Journey of a coach: Part 1 – Experiments in vulnerability

Journey of a coach: Part 1 – Experiments in vulnerability

OPINION & INSIGHTS

This new blog series is about me purposefully opening myself up more than I ever have before and seeing what flows. This is me committing fully to hide nothing and hold nothing back. It’s an experiment in vulnerability. Yet in the process I hope to reconnect more with who I really am so I can better serve others.

Today I’m coming out and saying it proudly; I am not perfect. I am muddling my way through as I go. I am not some Instagram ideal of what a business / life coach is and I’m tired of pretending otherwise.

As I’ve come to terms with this idea recently its opened up a whole range of emotions and new insights for me. Its dawned on me how much I’ve been hiding and pretending these past few years and I’m ready to move past that. Right now.

This was highlighted recently for me when I found a poem I wrote when I was younger titled: If I was David Bowie I wouldn’t have had my teeth done.

And I really meant it too.

Because the thing is I’ve always liked things a little edgy, a little earthy and real. I grew up listening to Nirvana and Guns n Roses and The Stones. I spent my 20s obsessed with the Beats and Bukowski. I used to drink far too much, and stay up all weekend. So, the idea of being overly polished and shiny-teethed wasn’t something that ever really appealed to me.

Yet, next month I finish off a 2 year course of Invisalign, which has made my teeth all straight and nice, and ends in a treatment to make them all white too!

You see something changed a few years ago and its only now that I’m really seeing it fully. Somewhere along my journey I reverted back to acting from fear rather than love. A state I thought I’d grown out of a long time ago. And actually what I thought was me having it all figured out was actually just me getting a whole lot better at tricking myself.

Now don’t get me wrong, my life is good by and large. I love what I do, I’m very grateful for all I have and I get married in September which I can’t wait for. Yet recently I’ve managed to peel back another layer of the onion of Matt and discovered a whole heap of blocks and complexes I didn’t even know were there.

So while its still a step further on my journey of self-realization I also feel its a weird time for me right now while I deepen my understanding and step beyond these things.

You see, I’ve been coaching now for just over 2 years now and I absolutely love it. I love every client I’ve worked with and I’m really good at what I do. I know 100% this is my calling. But….its been a long journey here and looking back now I’m starting to see a pattern that perhaps explains why I’m writing this now.

Because if we were to have a quick rundown of things I’ve done over the last 38 years we’d see:

Artist, guitarist, singer, actor, writer, poet, theatre and film producer, personal trainer and now coach…

And that’s not including the ages between 5 and 12, where, in no particular order I wanted to be; Han Solo (still do really!); a ghostbuster; a magician and The karate kid…

And, as this is experiments in vulnerability, while that all reads rather grand it’s important to point out here that there is also a lot of soul-destroying office work in that mix. The kind of work that isn’t worth talking about but that actually paid the bills for most of the time.

However, despite being a creative soul and being pretty damn tenacious with all those projects for most of the time, there always came a point when I stopped enjoying what I was doing. The lightness and joy of creativity got overtaken by struggle and perfectionism. As I went forward with my vision I fell into the trap of comparing myself to others. To the point where I ended up second-guessing myself and eventually giving in and moving on.

The pattern seems to go that whenever I’m operating from fear I revert to hiding behind a shield of faux-perfection. I feel I’m not enough so I act out, trying to go the other way – to counter the feelings; to try and kid myself, as much as the world, that I’m flawless.

But I’m not going to do that any more.

I realised that for too long now that’s what’s been happening with my coaching. Rather than standing firm footed and allowing the real me to show I’ve been hiding behind the sheen that social media allows. I’ve not been untruthful, but I’ve been very selective in what I allowed to be visible. But I realise now how counter-productive and silly this really is.

In fact, at the very start of my coaching journey I even chose to go under another last name – which partly was due to me still being an actor and not wanting to confuse the 2 careers – but really, if I’m honest, its because I was scared of this new world and wanted a buffer between me and the ‘me’ I was putting out on display.

