Read This Before You Sign Up For Another Certification

My best friend since forever is starting a coaching business which means that I get the rare treat of watching (and helping) a business grow from a spark of an idea into reality. It’s been eye opening to say the least.

It also makes me think back to when I first started my coaching business and how differently I would have done things if I knew what I know now. Though on the other hand I wouldn’t have that knowledge if I didn’t experience the process.

While you can read books, attend training, even work with mentors or coaches who can tell you what you need to know; until you’ve actually put all of those things into practice and experienced failure or success on your own – you won’t get to a place of deep understanding. Where instead of listening to what everyone else is telling you to do, you form your own ideas and opinions.

And I think this is the case with any area of expertise whether it be growing a business, raising a child, running a marathon, or any other endeavor you take on.

Everyone begins as a beginner, they listen to those that have gone before them, and take their first steps on their never ending journey toward mastery. And even though no one ever ever quite finishes that journey, at some point along the way they do become an expert. They become the mentor and have the knowledge and experience to lead someone else on that same journey.

As coaches, our expertise in our field is what makes us a valuable commodity. Not how many trainings you’ve attended or certifications you have obtained.

I believe this distinction is very important, especially when you’re starting out as a coach. The common misconception is that in order to get clients or teach in a particular arena you need to “get certified” and I don’t believe that is true. Oftentimes coaches even hold themselves back because they are just getting certification after certification when the real issue at hand is their own confidence.

Here are a few circumstances when training and certifications are useful:

1. When you’re just starting out and you need a coaching framework until you can create your own. After all, why reinvent the wheel? This way you can get started right away and as you gain experience you can create your own signature system.

2. You are an established coach and want to add a tool to your toolbox that complements what you’re already doing. Sometimes when you’re coaching, a particular issue will come up again and again with clients and you can quickly learn a method from someone else to tackle the problem. By taking the training or certification you will become that much more effective as a coach.

3. You want to get to know a particular mentor. Oftentimes purchasing a training especially when it’s delivered by your favorite expert in your field is a great way to get to know them and explore other opportunities. This was how I met my mentor, and I worked with him for 5 years after my initial training.

4. You have a particular area you want to grow in. The only reason I will take a training is because there is something contained in it that I’m deeply curious about, to solve a problem I’m having, or grow my knowledge in a particular area. For me taking a training is about fine tuning and growth, or sometimes just learning something completely new (like cartooning for example).

The key here is that your expertise and talents come first and foremost. Trainings and certifications are meant to add to your arsenal and build on the knowledge you already have.

And here are a few “not-good” reasons to take trainings:

1. You think you have to be certified in order for anyone to take you seriously. Unless you’re working in a field where a certification is required, this isn’t the case. When it comes to hiring you, prospects want to know that you are an expert in your field and that your approach to solving their problem makes sense – neither of which require any formal training or certification. Your brand is what will make or break your business and determine whether prospects take you seriously.

2. You want to add more offerings because you think it will get you clients (and you aren’t currently booked solid). This is a slippery slope because what many coaches don’t realize – and won’t believe until they’ve until they’ve experienced it themselves – is that the less you have to offer, the easier it is to get clients. The reason is that the more you’re offering the more confusing it is to prospects plus it’s more difficult for you to explain what you do. If you’re not getting clients, chances are something else in your business is broken – not that you aren’t offering enough.

3. You are desperate and hope that the training will save your business, so you overstretch your finances to cover the cost. The truth is that yes, sometimes just one piece falling into place is all you need to turn things around. You definitely need to assess the risk though if you are over stretching yourself financially. What if things don’t turn around? What are other measures you could take that don’t cost money to get things on track? Most of the time you know there are actions you can be taking but for whatever reason are putting them off.

In the end your hard won experience, knowledge, and talents are what matter more than any letters after your name. Your brand is what communicates these to your prospects and positions you as the one they should be working with. Training and certifications are for your own personal growth and to add to what you already have going for you, but they are never the end-all be-all of your business.

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