About two weeks ago, I visited the ArtScience museum here in Singapore, which is a museum that is a lot more modern than the ones that usually come to mind when we think of museums.
Rather than being a more traditional or historic museum, the ArtScience museum featured exhibitions that essentially blended art, science, culture, and technology.
The two exhibits I visited were: Future World, where art meets science. And, MENTAL: colors of wellbeing.
I want to talk about the art and the science of growing your coaching business. And how viewing our business through the lens of a scientist and through the lens of the artist are very powerful ways and tools to help us grow our business.
Before we dive in, if anything we talk about in this series resonates with you and it’s how you want to take your brand and business to the next level, I’d love to invite you to join us inside the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program focused on helping you build a body of work that not only lets you become known for something but also magnetizes clients and opportunities to you.
For all of the details, head on over to cheryltheory.com/program to send in your application. I cannot wait to see you on the inside.
The future world exhibit was created by teamLab, and I really enjoyed how the artworks are super visually aesthetic and cool to look at.
There was one particular parts of the exhibit that stood out to me: The Sketch Aquarium is this exhibit that is based on co-creation, where you can literally take paper and acrylic crayon to draw, and then you can your drawing into this machine, and then your artwork gets thrown into the sea of artwork moving around on the wall. Literally.
There was one digital wall where there was a sea of fish. You get to draw a fish, scan it, and the fish literally gets displayed on the digital screen/wall and it’s swimming around with everyone else’s fish and turtles. You can draw turtles too!
The reason I want to share about the ArtScience museum is because outside of the exhibit, on the walls, there were a number of quotes that I felt very, very inspired by. I want to read out some of them:
First, I want to share what didn’t work, before I share what worked.
I don’t know how many of you can relate, but Little Cheryl used to deeply believe that a science career (ex: Medicine) was more valuable than any other industry, especially those in the creative fields.
She also used to think that fancy degrees and credentials are the “end all be all” for a successful career and life, and that getting a 4.0 GPA would solve all of her future problems.
And hey, it makes sense. Because when I was younger, I saw evidence of how excelling in school and being a “good student” created positive results in my life.
Interestingly, fast forward to years later, especially in the context of growing my online business and personal brand, I’ve now seen how my “good student mindset” can sometimes show up as blocks in my business.
Here are some examples of what my attachment to being a “good student” looked like during the early stages of my business.
Because 4.0 GPA Cheryl was able to get good grades in school by getting the correct answers on exams and assignments, it makes perfect sense that when I started my business, I kept looking around for a course or program that promised a blueprint for me to follow.
But when I invested in a program that offered templates, scripts, and anything plug and play, I didn’t like it and didn’t want to use it. Because I could see that the results using these templates or step-by-step processes would create. It literally wasn’t me. I didn’t sound like me and it didn’t look reflective of what I wanted to put out in the world. In other words, It didn’t feel authentic and I did not like that.
I would also ask others about “How do I do XXX” and “Do you know anyone who has done XXX and how”.
When I look back at why this was the case, my hypothesis is because that’s literally what I did as a student. In the chemistry lab, I’d always ask people, “Wait, how did you do that? How did you get that result? How did you solve that problem?”
Rather than trying to figure it out on my own right away. I’d look around and see what others were doing before I made my own first move. Meaning, I was diverting the decision-making power to someone else who I thought would be smarter or more experienced than me.
How this affected me was that I was building up my misbelief that there is one right way of doing my business.
For example, I started to build up evidence that there are best practices for how educational content is done.There are best practices for what a good Instagram caption should be like.
There’s best practices for how you’re supposed to talk about your offer because apparently a certain sequence of sentences is gonna follow consumer psychology and so it’s gonna work if I just master this skill set in this way.
But as it turns out, as everyone says, there’s no one right way of doing business.
I didn’t believe it at first. It took a while to unwind from that belief. But now, I can fully appreciate what it means when people say there’s no one right way or even a set of best practices to grow your business.
Whether it’s analyzing another coach’s sales page or copying and pasting someone’s Instagram post captions into a Google doc and trying to reverse engineer their formula for the perfect caption, I was constantly looking around at what others are doing and posting.
Naturally, the more I was overfeeding myself with other people’s work, IP and concepts, especially other business coaches. The more I took inspiration from them, their language, content and ideas were what I was unknowingly mimicking. Because I was so caught up in what others were doing, the less I was paving my own path and standing out in my niche.
Later on, I started to reflect on how my business is going and whether I like my results as well as how I was getting the results or lack of results.
I had to be awfully self aware of the behaviors and thought patterns that I really wasn’t a fan of and start to unbind from them.
