Life

Diversity in Conversation

By: Anthony Kirby • 8 months ago •

Coaching is now a $2 billion industry. 

Whilst I am excited to see a growing recognition of what we do as a profession, the growth is also leading to a significant negative development in the space – there is a complete lack of diversity in our conversations.

What do I mean by that?

‘Coaching’ now is all about the quick success stories, the glory of “making it”, this ideal of “follow these simple steps and make a million dollars.” Everyone is showing the highlight reel – but what’s happening to the parts of the story that end up on the cutting room floor?

When we become coaches, we become leaders and if we sign up to be a leader, then we have to own it.

We can’t choose the tag of ‘expert’ when it suits and shed it when we face vulnerability or challenges in our personal world out of fear of alienating our ‘ideal client’ in the process.

 

“Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Hunter S. Thompson

 

I do a lot of Facebook live streams, and they’re genuinely unscripted. Quite often they’re not even planned. I do them on the fly when I feel there is a message in my head I need to get out there because someone else might need to hear just that today.

I was in Melbourne a few months back, and during a live stream I chose to speak about how difficult it can be to get that balance between putting the work in to grow your business, and still being there for your kids.

As context for the story, I told a story about my two-year old, Charlie. A few days earlier, my wife went to get him out of bed, and over the monitor I heard him say “Is Daddy gone?”

I sat in my kitchen, at 6:30am on a Wednesday, and I realised that my son associates waking up with me being gone. And it killed me and as I retold the story, I cried – live, on Facebook.

The response I received during and after the live stream was overwhelming.

I won’t lie, a lot of people walked away, but that didn’t matter to me because the amount of people who appreciated the fact that I expressed a human side to my business journey was so much greater.

We must remember that when we step up and show the darkness in our own businesses and lives, we open a space for others to do that too. We build trust, we show diversity in our everyday lives that ordinarily gets pushed under the carpet.

By stepping up, we show them it’s okay. We show them that their mentor is still human. We show them that we truly understand the struggles they face, because we face them too.

After all - we’re on this journey too. Just some of us have walked a couple of steps further.

We have got to feel proud about the progress AND the struggle too!

So why are people so afraid of showing their own diversity?

 

When people look upon our industry, they are looking towards us as people who can solve their problems. They see us (usually) as people who can assist them with the transitions they are experiencing.

They often assume we have the answer to everything, all the time. That we’ve managed to embark on this straight-line-no-roadblocks path to success, and can now teach that to other people.

When we talk about our roadblocks and our struggles, it becomes personal. Intimate, almost. People are not judging a product - they’re judging you.

For some - especially those who are new to this journey - that’s terrifying.

 

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Viktor Frankl

 

With judgement comes potential for losing followers. With the huge significance of social media now, that’s a big thing for people.

When we feel like no one’s listening, how can we get our message out there?

Right now, in our industry I’m seeing an over exaggerated sense of political correctness.

In their efforts to avoid judgement, to not alienate anyone, and to ultimately not lose followers, people are so afraid to speak their truth.

The watered-down messages that result from that are, in my opinion, the top contributor to the vanilla flavour seen in so many newsfeeds of people who have entered our space, vying for the attention of those who seek solutions to their problems.

A concept I speak about often is that of rational versus irrational thoughts. A rational thought is something that makes sense; it’s logical.

No one’s afraid to talk about the rational thoughts or fears. It’s thoughts like “I should be sharing my message”.

The irrational thought behind that is “But I’m not, because…”

All of these fears we have are irrational thoughts.

 

So how do we overcome these fears?

Firstly, you need to recognise that when you stand for nothing, you stand for no one. Therefore you don’t attract a loyal tribe/following.

The result of that is that you’re always going to be competing on price, and that’s a losing battle. In the absence of differentiation the only thing left is price and that’s a game only one person wins.

Secondly, you need to work on your resilience. If you want to be a true leader, especially in the personal or professional development field, you need to build a thick skin when it comes to other people’s opinions.

Take the time to reflect on what your personal thoughts are.

Sharing your thoughts, and speaking to the irrational voice inside the mind of your market will be an empowering experience for you.

Scary - of course, but nobody said that this journey would be anything other than that!

When I shared my message - to get more business owners home in time for dinner, I realised how many people were sharing that same thought.

The confidence it gave me allowed me to speak to more of the irrational thoughts of the market, share more of my ups and downs and create a landscape of contrast and diversity in the conversations I had with my clients, and the market at large.

The result? People feel heard now. They feel I understand them. Sometimes offering diversity draws your audience closer, and often - shifts their way of thinking about things.

And that’s a good thing for them, for you and our industry at large.

Let’s start having more conversations that count.

About the author:

 

Anthony Kirby, affectionately known as “Kirby”, is a dad who loves helping business owners get home in time for dinner, and is passionate about lifting the energy of the professional development industry and challenging the norms and beliefs of “traditional” business training. With a background supporting some of Australia’s leading construction businesses, Kirby’s main focus lies in providing business owners with clarity, kick-ass strategies, and simple tools to measure their results along the way, so that they can have more fun along their journey.

 

In the last 12 months, Kirby’s strategies added over $108 million in sales to clients across Australia and over 1,000 business owners have enjoyed Kirby’s humour, authenticity, and no-bs approach to business growth.

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