Looking someone in the eye and being able to say “I trust you” – and to mean it – is one of the most important and fundamental building blocks in all our relationships. The ability to trust someone lies at the root of all successful business partnerships, thriving teams, happy marriages, life-long friendships, and open parent-child relationships.
It is with people that we trust that we can start to be vulnerable, to open up a little more, and to ask for and invite more in. We are able to show who we are and what we need and, in so doing, are able to develop a better understanding of ourselves in the process. As we offer more of ourselves, we unconsciously give the other person the courage to do the same. The result is an opening up of opportunities, creativity and freedom.
When most people are asked about what they value most in another person, or in a relationship, trust will come up as an answer. It is simply the glue that holds all relationships together. And yet it sometimes seems so elusive. Each of us can think of relationships, past and current, that are filled with trust, and many that aren’t – or haven’t been.
So why is trust so hard to find in our relationships?
One of the answers I’m playing with at the moment stems out of a great quote by Mark Sanborn: “the self-mastery index (is) the ratio between promises made and promises kept – both to oneself and to others.” This is profound. Self-mastery involves self-awareness, accountability and ownership. And promises are inextricably linked to trust. When they’re kept, trust remains. When they’re broken, it is eroded.
But what really got me thinking with this quote was the reference to being able to keep promises to ourselves. And reflecting on how much we actually trust ourselves. It takes great courage to look and see the instances where we don’t - and I’m realising that the more I don’t trust myself, the more impossible it is for others to trust me. All the times I tell myself that tomorrow I will work on the report I’ve been procrastinating over; go for a run; go painting with my daughter; phone a friend back…and then fail to do that thing – I’m revealing to myself that I can’t depend on myself, I can’t trust myself. And I unconsciously convey that to others.
Trust is an intricate dance between trusting and being trustworthy. They are two sides to the same coin. When we are truly able to stand honestly in our own promises – clearly stating needs and expectations – and stop trying to be everything to everyone (including ourselves!) we just might be able to step into and invite more of the kind of relationships that are built on trust.
And it’s worth remembering the following: “We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.” – Walter Anderson, political scientist and author.
Small business owners, entrepreneurs and consultants are not always the first people to spend their money on business coaching. This may be because coaching often seems like a luxury, a ‘nice-to-have’ if you need to spend some budget on training or personal development. It is certainly not often seen as a critical string in your bow. People from this group often view coaching as something for bigger, multi-staffed organisations and certainly not something they can fit into a business life that is already consuming them with the multitude of focus areas that leaders of small businesses must tend to.
That crazy story – you have a major deadline due for a new client that you really want to retain, but you web-design consultant urgently needs your copy in order to change something on your website that a press release is going to drive people to - today. And your printer has just run out of ink… When it is you alone wearing all of these hats and needing to solve all of these issues, there just does not seem to be time to fit in monthly business coaching sessions.
But business coaching could be precisely what is needed because you are mainly working on your own. People who spend their money on a business coach are able to counter the effects of their isolation and use the powerful coaching relationship to take their business forwards and, most importantly, closer towards the business life they have always dreamed of creating.
So what are the benefits of business coaching to a small or solo enterprise?
A coach is able to ensure that you remain on target toward your goals – and can assist in the process of setting them, or revisiting them when necessary. The busy-ness of running a business often results in us just getting through what needs to be done today, but we are often caught jumping from one thing to another with no real planning, or even taking on projects that are sabotaging our chance at real success. The role of a coach is fundamental in keeping us on track and moving forward.
The feeling of overwhelm that many people feel at the start of – or even well into – running their business can lead to a tendency to act with little forethought or reflection. As a result lessons are not learnt from perceived failures and unhealthy processes and habits are unclear to the business owner. Coaching is a great tool to see clearly what is happening in the business and what role you are playing in assisting or hindering positive growth.
The reality of being a sole owner of a business is that you have no-one to answer to except yourself. While this is the dream many people chase when going solo, anyone who has tried it will be able to tell you that it is also the most difficult aspect of forging your own path. You may be well aware that setting up an efficient accounting system is crucial to your business, or that you need to develop a sales and marketing strategy, but it is incredibly difficult to get yourself to focus on these things when they really are not what you enjoy. Having a coach can assist you to understand better why you are actually avoiding these activities, assist you in developing a plan to tackle them – and, importantly, hold you accountable when no-one else is there to do so.
One of the loneliest things about working for yourself, or being a part of a really small business, is that you are often plagued by doubts and are unable to see the fantastic things you have already achieved. When your focus becomes too negative and narrow, it is vital that you are able to feel encouraged and supported in order to gain a realistic perspective and develop the courage and confidence to keep going.
The coaching relationship is so incredibly powerful because of its ability to assist you to live according to what is truly important to, and for, you. You will be able to focus deeply on your own goals, fears, talents and opportunities and will have the chance to create a business life that is truly your own. Making sure that you are living out of your own truth, and in your own unique way, is critical to your enjoyment, fulfilment and success. And – importantly - to the creation of your own unique brand.
A business coach is able to ensure that you are focusing on the big picture, as well as the little details that your day-to-day business requires. By taking the time to reflect with your coach, you will be able to see how all parts of your business hang together, or don’t, and how they can be better aligned. Coaches will also be able to assist you in goal-setting and planning, ensuring that your strategy is worked out and not forgotten.
The relationship between coach and coachee can be something that truly sets a small business owner a part. Being able to factor in your strategic planning and reflection time, you will find the time with your coach a rich opportunity to engage in crucial decision making processes with your coach as a thinking partner.
So I encourage you – take the leap and go and find your coach! The power, and enjoyment, of having someone to think with can never be over-estimated…
On a personal note...
I am curious, creative, determined, committed and (a bit too much of) a perfectionist.