Lauren Sullivan, MCC, CSC, Certified Mentor Coach, Certified Coach Supervisor
I discovered the wonderful world of coaching in 1999 while working for a major Silicon Valley technology company. I was on a medical leave of absence at the time, brought on by an incredibly stressful chapter of my life dealing with my now ex-husband’s crystal meth addiction. It had been two years of non-stop crises and drama and I was re-evaluating my life. I was always drawn to helping people and when I discovered this profession of life coaching, it captured my imagination.
A year later, I enrolled in my original training program with one of the three original ICF accredited coach training schools. I chose Academy for Coach Training because they offered an openly spiritual orientation to coaching. I was trained in a program called Living Your Vision that gave me the foundation that eventually evolved into my own Inspired Life Design life coaching retreat program. Years later, when I was looking for some continuing education hours to meet my certification requirements, I wanted to go deeper with spiritual coaching and that brought me to the Life Purpose Institute in 2015. I gained my Spiritual Coach certification at that time.
I love, love, love the processes and tools I learned in LPIs Spiritual Coach training. I have especially enjoyed using the Voice Dialogue process in both my private retreat programs and with my coaching clients. The breakthrough results that can be achieved with this process continue to leave me in awe.
In the 18+ years I’ve been coaching, my business has continually evolved and changed from strictly life coaching to include corporate and executive coaching as well. In the last ten years, I have supplemented my private coaching business by working as a coach for a couple of organizations. First, Robbins Research International, an Anthony Robbins company and currently for The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC), an ADP company. These organizations opened the door of opportunity to coach individuals all over the world, in all kinds of walks of life and organizations.
For the last several years, I have been a mentor coach for coaches wanting to become certified in the TMBC strengths coaching method. This is when I discovered a new passion – supporting other coaches to continue to grow and learn. I am now a Certified Mentor Coach (CMC) and Certified Coach Supervisor as well.
My advice to new coaches is to enjoy the journey! The opportunities to continually hone your skills and add to your toolbox abound. ICF requires ongoing professional development hours to renew your credentials periodically, so make it a part of your ongoing practice to look for and take advantage of these opportunities to add new tools, processes and approaches to your repertoire.
Mentor coaching is also a requirement from ICF to gain your next level of certification. I know for myself, and having worked with many others, that it can be intimidating to record your coaching calls or be observed by others and allow yourself to be vulnerable to hearing where you can improve. Most coaches have some level of performance anxiety around this. If this describes you, know you are not alone! Just remember that the intent of mentor coaching is not to judge you but to support you in refining your skills to be even more effective in your coaching! Mentor coaching played a vital role for me personally in gaining my certification as a Master Certified Coach (MCC).
If you are just getting started in your practice, here are a few things I think are helpful:
- ONE: Price your services at a point that feels comfortable for you given your level of experience and confidence. It’s okay to charge less at first in order to quickly gain a track record and testimonials that will be great support for encouraging potential clients to work with you. If this feels right to you, do it only temporarily, then, as you gain confidence, raise your rates to be more congruent with the value you offer.
- TWO: Listen to the advice you’ll hear about finding your unique niche. It’s true you can coach anyone, but building a viable coaching business is so much easier and effective when you focus your marketing on a specific target audience and you are able to speak to their specific needs.
- THREE: Engage in the kinds of marketing activities that play to your strengths – those you find enjoyable and energizing rather than the ones that drain you. Consistency with a few marketing strategies will pay dividends. Partnering with someone who has complementary strengths, perhaps a virtual assistant or another coach who loves doing the things you find yourself avoiding, can be helpful as well.
- FOUR: Give yourself some time to gain momentum by building your practice on the side while still having an income you can count on. The stress of putting all your eggs in one basket can take the joy out of building your passion business. Just like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race!
I’m delighted to be joining the faculty of LPI and hope to meet you at some point along your coaching journey!