Keeping It Real: Why Being Your Own Coach Is The Only Life Mantra You Will Need
With enough advice columns on how-to-sell-yourself ; here is one that stands apart. Simply, because it isn't aimed to preach. Yes, you decide whether you want to be an echo or a voice.
Life is full of competition, but that doesn’t mean we’re innately comfortable with it as human beings.
As a mentor to entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed there are now more coaches and mentors than ever before. In some parts of the world (like America), there seems to be a coach for absolutely anything and everything. But despite the volume of coaches and mentors in the world, I must confess I rarely look at what they're doing. Perhaps, this is one of the keys to being authentic and taking a different approach to my work. When you are expressing to the world your own challenges and perspective, it helps if you create material which resonates with your audience.
I love to create content, and often do so in written form (like this article), or through my television show, One More Round, or my YouTube channel. I’m always thinking about the consumer in mind. In other words, I am audience-obsessed. It’s really important we give people what they want within the business world, and then educate them about what they need. Giving people what they want invokes likability and trust. Once you have those things, your ability to educate your audience in what they need becomes easier and, ultimately, results in more sales.
Related: How To Create A Personal Revolution
The majority of the content I create is based on my personal and professional experience- thoughts and revelations I’ve witnessed in the world of entrepreneurship. While still based on my experience as a coach and mentor, this article attacks a slightly different issue for entrepreneurs. This article is dedicated to those who are fed up with the same old sales techniques, marketing ploys, speaking styles, and social media speak that has become the new normal in the coaching world.
Raimonda Jan is the founder and CEO of CrowdVelocity, and the founder of Women in Business. Raimonda suggested that I take on the topic of authenticity to help liberate other business owners and entrepreneurs from the status quo, and inspire them to take a different approach. It’s always best to be who we really are, rather than following the herd.
To that end, here are my top tips for living an authentic life:
1. Stop looking at everyone else, and look in the mirror
As I previously mentioned, I pay little attention to other coaches and mentors. Of course, I can see why people pay attention to the competition. However, when you know who you are, and what you bring to the table, you become so focused on delivering results, that you don’t have time or energy to focus on what someone else is doing. Looking at other people constantly is exhausting, and it usually invites two related problems. First, you’ll look at someone else and be frustrated you’re not at their level. Second, you’ll look at them and think you’re way better and become complacent. In either case, comparing ourselves with others stifles growth, and doesn’t help us put our best foot forward.
Additionally, when we constantly compare ourselves with others and follow the herd, we become not only predictable but utterly nondescript. A desire to retain my individuality is one of the reasons I’ve never worked with a public speaking trainer, though I know some very good ones who are worth their weight in gold. I also recognize there are times when we should invest in building confidence or improving delivery, but we have to choose those priorities in our lives. I have been speaking for about five years on numerous stages, from entrepreneurial summits to hosting innovation of small business conferences, and improving my delivery has not been a priority for me. Could my ability to deliver a talk be better? Yes, it could. Then why wouldn’t I invest in a trainer? Because I would rather be me- imperfect and unpolished, but real, relatable, and authentic.
The reason the world may feel flat and look so cookie-cutter is that people are comfortable with being merely an echo, and not a voice. We repeat what everyone else is saying, because we have no convictions of our own, or are afraid to be judged for them. We would rather ride the wave of someone else’s experience than risk sharing personal revelations and insights of our own. If we really want to be authentic, we must stop copying how others sell themselves and find our own voice. Nowhere is this most easily found than in our existing behaviors, values, and opinions.
If you spend all your time studying the competition, I recommend you take a month off to look inside yourself and start really thinking about your own brand. When you begin to think in this way, you’ll be able to focus on what you’ve achieved in life and business, and then clearly convey that message to your customers. The best way to do this is through personal reflection and owning who we are. The best time to start is now.
2. Back your strengths, and stay in your own lane
I’ve never been a fan of the notion “fake it till you make it,” but I know lots of people are. If that works for you, great. We don’t have to agree, and having the courage to publicly say operating from that place is not a good life choice for me means I’m embracing my true self. I know who I am, and I know who I’m not. Most importantly, I’m perfectly okay with the outcome of reluctance to that sentiment.
The most wonderful thing on earth is to know who you are and realize what you were put here to do. If you don’t know the answer to that question, I encourage you to keep experimenting and trying new things until you find yourself cruising along in your lane (I recommend buying Tim Rathe’s book, Strength Finders, to help you on your path). Your ability to stay in your lane will determine the strength of the authority you build in your niche. Know and find out what you are good at, what is natural to you, what people naturally come to you about, and then own that space. When you embrace who you are, and have the consistency to prove to those around you that you know what you’re on about, you build trust.
It does me no good to tell people I know how to fly to the moon out of enthusiasm for the trip when the honest truth is that I wouldn’t even know how to get to the space shuttle launch site. When we don’t come from a place of wisdom, truth, or honesty, we not only put undue stress on ourselves, but we also allow someone else to put their faith in us while knowing we have no understanding of how to deliver.
