“This isn’t working. How much longer are you going to try?”
When I was building my coaching business, there came a point where I was standing in my living room in Carbondale, CO, which has a view of Mt. Sopris, the mountain that in many ways had called my wife and me to give up our lives in Washington DC and move across the country. The view was was a reminder that I had created my dream life. I had it all, except for one thing.
Income. Two years into my business, I had made a combined total of about 10 percent of what I had made in my old corporate job. And my wife was now asking me the question I kept asking myself every night as I tried to sleep.
How much longer? And, more importantly, what needed to change if this was going to work?
One of the things that fascinates me about creating in the world is that most of the time, when there is a dramatic increase in our capacity to create, it is almost always accompanied by a fundamental change in how we SEE the world and, simultaneously, how we BE in it.
Before I tell you about what shifted for me, I want to tell you about four modes of operating that I point to in my coaching. Each has an associated view of how the world works. I work with a lot of founders and entrepreneurs and when they see this, it enables them to create much more quickly (and dramatically) than they otherwise could.
These modes distinguish between how the world looks to us and how the world actually occurs as a process inside us. If that seems a bit esoteric, I hope that it will become much more clear as you read on.
Executing Mode—The World and You are Fixed
I am going to guess that at least 90 percent of humans operate in this mode most, if not all the time. Often it’s because the other modes do not even appear as possibilities.
In executing mode, you buy into an illusion—that the world your experience is solid and fixed and outside of you. That time is solid and fixed and outside of you. Because of both of these things, the only way to get more done in the world is to build your skillset, your efficiency, and your productivity. In other words, you can add
I often get approached my leaders who assume that what they need from a coach are things like better time management or better communication skills. While both of these things can help, they are very much from the Executing Mode and very limited in terms of what they can accomplish.
Declaring Mode—You Can (Slowly) Change
I also call this the Affirming mode, based on affirmations, the idea that we can improve ourselves by saying things about ourselves over and over again.
The idea that the self is changeable is the fundamental change here. To see that our very selves, which appear so solid most of the time, are changeable opens us to much more change than when we assume we are working with a fixed and solid set of qualities.
We can declare ourselves to be more loving, more open, more focused, more determined, and, to some extent, we will actually become these things. Just the reminder that this is a possibility seems to shift something in us.
But when we look at this closely, it is also limited.
Because it assumes that building your identity is like building your body. You body is solid and responds to physical laws that prevent it from changing rapidly.
But your identity has no such limitations. And neither does the world that you experience.
Realizing Mode—The World and You are Made of Thought
The next perspective is the one that frees up everything dramatically. And as Morpheus says to Neo, “I can show you the door, but you’re the one who has to walk through it.”
This is where a bit of cutting edge science is helpful.
While each of us has an experience of a world that looks solid, science tells us that there is no such world.
Instead, the world, before we see it, exists only as a grayish cloud of possiblities. Of quantum potential.
Does this surprise you?
When you look at the world, it coalesces into something that looks solid. But your model of reality exists only in your mind. And my model exists only in my mind. These models are based somewhat on inputs from your sense organs (which take in only a tiny portion of all the energy out there) but mostly, each model of the world is based on the beliefs that the person has about the world, the vast majority of which are unconscious.
In other words, most of the time, the world is what you expect it will be.
No one can ever experience the world directly. Only their particular model of it, consisting of their thoughts about themselves, the world, and everything in it. Because thoughts constantly change, the world we experience is constantly changing, too.
There is something about seeing this that dramatically changes our experience of the world. We simply take it much less seriously.
Even when you are struggling, you know that if you just give yourself some time that feeling will change. In fact, difficult feelings can become a guide for you—not that you need to change anything, but simply that you’re not thinking very clearly right now.
This perspective can be incredibly helpful in managing the ups and downs of building a business.
But there is one more perspective that is even more powerful.
Transforming Mode—You Are Creating Yourself and The World in Every Moment
Human beings are creators.
Yet most of the time it is completely invisible to us.
When I see that I am only ever experiencing the world as my own thoughts, that provides a gateway into a vital inquiry—
What are my thoughts?
What are the assumptions that I make about myself and the world?
Most of these are unconscious. But we can begin to notice them simply based on how we behave. Do we have trouble trusting people or do we connect easily? Do we avoid risk because we assume we are going to fail? Do we embrace challenge because we somehow just know we can succeed?
What do we WANT to believe about ourselves and the world?
This might at first seem like the Declaring Mode, but it feels completely different. Declaring Mode is exhausting because the self you are trying to change seems solid—you may find yourself saying an affirmation thousands of times with very little to show for it. And you are generally wanting to change because you think there is something wrong with you, that you are not enough.
Here, you KNOW that the thing you have called self is just a bunch of thoughts that are constantly in flux. You see any perceived limits (“I could never do that”) as the ephemeral passing thoughts that they are. Because of this, you see that you can create yourself consciously rather than be at the effect of all the things you have believed to this point. Finally, you see that you are the creator, creating not from lack, not from a need to prove anything, but for the sheer joy of the creating itself.
Whether you see it or not, this is what is happening to us in every moment—
There are inputs such as light and sound and smell.
I take these inputs and try to fit them into the model and story I have already built about the world and how I think the world is.
I miss the fact that you are doing it.
You are doing this, too. And the more you catch yourself doing it, the more you will be able to create exactly what you want.
What Is A Company?
Or more specifically, what is a company made of?
You might say that a company is made of people, of buildings, of products, of intellectual capital. And in some sense, you are right.
But before all that, a company is made of thought. You create a company first through your thoughts. A coaching company can be one hundred percent thought-created.
So if you want to create your dream company (and dreams are thoughts, right?), it makes sense to understand, as deeply as you can, the role of thought in creating your experience of reality.
The role of thought in creating your experience of yourself.
This can go much more quickly if you have someone in your life whose sole role is to point you, again and again, to what you are creating as real in your thoughts, and what is actually possible to create instead.
This is what I do.
Whether it is helping new entrepreneurs, including coaches, or founders who are now scaling and even selling their businesses, understanding thought is the most powerful way to create more quickly in the world.
You can change your thoughts, and therefore your world, in an instant.
In fact, you already do. One hundred percent of the time.
What Shifted For Me
After I had that difficult conversation with my wife, something shifted.
First, I realized that I was one hundred percent committed to making it work.
Second, I realized that I was selling coaching not what coaching could do. It was exhausting. Most people saw only a tiny fraction of what was possible through coaching.
I was exhausting myself on people who had no interest in my coaching, and more fundamentally, who I did not want to coach. I was just going through the motions because I thought getting lots of conversations was what you were supposed to do.
At that point I had had hundreds if not thousands of coaching conversations. I had become much more clear on who I wanted to help, and more critically, exactly how I could help them. How to talk about the inner work that would enable them to get the outer goals they sought.
I started focusing on helping them see extraordinary possibilities and excluding everyone else.
Every business owner is tempted to go wide instead of deep. To think they can help everyone and then trying to convince everyone they can help. But it’s a trap. It’s needy and overwhelming.
You will grow your business MUCH faster if you focus on the people who already see they need your help. On the people that you already KNOW you CAN help.
You will grow your business MUCH faster if you sell solutions rather than processes.
Doing the work to hone both the people you work with and the result you get will dramatically speed up your progress.
Are you ready to begin?
How to Start
If you are a founder wanting to scale and sell your company, there are three shifts in identity (thought) that can help you do so with twice the impact and half the stress. Take a look at this video.
If a building a sustainable coaching business that will replace your corporate income is calling you, here’s a video where I share the the top three mistakes I see coaches make when trying to build a sustainable business—
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