Confessions of a Heartworker #1
‘From Speed to Space’
Heartwork doesn’t understand time in the same way our linear brain calculates it. Nor does it compute success with achievement or getting somewhere quickly. In fact, time and time again I am challenged to lean into my western beliefs around my sense of time and success when it comes to creating and sharing my work.
“A calling doesn’t come with a three-step formula.”
I was reminded of the importance of space when I came across yet another ‘three quick steps to success’ Facebook ad. I am sure they will be fabulous value for some but I have yet to find someone who found an overnight, ‘just follow the 3, 5,10 steps to success’ process successful in my type of coaching business.
Recently I spoke to another colleague who was burned once too often by one of these marketing ads aimed at struggling heartfelt coaches. And she is not alone – so many of us are wooed. Just like our clients love the thought of being shown how to get to success quickly, we also want to be shown ‘what to do’ and ‘how to do it’. And yes, I am no different but I have become wiser.
Still, it is not surprising that we are looking for the ‘quick fix’ as it is a common human trait to run from pain and look for the most comfortable route to ‘success’. Yet, when we talk to our clients we tell them that, although working with us may be a catalyst for the change they’re looking for, we expect them to do the inner work if they want long-lasting result. And whilst we give them this sound advice, we need to have that talk with ourselves too.
And P.S., if you think this story doesn’t apply to you, then think where this ‘quick-fix’ mentality might have crept into your belief system? How often have you been enticed by a 3-steps to success promise? Where have you been hoping in vain for instant results? Where are you beating yourself up for ‘not having achieved yet’, ‘not having changed yet’, ‘not having … fill in the blank .. yet’?
“Coaching is a beautiful calling but it can be a tough business because you get to meet yourself every step of the way.”
Many coaches I know, particularly those who favour the life coaching side, are driven by their desire to be in service so they can make a difference. Be the difference, if you like. They want to make a positive impact and help people. Heck, I’m one of them so I know what it’s like. Coaching is a beautiful calling but it can be a tough business because you get to meet yourself every step of the way as it will provide an immediate mirror for what is going on in our own life. Thankfully most of us are all about growth, so that part of it is a bonus! Still, it isn’t always easy.
As I wrote in my previous confession, ‘Ground Zero’, I started this particular business 3 years ago, after moving back to the UK and leaving a successful commercial training and coaching business, which I co-founded. As I had been successful in the business of professional coaching already, my expectation was that I could hit the ground running and was surprised and even horrified to find myself hitting ‘ground zero’ instead!
There were three things I had to learn and if I had to give you the dreaded ‘three steps to success’ in this business, it would be this:
Step 1. Space;
Step 2. Space; and
Step 3. More Space!
Let me expand on this. 🙂
Step 1. Space
The old us is not going to cut it. You may know the saying, what got you here is not going to get you there? Well, there’s a reason that the saying exists. To be able to do this work, we need the space to recalibrate so we can lift ourselves to the next level, a new level of consciousness and experience – both in our capacity as a coach AND in business. One that is capable of carrying all of the responsibility that comes with it.
Please don’t think that this means you can’t start until you get to that level because, in fact, starting is the only thing that is going to get you there. Start but do yourself a favour and allow yourself the space to grow into this role and remind yourself of this many times along the way.
I recently watched a video shared by one of my fellow coaches. It was a speech by American comedian and television host Steve Harvey, and in it he encourages people to jump for what they believe in. To jump off the fence and follow your calling, with the belief that the parachute will open on the way down. However, he also warns us that the parachute may not open immediately. It may stay closed for longer than is comfortable and as you find yourself plummeting, you may hit some of the protruding rocks on the way down. Your chute might tear on those rocks but if you keep going, your parachute WILL open and eventually it will take you where you need to go, even if it takes hitting ground zero as you do.
Step 2. Space
That takes me to this next important point. To grow into this role, we need to allow ourselves the space to make mistakes and the space to not know. Making mistakes and not knowing are painful as they create uncertainty and eat away at our confidence and identity. They challenge our basic human needs for certainty and significance and when we focus on the feeding of either of these needs from a place of neediness, we find ourselves in trouble as fear is now in the driver’s seat.
