I Might Never Be a Successful Coach

I’m not a successful Coach.

It’s possible that I never will be.

Socks, soup and success…

I coached full-time from 2002-2007, but made only just about enough to keep myself in socks and soup. Working from home every day for 5 years also drove me a little loopy, so I decided to go back into a “real-life workplace” with real people and stuff, for the health of both my sanity and my bank balance.

Since then, I launched myself as The Confidence Guy and most recently launched The Code, each delving deep into my specialism of confidence coaching, something I bloody love.

In those 12 years I’m pretty sure I’ve helped people, but sometimes it feels like I’ve fallen way short of what I could have achieved, or indeed, dreamed of achieving.

In parallel, my freelancing work as a Producer in ad and marketing agencies has flourished. Quite unwittingly and unwanted, I’m in big demand in this capacity, and have the luxury to tell the big agencies when I’m working, when I’m not and how much I cost.

As a Producer I get to be in a room full of decent people, throw around creative, strategic and technological ideas, and shape something that’s hopefully pretty cool. That part of it works for me, but the day-after-day, office-bound nature of it doesn’t work quite so well. Plus, I’m acutely aware that advertising and marketing are simply about helping someone else sell more shit. I can’t really get excited about that.

So, I’ve built this flexible, high-income and in-demand role from nothing, and my “career” as a Producer is apparently a lot more successful than my career as a Confidence Coach.

What gives?

Does this mean I’m a better Producer than I am Coach?

Maybe. Who knows.

But actually, I don’t think that’s a helpful question.

A much better question…

I prefer to ask myself, what value am I adding, regardless of job title?

As a confidence coach I may not have a major book deal and a huge advance. I may not be able to charge $25,000 for a speaking gig. I may not have a sock butler to help me find my socks in the morning.

That stuff may or may not happen (fingers crossed on the sock thing), but in the meantime I have some simple choices to make.

Do I define my success solely by the currency of dollars and pounds?
Do I stop engaging with what I love because I’m not where I dreamed of being?
Do I quit the idea of adding value and making a difference because of an expectation I had around volume and reach?

Those feel like the right questions to me.

They bring me back to what matters, remind me of where I am and tell the expectations to jog on and get lost

Success is such an emotive and confused concept that it almost becomes meaningless. You succeed and fail all the time, just by living your life.

Take breathing, for example. Way to go! You just totally breathed in! That’s epic! You’re awesome at breathing in! Great stu…oh hang on, wait a second. Did you just breathe out? You let that breath go? Shit. Erm, what the hell, you were doing so well with the whole breathing in thing. Epic fail.

Both success and failure are thoughts we have to help weave a narrative around events. Success is a thought, just like a thought about how green the broccoli on your plate is or how stuffy the room is.

The narrative thought doesn’t matter; what matters is tasting the broccoli and deciding what you do in that room.

Of course, I don’t have all the answers any more than I have all the llama’s, rainbows or tambourines*. I’m not in the business of accumulating answers, I’m in the business of continuing to learn, adapt and shed.

So, it’s healthier for me to gauge my impact as a confidence coach by the quality of value I offer to a single individual, rather than how many thousands of seats there are in the stadium I’m talking at. If I’m able to make a real difference to one person, that’s bloody amazing in my book.

And it’s healthier for me to gauge my impact as a producer by the amount of fun I have when working with others, rather than how much money I’m making for Brand X. If I’m able to laugh with the people around me and make their working experience easier, that’s bloody amazing in my book.

Through the traditional lens of success, I might never be a successful Coach.

I think I’m okay with that.

* Actually, I do have all the tambourines. All of them. Mine.

  • Amazing, Steve. Truly helpful, inspiring, thought-provoking and refreshingly real.
    An epic post – please add the response you have elicited in me (through this one post) to your Success Inventory!
    Warm regards,

  • Steve,
    You’re doing great. As we know sometimes something happens in our lives – that makes us appreciate that we’ve had the ladder that we’re climbing propped up against the wrong wall or we’ve suddenly developed a fear of heights! That’s life… one thing we often appreciate as we get older is that it’s not the end of the world to change course, direction or jump out of whatever life we may have had previously. It’s all a journey and as with satnavs, sometimes we need to review our route or take a u-turn! The wisdom comes from that experience and sounds like you have this now in spades… keep it up. Labels and prejudices from others or keeping up with the latest fad are just not so important as you journey through life and appreciate what is truly valuable to you not others. Listen to your heart and your own thoughts and be guided by being authentic to yourself. Don’t forget to enjoy the ride!!!

  • Hey Steve.

    Just found your blog and really like it.

    Success and how we define it is a fine line. I think a lot of people are afraid to acknowledge their success because they feel that if they do – and put themselves out of pain in the process – then they will lose their motivation.

    As a confidence coach, this would be people saying “I can’t be confident! If I am then I won’t work so hard and will become soft!”

    And who knows Steve. Perhaps someday you’ll get your sock guy 🙂 We never know how far around the corner we are.

    Great post,


  • Steve
    It sounds like you are having a successful life. What does that mean to me? Having sufficient money to live on but enjoying most of the work you do
    I am sure you have already worked out the answers for yourself but if you ever need a coach or supervisor …………

    • Cheers Neil!

      I was being somewhat facetious in the this one – I actually don’t put much stock in the word “success” because I don’t think it’s a useful label or denominator. Much better to simply engage with the stuff that means something and seek to add value, don’t you think?

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