These insights all came to me recently after a coaching session I had (as coachee) with the brilliant Ankush Jain, who helped me see where I’d been going wrong. What I realised during the conversation, and more so as I’ve deepened my understanding afterwards was that I’ve been trying too hard to be perfect when actually I should work more on being me. And I’m already perfect at being me. I was caught up in the old ‘I’ll be happy/successful/complete when..’ trap. A misunderstanding that outside circumstances were responsible for my happiness and sense of purpose. But I know they never, ever are.

So I’m committing now to being the perfect me, and that is someone who is very imperfect. But someone who is ready to let that really show. I’m committing to sharing myself more and allowing deeper connections to form.

Because for too long I felt I had to show prospective clients how impressive I was. Which I imagine put some of them off. I know now how counter-productive this is; how coaching is never about impressing people but instead about building strong relationships, connecting on a deep level and true, impactful service.

By trying to be perfect and impressive I wasn’t allowing true connections to be made. And its perhaps only the clients that I felt comfortable enough to let my guard down with that have hired me up to now.

I also had some powerful insights regarding fees that fit with this idea of a need to impress. I guess it all goes back to the idea of comparing myself with people much further along in their careers. I felt that to be truly impressive as a coach it was important to set high fees from the off. To show how amazing I was, how top class I was.

So I did, then I put them down when no one wanted to hire me. Then I got some clients, so I put them up again, and I got some more clients, so I put them up some more, then I had a few ‘Nos’ so I put them down again, and then I got some more and blah blah blah…

I’m sure if you’re a coach or service professional or anyone who sets their own fees you can relate to this.

But here’s the thing; to date I’ve never had a full coaching practice. (And thats really edgy for me to write but this the game isn’t it?) Sure I’ve had quite a few clients at any one time, but I’ve never been full. And Ankush helped me see that at this stage of my career its much more important to get a full practice and coach my ass off than work with just 4 or 5 clients at any one time. So this is something else I’ll be exploring going forward.

Because I see now how comparing myself to others, be they people in other bands, other actors, other coaches, other humans – its a path to nowhere good. Its like trying to go straight to the finish line without enjoying the race.

Actually that’s a terrible analogy, no one really enjoys races do they? Instead how about we let Alan Watts take this as this is a beautiful, apt and wonderful quote:

Life is NOT a Journey – remember to dance and sing… Because music, as an art form is essentially playful. We say, “You play the piano” You don’t work the piano. Why music differs from say, travel is when you travel you’re trying to get somewhere. In music, though, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition. If that were so, the best conductors would be those who played fastest. And there would be composers who only wrote finales. People would go to a concert just to hear one crackling chord… Because that’s the end!

For too long now I’ve been focussing on the last chord rather than enjoying the symphony (there, much better) I’ve looked at other coaches that I admire, other people in the industry and I’ve compared 2 year me to 5, 10 even 20 years them.

And looking back this is what happened with my music, my acting, everything. I heard Rich Litvin once say that he realised he’d been comparing how he felt inside to how others appeared on the outside. I’ve been doing exactly the same. And I realise now this is what has held me back a lot in the past. Comparing myself to other people has made me fearful of being truly me.

And this doesn’t allow for deep connection with others, it doesn’t allow for my vulnerabilities and foibles to give my clients the go ahead to share their own. It stops me being as authentic and open and grounded as I want to be. As I should be.

And I know I’m intelligent, I know I’m empathetic, caring, a good listener and I have really great imagination. I’m fantastic at lighting fires under others, helping them see how special they are and to see how things that might seem impossible are actually really achievable.

These are all great traits for my work with clients when I let them really flow.

But… I’m also clumsy, self-conscious, introverted, sarcastic, messy and grumpy sometimes. I can procrastinate for days, I skip meditating some mornings to watch the cookery channel, I can be argumentative and downright silly when I want to be. I read a lot of pretty heavy books but I watch quite a lot of ‘crap’ TV too, and enjoy it. I still tear up every time I watch Rachel appear at that door and say ‘I got off the plane’ (Damn it I’m tearing up now just typing that!)

And just because I’ve had this insight doesn’t mean I’m any more sorted either. I’ll still get caught up in the outside-in misunderstanding on a regular basis of course. Just like we all will. I’ll still get envious and impatient and blame external things for my ‘lack’.

But its all part of the game, all part of the dance.

