The 3 Essential Skills of High-Impact Coaches
If you’re a high-performing coach who creates a big impact—or you want to be—there are three essential elements that you need to work on, year after year after year. Mastery is a never-ending practice. By intentionally expanding your capacity in all three of these areas, you will increase both your impact—and your income.
Element #1. CREATING THE IMPOSSIBLE
“Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”
– Cherie Carter-Scott
I first learned the phrase “Creating The Impossible” from my coach, mentor, and friend, Michael Neill. His premise is simple — “choose a target that you figure you have a less than 25% chance of reaching, and then go for it, play full out without any real sense that you ‘should’ be able to get there.”
I won’t often quote former Vice President Dick Cheney, but when he was told that an unlikely but dire threat had merely a 1% chance of happening, he argued that, in terms of response, it should be treated as a certainty.
What I like about this is that treating a 1% chance of something happening as a certainty gets far closer to my definition of Creating The Impossible.
Here’s how I teach this distinction:
Step 1: Dream big
First, I help my clients dream bigger than they’ve ever dreamed.
Many of my clients are people who already dream really big. I’m currently coaching an ex-bomb disposal expert, the former Assistant Chief Scientist of the Human Performance Wing of the U.S. Air Force, and a woman who’s raised over half a billion dollars in fundraising. I still push them to stretch their thinking to its very limits—and beyond.
Step 2: Set an impossible goal
Then, I have them pick a goal that is the dictionary definition of impossible, i.e. “not possible; unable to happen; utterly impracticable.”
The power of a truly impossible goal is that you CANNOT immediately jump into “How do I do that?” And you CANNOT turn it into a 17 step plan. It’s impossible after all, right?
Step 3: Use that goal as a place to come from
The only route available to you when you’ve picked a goal that’s impossible is based on a profound distinction:
“A goal is not a place to get to. It’s a place to come from.”
The simplest way to explain this concept is by picturing the bracelet some Christians wear with the letters WWJD. Instead of turning to scripture, consulting a priest, or attending church each time they face an important decision, they ask themselves a single question: “What Would Jesus Do?” This makes their life very simple—although not necessarily easy.
The fact that an impossible goal is not humanly possible means that it cannot be the usual kind of goal that you might set out to achieve. Instead, it becomes a place to come from, so that each time you face an important decision, you ask yourself, “What would the Impossible Goal do?”
Impossible Goal Example: Help veterans regain their sense of mission and bring their leadership skills into the private sector
One of my clients is a veteran who is saddened that so many soldiers have lost connection with their leadership skills. The military has one of the top leadership training experiences in the world and yet many veterans are working way below their level of leadership competency.
His Impossible Goal is to help veterans regain their sense of mission (all veterans understand the power of this word) by training them to become a Leadership Coach for some of the best business leaders on the planet.
The moment he started speaking his Impossible Goal into the world, we found him a connection with one of the senior executives at Starbucks. It turns out they’ve made a commitment to hire 10,000 veterans over the next ten years. Maybe that Impossible Goal is far closer than he imagined…
Impossible Goal Example: Funding an XPrize
Another client of mine is currently raising $10 million to fund an XPrize. The definition of an XPrize is “a highly leveraged, incentivized prize competition that pushes the limits of what’s possible to change the world for the better.” She sees that certain industries (such as mining or truck driving) will be obsolete in 10 years or less and she wants to retrain these workers in the skills needed in the future workplace.
The moment she started speaking her Impossible Goal into the world, she’s begun to connect with incredible people, including a billionaire, who may be able to turn this project into reality. Maybe that Impossible Goal is far closer than she imagined…
Element #2. SELLING THE INVISIBLE
Selling the Invisible is the title of a book by Harry Beckwith in which he distinguishes that what customers are primarily interested in today are not features, but relationships.
I co-wrote a book on relationships myself. It’s called The Prosperous Coach. At its heart, it’s an old fashioned book about how to build a business one conversation and one relationship at a time.
In a world where you are bombarded by online marketers the moment you turn on your computer, it’s easy to believe that there must be some truth in the articles with headlines like:
- “7 Steps to 7 Figures”
- “8 Tips to Become a Millionaire This Year”
- “How to Generate $100,000 a Month from a Brand New Blog”
(These are all titles I just found in a quick Google search.)
The only truth I have seen about business is an underlying truth that being an entrepreneur is like surfing a wave. There are ups and downs—constantly—and no matter what you do, you’re gonna get wet!
The first 1,000 days of any business are the most challenging and require a tremendous amount of energy, including financial energy, physical energy, emotional energy. If you don’t have financial, physical and emotional reserves, you probably won’t make it.
If you are going to make it as a Professional Coach, you need to understand the concept of Selling The Invisible, and you need to develop your skills in this area continuously.
