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21 Ways to Coach Elite Top Performers

There’s an important distinction that most people never know (until it’s too late) between what success looks like and what success feels like.

In almost 20 years of schooling, we’re never once taught how to define success for ourselves.

Which means most of us are chasing other people’s definition of success, without knowing it.

So when we finally arrive there’s a huge ‘missing’.

As humans, we have an ancient habit to run faster when we have lost our way. In the jungle or when we were being chased by an enemy, that was a habit that once saved our lives. So it’s ingrained deep.

And when our first success doesn’t give us what we really want, our very (human) nature is to chase after another success and another and another…

The problem is:

You can never have enough of what you don’t really need…

Here’s what I’m going to break down in this article:

  1. The look of success vs the feeling of success
  2. The guilty secrets of extraordinary top performers
  3. What successful people really want
  4. How to coach really top performers

1. The look of success vs the feeling of success

Here’s what most people think success looks like:

Or this:

Or this:

Well, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

There are definitely successful people who are into private jets, homes in Monaco and lots of diamonds. But there are also highly successful people who are homebodies, who wear jeans and t-shirts every day.

I once hung out with a billionaire (at a 3 year old’s birthday party, if you’re interested) who was one of the most shabby dressers I’ve ever met!

The external image of success is only part of the picture because success often feels very different on the inside…  

I’ve coached multi-millionaires who’ve lived every day afraid that the money will run out…

I’ve coached business owners who’ve sold their business for multiple millions to discover that they were far less happy than the day before…

I’ve coached top CEOs who would wake up in pain every morning and ask themselves, “Why am I not successful?”

I’ve coached elite top performers with the admiration of their peers, who had a single question reverberating in their head, “Is this all there is?”

You see, success is actually measured on the inside. And if you’ve never created a true definition of success – for yourself – you’ll wake up one morning with everything you’ve ever wanted but you’ll feel empty…

2. Guilty secrets of extraordinary top performers

To be a top performer is to carry a number of guilty secrets – that no one else can ever see.

In a world where most people are chasing success, when you actually arrive, it can seem a lot different than you’d imagined.

In the quiet of your mind—when no one is listening—do you ever have any of the following thoughts?

  • The more successful you become, the more you feel you have to lose…
  • You have everything you ever wanted – but you still feel empty…
  • You’re at the very top of your field but you secretly feel lazy or a fraud…
  • You’re bored – you can perform at the highest level with your eyes closed…
  • Your big mission – that inspires so many – doesn’t inspire you any more…
  • You can feel lonely in the middle of a crowd – you’re not short of friends but you secretly feel very alone…
  • You feel exhausted – even when things are going well. You have a secret feeling that if you stop working so hard it will all go away…  

If any of these thoughts sound familiar, you are in good company.

Being a leader can feel far more lonely than most people know.

You can be surrounded by people to whom you cannot (and often should not) tell the complete truth.

  • How can you tell your team that you are worried about making payroll next month?
  • How can you tell your wife that your new initiative didn’t pan out?
  • How can you tell your old friends that you now pay more in taxes than they earn in a year?

Plus, you’re often surrounded by people who think their job is to tell you what you want to hear – rather than what you need to hear.

3. What successful people really want

Success often comes at a price.

Super successful people rarely have someone in their life who is willing to say, “That was a really stupid decision you just made!”

Successful people crave someone who is willing to tell them what they most need to hear.

Highly successful people rarely have a place where they can share their challenges. It doesn’t help to hear people say, “I wish I had your problems.”

Successful people crave someone who is willing to listen to them without judgement.

Very successful people don’t just keep their challenges secret but their successes, too. It’s often really uncomfortable to celebrate big achievements. It can create jealousy and distance in your relationships. Who can you really celebrate with after you’ve sold your 8-figure business, made a 7-figure deal or achieved something no one in your world has ever done before?

Successful people crave a safe space where they can be truly proud of what they’ve achieved.

The more you elevate, the more difficult it can be to have meaningful, deep relationships – since your friends must grow with you in order for the relationship to work.

When you are ‘in-demand’ everyone wants to connect with you. Yet, as leaders, we often feel disconnected and lonely, with barely anyone to talk to anyone about our challenges.

