Few coaches ever arrive at the end of their career without having walked into the trap of comparison. New coaches, in particular, are vulnerable to looking right and left at more experienced coaches as they assess their God-given calling. In this post, we will explore how coaches can avoid the trap of comparison to other coaches. Roosevelt refers to comparison as the “thief” of joy because it is stealthy, and often sneaks into our mindset unrecognized. You find yourself thinking more about your lack of experience, versus your unique abilities. Rather than trusting God to help birth the vision He has cast over your life, you begin doubting in your own ability to “make it” as a coach.
Comparison is particularly harmful to new coaches. It hinders your ability to hear from Holy Spirit in your coaching sessions, learn from others, and grow your unique gifts and strengths. Additionally, it empowers your false self–that person you believe others want you to be. When hiding behind this mask you will never discover your authentic coaching style and voice, robbing others of receiving the unique gifts you offer. Inauthenticity is also exhausting, and will likely send you down rabbit trails that end in giving up. A trap is designed to be well disguised so you walk in unaware. Therefore, one of the most valuable lessons you can learn as a coach is how to recognize comparison as a potential blind spot before it steals the joy that comes from measuring your potential against others.
So how can you make sure that you stay focused on what you are called to create, and trust God in the process? Focus on the following:
Listen to Holy Spirit
We all have a lot of voices competing for our attention. Anytime we are stepping into something new, particularly if it centers around Christ, we meet strong resistance. Our inner critic might even become louder, drowning out Holy Spirit’s encouragement and guidance. If you are spending more time acknowledging the voices that say “not enough” or “can’t”, then it’s likely you are tuning into the frequency of the world. Resist the urge to “prove” yourself, which can lead to burnout. Rather, return to God’s promises and slow down to rediscover that “still, small voice inside” (1 Kings 19:12). Just because it isn’t loud doesn’t make it any less true–or powerful.
What scripture can you find to remind yourself that God’s opinion is most important?
Grow Your Strengths
If God has called you into this new venture then He doesn’t expect you to come fully prepared. One danger of comparison is that it halts improvement because it centers on measuring your value against others, versus your ability. When you find yourself evaluating another coach’s skills, gifting or business savvy against your own, take a step back. Those coaches you admire aren’t any more worthy than you, only more experienced. Remain teachable, so you continue to grow. Celebrate your courage to step into something new. Use your energy to improve your skills through practice, and learn how to capitalize on your strengths. Even spiritual gifts aren’t honed without application.
While your focus is on developing your strengths, embrace your limitations as they actually qualify you to influence others! Paul said that, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Rejoice in those areas where you still seek growth. They keep you humble, which is a huge asset for coach because without it you stop growing spiritually and professionally. Seek input and inspiration from friends, family and coaches who have built businesses you aspire to emulate. Be sure to celebrate every success God grants you along the way.
What do you want to learn next? What step can you take today to become an even better coach?
Give Yourself Grace
It’s easy to disqualify yourself over simple mistakes, particularly in the early days of coaching when it seems there is much to learn. One unhappy client can trigger thoughts that you’ll never be as successful as your mentors. Be careful that you aren’t buying into the belief that “successful” coaches are also perfect. When you set such a high standard for yourself, you stop learning from your mistakes and taking risks that can cultivate growth. Christ said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), but he wasn’t speaking about being without fault. The Greek translation for “perfect” in this verse actually means “complete” or “whole”, referring to our character in Christ. While you may have a long way to go in terms of refining your skills, give yourself grace to be in the lifelong process of “becoming” in all areas of your life. Releasing the need to control the outcome can be incredibly exciting and help you stay focused on your path.
Inspire those Coming Behind
Remember that as much as you progress in your coaching, you are also influencing new coaches, They will also compare themselves to you! How can you be an encouragement to those coming behind? What can you do to support their success and disseminate the spirit of comparison? Coaches who embrace servant leadership call out strengths in other coaches. They know that in God’s economy everyone is successful who trusts in His plan and pursues lifting others along the way.
Preserve the Joy
Traps are not only well disguised, they are also easy (even natural) to enter, but impossible to leave in your own strength. If you feel stuck in the trap of comparison, know that Jesus understands how debilitating it feels. Ask Him to open the door to freedom so that you can move forward in becoming the coach He envisions for your life. The purpose of Christian coaching isn’t to build a “winning team”, but to participate in transforming lives, one at a time. Focus on each client as if they were the only one, and “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Col. 3:23)
Comparison can either elevate us, or stop our growth and development completely. It’s a matter of perspective. Excellent coaches are examples to emulate, not adversaries.
Shift your mindset to operate from your uniqueness – your strengths, experiences, skills, and gifts, and become the person God created you to be. In doing so, you will fulfill your purpose with joy and give the gift of your authentic coaching voice to your clients.
(Guest post by one of our graduates, Katie Pearson CPLC, and you can read more about Katie and her work with her clients at www.benewlifestyle.com.)