Nobody Can Do It for You: What Whitewater Rafting Can Teach You About Success in Your Coaching Business

Last month when I was in Durango with my mastermind group, we went whitewater rafting. It was an absolute blast! Not only that, but it also provided me with an epiphany about business (bonus!).

When you go whitewater rafting, there’s always a safety briefing beforehand.

Let me tell you about ours:

There we were, standing on the edge of the river, all suited up in our life vests and helmets. Our guide started giving us an overview of what the trip was going to be like, and of course, she went over the fact that there’s always the potential of someone falling out of the raft.

She explained that there’s a lot of danger underwater … danger we can’t see from the surface: rocks, fallen trees, and branches.

If you fall out of the river raft, our guide said, there is a certain procedure to follow to help ensure your safety.

And if you didn’t follow it, you could very well end up floating down the river, getting snagged on branches and stuck, or even getting caught in the rocks, face down, which could of course cause drowning.

But if you follow the procedure, then survival is very likely.

Our guide then went on to outline the procedure (and there’s one element that really stood out to me—more on that in a minute).

She said that once you make sure you’re not in immediate danger, you should swim toward the raft, grab onto the rope, and wait for another member of your party to grab your life vest. Your “helper” will then dip you down into the water just slightly, and then pull you into the raft.

Meanwhile, you will kick as hard as you can to get yourself out of the water.

Here’s what she said that really hit me:

“You’ve got to participate in your own rescue.”

And that’s when it hit me: it’s exactly the same in business. In business, when you fall out of the raft (when you encounter obstacles and challenges, when you hit pitfalls), you’ve GOT to participate in rescuing yourself. Nobody can do it for you.

When you’re on a rafting trip, you have the tools and the guide and the team and the supplies you need, but even so, when things get rough, you must participate in your own rescue.

I’ve seen real-life examples of this time and time again: coaches in the process of building their dream businesses have everything they need to succeed: they have the tools, the support, the coaching, the community, and the structure.

Inevitably, life happens! These coaches experience setbacks, or personal challenges, that threaten to slow or halt their progress.

Entrepreneurs typically respond in one of two ways:

They just stop trying. They bob along in the water, hoping for rescue. They’re wet and cold and definitely NOT having fun. Yet they don’t do anything to participate in their own rescue.

They ask for help. They get advice from their coaches, they take action, and they use the resources we provide.

They hold true to their intentions. Their actions say, “I want to have a great ride and enjoy this!”

They participate in their own rescues, and they thrive.

When you have a coach and a community and the tools and materials you need, it’s up to you to participate—to create your own success. You can’t sit back and just hope for things to work out … for your business to magically emerge intact and shining on the other side of a rough patch.

So I’d like to ask you: what are YOU doing, every day, to participate in your own rescue … in your own success? How are you using the resources that are available to you to stay in the raft (or get back into it), and to enjoy the rapids—the best parts of the business-building experience?

I’ve created an important (and complimentary) resource designed to help you determine which specific actions you can take, based on your precise situation, to move your business forward and create your own success. It’s called 12 Proven Strategies for Launching & Scaling a Coaching Business Now and you can download it here, now.

Are You Working Against Yourself? What Biking Can Teach Us About Building Business

Remember that story I told you about skiing?

I told you how much I love it, and how, after I discovered the power of getting a great mentor and following a proven path, I was flying down bigger mountains than ever, seeing sights I’d never seen, and having the time of my life.

Well, this story is nothing like that one.

I’m relatively new to biking. (And biking hills.)

Recently, my husband Dave and I went for a ride. I have an awesome SCOTT road bike, and typically, we love biking together. On this particular day, we decided to ride a beautiful greenway along a river near our house.

It should have been fun. (You know I’m ALL about the FUN.)

But on this trip, it felt like I was working way harder than normal. It was hard to keep up with Dave, my heart was pounding, and I felt the beginnings of heat exhaustion.

The entire ride, I was behind Dave, and all these negative thoughts were running through my mind:

  • “I just can’t keep up—but I should be able to!”
  • “No, Melinda, you shouldn’t. He’s been biking longer than you, and he’s stronger than you.”
  • “I shouldn’t ride with Dave. He just makes it too hard for me.”
  • “I’ll just go at my own pace. No, I can’t let him out-ride me.”
  • “This is a flat greenway, for goodness sake! What in the heck??”

All I could focus on was the feeling that I wasn’t good enough. My inner arch-nemesis, Perfect Portia, was screaming that my bike-riding skills were way short of her expectations.

And all the negative chatter and self-criticism kept me from enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Then we discovered that something wasn’t right about my gears. They were shifting properly, but they were making a funny sound, and were not consistent. Next, we realized my front brakes weren’t functioning like they should be.