Elite top performers people crave a community of other elite top performers, to truly stretch and challenge them.

Research reveals that about 25% of high performing businesses are on a trajectory that could lead to a multi-million dollar revenue. Yet only a handful of them ever get there.

The main problem is that instead of relentlessly focusing on what is important, leaders get distracted by ‘busywork’, which is easier and more fun than real work, but it doesn’t count and won’t lead to success – no matter how intensely you do it.

Busywork leads to death… death of creativity, death of talent, death of fresh ideas. And sometimes literally to an early death.

Leaders are meant to be visionaries but busywork blocks vision. They are not meant to be permanently busy and they crave the freedom to focus on what is truly important – vision, inspiration and a new level of true success.

Busyness is what you give your time to.

Purpose is what you give your heart to.

– Robert Holden

4. How to coach really top performers

Robert Holden, has spent over a decade exploring the true nature of success. In his book, Success Intelligence, he points out that most of us never stop to define success for ourselves.

So how do you coach top performers?

You help them define success for themselves and discover how to be even more of who they truly are.

SHOW THAT YOU DEEPLY UNDERSTAND THEM

First, you need to show them that you deeply understand them. They want to know you get that what might be ‘quality problems’ to others are real and intense problems to them.  

Running a business that generates millions of dollars a month might sound amazing but when you are the person responsible for scores of staff who will lose their livelihood if you screw up – the pressure is intense and at times overwhelming:

  1. Listen to them more deeply than they’ve ever been listened to. And have them experience being truly ‘gotten’. Become their pressure release valve.

TELL THE TRUTH

After sustained success, it gets harder and harder to admit when things aren’t working. The more successful you become, the fewer people in your world who are willing to speak their truth to you – the truth you most need to hear.

Top performers are attracted to coaches who are honest and direct – even (actually, especially) if it might jeopardize the relationship.

When you don’t need to look good, top performers trust you more:

  1. Be the only person in their world who is not there to please them.
  2. Don’t sugar coat things. Promise not to buy into their “stories.”
  3. Say what no one else in their world is bold enough to say. And say it from an authentic and vulnerable place.
  4. Ask the hard questions that are needed.
  5. Readily admit what you don’t know and be quick to celebrate  your mistakes.

BE A LEADER

Top performers are drawn to peers, not supplicants:

  1. Be willing to lead. Be willing to get uncomfortable.
  2. Don’t answer their questions. Help them find more powerful questions to live into.
  3. Too many leaders regret the impact they didn’t make, so help them go after goals that currently look “impossible.” What you really want is often closer than you could imagine.
  4. Find out what scares them. And help them do that. The biggest breakthroughs are most often on the other side of courage.
  5. Ask provocative and ‘obvious’ questions.

PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR ENERGY

The constant and intense pressure of being a top performer can lead to a sense of deep anxiety – even overwhelm and burnout – that can become a downward spiral.

Top performers often put themselves last. Help them not do that!

  1. Help them focus on self care – so they are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually equipped to handle the demands of growing a business or increasing their impact.
  2. Surround them with other elite performers. Because if they’re the most interesting person in the room, they’re in the wrong room…
  3. Find out what what fills them with energy and what drains them of energy. You can accomplish incredible things when you simply have more energy.

LOOK FOR TINY SHIFTS

When you’re an extraordinary top performer, tiny shifts have an exponential impact:

  1. Help identify tiny shifts in their thinking.
  2. Help them dream big. But then help them take tinier steps than they’ve ever taken.
  3. Help them stop the busywork and focus on vision, inspiration, and purpose instead.
  4. Silence is one of your most powerful coaching tools. When needed, say nothing.

FOCUS ON THEIR “BEING”

One of the most important ways to coach top performers is to focus on their ‘being’ not what they’re ‘doing’.

If exponential success was only about business skills anyone could read Richard Branson’s biography and be a billionaire.

It’s who Richard was being whilst he was doing all the things he did that made the biggest impact. But he can’t see that, so you’ll never learn this from a book.

  1. Help your clients discover who they were meant to ‘be’. It will change everything.
  2. Help them grow exponentially by working only in their Zone of Genius. Find the 1-3 activities they do that create enormous value, but also energize them and that would fascinate and motivate them for the rest of their life.
  3. Help them leverage their ideas, with amazing people or technology.