And you know, I don’t regret any of it, least of all getting my teeth done. In fact, I love them. What I once described as a ‘row of wonky tic tacs‘ now looks pretty good. And I’ll even get the whitening treatment. Though this might be more for the wedding photos than personal vanity. (Nope its not, its mainly vanity.)

But really what I like about them most is I feel like I’m smiling a lot more now. And maybe it’s the teeth, but maybe also its because I’m enjoying myself again, maybe its because I feel I am allowing ‘me’ to come back and I’m becoming more connected to who I really am, imperfections and all. Whatever the reason. I’m now loving the journey dance again and can’t wait to see what’s next.

I’m so glad I’ve had this insight. I feel like a massive weight has lifted off me, that lightness of creativity feels like its come back and I feel like I’m ready to show up a lot more powerfully but also more playfully from now on. No more being apologetic and muted. No more being anodyne and ‘easy listening’. I want to be me, shit tattoos and all (and believe me, they really are) (OK, some things I do regret a bit!)

It also feels fateful, or maybe right on, that I’ve had these insights now – as I begin working with Ankush and the legendary Steve Chandler in 2 weeks on their group programme for coaches. I can’t wait to see where this takes me and I’ll try and document what comes up, what happens and where it takes me next.

So if you’ve got this far thanks for reading, thanks for being you. I hope we connect soon.

Oh and I dug out the Bowie poem and include it below…reading it again it feels quite apt.

Much love,

Matt

IF I WAS DAVID BOWIE I WOULDN’T HAVE HAD MY TEETH DONE

If I was David Bowie
I wouldn’t have had my teeth done
I liked his teeth before
In the videos
and on the record sleeves
They looked odd
Lupine and mysterious

I guess it’s a symptom of fame
You lose sight of what you are
What you really are
Or what you were

Now he’s just a sanitised
Coca cola version of himself
Grinning
Americanised
(Spelt with a ‘Z’)
(That’s pronounced’ Zee’)

Fame hits and destroys the soul
People get lost in it all
A thousand empty egos
staring
Into the blank expectant crowd.

If I was David Bowie
I wouldn’t have had my teeth done
And nobody would, they say
We tell ourselves
we won’t fall into all that
we’ll fall on our swords first
We’ll rise above it all

Or

we’ll get sucked in
Bask in the avarice
Relish the mirror
And do it
all over again.

RIP DAVE x

SO02: Power, Impostors & Green Lights

SO02: Power, Impostors & Green Lights

OPINION & INSIGHTS

Happy Friday and its shout-out time again…

1. Quote I’m resonating with this week:

“Nothing external to me has any power over me.” – Walt Whitman

I think we all know this – but I also feel there’s different kinds of knowing.

There’s the intellectual way of knowing and then there’s the deeper understanding that is almost beyond words.

Once you ‘get this’ fact – and I mean really get it in your heart, life gets a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.

So if you’re not there yet, stay in the game, keep musing on it and see what comes up for you this week.

2. An uplifting read:

I think we all fall prey to the pesky old Impostor Syndrome from time to time. Especially so when you’re a high-achiever.

You want to be the best but when you put too much pressure on yourself it can have a detrimental effect.

So whats the solution? In this article on the Quiet Revolution network Meagan Francis looks at 3 ways we can all deal with feeling a fraud at times.

Read it here

3. What I’m working on right now:

A lot has already changed for me over the past few months. I’ve been working with a new mentor and attending life-changing retreats where I’ve had some major paradigm shifting insights in terms of how I coach and the way I work with clients

These are principles that have already changed my life and the lives of 1000’s of others – and that I now see as the future of psychology and even humanity. (With no hyperbole).

I am so excited about working with you on this new understanding because I know 100% that it works, forever. Its profound, graceful and truly life-changing.

To this end then I have opened up 3 spots in my schedule and have just 1 space remaining for someone who would like to work with me on a new 3 month programme based around these principles.

so if you’re ready to experience a strong personal transformation; which allows you to build stronger relationships, have a more successful career and live a happier life then reply to this email now to arrange a conversation about how we could work together.

