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How Confusion About Compassion Kills Coaching

Lori West 15 May 2016
Qualities typically associated with the heart, like compassion, are very misunderstood. So much is made about compassion and empathy in business, and it is needed. However, assigning heart qualities importance over other qualities necessary to build a thriving business stands to kill your future as a coach and as a leader.

Valuing heart qualities over others brings imbalance to your business. There are equally valid and important qualities like wisdom, discernment and acceptance that aren’t associated with the heart but are ones you must cultivate in order to be a successful coach AND make a difference.

Now, many people train to be coaches, sold on the fact that it’s easy to make money being a coach and there’s never been a better time to do it. They complete their studies armed with a toolbox full of fantastic processes, boundless enthusiasm and a belief that they can change the world. They’ve got big ideas and high hopes for what they are going to achieve in making the world a better place.

Three, four, sometimes eight years later, they’re still struggling to make ends meet and don’t quite understand why their businesses haven’t taken off in the way they expected.

I know. I’ve met them personally. I’ve struggled myself.

There’s a reason for the struggle. It’s all about growth. However, I suggest it’s not about growth in the way you think. I’m not talking about galactic expansion. There’s something you absolutely must do first. You must ground yourself in the reality of planet Earth.

Earth-based wisdom is about establishing roots, being prepared to plant yourself to one focus, purpose or mission and have your business and life be about bringing it into being. To be able to powerfully fulfil on your mission, you must dive deep into the subject, becoming an authority on your chosen area of expertise. This is what many coaches, in their belief that they can help everyone, resist, and this is why they fail in business.

You see, as lovely as heart-felt qualities of compassion, empathy, passion and a desire to make a difference are, they are not very useful when you refuse to channel them.

Take a tree. A tree’s roots dig deeply into the soil, drilling down further as the tree grows up. It’s this ability to root itself deeply to one spot on the earth’s surface that has it reach up for the stars. We admire the trees for their majesty, forgetting the depth to which they exist under the surface.

Imagine what it would be like if trees didn’t have roots. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t feel safe wandering around a forest full of floating trees being carried by the whims of the wind. Would you?

Unless you ground your compassion in a rooted way, unless you choose to be known for something and serve that purpose, you, too, will be carried along with the winds and the tide. And like floating trees, you will repel more people than you attract.

Take Mother Theresa. Some say she was a living saint. She certainly was an amazing woman, a superstar amongst the spiritual leaders of the world. Did she help everyone? No, she didn’t. She was very clear about her mission, which was to support the people living in grinding poverty in Calcutta, India. Focused, purposeful, highly effective.

How about Nelson Mandela? Was it his mission to save the people of the world? No, it wasn’t. It was his mission to stop the heinous practice of apartheid in South Africa and bring equal rights to people of all colour in his country. Focused, purposeful, highly effective.

For that matter, take any public figure who stands out as a beacon for something great. Martin Luther King, Jr. Oprah Winfrey. Sheryl Sandberg. Elon Musk. Are you clear about their mission here on the planet? Yes. Are they here to help everyone? No. Do they contribute to the growth of the planet and people's consciousness? Absolutely yes.

Consider the people in your community who inspire you. Are they helping everyone in the world? No. They are highly focused on making a difference to a particular part of your community. Because of their focus, they are able to effect extraordinary change to the lives of the people they serve. Are they making an extraordinary contribution as a result? Absolutely! It’s clear for everyone to see, and we’re inspired by their example.

So, let me ask you. What is it that prevents you from choosing a focus in your business? What is it that creates your resistance to being purposeful and focused in life?

It’s the energy that prevents most amazing things from happening in life.

It’s fear.

Fear is held at the root chakra, the energy centre at the base of the spine that enables us to connect with earth wisdom. As a result, fear lies at the root of everything that stops you from being focused, purposeful and highly effective. And if fear is the energy that lies at the root of your business, then you will never establish the solid foundation, based on compassion, needed to be the difference you want to see in the world. The fear blocks the compassion from making its way onto the planet.

Your work now is to ask yourself, “What am I fearful of?” Here are some possibilities.

  • I am afraid of saying no to people because I might look bad in their eyes.
  • I am afraid of asking people to pay me because my clients might find out I’m a fake.
  • I am afraid to turn down business in case I don’t get any more.
  • I am afraid that being business-like will dent my image of being a good person.
  • I am afraid I'll choose the wrong thing and be stuck with it.
These possibilities represent the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps these possibilities trigger something in you that pricks open an awareness of your own resistance. Great! If not, keep looking.

From an energetic perspective, your goal is not to float out into the cosmos and remain there. You rise up to access higher levels of knowledge and wisdom so that you may bring this down onto the planet and share it with others. Manifestation doesn’t stop at your heart. In fact, three-quarters of your body lies below the heart.

You must bring this energy down into your feet. You must be willing to root yourself to a path and stick to it. You must be willing to take action to make it happen. Otherwise, you come across as wishy-washy, limp, floaty, lacking in substance. No one wants to put their lives or their business in the hands of someone who lacks strength and solidity.

That’s not to say that, at some point in your life, you may want to change course or expand. It’s human nature to want to move and grow.

Consider that your branches provide the opportunity for expansion and change. The roots and the trunk make your "branching out" possible. Without the roots and the trunk, you’re just a collection of twigs. That's not the mark of inspiration, of being a stand for something, of being a leader.

So, how do you want your coaching business to grow - as a majestic tree or a collection of twigs?

I know what I choose.

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