Go Together…

If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.

– African proverb

Five years ago, I created a private club that I’m committed to running for 25 years. A community of top coaches and leaders where we work on all of the ways that high performers can hold themselves back.

It’s called 4PC. The Four Percent Club. Because 4% is the top 20% of the top 20%.

But 4PC is not for everyone.

You see, it’s not a “program”.

And there’s no curriculum.

But those members who’ve been in for 2, 3 or 4 years are flying…

In 4PC, I’m your coach. And you and I work together (alongside a group of other top performers) to help you build Mastery of 4 domains:

DOMAIN #1: BEING vs DOING

You’ll deepen your grounding and your being.   

You’ll find out who you were meant to be.

You’ll build strong leadership skills to scale a high growth business – or to coach others to do so.

You’ll build strong enrollment skills to create a practice of high-performing, high-fee clients – or even to enroll investors or extraordinary team members.

In a world that’s focused on information and knowledge, you’ll join a community focused on the deeper wisdom that counts, to help you make more impact and more income.

DOMAIN #2: PEER POWER

4PC is like your Board of Directors – a high-level board of peers, helping you maintain momentum. Momentum is the wind in your sails, without it businesses stagnate and  entrepreneurs struggle.

In 4PC we will be radically honest with you. We’ll champion you and celebrate your successes. But we won’t ever let you feel like you’ve won before you have.

4PC is a safe space where you can never get too big (leave humility at the door) and you can never get too messy (we’re your sandbox to fail, screw up and make mistakes – again and again and again).

One of the ground rules of 4PC is to make it your mission to help everyone else in 4PC accomplish their mission. Because when you do, it’s coming back to you 20-fold!

4PC isn’t a mastermind group where we bring in ‘famous’ speakers. The power of 4PC is in your peers. And every one of them is making an impact. And that’s what counts.

DOMAIN #3: ESSENTIALISM

In 4PC, you’ll focus on what matters most.

We’ll identify precisely how you create enormous value in the world. We’ll discover what would fascinate and motivate you for the rest of your life.

We’ll give you tools to relentlessly protect yourself from everything outside your Zone of Genius.

And we’ll help you identify your 3-5 metrics that when you focus on them alone, you’ll be most likely to accomplish everything else in your life and business.

Plus, I will curate the very best books, resources, experts and experiences to help you to focus and leverage your time

DOMAIN #4: ENERGY

Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.

Money is infinite. Time can be leveraged. But energy is finite.

In 4PC we will help you build and sustain your energy.

To perform at your best, you need to live a rhythmic life with periods of intense activity followed by periods of intense rest.

In 4PC we meet approximately every 90 days, to help you create your life as a series of sprints, not a never-ending marathon.

We’ll help you create a life with periods of intense engagement and equally intense renewal.

We will help you focus on self care – so you are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually equipped to handle the demands of running and growing your business and your impact (while creating great a relationship and/or being a loving and present parent).

YOU…

If you’re a coach with a prior track record as a leader, a business owner, an executive, an entrepreneur or a military veteran, YOU are the reason I created 4PC

There’s a reason I’ve made a 25-year commitment to 4PC. If you are seriously interested to join my community of elite top performers, there are now just 4 spots remaining for January entry.

If you’d like to join 4PC – with me as your coach – hit reply to this message and put “4PC” in the subject line… tell me a little about you and what you’re up to, and we’ll begin a conversation.

Love. Rich

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 other ways we can help you increase your income and your impact:

  • Create One Client!
    If you’ve read The Prosperous Coach and are ready to create your next high performing, high fee client, join us in San Diego in April. Click Here.
  • Join Our Next Salon
    Master The Prosperous Coach Approach, in The Salon – the program that helped many of the most successful and exclusive coaches out there to fly. The Nov Salon starts in a few days. Click Here.
  • Come to a Deep Dive
    If you’d like to be coached by me in a small group, in a beautiful location, join me on a Deep Dive in London (4 seats left), Los Angeles (7 seats left), or Toronto (8 seats left). Click Here.
  • Join 4PC
    There’s a reason I’ve made a 25-year commitment to 4PC. If you are ready to join my community of elite top performers, there are now just a few spots left for January entry. Click Here.
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