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Coaching Lessons from Alexander Hamilton

unsplash-logoMay Lawrence

For those who have seen Hamilton or listened to the soundtrack, it goes without saying that Lin Manuel Miranda is a lyrical genius. That much, at least, is evidenced by his masterful storytelling lyrics. And that's (kind of) what we'll be talking about today.

In all fairness, I have to give credit where credit is due. I may not have even bothered to listen to this soundtrack if not for the ‘encouragement’ of one amazing ‘A Dot Ham’ historical genius, Rebecca Valdes.  Yes, she got me hooked on the soundtrack.  Because of her untouchable knowledge of all things Mr. Ten Dollar Bill, I’ve asked her to co-author this writing. Oh, also… she’s 12.

We thought it might be fun to extract some of the recurring themes of Hamilton and see how they apply to coaching. There’s a lot to learn from Hamilton himself for our coaching practice and how we serve our clients.  When someone gifts you with the honor of that front row seat to the journey into their best life, they are paying attention to what you are doing. In everything, we must be in alignment. That ‘do as I say not as I do’ crap doesn’t work for coaching any more than it works for parenting. 

My hope is that you enjoy reading further as much as I enjoyed collaborating with one crazy-talented 12-year old expert historian.

 

“I’m not throwing away my shot”

As coaches, we’re blessed with the opportunity to take people to heights they may not have thought they’d ever reach.  It’s a beautiful thing when someone realizes that they want more for their life and come to coaching for help to get there.  This is our shot to champion, encourage, and partner with someone on the brink of changing their life for the better. As a coach, you must make the most of that. Perhaps you only have one shot to breathe life into their dreams.  Make sure you are helping them make the most of their shot to propel their life forward. 

“Non-Stop”

I love this one. Sometimes, people get into coaching thinking it’s going to be an easy career choice. The truth is, while it’s the most rewarding career we could possibly have (yes, super biased), it does take work.  It’s work to build and hone your skills, build your business, and to be a stand for your clients and their success. 

Building your practice and your skills will take consistency, determination and persistence; all those things that are required to be successful in any business.  Be non-stop in your work ethic and non-stop in your dedication to your clients’ success.  Make sure you are setting a good example for them and giving them a good pace to keep up with.

“Rise Up”

Make sure you are rising up to the occasion to make yourself the best coach you can be.  Remember: you’ll never be able to take your clients anywhere you haven’t been yourself.  Encourage your clients to stand up for what they believe in; to stand up for their dreams.  Please don’t limit yourself and always set high expectations for yourself and for them too.  I promise… if you are doing it right, they will do what they can to live up to those expectations at every turn. The more you believe in them, the higher they will rise up.

“Blow Us All Away”

Let your clients surprise you; expect them to.  Let your clients know when they are blowing you away.  Celebrate everything with them while at the same time doing what you must to call them out on their excuses and bullshit when the occasion calls for it.  I’ve seen this so much with parents whose children are not trying. Instead of raising the bar (lovingly of course), they give up and lower their expectations. 

All this does is make the kids lower their own expectations and lose any sense of belief they have in themselves. If you don’t believe in them, why should they?  This happens a lot with coaches, too. DON’T DO THAT! If you are working with someone you don’t believe in, you’re a thief -- not a coach.  Expect their results to blow you away!

“The Room Where It Happens”

Put yourself in situations where things are happening that you want to be a part of.  Surround yourself with people who you admire and look up to.  Put yourself in those situations that will force you out of your comfort zone and where you are stretched to be more, do more and expect more. 

Make sure you are staying abreast of the latest technologies and competencies that will help your clients climb higher. Always, always, always make sure you are setting those high expectations for your clients so that they are doing the same.  By example, get them used to always being in the room where it happens.

“Satisfied”

This is one of my favorite tunes from the soundtrack because it’s actually all about ‘never’ being satisfied.  I don’t know about you, but I’m never satisfied, just ask my husband (badum, tsch).  To me, being satisfied equates to being complacent and ain’t nobody got time to settle for complacency.  Do yourself a favor and STOP accepting complacency and do your clients a favor: NEVER accept it from them. 

When things start feeling satisfactory, comfortable or complacent, it’s time to kick things up a notch.  Remember, you’re either growing or dying - there’s no way around that.  I had a podcast guest a few weeks ago ask me when I knew I’d perfected speaking. I responded, ‘I know I’ll never perfect it because I’ll never be satisfied even with what looks good enough.’  There’s always room for improvement in everything we do.  Strive for it and don’t settle for just good enough.  Always go for better.

