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One of the hardest parts of being a coach ...

is watching clients fall prey to self-doubt and procrastination. We've all been there. It can be paralyzing and if you don't right the ship, it can sabotage all of the work you've done up to that point.

How many times have you heard a client (or yourself) cry "I don't know how!" It's a painful truth, but in life (and in business) it's rarely the "how to" that you're missing. It's something much deeper.

You see, over the years, I've worked with dozens of entrepreneurs, leaders, creators, and makers. Whenever the dreaded "I don't know how" came up, we quickly discovered that there was always something more at play. When you want something badly enough, you'll always figure out a way "how." The "how" becomes incidental. It's a small piece of the larger puzzle, and you recognize it as such.


So what's really going on when someone gets stuck this way? Over the years, I've discovered that it really boils down to one of two possibilities.


Possibility #1: They're going after something that they don't really want (or don't want very urgently.) How can you tell if this is the case? Look for the evidence: procrastination, excuses, endless re-tooling of their idea; getting laser focused on one small detail instead of seeing the larger picture. These are the hallmarks of the half-hearted pursuit. Your client will nobly embark on the path toward a goal, but doesn't seem to have much urgency to get to the destination. The client who is stuck in this type of thinking will often spend weeks or months trying to get something "just right" and at every turn they'll convince themselves that it's not quite there yet. This habit of perfectionism, self-distraction and self-delusion keeps them from looking at the big picture. They'll spin their wheels and convince themselves that it's progress. Doing so saves them from embarrassment and shame. It keeps them from acknowledging that their heart isn't really in it. The Solution: Get radically honest about what they truly desire and decide whether or not this is the best path toward achieving it. Invite them to look at their choices and their behavioral patterns. If they really want to achieve their goal, are their actions matching their words?


Possibility #2: The "I don't know how" is pointing to a choice that hasn't been made. This happens when a client seems stuck in learning and analysis rather than executing. The tell-tale signs of this state: information overwhelm, juggling multiple options or strategies, shiny object syndrome, jumping from resource to resource or teacher to teacher. In this scenario, the client will hesitate to implement what they've learned because they're unsure which option is going to work. The catch: the only way to find out what works is to implement and gather feedback. They'll never know what strategy is right for their life or business by learning about someone else. True confidence comes from action and experience, not knowledge and theory. (click to tweet) The Solution: Invite the client to choose a path and stick to it. In this scenario, all feedback is valuable data and all action is progress. The true enemy here is the fear of failure. Invite your client to embrace the inevitable failures that come with living a creative life. Their "failures" are simply stepping stones on the path. Success is never a straight line. It's a winding path of trial and error. When you coach your client into seeing things from this liberated perspective that they can begin to take risks, try out strategies, and learn from their choices. Only then can they truly begin to create great work (and see great results).


How to incorporate this into your coaching practice:

The next time you find your clients (or yourself) uttering the words "I don't know how", invite the to examine which of the two truths is at play. Once they've come to a discovery, present the solution and allow them to make a choice about how they want to behave moving forward. Just by incorporating this subtle distinction into your work, you'll deepen your coaching practice and serve your clients more powerfully than ever before.


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Now I want to hear from you. How did the 2 truths presented here change the way you saw your clients or yourself? Comment below and share your insights.

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