I had told that “poor me” story at least 1000 times. So often, that I believed it. As I launched into retelling #1001, something amazing happened.
My coach shut me down.
“I don’t care,” he said. “I’m here to move you forward.”
He didn’t care? Didn’t care? What kind of heartlessness had I signed up for here?
But he dug in and refused to back off.
As I sat there dumbfounded, two choices lay before me. I could call him an asshole, hang up, and stay in my comfort zone. Or I could let his clarity pull me up and out of my mess into a new place of discomfort. (And expansion. The very thing I’d claimed I wanted.)
Life’s defining moments sometimes take you completely by surprise. This one hit me, hard.
I could not see that I was broken and totally locked in to my sad stories. Which were turning into patterns, well-worn grooves on a vinyl record.
In that moment, I flat-out chose something different. I chose to make “I don’t care” mean, “I care more than anyone else in your life.” I chose to keep moving. I chose change. I chose to get comfortable with discomfort. It “unbroke” me.
In that moment, I also became my coach’s ideal client.
I didn’t know it, but this was a threshold for him. It was the moment I began taking responsibility and showing up as a partner in his business. Letting him be my coach, rather than collapsing onto him.
No matter what business you’re in, you are a leader. A coach in so many ways. And people who are committed to their repetitive stories and patterns of brokenness don’t make good clients.
But, if they are willing to shift their stories, Upleveling can come quickly. My coach, for instance, had taken me on as a client in spite of my, ahem, issues. And that led me to a pivotal breakthrough. That takes courage and clarity.
But how do you know?
How can you tell the difference between someone who is committed to staying broken, and someone who has the potential to do the work and break through.
Here’s a quick check to help you know if your client is stuck in her sad stories and NOT willing to breakthrough. (Or if she’s simply going through the discomfort of un-breaking.)
In the end, it’s up to you to set the boundaries that create a container for your client’s success. Sadly, some clients may never choose to Uplevel. If they remain stuck in story, they will be a giant drain on your energy. It’s nearly impossible to work with someone seriously attached to a self-fulfilling prophecy of victimhood and failure. Time to cut bait and let go. This client is toxic to your business.
I still get broken at times. I still have my stories. (Like the time I begged a promoter to book me. Or, like, every morning when I would rather sleep in than go to the gym. See? I got loads!)
But I see stories – yours, mine, whoevers! – for what they are: opportunities for growth. If you’re working deeply with your client – no matter what you do – you can be a catalyst for change. It’s not about being an asshole. It’s about identifying where they are stuck, and having the courage to call them forward. In the end, they will thank you. Or they will walk away. Either way, you are doing the right thing.