“Wait For It”

Ughh, I really like this tune but as the most impatient person I know, I suck at waiting. There is something to be said about having patience when it comes to letting your consistency pay off.  Like everything else, there are times where you are working and working and don’t seem to be getting the traction you’d expected.  You’re exhausted from the running around on that hamster wheel and feel you may not be getting anywhere. 

My message to you today is to keep doing it - keep going, and keep plugging away. [Tangent Alert!] It’s like how we know that what we really like about a box of Cracker Jacks (you know, since the toys became all lame and stuff) is getting to those 3 delicious peanuts at the bottom. 

We know that’s the real prize, but we have to get through the caramel popcorn (yummy as it may be) to get to the nuts.

Sorry, I just had a bag and it made so much sense to me. As long as you are tracking the right metrics and consistently moving in their direction, you’ll find that one day you’ll look back and realize you’ve built that business you’ve always wanted, you’ve accomplished those goals and achieved that dream.  Whatever you do – wait for it but don’t stop. 

“Take a Break”

This is another one I used to have a big problem with.  Trust me: life, God, and the universe will find a way to tell you you need a break if you are not taking time to pause.  Like many of you, I love what I do and can do it 24 hours a day. But when you’re working on fumes, everything you do reflects that.  I learned to listen to when I was called for a break. Now, instead of waiting for the poop to hit the fan, I pause before I’m already burnt out.

In fact, two of my metrics are vacations and play days.  My goals for this year (at least for 2020) are 1 vacation per month and 4 play days a month.  If you read this and are saying to yourself you don’t have time for this, trust me you do have the time, you’re just not making the time. I schedule this in just like I schedule everything else.  My ‘break’ time often takes precedence to everything else and you know what I found?  That I’m much better at everything I’m doing BECAUSE I’m taking time to pause.  My business is growing BECAUSE I’m taking time to pause and I’m showing up in a much better place for my clients BECAUSE I’m honoring my ‘me’ time.  Try it - you’ll be addicted in no time.

“What Comes Next”

This is always the question. I mean ALWAYS the question.  Particularly when you feel comfortable (also known as a plateau),  try to figure out what comes next.  Not from an anxiety-inducing place where you’re always worried about the future and not enjoying the present. Rather, when you are getting close to that achievement of your goals and dreams, start looking to what comes next so that you can ride the wave of momentum.

Momentum can be your best friend. Remember what Newton says, “An object in motion stays in motion...”. Take time to celebrate the accomplishment, but do what you must to keep that momentum going and see what happens in your business and in your life.  Continue to challenge yourself in the direction of more and to be more for yourself and for your clients.

“I Wrote My Way Out”

Okay, this one is a little less obvious but I have a question for you: how are you serving the world?  How are you impacting others who may not be on your client list? I’m a firm believer in that we are put on this planet for the purpose of leaving it a little better than it was when we arrived. As coaches, we should be in full blown ‘adding value’ mode.  How are you doing that?

We have all this knowledge and exposure to better ways of doing things that we’ve learned through our certification or as we’ve built our coaching practices.  What are you doing with that information?  Give it away, people… c’mon!  Are you blogging?  Are you writing articles that will serve and help others?  Are you posting videos with tidbits and gems that you know can help others?  DO IT!  I’m all for business, but we don’t have to monetize everything.  Get yourself out there, share your expertise, be vulnerable, serve for the sake of serving and stop keeping score!

“The World Is Wide Enough”

I love this because for whatever reason, some in our coaching world get in ‘hog’ mode.  Folks, there’s no reason for that. If I had kept count, I’ve probably given away more clients than I’ve coached.  I know not everyone is a good fit for me and I know I’m not a good fit for everyone.  That’s why I love promoting coaches and having so many wonderful coaches in my tribe.

I love to share and share often. We should all be in that mode.  What good are you going to be to a client when you know full well there’s someone in your tribe who may be of better service?  Please don’t be afraid of referring a client to someone you know would be a better coach for them. I do this all the time and have never, EVER had a problem filling my practice. I max my clients to ten per year, but still.  It’s your business, so you do what you want, but know that we don’t need to take slices from other people’s pies. I love to refer people ‘freely’.  They’re doing the work, let them have their pie.  If you become a really good baker, you’ll have plenty of your own pies. Believe me, the world is wide enough for plenty of coaches.

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