I love the coaching and online business world. As I celebrate my two-year coaching business anniversary, I am beyond-words grateful to the people who helped me get here and for the opportunities that enabled my successes to happen. When I originally thought up this whole online business idea, I could have never imagined that it would lead me to the life I live, the work I do, the growth I’ve experienced, and the unorthodox friendships that I have today.
However, lately I’ve started to feel some discomfort settle in. There is a tension in my heart that I can’t quite articulate. This tension often grows when I go to a coaching or online business events, find myself surrounded by people in our field, or am scrolling through my social media feed. I have been unable to put my finger on what exactly is making me feel so uncomfortable around these beautiful people and this magnificent industry.
Whenever I try to explain it, I find myself getting anxious. If I don’t articulate the complex feeling I have in my heart well, will I offend people I admire in my field? Will it sound full of unfair judgement, major overgeneralisation, or soaked with ungratefulness? Despite this anxiety, I have a feeling in my bones that I must share this tension I feel and that I’m perhaps not alone in feeling it. Although I fear what might happen if I don’t get the nuance right, today I’m going to try.
As a relatively new life coach with a background in psychology and government, I was surprised by how quickly and deeply I fell in love with the ‘positive’ and ‘forward moving’ world of coaching. She and I were seemingly a perfect match. A life long learner growing and deepening within herself, and working in a field that enabled her to help others do the same. Coaching and I found ourselves entangled in a love affair where we both reaped the rewards.
Taking great pride in my work and my ability to best serve my clients, I invested in multiple training programs, regularly attended workshops and conferences, and buried myself in books written by experts in the field.
Phrases like ‘shine bright’, ‘step into your light’, ‘it’s your turn to shine’, ‘master your inner critic’, ‘prioritise your own needs’, ‘put yourself out there’, ‘accept compliments’, and ‘love yourself wholeheartedly’ were absorbed through my ears and eyes, often leaving my own mouth and writing, landing upon the ears and eyes of others.
Inspiring event after inspiring event teaching me and others how to grow our businesses and our brands, how to get more clients, and how to become the ‘successful’ coach and online business owner that we desired.
So much focus on ‘self’ – with the assumption that this would then benefit ‘other’.
Alongside my coaching and online business journey, I also found my love for humanitarianism and human rights take a tight grip on me. I began to attend humanitarian events, interact with advocates online, volunteer my time and services to human rights causes, become an Engaging Women ambassador, start my Dream For Others podcast, and even enrol in a Master of Human Rights. I found a deep passion for helping people use their platform, passions and uniqueness to create a better and more fair world grow.
My experience of the humanitarian world, people and events was so different to that of the coaching and online business world. In the humanitarian world, the focus first and foremost was always on ‘other’, not on ‘self’. In fact, each time I heard an advocate, activist, or human rights academic speak – it was almost always entangled with the impact and sacrifice their commitment had on ‘self’ and their life.
Each time I went to a coaching and online business event, I couldn’t help but shake this feeling like we had a lot we could learn from the human rights world (and I’m sure vice versa). I found my heart desperately pushing for me to try and find a bridge between the two worlds.
In theory, the coaching and humanitarian worlds shouldn’t be so different. They should both be about serving ‘other’.
Yes, it isn’t completely black and white and it never should be. Yes, we do need to take care of ‘self’ in order to take care of ‘other’. But I’ve been feeling some concern lately that maybe we focus a bit too much on the former rather than the latter in the coaching and online business industries at times (with the presumption that this will then lead to helping others). In doing this – in constantly focusing on growing our businesses and profile, confidently accepting praise and accolades, becoming confident speakers (and often borderline performers), intently moving toward being our best self, and presenting ourselves and our businesses in a flattering (but still imperfect) light – do we risk losing our original motivations to help others and instead become distracted or motivated by chasing the light? Do we risk becoming addicted to the acclaim, success, and others’ perceived view of us? Oh.my.gosh.I.can’t.believe.I’m.about.to.say.this but do we risk becoming narcissistic?
I hope not. I hope we can stand firm in our integrity and always be mindful of how we are balancing serving ourselves and others.
I’m not sure how exactly to bridge these two wonderful worlds that I find myself in. And I know that this blog post only partly touches what I’ve been feeling in my heart – with the rest not yet completely unearthed. I also know that at the moment I have more questions than answers. But as one of my own beautiful coaches, Claire Baker says, sometimes we just need to start with the questions in order to begin the conversation. So I guess that’s what I’m doing today.
Even though there are currently more unknowns than knowns for how we can bridge these two worlds – I do have some ideas. I will write about these separately in a future blog post. In the meantime, I’d love to know – am I alone in feeling this way? Do you too feel a tension sometimes around the coaching and online business industries? Do you wish we could form a bridge between them and the humanitarianism or social good worlds too? Please, please, please share in the comments below.
Let’s soar together,