Momentum Podcast: 18
Are You In An Abusive (Coaching) Relationship?
by Alex Charfen
There is an epidemic in the coaching industry today. The vast majority of “coaches” are selling the result they've never gotten themselves.
Hundreds of entrepreneurs are reaching out for help, being vulnerable, and asking for protection and support only to be let down. Asking for help is one of the hardest things we do and when it doesn't work out it makes it even harder to do it again.
There is a reason we stay in abusive relationships, our default thinking is that we are the problem, there is something wrong with us, and everybody else must be succeeding. Unfortunately, in many cases this isn't the case, some coaches have spent all of their time learning how to sell themselves, and very little learning how to get a result.
In my book, the only measure of my success is the success of my clients. Every great coach or consultant sees the world this way. In this episode, I described how to tell if you are in an abusive coaching relationship, and why you should get out.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the "Entrepreneurial Personality Type", the podcast for empire builders, game changes, shot takers, world makers. Those among us who can't turn it off, and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and obsess on creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to the rules, but only so we can bend, break, and rewrite them to our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few, those willing to envision a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of positive human evolution. We always will be. This is episode 18: Are you in an abusive coaching relationship?
There is an epidemic in the coaching industry, and it has come up for me over and over and over again in the past year where I talk to entrepreneurs that are in a coaching relationship or a coaching contract that is making them feel broken. Making them feel like they are doing something wrong. Making them feel not only like they're not getting momentum, but they're feeling massive constraint. I think that there's a reason this happens to us.
One, the entrepreneur's dilemma. We need far more protection and support than the average person in order to reach our full potential, but any request for protection and support makes us feel vulnerable and exposed. When we finally get the courage, the motivation, the time, we put in the effort, and we ask for help, we have increased our commitment to the point where we're willing to finally do this, and that is not easy for any of us. When we get into a coaching relationship, we do it with this vision of what will be possible that has often been sold to us by the very person we're asking for help. We see the possibility and where we could go in our future and pressure and noise going down and success going through the roof. Everything that a coach offers and tells you you will have, we start to write that into our future. The challenge is that today so many entrepreneurs feel like they're in a relationship where not only are they not getting momentum, it's hurting them.
You've heard me say it before. Things in your life, the people, the places, the things, are either giving you momentum or they are taking it away. I think that there's a reason why we stay in these relationships. Every one of you listening has been in a situation in your life where the cards were stacked against you, where it was hard, where it was difficult, where you were struggling, where you experienced cognitive dissonance. You might not even have known if you should keep going forward, but you did. You finally pulled it off and won.
I know because every entrepreneurial personality type has been there. In fact, those are sometimes the times in our life where we create the greatest success. The challenge is that because we have been through those times, because we have felt that way, because we know it's been hard before, we often tolerate far too much. We put up with pain. We expect it will be there, and then we go out and ask for help only to be let down. Because for some many of us we've been in the situation where we've asked for help and we haven't gotten it, or we've wanted to move forward and we didn't create the momentum we wanted, we take the responsibility in the coaching relationship for our lack of results.
I know that the client has to do the work. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about someone who writes a check and just expects everything to get better, someone who hires a coach and thinks miraculously their life will improve, someone who makes the move of having a coach and thinks that that is the next step in their destination. The fact is is that none of those are true. I'm talking about those of you who have gone out, gotten help, you've put in the work, and you're just not getting the results you want.
I've written down some symptoms of a damaging or abusive coaching relationship. I want you to think about these for the people in your life that you're getting advice from, and you can take out the word coaching and just apply these to any relationship you have. Let's start with the first one.
You're using and applying the systems, but you're not making progress. You're putting the time, the effort, the energy, but things aren't moving forward, and your coach doesn't have answers. They usually say something like, "You need to do it more, or you need to do it again, or you need to try even harder," but they don't show you how to adjust, how to make things better, how to specifically move forward for you. That means that the systems aren't working. It's not just you.
The second symptom of being in an abusive coaching relationship is that their systems work for everyone else, but they're not working for you. They constantly tell you how everyone else is successful, but you aren't, and you're doing the same thing they are. The reality is is that they probably aren't getting the results with anyone. If you're putting in the time, the effort, the energy, you should be getting the payback.