A coach in one of my Deep Coaching Salons, who has a background in sales, explained that making Powerful Proposals is new to her in the field of coaching. She is a Leadership Coach in a Fortune 50 company, but she was struggling to create her first private clients because she wasn’t selling a company’s product where the results could be forecast or predictable.
One thing she noticed was that while it was hard to discuss predictable results, she was able to share her own experience of commitment after paying for the Salon. She was able to viscerally describe the possibilities and energy that she created as a result of her commitment to her own transformation. The way she put it was: “The more you give, the more you get.”
So, how do you sell the invisible as a coach?
- You call out from your client a powerful commitment to their future.
- You challenge their thinking beyond its very limits.
- You let them feel the power of someone saying to them “I believe in you”—and meaning it.
- You believe in them more than they believe in themselves.
- You commit to hide nothing and hold nothing back.
- You look deeply for the things no one else could see.
- You say to them the things no one else would dare to say.
- You listen more deeply than they’ve ever been listened to in their life.
- You model the power of deep silence.
- You serve them so powerfully that they never forget your conversations for the rest of their life.
- You let them know that—even if you’d love to work with them—you’re completely unattached.
- You get clear that you won’t say yes to them unless they are a 10 out of 10 for you.
And then you step out of the way and let them make a powerful, committed decision about their future.
Element #3. SERVING THE INCREDIBLE
I created the distinction of Serving The Incredible to describe the kind of successful, intelligent, wealthy leaders you would imagine don’t need a coach. In fact, these days that’s precisely how I describe what I do:
“If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t need a coach, then you and I should have a conversation.”
We live in a world where highly intelligent, creative and thoughtful people are struggling to understand why doing more of what made them successful in the first place just isn’t working.
Leaders are rarely trained to turn their intelligence, creativity and thought toward mastering their “next” level of success. So, they miss the fact that the very power that brought you to your current level of success can often hold you back from your next level of success.
High-level leaders need to build a new kind of power—the power to consistently make the “impossible” happen. It’s the scariest thing in the world, especially for highly successful people. They have to put at risk the success they’ve become to create the success they desire—if they want to create what looks impossible.
- Look for clients who inspire you, not clients who you can inspire
- Set the bar high for who you work with. Don’t lower it. Ever.
- Keep raising it.
- Set high fees.
- Keep raising them.
- It’s lonely at the top. Create a safe space for top performers people to share with you things they have never told another living soul.
- Go high flame. Top performers crave this.
- Refuse to buy into their story. High performers are very persuasive. (A client called me in a panic when $30,000 of regular monthly business was cancelled at short notice. But her story meant ‘nothing’ to me. Instead of sympathizing, I challenged her. I sent her back into the world with a powerful mission. She re-signed the business within days).
- Meet fun, interesting and extraordinary people (this has been my only business plan for over a decade)
- Build trust, take risks, make bold proposals, lead powerfully.
- Walk your talk. Set your own Impossible Goals before you encourage your clients to do the same. Invest in your own high-level coaching before you encourage your clients to do the same.
Your Next Step
Expanding your capacity in all three of these areas, year after year is the only way to attain mastery of the mindsets and skill sets you need to be an extraordinary coach. So, if you’re a high-performing coach with high-performing, high-fee clients—or you want to be—you need to treat your Professional Development like a physician treats their Medical Board Exams.
And I’d love to support you.
I run a business for world-class Top Performers, run by world-class Top Performers and over the past ten years:
- I’ve run over a dozen Coaching Intensives
- I’ve run over a dozen Deep Coaching Salons
- I’ve trained many of the world’s most exclusive and successful coaches.
- And I founded 4PC—a community of extraordinary leaders and coaches, including a coach to leaders at The World Bank, a coach to one of the leaders at NASA, high-level athletes, seven-figure business owners and the CEO of a wolf sanctuary.
At a young age, I was taught to spend money on only two things—learning and experiences. I’ve invested heavily in both, ever since. So, I’ve never stopped spending money on my own Professional Development—at last count, I’ve spent close to a million dollars.
In London this September, we’ll be running our best Intensive yet.
Our special guest will be one of my mentors, Daniel Priestley. Daniel began his entrepreneurial journey at age 21 and built a multi-million-dollar business before the age of 25. He’s the founder of Dent Global which works with over 1,000 entrepreneurs and business leaders a year to develop their businesses. He’s going to teach us how to be extraordinary entrepreneurs.
If you’d like to join us, visit RichLitvin.com/intensive for all the details.
I love sharing resources and books that I love. Please note that the links in this article are my affiliate links. If you prefer not to use my affiliate links you can search for any of these titles directly where ever you purchase your books.