4. Track I’m loving right now:

This is being played everywhere in the UK right now so you’ve probably already heard Lorde’s new single ‘Green Lights’. The piano break pre-chorus takes me back to my clubbing days and really lifts me up whenever I hear it. A big joyous song that makes me smile (even though the lyrics are actually quite heartbreaking)

Listen here

 

Wishing you nothing but the very best,

SO01: Ego, Humanity & Magic

SO01: Ego, Humanity & Magic

OPINION & INSIGHTS

Its shout-out time here, enjoy and let me know what you think via my Facebook page

1. Quote I’m resonating with this week:

This week’s quote is short and sweet and comes from the late great Stuart Wilde. I’m actually going to commission some artwork of this soon as I feel its an important point that needs remembering. Its OK to take things seriously of course, but never be serious about it.

‘Seriousness is a disease of the ego’

2. An uplifting read:

Its easy to get bogged down with all the crap that’s happened recently but its also important to remember that a lot of amazing, beautiful things still happen on this old spinning blue ball…

READ IT HERE

3. What I’m musing on right now:

The Outside-In/Inside-Out misunderstanding. Because its easy to be tricked into thinking that our feelings are caused by external things, by a past or even by a future event that is proving a little tricky to get our heads round.

But its also vitally important to come to the realisation that in fact our feelings ONLY ever tell us about ONE thing – our thoughts in the moment. That is all they can possible ever inform us of.

Unfortunately most people live in an outside-in world where they think their experiences are caused by the external. They spend their times worrying about futures or stressing about pasts and they get tricked into thinking in some way these things are informing their feelings. But there is no way this is possible.

When you can fall out of that way of thinking and fall into the acceptance that life is actually inside-out – that we create our own experiences from within – at that point you take back full control over your destiny and live freely in the present moment.

This is not a technique, its not a mastery model, its binary facts that we just need to take on board and ‘know’. When you get it, life becomes clear, you live more in the present and I guarantee you’ll be more resourceful than ever.

Why? Because you aren’t living in a ‘future’ that you can’t possibly know about, you’re living now. When you’re grounded and in the moment is the ONLY time you can do anything about anything.

As the great sports and performance coach Garret Kramer writes:

Because it’s normal for it to look like circumstances or experiences cause our feelings, if measured, this outside-in trick of the mind actually appears provable (to me, the world of psychology has innocently made this mistake for years).

But two things happening at the same time doesn’t prove causation. That’s why, when it comes to the human experience, knowing that it can only be generated from within, allows us to rise above bad feelings, not smack back, and, instead, point toward truth and connect with others from the heart.

4. New Ventures I’m excited about:

I’m soon to launch a new strand of my business working with ambitious Introverted Leaders helping them get taken seriously and become influential players in their company, community and industry.

If this is you, I have a new group set up in Linked In I’d love you to join

5. Podcast I’m loving right now:

Tim David is an ex-magician who now specializes in the importance of human connection and how understanding a little psychology and neuroscience can help you to live a better, happier, and more connected and successful life. His podcast is a fun, informative listen: www.thestudiesshow.com/

That’s it for now

Let me know how you get on with it all.

WHY LIST POSTS DON’T HELP YOU BE MORE SUCCESSFUL

OPINION & INSIGHTS

If there’s one thing the internet loves right now it’s a list post. There’s even list posts about list posts.

Look at any social media right now and you’ll see headline after headline listing x reasons why, how or when to do things to make you happier, more productive or both.

But do they actually help you be more successful?

As far as impact, its clear these list posts work – by making specific promise of what’s in store for the reader they offer a quick fix, a useful soundbite. And in this fast paced world that’s what most people want

But is it what they truly need?

A perfectly packaged and measurable return on attention invested is always going to be an easier click than something more challenging. Which is fine,  you are a busy person and your time is precious. I know this.

Yet what I also know is that while list posts are good for a 3 minute read – and a great way to get shares and clicks if you’re the author – they very rarely lead to quality, usable information for the reader.

So in this article I want to explore 3 reasons why I think list posts ruin motivation (And yes, its in the form of a list post) (And yes I am very amusing thanks a lot) and we’ll also explore how you can be more productive in life instead

1. You don’t take action on the advice

This is something I realized while reading a post recently. It was a good post and had lots of really useful ideas contained within its listy layout about how to be more successful. In fact at least 3 of the points I would have liked to explore further and implement into my life.