The next symptom is a coach who blames or puts the responsibility on you, but does not give you specific input on how to get results. They say things like, "Hey, the results are on you, and you've got to work harder. You've got to do more." In fact, there's a term for this. I just said it. In the coaching industry it's actually known as "Results Are on You Coaching." People are trained to sell coaching products and then just push back on the client that they need to do more. This is abuse. One of the hardest things we do as an entrepreneur is say, "I need help." To have somebody just tell you to do more without giving you specific ways to move forward is unacceptable. You're paying for results. You should feel and have them.
The next one is the coach who "holds you accountable" by getting on every call and telling you you should do more. You should try harder. Keep doing the same. Keep doing more. If they're telling you things like, "Man up," or, "Put on your big girl panties", which are two things I've heard from people recently that were told to them by their coaches, you should run. I've been a professional consultant for over 20 years. I take my role seriously. It is the role of helping a client get results. It's the role of helping a client get into momentum. It's the role of helping someone achieve their life and business goals, and I would never tell a client to "man up" or "put on their big girl panties" if they weren't getting results with me. I take responsibility for my clients' results.
The next symptom is you feel like what you need to success is always going to be on the next call, in the next module, in the next product, the next investment, the next time you give that coach your cash, your time, your effort, your energy, your focus. It's finally going to get better, but it isn't right now. You're just in a long sales cycle that includes a bunch of payments. If you're not making progress, then you're not getting what you paid for or what you intended.
The next symptom of an abusive coaching relationship is you don't feel momentum in the process. When you hire a coach, things should start getting better. When you hire a consultant, you should feel momentum in the process. I don't just coach and consult. I have coaches and consultants myself. I recently wrote a check to Russell Brunson for tens of thousands of dollars. Within days, I felt momentum in the process. I wouldn't have it any other way, or I'd be going to him and telling the same thing I'd tell you to tell your coaches. That it's just not working. It's the opposite. I felt protected. I felt supported. I had new information, and I feel momentum in the process. You should too.
Another symptom of an abusive coaching relationship is you were sold one thing, and you're being delivered something completely different. That means you've gotten into a coaching relationship with somebody who's much better at marketing than coaching. In fact, the headline on most coach's websites today should say, "Let me see you a result I've never gotten myself." Unfortunately, far too many people are out there coaching others to success because they can't create it on their own.
The next symptom of an abusive coaching relationship is if you're increasingly anxious or apprehensive about interactions with your coaches or coach. If you are scared or frustrated or worried about talking to them, then you are in the wrong place. If you're anxious, you're apprehensive, you're scared, you're intimidated, that is not a coach or consultant you want. Now, if there's a healthy fear due to respect or if there's a healthy amount of respect that causes you some butterflies because you want to perform for that coach and work for that coach, that is perfectly okay. Recently, I've been talking to people who fear their coach. Who are afraid to tell them how they feel. Who are afraid to quit programs because they don't know what the fallout will be, what that person will tell other people, and how that tribe will feel. If you drop out of a coaching program, and you're made to feel less than, you were in an abusive coaching relationship. If you feel that way going in or while you're in it, if you feel like that could possibly happen, you may be in the wrong place. I would argue that you are.
This is the last symptom. If you have a coach that criticizes, condemns, or complains about other clients, I'm sorry, but they don't know what they're doing. As a coach or consultant you have to understand that when someone comes to you for help, you have a responsibility to sell the right client, offer the right product, put the right people in your program, and then help them create success. If you are criticizing, condemning, or complaining about any client, you have lost the fact, the reality. You are missing that you are responsible for that process. You're responsible that they are coaching with you. You're responsible that they are paying you. You're responsible that they have expectations from you that you set up in the market and they signed up for. Criticizing, condemning, complaining about a client is an absolute, 100% red flag that you are in an abusive coaching relationship.