During this time, I could also start to recognize how oh, it was my “I NEED TO GET A 4.0 GPA” mindset that drove a lot of the thought patterns and actions I took.
While it was natural for me to want to immediately feel like an inadequate entrepreneur when I realized I was doing certain “good student” behaviors, or shame myself because “I shouldn’t have”. I first had to acknowledge that 4.0 GPA Cheryl exhibited wonderful traits and dedication to her work. She was a hard worker.
I wanted to get good grades because that’s what I’m supposed to do as the daughter of immigrant parents who worked so hard to give me an upbringing that they themselves didn’t have, right?
All that to say, I had to first learn to not shame myself and not jump to the conclusion that I’m not cut out to build an online business. That in itself took a lot of coaching and self coaching.
I also had to accept that there are times when defaulting too much into something can actually yield results we may not like.
Here, defaulting too much into my 4.0 GPA mindset held me back from using my own brain and stepping into the role of a thought leader in my niche. So for the next few years in my business and to this present day, I’ve continuously been doing the mindset and identity work to train myself to think differently in my business.
For the rest of this episode, I want to offer two ways of thinking that have been super helpful in my own journey, as opposed to thinking like a 4.0 GPA student.
The intention here is to view your business like an ongoing experiment filled with super interesting trial-and-error opportunities.
To think like a scientist means not immediately jumping to conclusions and making broad stroke statements that things didn’t work.
We need to be willing to embrace the times when the results don’t turn out the way you expect and be curious about it, rather than feeling dejected and giving up.
Another layer to thinking like a scientist is that it also entails giving yourself a reasonable timeline to test your ideas and hypothesis.
Because just like a natural experiment, there might be some sort of “delay” between the input (i.e. your marketing and selling efforts) and the output (i.e. a sales call booked).
I was recently coaching a client who pivoted to a new niche in her coaching business, and we coached a lot on her thoughts on whether her messaging makes sense to her audience, who was supposedly following her because of her previous niche.
What we coached this client on was rather than fixating on trying to get her messaging right, right now, if she gets an idea, try it.
Let the results dictate your next steps instead of shooting it down without trying it. Don’t be indecisive because that keeps you from helping people.
Because our client was able to just decide on her best guess and continuously put out something that helps people, she was able to keep moving forward.
Also, she was able to start picking up feedback from her audience in the form of DM messages and comments on her content, which became feedback for us on what to post next.
As a result, after two months of coaching on her new offer, her new niche, and her new messaging, she’s already helped several people in her paid container.
I think a common limitation that people will impose on themselves is subscribing to the narrative that they’re just not that “smart”.
Maybe it’s because they feel like they’re not that successful compared to people around them or people they see online. Or maybe they didn’t get the top grades in school. Or maybe they don’t have a certain degree or years of experience. Or maybe they feel like they’re not too bad, but they’re not the best. That was something I myself really subscribed to for a long time.
Here’s what I want to offer. Even with your perceived limitations about how you may not be good enough, you can still help your ideal client and also be their dream coach.
That’s it. It’s really straightforward. You don’t have to have the most success in your previous industry or the most stellar, most perfect-on-paper track record in order to be someone’s dream coach.
You can also sign a hell of a lot of clients, help a hell of a lot of people and make a hell of a lot of money, even if you don’t think you’re smart enough or successful enough compared to someone else. Really think about how that could be true.
Because the thing is, being the coach that clients genuinely want to work with doesn’t mean being smart. Or having many accolades and achievements. Or being brilliant at science.
Rather, there are SO many other characteristics and qualities that our ideal clients look for when they’re deciding who they want to work with. It’s our job to get clear on who we need to become, right now.
It starts with understanding who that dream coach version of you is, what decision they’d make, what characteristics, values and qualities they embody, what skills they’d hone in on, and so on. Then, choosing to become that and do that, right now.
Also, lean into your inner scientist. Leverage that scientist mindset.
Be comfortable with being uncomfortable, because a scientist doesn’t become a better scientist by doing the same things over and over again.
They continue to experiment, take risks and step out of their comfort zone, because they’re in pursuit of more information to refine their process and get closer to the desired result.
They trust their decision and take responsibility for any flops that happen along the way. Each step a scientist takes, even if it’s a flop every once in a while, moves them closer to the information they need and the results they want.
Keep tapping into the inner scientist and keep going.
When I think of artistry, I think of creativity, precision of skill, and showmanship.
When I think of what it means to think like an artist in my business, it means tapping into our creative expression and creating something out of nothing.
It also means leaning into our inner creative inside us (even if we may not be technically skilled with using certain art mediums like acrylic paint, clay, etc) to stand out from every other coach in your niche/industry.
