When Your Coaching Clients’ Issues Are Your Own

I wasn’t going to finish this email to you…

I was in the middle of writing it…

…when suddenly I thought…

“This email sucks.”

”It’s just not compelling enough.”

I couldn’t get past my issues about it.

What’s ironic?

The whole point of this email is…

Wherever coaches have a problem…

It stops them from helping their clients.

Luckily, I talked to my coach about this…

…and he noticed the irony.

HE SAID: “You’re not going to help our students get unstuck…

because YOU are stuck.

And, coaches aren’t helping their own clients get unstuck…

because THEY are stuck.”

As we talked, we both realized…

…coaches can get stuck in exactly the same way that their clients are.


It’s no wonder they aren’t able to help their clients much (at least with that issue).

It’s the same with my client…

…a coach who doesn’t believe she has enough time.

When her clients tell her they don’t have enough time…

…she BELIEVES them.

How could she not?

She is nodding her head with the rest of the choir…

…agreeing in her heart that “everyone is busy”.

So I called her on it the other day…

I ASKED HER: “What has you let your client stay stuck in their time limitations?”

MY CLIENT SAID: “I can’t help but empathize with them.”

I SAID: “What you call ‘empathy’ seems to stop you from being a stand for your client to transform…

…it gets you off the hook.”

MY CLIENT SAID: “Do you think my empathy is bad?”

I REASSURED HER: “Your empathy is not the problem…

…but it’s a symptom of the fact that you share your clients limitations.

And so instead of helping them resolve it…

…you end up commiserating and connecting with them on that problem…

  • how bad it is.
  • how intractable it is.
  • how impossible it is to change it.

And now you’ve validated that your client can’t change.

And that’s driven by an issue that you can totally transform…

…but you haven’t until now.

Until you handle this for yourself…

Or at least get it out of your ‘space’ during coaching sessions…

You’re thoroughly incapable of helping this client…

…at least when it comes to their ‘time’ issues.”

Shared Growth

Then I took my client through the three steps to overcome shared limitations in a coaching relationship:

Connect with your purpose as a coach:

Most coaches will do way more for others than they will just to help themselves

…so this purpose may be the key to making real progress in this area of your life.

The bonus is that you’ll empower your client as well.

If you’re not fully committed to helping your client…

…you’ll likely take the easy way out and not do the hard work to get past this limitation.

Get clear on how your client’s issue is similar to your own:

Ask, “How does their issue apply to me?”

Ask, “How do I have that same limitation in my life?”

If you have an answer to these questions, then you have seen your own limitation. What can you do to transform it?

If you don’t have an answer to these questions, then you haven’t seen your limitation. This is an area to get coaching on.

If you’re still struggling with this issue yourself, or are held back in your endevour to support your client in this area… Bring it up with your client:

Why bring it up? Why talk about it?

  • It’ll shed light on a significant barrier to the value and effectiveness of the coaching.
  • It’ll help preserve the value of the coaching despite that issue.
  • It’ll makes you accountable to your client for the impact of this issue.
  • It puts this issue “on the mat” for you and your client to resolve.

You’re also setting an example, potentially inspiring your client to take ownership of their own limitations.

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“How do I know if my limitation might be holding me back in a coaching relationship?”

My answer? Look for the following signs:

  • You’re thinking “I don’t know how to help them.”
  • You’re frustrated with your client’s lack of progress.
  • You’re agreeing with their problems and “reasons why not”.
  • You’re not showing up committed to your client being unstoppable.

If you see any of this, it’s probably time to check in. Go through the steps above and see what comes up for you.

The areas where you can’t help your client…

…are areas where you ARE your client.

The areas where you can’t help your client…

…are areas where you ARE your client.

The clients you attract…

…are a reflection of your own limitations.

When your clients are stuck…

…it’s a reflection of your own limitations.

The stress you feel about your client…

…is a reflection of your own blindspot.

Don’t confuse the symptom with the cause.

Your client being stuck is a symptom

…YOU’RE the cause.

(At least as long as you’re the coach in that coaching relationship)

Whenever you are struggling to coach your clients through something…

…ask yourself how it applies to you.

If you see how it applies… Great!

But if you don’t see how it applies

that’s when it applies the MOST.


It’s a blindspot.

Blindspots always have the biggest impact…

…and cause the biggest limitations.

SEE your blindspots.

TRANSCEND the suffering.


Colette “Causing The Coaching” Coiner

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