But what happens is, as one focuses on the next entry in the list, and the next, the brain forgets what it’s just read – so by the end of the list it’s too overwhelmed to care about taking action on any of the information. The article is closed down and simply dismissed as a nice distraction.

Whereas if just one of the ideas contained within was formulated into a decent article, with examples, with fully explained techniques and concepts there’d be so much more scope to take action on what has been learned.

To combat this then practice your self-awareness, focus fully on the issue at hand. If you find an article with some actionable content, stop reading for a few minutes and make a note of the ideas, along with how you might incorporate it into your life. Don’t even think about reading the next list entry. For now they don’t exist. Instead take your time and invest in the present moment.

It might sound counter-productive but slowing down and focusing fully on each thing in turn  – whether this is reading an article, in a meeting, or simply planning your next move – will in the long run, ensure you’re less stressed and much, much more productive.

Slow down to speed up and allow yourself the time to take action on what you’ve learned and like magic you’ll be more productive in life, business and even your relationship.s

2. They destroy your deep knowledge

Another issue here is that many of us simply skim-read a list post. And why not? This is how they’re designed to be read isn’t it? We can see each heading laid out for us, so if we don’t gel with #3 we can easily just skim over it to get to #4 – the real money item.

And this is all well and good of course but its recently been proven by cognitive science that the more we do this we are losing the effectiveness of deep reading – which in turn is resulting in the loss of deep knowledge.

Deep knowledge is the kind of knowledge allowed us when we spend focused time taking in information. Over time this information develops into wisdom, heightened perception and cognitive awareness.

But with the advent of list posts and sound bite culture we are now losing this process. It’s not our fault of course. We are the products of our age and over the past 15 years everything has sped up at an exponential rate.

We want it all and we want it right now. This second.

So it makes sense then that these articles, which are designed to grab our attention and give us instant gratification are so popular. It’s what the average user wants.

But I know if you’re reading this you aren’t interested in being just another average user. You are powerful and you are driven. And you want more for yourself than just a little bit of knowledge. You want the deep knowledge and all that brings.

So make a deal with yourself today; stop skimming and start reading again. Read fully and wholly, full pages at a time instead of glancing over bullet points and nicely laid out but sparse paragraphs.

You’ll soon see that your overall attention and focus will improve and your reading time will be again a time of relaxed learning enjoyment.

3. They promote multi-tasking

This is probably the biggest reason why I say to hell with list posts. With so many ideas all gathered together in one article the outcome is that you’ll no doubt want to try out more than one of the concepts. But this again can lead to being overwhelmed and is actually incredibly counter-productive.

The backlash has already started regarding multitasking and I’m glad because it’s something I’ve known to be true for some time now. Multitasking is bad. It’s bad for your productivity, it’s bad for your stress levels, for your business, for your soul.

In fact a recent Harvard Business Review study stated that multitasking led to as much as 40% percent drop in productivity, increased stress, and a 10% drop in IQ.

Another study at Stanford University a few years ago found that excessive multi-taskers were not able to filter information as well as those who focused on one thing at a time.

So the thing we’re after here is to be truly amazing at one thing – at a time

And that’s why I always say that I’m only ever coaching one person. Sure, I might have up to 10 high-end clients on my books at any one time but in the moment, they don’t exist.

The only person I am coaching is the person in front of me.

Becoming a powerful and focused single-tasker is one of the most important skills that you’ll ever end up having that will lead you to incredible success.

So I want you from now on to leave the list posts and multi-tasking for others. Slow down to speed up.

It’s just one decision away. For most of us the key is to have less communication devices open when we have to concentrate on an important task.

For the next week, I want you to do no multitasking at all.

Focus on one thing and one thing only.

It will be hard at first. But believe me the rewards will be amazing once you relax, take your time with things and connect fully and wholly with the one thing in front of you.

So whilst this post is a little arch I hope you can see that these points are salient and deserve attention. Focus on releasing yourself from the unnecessary immediacy that  multi-tasking promotes, take a deep breath, connect fully with whats in front of you and I guarantee you’ll be more productive in life and everything will be richer and more exciting.

To you the best.

————————————————————————————————————————————

Want more?

Sign up now for a FREE Get Unstuck, Get Confident Strategy Session with Matt – where he will help you understand your specific situation and what will help you most. To book in click here>>>