The rationale is simple: As artists, we aren’t looking around to see what others are creating. But rather, we’re here to create something that’s uniquely our own.
This means we use our own brain and heart to create from within, and emanate that out into the world through our content, marketing, selling, our visual brand, how we embody what we teach, and so much more. This is what it means to build a uniquely differentiated brand that is an honest and genuine reflection of yourself.
Also, among the coaches you can just FEEL that they have a uniqueness to them, an energy that is uniquely theirs, it’s as if they’re in their own lane… It’s because they aren’t creeping around their industry and thinking about who is talking about XXX or who is selling this new offer and so I should do that too.
They’re focused on themselves, what they do best, how they can best serve their people, and continue to focus on honing their craft.
And as a result, their overall brand experience is not contaminated by their own assumptions, self judgments or insecurities, which is often what happens when we get so caught up in what others are doing.
One of our clients who really embody this is Kim. When Kim and I first started working together, her online presence, her overall visual brand, the topics she speaks on in her content, they were all very safe.
Safe meaning that someone can look at her content and just think okay, and move right along. Meaning, it doesn’t stop the scroll.
It doesn’t position her as a leader in her niche. Even her Instagram feed and the visuals were very safe and blended in with every other coach on Instagram.
With Kim, we spent time coaching on how to give her branded content a complete refresh so that it’s no longer generic and blends in with everyone else. Because otherwise, she’d just be a commodity on the market.
And when you’re seen as just another coach in XYZ niche, you’ll have to compete on price instead of letting your brand or the value of working with you be the reason why clients come to you.
We also coached Kim to identify what is her unique thought leadership and made a plan to share that and amplify it through her content.
By the end of working together, not only did Kim sign her first 16 high ticket coaching clients ever, but her clients were also coming to her sales call already decided. They already know that Kim is the dream coach for them. For Kim, these were her dream clients.
Because Kim was now expressing herself in her brand and also expressing her fullest thought leadership. She’s now resonating so much deeper with her audience and with her clients.
THIS is the type of work we do inside our coaching container, The Side Hustle Club and it is absolutely magical to observe the before and afters of this work.
When you’re able to leverage the lens of an artist in your business, I find that it also becomes a lot easier to stop thinking that it’s easier for others to sign clients because they have something you apparently don’t.
Maybe you think it’s because they have a larger following on Instagram or because they have a really successful YouTube channel.
Or because they are a business coach and you’re not. Or because they are based in North America and you are from Asia, and you have an accent when you speak English.
When you really tap into the artist mindset, you stop blaming external circumstances and instead, start activating what’s inherently innately already within you.
People can tell when someone is operating in integrity with who they are, when they’re showing up 110% themselves, and when someone really, really backs their own work and is so convicted in what they do.
People can sense when someone is only kinda there in their own belief and confidence. Or when someone is a cookie cutter version of someone else. Or when someone is bluffing and trying to be someone they’re not, or be more of a characteristic that’s not innately them.
Here’s your homework for the week: This week, how can you be both a scientist AND an artist in your business? Both ways of thinking are invaluable in growing your six-figure experiment and a masterpiece.
Remember: It’s not like you either have a scientist or artist mindset, or you don’t. It’s not so binary or black and white.
Because if you believe that only certain things can hold certain characteristics and those characteristics are prerequisites to growing a successful business, and you repeatedly tell yourself that you’re not those things, how can you be motivated to build your business?
No, none of that please.
Instead, remember that we become better coaches by actually coaching.
We become better content creators by actually creating and posting content.
We become better skilled at marketing and selling, by actually doing marketing and selling.
Likewise, we are more able to switch into the scientist mindset or artist mindset, by actually practicing viewing our business through those lenses.
It takes practice. So, as always. Give yourself time to practice and develop and master certain skill sets and mindsets.
It might take some time, but it’s very, very doable and possible for you
I really, really believe that for each and everyone of us.
So again, your homework this week is to tap into both your inner scientist and inner artist in the context of your business.
Join us in the Thought Leader Club 1:1 + Community Program is the exact room you want to be in if your 2023 and 2024 vision is to:
✨ Become known for your unique thought leadership and build your career as a thought leader
✨ Build a body of work that not only showcases the depth of your thinking and the caliber of your skills, but also compels best-fit clients to want to work with you and you specifically
✨ Attract both clients and opportunities that you once felt were out of reach for “someone like you”… But you now see that you’re completely capable of
Step into the version of you who stops following else’s playbook of “traditional success” and instead, proudly create something that’s truly of your own.
Get all the details and apply. We’ll then book a sales call to make sure that the program is the best fit for you and we can onboard you as early as next week. Our first inaugural cohort starts on November 1, 2023 👀
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