Instead of making empty promises, take the approach of embracing only what you’re good at, and committing to the “sweet spot” of activities in which you excel. In this way, people can begin to trust you, and you can focus on the things you love, instead of saying “yes” simply because you’re afraid of losing a piece of business or an opportunity. Remember, it’s bad form to say you can do something when you never have. Sure, it may work out on occasion, but it’s a surefire path to eventual disaster, and it undermines your authenticity and ability to embrace the gifts you’ve been given.
3. Be honest with yourself
None of us need to play God in every area of our lives. My dear grandmother often wished I was good with a hammer and nail or had the ability to lay bricks. I never had that do-it-yourself (DIY) desire, and so, never developed the talent or ability to do those things.
However, I can speak on stage to thousands of people, and interview thousands of entrepreneurs on radio and television. I am comfortable with the fact that I suck at DIY. Get familiar with yourself, and then get comfortable accepting the things you’re not good at, as well as those things at which you rock.
One of the things I created after three years of working with entrepreneurs and reflecting on the pain points and opportunities we often discussed is a GPS system, which I explain as an internal MRI. The system is based on 10 fundamentals, which ranges from the lifestyle you live, to your ability to be self-aware of who you are and what is around you, and examines your behaviors, beliefs, and actions toward yourself, others, and your business. The GPS system reveals personal and professional blind spots, efficiencies, and deficiencies we then use to develop a mentoring strategy. I get so excited about helping people find who they are and exploring the right environments in which they should be working and living. It’s the most rewarding part of being a mentor. Having the ability, encouragement, and opportunity to take a hard look at yourself can be uncomfortable, but it also is very liberating, as we’re all works in progress on journeys of self-improvement.
If you want to be authentic and separate yourself from those around you, you’ve got to stop dressing, sounding, and acting just like everyone else. When you have a clear and honest view of yourself, you’ll begin to see the needs and desires of others more effectively. The fact that people like Raimonda are fed up with everyone doing the same thing, sounding the same, and looking the same is a great opportunity for the “You Movement” to take shape. The “You Movement” is where you fully embrace the skills you’ve been given, and your ability to express them in your very own style without the need to copy, conform, or pretend. If you want to connect with the world, you must first connect with yourself, own your space, and love who you are even the parts you would love to change.
Also, learn to admit your mistakes. Isn’t it always refreshing when someone puts up their hands and admits to getting it wrong? Very few people in power are willing to admit their mistakes. When was the last time you heard US President Donald Trump apologize for what comes out of his mouth? Being authentic and blazing your own trail is about being human, being real, being humble, and being honest. Own who you are. Own your actions. Own your thoughts. I can’t blame anyone else for the choices I make, and neither can you. I know sometimes we do put the blame elsewhere, but it leaves us powerless to the situation, and we miss the chance to grow. It can affect people’s trust of others, and also saturates our influence.
I don’t know about you, but the people I want to follow in life are those who have fouled up, admitted it, took the learnings, and kept right on going. Not one of us hasn’t fallen short at some point or another. This is why I happily share my mistakes and times I’ve gotten it wrong with my clients. When we are honest with others, they become honest with us. We don’t need to try and buy respect or influence, because, in the long run, it doesn’t work anyway. Increasing your influence and ability to guide others in a positive direction comes by being human, being real, and being authentic. Find your own voice, and stop being an echo.
In summary, the world needs you to find out who you are, and what you were put on earth to do in order to have the greatest impact on those who inhabit it. There is a need for you and me to not follow the masses, not to dress the same, and sound the same. We can’t all follow the same formula; we must create and express our own unique flair, because people are tired of the predictable and familiar expectation associated with your field and niche.
After you’ve read this article, reflect on who you are, in your gifts, your personality, what you have to offer, and be faithful in what you’ve been given to contribute to the lives of others around you. In doing so, people will start to see the real you. In my case, the reality is, there are thousands of mentors and coaches in my field, but people will choose to work with me, because of who I am, my experience, my failings, and my ability to own my own experiences and teach people about them in a charismatic and empathetic way. It’s the same for you too.
Mark’s love for entrepreneurship has been expressed through serving as a podcast host for Brainz Magazine. When not on the mic, Mark is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, and a speaker for corporate events, entrepreneurship summits, and major conferences worldwide. \
His expertise in personal and professional development has positioned him as an expert in the industry, resulting in transformational experiences for audiences, clients, and businesses alike. Drawing from personal experiences, Mark has taken the essence of what he has experienced and built a business that helps draw out the magnificent potential that every person beholds using his GPS system to highlight blind spots, efficiencies and deficiencies.
He is also the author of three personal development books Inside Job, Plot Twist, and his latest book, Mark of a Man, launching on November 30, 2021.