What we don’t realise is that, whilst we are looking so hard to make our business work, we forget the reason why we started out in the first place.
The challenge is that in order to be successful as a business we are told you need to know who you are, what you offer and who your audience is. And as we desperately look around us to find the quickest road to creating clarity around these points, we listen to others who tell us that in order to be successful we need to ‘plant a stake in the ground’ and claim a ‘niche’. From a business perspective this makes perfect sense. I have a background in sales so I understand and even taught the concept. It’s a no brainer, and yet …
As coaches who are in the business to make a difference, we struggle with this when we start out. As we begin, we often have little idea about our so-called ‘niche’ as we are still in the exploratory stage. What drives us initially is our desire to follow our calling to be in service to people. We also know that we can help most people if they are ready for change and we don’t always like discriminating. It goes against what we stand for and, at the same time, we also know that we don’t want to choose just any old focus for the sake of selling our services. We just can’t do it and when we do do it, we cannot be congruent with the selling of our service and inside we feel ‘icky’. We smell it, we know it, we taste it and, as a result, our potential clients do too.
Still, we get brainwashed about trying to find the ‘right niche’ so it becomes easier and this becomes an all consuming focus. And what we don’t realise is that, whilst we are looking so hard to make our business work, we forget the reason why we started out in the first place. To follow the call to serve our purpose.
The harder we look, the more pressure we create for ourselves and the more challenging and frustrating it becomes. We get to a stage where we forget to love ourselves and are in danger of losing the love for what we were born to do. We become so bogged down with our focus on ‘making it work’ that we lose all sense of clarity and confidence when the (business) results aren’t immediately visible.
We cannot let fear be the driver and the only thing that is going to allow us out of that dark hole is to put our focus squarely back on our why. Start with the why and give all the ingredients space to breathe and infuse. Give ourselves space to explore and create the space for ‘the how’ to find us. Sooner or later our unique how of our calling will become clearer to us as we allow the slow cooker to do its work.
Step 3. More Space
“We are not called to be ‘in the business of coaching’, we are called to do the work.”
As I mentioned earlier, for many of us this job is a calling – something we feel inexplicably drawn to do. And this is where we need to realise an important distinction – we are not called to be ‘in the Business of coaching’, we are called to do the Work!
A calling doesn’t come with a three-step formula. I am not saying that there aren’t a huge amount of 3 steps that will be helpful on the way to our business success, but don’t expect them to be the be all and end all. Instead, see them as stepping stones whilst you work on your own formula, your own rules. You are called to go inward, to listen to your heart and through it you can start allowing yourself to make new rules so you can serve from a place of congruence. And sometimes that may also mean that you are better off sharing your gifts in an existing organisation or through other means rather than a coaching business. When you continue to focus on your why, you can never truly fail.
Whatever you do and however you decide to do it, leave yourself space to evolve. We are so conditioned to feeling the pressures of time in our lives but our soul doesn’t understand time in the same linear way that we experience it here on earth. It is not concerned with ‘getting’ anywhere. All it is concerned with is whether you follow your truth and show up as best you can in any given moment.
So space is the word. Space to learn. Space to plummet. Space to explore, expand and evolve. Keep the courage, surround yourself with those who understand you and your choices and when you believe enough, trust enough and continue to listen to your inner wisdom, sooner or later the path will find you.
Love. Live. Lead.
I am Ann Skinner, otherwise known as The Heartworker. I am a personal and professional leadership coach, a teacher, writer, doodler as well as the bestselling author of The Art of Contribution. All my work aims to inspire us to reconnect to our very essence so we can reclaim all of who we are – intuitive, creative and heartfelt beings.
My Heartworkers Academy opened October 2017, offering online programmes to help you find your way by living life The Heartworker’s Way. It also offers a sacred community for fellow Heartworkers looking to lead the way. Find out more about The Academy here or download my Three Keys to Living The Heartworker’s Way here: www.theheartworker.com