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Successful Coach Or Struggling Coach?



I’ve spent the past eight years observing and teasing out the tiniest distinctions between successful coaches and struggling coaches. And the biggest paradox I’ve observed is that the most successful and the least successful coaches are often doing exactly the same thing—’serving their ass off’.

In his book, Give And Take, Adam Grant says people can be grouped into three categories: givers, matchers and takers: “Givers give without expectation of immediate gain; they never seem too busy to help. Matchers give when they can see how they will get something of equal value back and to people who they think can help them. And takers seek to come out ahead in every exchange.”

Who do you think are the most successful? Givers, matchers or takers?

Now, who do you think are the least successful? Givers, matchers or takers?

Grant’s research shows that: “Givers are overrepresented at both ends of the spectrum of success. Givers are the doormats who go nowhere or burn out. Givers are also the stars whose giving motivates them or distinguishes them as leaders.”

If the givers succeed and the givers also struggle—what distinguishes the successful givers from the struggling ones?

I’ve been consumed by this question for over a year now.


The most Prosperous Coaches have built a practice by constantly serving people. And yet 80% of coaches are struggling despite constantly serving people. Struggling coaches are giving away their service for free, day after day, and they are exhausted and broke.

COACHING GIVERS vs COACHING GIVERS– Here are 9.5 distinctions that separate the Coaching Givers who succeed from the Coaching Givers who struggle:


Prosperous Coaches really care for others but also take real care of themselves. They give ‘their’ all—they don’t give ‘it’ all.

When you give without limit, you run the very real risk of giving it ALL—everything you have. There is so much more need out there than any one person can fill. And giving it all leads to burnout.

When you give it all, you send a subliminal message to every potential client that you need them more than they need you. That is highly unattractive and sends the kind of signal that results in a coach not hearing back from a prospect, despite a great coaching session.

The alternative to giving it all is giving your all. When you give your all, you show up completely for someone. You serve them as if they were already a paying client. You serve them as if they were your ONLY client. You serve them so powerfully that they never forget what you did for them, for the rest of their life. No 25 minute taster sessions. Only deep, powerful, life-changing conversations.


Prosperous Coaches are strategic in their giving—they serve other givers and they serve matchers, so that their work has the maximum desired effect. They rarely give to takers who will just drain them of energy.

A Prosperous Coach sets clear criteria for their dream clients and they set the bar high. They filter for those clients and are rarely willing to settle for anything less. They will turn away clients who are a 9.9 in order to create space for the 10s. They will turn away potential clients who do not meet their criteria.


Prosperous Coaches don’t only focus on the money—they give in ways that support their learning, create referrals, build stories and develop their experiences. They know that money is a result of their impact and they focus on creating the most powerful impact possible.


Prosperous Coaches hide nothing and hold nothing back. They are not afraid to tell the person in front of them what they most need to hear. They bring an intensity to their coaching and they create the kind of challenges that would scare most clients (and most other coaches).

 5. SERVE vs SELL 

Most coaches show up to sell.

Prosperous Coaches show up to serve.

Coaching is a relationship business and your only mission is to touch the heart and attention of the person in front of you.

Serve people powerfully enough and you’ll not need to even make a proposal. Serve people powerfully enough and they will ask you about coaching.


Limitation creates value and a Prosperous Coach sets very real limitations on their time and energy. They create their lifestyle first, so there’s no temptation to fill their calendar with calls and meetings. A limited time available for coaching makes a coach more attractive, not less.

Before a successful giver dives deep into serving someone they make a conscious choice to set a boundary on how much time they will commit. They decide, “I will give my all for the next two hours…” and then they go for it. But at the end of two hours, they stop. At that point, they can make another conscious decision whether or not to continue being of service for another well-bounded period of time, or consider that relationship complete for now.

Without a boundary, you risk giving more than is healthy. Or you risk moving from giving as pure service to giving with an expectation of something in return.


Prosperous Coaches embrace their failures and mistakes. In fact, they grow stronger because of them.

They love the word NO.

They understand the true power of vulnerability.

Fear becomes their path and their compass.

They don’t hide their fears or struggles from their clients.

They lean ever deeper into their edge. It’s the path of growth.


Prosperous Coaches show up with attention and authority. They are leaders. They distinguish between power and force. They make a big impact. They work with extraordinary clients and they show up as their peers.

Their mission is to serve and create an impact for the person they are with instead of holding something in reserve.

They hide nothing. They hold nothing back. They risk it all.

Be a leader. A coach is a leader, not an order-taker.

Telling the truth—even if your client doesn’t like what you say—demonstrates that you can be trusted.


Successful givers don’t sit around waiting for money to appear in their bank account. They charge for their services. There comes a moment when they ask for money. They usually charge high fees or no fees but nothing in between. And there always comes a time when, if the money isn’t forthcoming, they decline to keep giving for free.

Successful givers use money as feedback. Struggling givers set money as a goal.

Successful givers put just as much time and attention on money as people who are not successful. They just use it for a different purpose.

When money is a feedback mechanism it becomes fun. When money is feedback its simply a clue as to where to put your attention. When money is feedback you get to play an infinite game—there’s no winning or losing only getting better at mastering the game of money.


Make sure you are the one doing the auditioning of the client, and not the other way around. Look for clients who inspire you, not clients you can inspire. And then challenge them to step up bigger than they’d ever imagined possible.

The biggest gift you can give to your clients is to be successful. Its very attractive to clients when you live a fun life.

The very best way to create a client is NOT to need them.

The best way to create clients is to make a commitment to serve people, to be fully present with them and to create and build relationships one powerful conversation at a time.

A coach who desperately needs to pay the bills is likely to remain a struggling coach because clients have a built-in neediness detector—and needy is deeply unattractive.

If you need money, get a job.

If you want to be a Professional Coach and create high-paying, high-performing clients, find a way to serve your ass off, be a leader, and set a high bar for who you spend time with.

Wake up every day and ask yourself: Who can I serve today? Who can I astonish today?

Love. Rich

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