At the end of the trip, we dropped the bike off at a local shop. After they inspected it, they called to give us an update: my chain and gears needed an adjustment, my front brake was rubbing the tire, and I had a slow leak in my front tire.

All of these issues contributed to making my ride much harder than it needed to be.

And, despite all the criticism, the lack of enjoyment, and the self-blame—it wasn’t my “fault.” It was my equipment’s fault.

Last weekend, we picked up my bike after a full tune-up, and BAM! We had a super-fun, enjoyable, easier ride. In fact, we went the fastest I’ve ever gone.

So what does this have to do with business?

Because my equipment was faulty, I was working way harder than normal—and I wasn’t keeping up. I was frustrated and disheartened. Yet, a simple solution—a quick tune-up—solved my problem and allowed me to enjoy the next ride and make greater progress!

In business, the most enjoyable path is often found with the right equipment.

In this case, that’s an integrated back end, rather than a bunch of systems and technology piecemealed together.

When you’re incorporating multiple technologies, you’re working harder than you have to—and you’re inefficient. Frustration ensues, because you don’t get the results you want, in terms of generating leads, converting clients, coaching those clients, and of course, making money!

The good news is that you CAN give your business a tune-up and enjoy the ride as it functions at optimal levels!

If you’d like to learn more about how, I’d like to invite you to download a complimentary resource I designed to help you set up the right equipment to ensure your business runs smoothly. It’s called 12 Proven Strategies for Launching & Scaling a Coaching Business Now, and you can download it here.

The Number One Piece of Advice I Followed to Fill my Coaching Practice

As you navigate the early stages of launching your coaching business, you’re probably receiving a ton of advice … advice about marketing and client support, and, of course, about how to attract leads and convert them to clients so you can fill your practice.

You probably know that not all advice is created equal.

That’s why I wanted to share the single most important advice I received when I was starting my own coaching practice. It’s advice I’ve followed again and again throughout my career as a coach and as I launched and grew The Coaches Console alongside my business partner Kate Steinbacher.

But first, a story …

When I first started my coaching practice in 2003, I attended Coach U, a training school founded by Thomas Leonard, the official maker of the coaching world.

He’d died about a year before I started attending the school, but as part of my training, I was listening to a recording he’d made during a class run by one of the Coach U employees, Sandy.

In it, Thomas shared a formula that outlined how many people you had to talk to, in order to get a certain number of clients to sign on with you.

Although this isn’t the actual formula he used, here’s an example: If you want to get 10 clients, you have to have 20 meetings. If you want to have 20 meetings, you have to call 100 people.

He said, “The more people you meet with, the more yeses you get.”

And I realized: this advice wasn’t exclusive to meeting with people. It was bigger than that.

It was about consistency.

Specifically, by taking consistent, intentional action (in this case, meeting with a certain number of people), a business owner can create the results she wants in her business (in this case, filling my practice).

I decided to meet with as many people as possible. And, to increase the effectiveness of my meetings, I was sure to prepare in advance. I met with people who were potential ideal clients, or who could help me find my ideal clients. And I met with a lot of them.

Here’s how the process looked—and the results it yielded:

I set up an “office” in a local coffee shop, Roanoke Mountain Coffee Shop. Twice or three times each week, for three months, I’d spend four, five, or six hours at the coffee shop.

My first appointment would come in and meet me for coffee, and we’d talk about how I could help—whether it was through coaching, or referrals, or simply by sharing information. That person would leave, I wouldn’t move, and my next appointment would come in and have lunch with me.  Again, we’d talk, that person would leave, I wouldn’t move, and my next appointment would come in.

As I mentioned, I prepared in advance for each meeting: I always researched the people I was meeting with, so I could learn what I could about them. Then, when we sat down together, we could dive into the meat of the conversation right away. And although I was looking to build my business, and fill it with clients, I focused more on generosity: seeking ways I could support these people in the challenges they were facing at the time.

That might mean giving them advice about a book or article I found helpful, or about another professional who might be able to help them. It might mean I introduced them to someone else. No matter what, I always offered value.

And because of that, they were quick to reciprocate and find ways to help me.

Some of the people I met with turned into clients, some turned into referral sources or JV partners, and others turned into friends.

When I heard, “No,” I didn’t take it personally because I knew my consistency would pay off.

It worked! Even though my hair and clothes constantly smelled like coffee, even though I drank so much of it I couldn’t even stomach it any more, it worked.

Person by person, referral source by referral source, client by client, I filled and built my coaching business. There was (and is) magic in the numbers.

This was MY system for converting and enrolling people, and because I employed the most important advice I ever received—be consistent!—my business growth flowed fast.

If you’d like to learn more about how to develop and use a system that works for you, I’d like to invite you to download an important, complimentary resource I designed to guide you in systemizing your business so you get the results you want! It’s called 12 Proven Strategies for Launching & Scaling a Coaching Business Now and you can download it here, now.