Is it okay if a coaching client screws up?

Cold white

Image by johanlundahl via Flickr

The short answer… ABSOLUTELY!

In fact, I even have an award for it!  I call it my “Silver Screw Award.”

That’s right!

When I get started with most of my own life coaching allies (our word for “client”), I let them know that there is a lot of freedom in being able to make mistakes.  AND… in many ways… making mistakes can let us know that we are truly pushing ourselves!

Sometimes I even tell my life coaching clients a little story.

It’s from when my wife and I first moved to Montana a number of years ago.

At that time, we quickly made friends with some ski instructors who offered to help us “flat-landers” make it on the slopes in Big Sky Country.

I’ll never forget it.

It was our second day of skiing.  It was a gorgeous morning.  The sun was reflecting off of the pristine powder.  The slopes weren’t busy. You could almost hear the theme song for the Olympics playing in your head as you flew down the side of the mountain.

Well, after another successful run I approached my new-found friend and ski instructor. I triumphantly let him know that I had made it down 6 or 7 times without falling!  But his reaction surprised me.  He looked at me with a little disdain.  That’s right!  He was noticeably frustrated with me.

He then said, “Listen… if you’re not falling… then you’re not pushing yourself.  I want you to push yourself to the point of falling next time.”

I was taken-a-back but as I thought about it… it made a lot of sense.  He was right.  I had gotten comfortable.  I had (in a very short time) started to not push myself.  So I agreed and headed back up the mountain.

Oh, and as I was walking towards the ski life he did shout out one last piece of advice…

Training to be a life coach - Is it okay if a coaching client screws up?

Mitch's "Silver Screw Award" I call it my "Silver Screw Award."

“Remember… rocks are hard. Snow is soft.  Try to fall in the snow!”

I smiled but I didn’t let him know that.  And then… on my next run… I proceeded to push myself to the point of falling.    That’s right… after my friend’s teaching… and not so soft kick in the pants… I started to stretch myself again.

Did I fall?  Yup.  A lot.

Did I always hit snow?  Most of the time.

So… what can we take away from this?  More importantly, how does it apply to being a life coach?

As a life coach or a business coach, we need to help to create a safe environment for our allies to be able to make mistakes.  Heck, we need to celebrate them! (I literally have an award for it.  Click here to download a description:  Mitch Matthews – Silver Screw Award

Now, can we help to limit the impact of the mistake?  You bet.  In some ways, we can take a cue from my ski instructor friend and remind them that “Snow is soft and rocks are hard.”

We can do this in the way of asking Elite Life Coaching questions like…

  • It’s sounds like you are all set with your plan for the week and excited.  I’m excited for you too.  It also sounds like you know there are some risks with this strategy.  What are a few things you could do to help limit the risk this week?
  • It’s sounds like you’ve got a solid strategy for this week. It sounds awesome. At the same time, you’ve said that you know it may not go completely as planned.  Is there anything you want to do to boundary this?

Simple questions.  Sometimes they spark 2 minute conversations.  Sometimes they need a bit more time.

More importantly… get ready to celebrate your ally’s successes AND mistakes in your next conversation!  And hey, maybe even send ’em something like the SILVER SCREW AWARD to reward them for pushing themselves!

Keep dreaming BIG and helping others to do the same,

Mitch Matthews


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  1. Joan Lyder says:

    Hi Mitch,
    I loved your promotional video. I wish I could be apart of what you are doing, unfortunately my husband was laid off this past year, I am no longer working at my regular job. I am not in a position financially to afford this amazing program.

    I have looked at several coaching programs online. Your program stands out as the best I have ever seen. Right now I don’t even know how I am going to pay my bills or my rent. I have got three teenagers
    in school, they are my biggest motivators. I want to give them so much more than what I had.

    I know is I have something special, something that has changed my life. Something I would like to share with others. Unfortunately I am going to have to wait, until I am in a better financial position.

    Thank you for taking the time, to share this dynamic offer.


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