phone?
13 Practices to make you visible and connected*:
- Reaching out directly to someone I admire
- Noticing what my 10s are and focusing on those
- Having conversations in which I am honest and vulnerable
- Writing blog posts in which I am honest and vulnerable
- Changing my URL to connection coach.co – hello, talking point!
- Saying something, with love, that might piss someone off.
- Listening wholeheartedly and hearing what is being said
- Offering honest feedback to someone who has disappointed me
- Listening to someone who wants to drop out of my program
- Disarmament – opening ourselves to feedback
- Letting people know what I do and inviting them to connect
- Getting complete when they don’t show up
- Hanging out with intelligent, creative people in fun and social places
*What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you – drop me a line and let me know how you created connection in your life.