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Two years ago, I had a wonderful plan for building my coaching business in 2020. For some strange reason, that all got messed up!

I’m blessed that my coaching can instantly switch over to Zoom. In fact, I’ve been using that for all my remote clients for many years now.

No, my marketing strategy got totally derailed. Since my approach is heavily based on building one-on-one relationships, most of my networking instantly disappeared. Some groups fell apart while others stagnated or were forced to redesign.

Since I have a tech background and have lots of experience with Zoom, I got pulled into producing Zoom events for various organizations. It turns out that can pay pretty well, so I ended up getting some significant revenue for that in 2020. Some of it continued into 2021.

Along the way, I discovered something fascinating. It turns out that clients are drawn to my production work because I take a coaching approach to it. I focus on their deeper goals, and help them design an event which truly achieves that. Sure, along the way I need to cajole Zoom into working properly, but many people can do that.

I’ve also been told that my coach-like optimism is a real asset. It helps my clients to approach their event calmly, knowing that somehow the tech magic will happen behind the scenes and all their participants will get a lot out of it.

But the lesson here isn’t really about Zoom, or pivoting my business in response to the pandemic.

It’s about how I’ve learned to bring the coaching mindset to everything I do. Looking back on my life, I see many examples of how that thinking has served me well as facilitator, leader, volunteer, and parent.

As I look to the future, it appears that we all need to strengthen our skills in being flexible and adapting. Key forces might be health care, climate change and industry upheaval – or other new influences we haven’t yet seen. But it doesn’t seem like things will become stable anytime soon.

It turns out that coaches are well suited to navigate this space. We’re all about balancing the power of a vision with the reality of the present. We look for resources and capabilities, building on strengths and synergies.

I have no idea if the future belongs to coaches. What matters is that we help bring the coaching skills and mindset to more people in our society: leaders, collaborators, and problem-solvers.

It doesn’t mean that we coaches know any more about having solutions or what our future will look like. Most of the time we’re probably as lost and confused as anyone else.

What makes the difference is our optimism and confidence that we can, together, build a better future. We believe that problems can be solved. We believe that people are fully capable of achieving ambitious goals. We believe that every person is to be included and respected.

Those beliefs seem to be in short supply sometimes.

That’s why coaches and coaching skills are so vital to the future of our world!


This article was first published in Choice Magazine, Volume 21 number 1.

It’s now becoming a little easier to be optimistic about the future of my business and those of my clients. But, for me, optimism has always been an essential tool for success.

Sometimes optimism is just about putting on a good face, kind of a “fake it ‘til you make it” affair. But I strive for something deeper than that.

There are three reasons I find this important:

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You don’t know how strong something is until it’s truly tested.

This last year has been a huge stress-test for every client I’ve worked with. It’s not just because the pandemic has altered the landscape of many industries. It’s also that restrictions have faced us with deep personal and business decisions.

Every week, and even every day.

It’s tempting to just hunker down and wait for this to all blow over. Many did that in the early days, because we were hoping that things would “get back to normal” after just a few weeks. Well, that didn’t happen.

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We laid my mother to rest recently. Given that it’s 2020, we weren’t able to have a proper funeral, and had a short outdoor service with extended family on Zoom.

It wasn’t the ideal. But you know what? It was plenty good, and respected everyone’s limitations.

That’s what this whole year has been about. Making the best of what we have. And if you think about it, this is nothing new. We’re always making tradeoffs.

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Optimism is a key tool of leadership. Why? Because it creates energy in yourself and others, helping people to focus on moving forward rather than retracting in despair.

But the word “optimism” tends to feel a little bit forced these days; it sounds like maybe it’s something you’re either born with or not.

So I’m working on building my intentional positivity.

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PART OF THE REASON someone starts a business is because they want to be free of corporate work.

That’s wonderful, but then you find that you’re even MORE constrained by what it means to run a company. And, of course, you’re the last one to get paid.

Here’s the funny thing: the freedom is all in your own mind. How so?

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WHEN YOU THANK SOMEONE, you’re doing a great service. They feel better, they relate to you more as a wonderful person, and it build the relationship.

That’s fantastic. But gratitude is also something you give to yourself.

How so?

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THORNS ARE A REAL PAIN to deal with. In your business, perhaps your “thorns” are:

  • Customers that are demanding, unappreciative, and don’t pay on time
  • Employees who don’t get along well
  • Regulations
  • Mistakes
  • Life

This is what makes leadership so difficult. When things are going well, great! But there always seems to be a few aspects which are painful.

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PEOPLE GET HUNG UP on all the challenges they’re facing.  Big competitors.  Annoying customers.  Employee turnover.

But here’s the thing:  EVERYTHING has a good side and a bad side.

Often they’re two sides of the same coin.  For instance, the loss of a good employee can mean the opportunity to find someone who’s a superstar.

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STEVE MARSHALL BILLS HIMSELF as a “Transformation Enabler.”

At least that’s what it says on his business card.

What he really does is to work with  leaders on strategic planning, organizational development, managing change, and executive coaching.  It’s similar to my own coaching practice, but he tends to focus a bit more on larger companies and more complex organizations.

As you know, my website here is dedicated to business owners who are living in a different paradigm.  We’re making money, sure, but more importantly we’re improving the world through our work.

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