If you're feeling overwhelmed, uncomfortable, or not feeling momentum, then it's being taken away. For people like us, the hardest thing we do is ask for help. When we do, I think that help should be delivered in a way that creates momentum. In a way that makes your request for help feel honored. In a way that makes you feel like you are not just moving forward, but you have a totally different perspective on how to move forward, on how to create success, on how to do what it is that you're paying that coach to help you with. Otherwise, there is something gravely wrong.
The recent explosion of coaches and consultants in our industry is not such a healthy one, because far too many people are being shown how to market, how to sell, how to get people involved, but very few are putting any emphasis or effort on how their clients actually create success. If you're in a relationship like this, if you're in a contract like this, if you have any of these feelings, then you owe it to yourself today to tell that coach and get out regardless of what the commitment is. Even if you have to keep paying, staying in a relationship like that, if you have to honor the contract even though they aren't, if there's legal issues, whatever it takes. You write the checks, but you don't put your time, your effort, your energy, and your focus into that relationship anymore.
See, true coaches and consultants see the only measure of their success as the success of their clients. If you ask me how my business if going, I will tell you how my clients are doing, because I know. I will explain to you the clients I have that have gone from six figure businesses to seven figure businesses. I will explain to you in detail every client in the past month who's told me they are living their best life at the best point in their relationships creating more momentum than they ever have, because that is my role. Not to sell the result, but to deliver the result.
I grew up not as an internet marketer. Anyone who watches me try and market on the internet knows that. I grew up as a consultant in the Fortune 500. At 21 years old, my first client was Fuji. Then SanDisk. Then Fuji Media. Then, over time, I worked companies like Cannon and Logitech and Memorex and Microsoft and Bose and Monster Cable and many more. The fact is, at the level of coaching and consulting, you either get results or you are gone. I worked with billionaires. In the case where you're sitting down with someone who moves the world like puzzle pieces, not only do you have to create success, but you have to do it fast and show them contrast and momentum in the process. That's all I've ever done. To hear entrepreneurs come to me over and over again feeling like they are less than, feeling like they have somehow done something in this relationship to cause the results not to happen even though they're doing the work and putting in the time, is one of the most frustrating experiences I have. I know how hard it is to finally ask for help.
Unfortunately, today, far too many schoolyard bullies have taken a few classes and become coaches. They're manipulative, narcissistic, and they've created cults of personality around themselves that people actually fear.
If you're in a situation like this, the first thing to do is to get out and to stop giving your time, your effort, and your energy to that person who isn't honoring your commitment to the relationship you have. Then the second thing to do is to honor yourself and understand that this is not your fault. When you raise your hand and ask for help, this isn't school where you don't really expect an answer. This is the real world. When you hire someone to give you a result, to show you momentum, to lead the way, then they should do exactly that. For any of you who feel like you've been let down or passed over or aren't getting the momentum you want from the relationship you're in, I'd love to talk to you. Entrepreneurs like us can do anything when we have someone who shows us a framework that works, explains the path to get there, helps us move forward in the process, and supports us unconditionally along the way. I know you can too.
Please, if you feel any of the symptoms that I've detailed today, stop and take an inventory of how much you're giving this relationship and how much of your future is caught up in this challenging situation you are in. Here's the real problem with coaching and consulting: By the time you realize it's a bad situation, you've typically affected the trajectory of your entire career. The easiest thing to do is walk away and find someone else who gives you momentum in the process from day one. That is the only metric that a coach or consultant should use for themselves is, "Are my clients succeeding?" I know it's the one I use, and I know it's the one that the clients I coach use as well.
Thanks for supporting the "Entrepreneurial Personality Type Podcast". If you are looking for momentum in the process, go to momentummasterclass.com. I'd love for you to look at one of our easy to enter products so that you can see what it's like to get momentum in the process, move forward fast, and change your life through the right content and information rather than feeling like you are standing in place. Then join me on episode 19 of the "Entrepreneurial Personality Type Podcast", where I will show you your momentum equation. Anyone can tell you how they've been successful. Let me show you how you've created success in the past, so that starting immediately you can get back into momentum or increase the level of momentum you feel right now and create success again. Thank you, and I love you all. I appreciate you supporting this podcast.