630-484-2336 ben@bedo.org

So, have you heard the news?  Apparently I’ve completed my first book for coaches, “How to Find your First Five Clients”.  While I’m pretty proud of it, I’m also somewhat surprised at how it all came about.

It started off because I kept reading posts from coaches on the Co-Active Coaching Network who were feeling out of their element, wondering how they can possibly begin their coaching business, and were starting to get a bit overwhelmed.
While I love passing on information and being able to help new and growing coaches, I was beginning to get tired of writing the same reply over and over again, every post was basically the same, and then a few weeks or months would pass, and then another new coach would post a call for help-“Help, I need clients for Certification” and “I’m trying to start my coaching business, how do I do it?”   I then got the idea that I should simply keep a file of my post of helpful information on how to get started and then just copy and paste it every time the topic comes up.  In fact, this was so easy a task, that I could see the action steps quite clearly.

  1. find one of my past responses to one of those network posts and copy it.
  2. Spend an hour or two embellishing on it so that it was rich and valuable and helpful.
  3. Save it.

There, done.  A couple pages that I could quickly and easily refer to at a moment’s notice.  Nice and easy.
But when I read over them, my past posts felt quickly slapped together (cause they always were) and I realized I had the ability to actually take my time and craft my words together.  Start from scratch, take a few minutes to plan my information.  The content would be a simple structure and exercise to help coaches find their first five clients.  Perhaps this would be more like a 5 page booklet that I could pass on to new coaches every time they needed to know how to begin their coaching practice.  Easy.  The possibilities kept expanding.  I could even keep it on my web site with all my other things that I offer coaches.  It would be an easy thing to point to and drive a little traffic to my website.  Not only that, but then coaches would perhaps discover how valuable it would be to work with me and hire me as their coach.  This was quickly turning into more than just a quick solution to tedium and repetition.
So I set about crafting and building a simple little 10-page eBook that I could also use for my website marketing.

But as I formed the outline, I realized that there were some critical insights that would also be great to pass on.  In my years of working with coaches, I had encountered the “getting clients” topics with my clients any times, but we would also explore other important coaching questions as well.  A lot of this stuff was vital information that I felt all coaches should know.
Well fine, I accepted, then it would be more like a 20-page book.   No big deal.  It just would take me a little longer to complete than I originally intended.  And on I continued to work on my outline.

But as I shifted my focus from sketching the outline to expanding the content and began my writing, I continued to revisit common questions and conversations from working with my coach clients through their stages of coach development.  I didn’t just work with them on finding their clients.  We also explored developing their own coaching identity, exposed some of the myths of coaching, and tackled common and overwhelming problems that all new coaches seem to experience.  They had questions about this and that, and I had answers that were helpful.  I had been there too.  And I could help them in this leg of their journey.  This, too, was important information.
And the more I typed, the more additional content seemed to appear on the page.  It was not long before I realized that this book was going to be more than just a simple little 10 or even 20-page quickie, but it was clear this was evolving into a larger book that was attempting to fill in the missing bits of information that many coaches haven’t been able to get from their schools or perhaps even from working with their own coaches.
Every time I went back to clean up a small section, I discovered something else that was missing.  At one point, it occurred to me that my style is much more interactive–I mean, most of this stuff came from working with my clients, and simply having an informative book felt sterile and boring.  I needed that “client’s” presence to help illustrate and clarify, to have a voice for the reader’s own questions and concerns.  It wasn’t long before I discovered that I was forming this into a workbook-an opportunity for coaches to actually work through and discover valuable information that they can apply to their coaching.  The more personal an experience I could provide, the more valuable.  And on and on it kept going.

When I had finally completed the book, I had expanded to over 70 pages, not counting any pictures and graphs and work spaces, which ultimately kicked it well over 80 pages.
What was amazing was that, there actually came a point where I wasn’t trying to make it be finished, but suddenly I knew it was completed.  I had said what needed to be said and it was now time to send it out into the world.

OK, so what’s the point of this little history?  Well, it seems a great illustration of how things don’t always go according to plan.  In fact, if I really had wanted to crank out a simple 5-page auto-response to beginning coaches, I would have.  But I kept “listening” to the book–sometimes having to let go of what it was “supposed to be” and allow myself to get curious about what it was becoming.

What we’re talking about in part is the difference between “Commitment” and “Attachment.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying “Attachment” is bad.  By all means, if it works for you, then go for it.  But most of the time when we form attachments to a specific outcome, we end up feeling frustrated, limited, and penned in.  It’s where that dreaded “fear of failure” begins to arise and take command.  And it’s also how we end up getting derailed and therefore we end up having a really difficult time accomplishing our goals, and almost always we just end up letting them drop away.

Look at my experience with the book.  If I had really locked in and was determined to have my book out by July 2008 as I had originally intended, I’m sure I could have done it.  But that would have been fulfilling the attached outcome of “having a simple 5-10 page eBook.”  If that really was the predominant goal, then by all means, stop flopping around and just hack out 5-10 pages.  It’s really not that hard.  This piece alone ended up being about 2 pages long.
But as it turns out, that wasn’t the compelling goal.  For me this time, the real goal was to “create and provide a book that shared essential knowledge and experience to other coaches helping them in the beginning stages of building their coaching business.”
That being the case, I have something more compelling to focus on and help guide me, especially those times when I’m getting stuck.
As an added bonus, the time spent between the original “desired” completion date, and the real completion date a year later allowed me to expand and develop this book into something that I’m proud of.

Secondly, if the goal really was “have something completed by July 2008”, again, it’s not really that hard to have “something” typed out and available by then.  I mean, I had already typed out plenty of things in much less time.  The trap comes when I start collapsing “important and compelling goals” with “other supposed to goals”.  For example, the blending of “providing deep learning and value to coaches” with “have to be done NOW.”  Those two goals ended up conflicting with each other.   What made this journey a whole lot easier was to let go of some of the goals (completed by a certain time), while connecting with stronger more compelling goals (provide learning and value).  In other words, letting go of the “attachment” of how it was “supposed to be” and focusing on my “commitment”.
And now I have something that I’m proud of-an eWorkBook packed full of valuable information and learning that I get to share with coaches worldwide, helping them to grow their coaching.

So now that I’m done, I guess I’ll go on vacation…