The Health And Wellness Coach’s Value Proposition

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Every potential coaching client is looking to have the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ answered. Every coach needs to be able to succinctly answer that question by conveying what they will provide for their client.

Potential coaching clients are rarely familiar with what a coach, especially a health & wellness coach, can do for them. They are used to dealing with educators and consultants, medical and otherwise, not coaches. Usually clients expect to be directed, educated, and led in the best direction for them. All too often they hear a wellness coach tell them something like:

persuade“I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m not going to tell you what to eat or how to exercise. You’re the one in charge. You’re the one behind the steering wheel. You’ll be making your own wellness plan, and I’ll help you follow it.”

Why should this person become your client when it appears that they,
themselves, are going to be doing all the work?
Our client-centered approach to coaching does not mean we are not providing value, however we have to communicate the value of what we offer, and do it very clearly. What will the client gain from coaching?

This is true for the self-employed coach as well as the coach working for a wellness program, a disease management company, an insurance carrier, or any other organization that provides wellness and health coaching. It is about engagement. When coaches are confronted with the “incentivized” client, who is reluctantly complying with coaching in order to get their prize (or much-needed insurance discount), conveying the Health And Wellness Coach’s Value Proposition is more vital than ever.

Here is my way of presenting The Health And Wellness Coach’s Value Proposition. Please adapt to your own words and use it!

value-proposition

The Health And Wellness Coach’s Value Proposition*

Thank you for your interest in improving your lifestyle and your life. You may be new to coaching, and especially wellness coaching, so let me share with you the value that it brings.

Wellness/health coaching is all about you living the best life possible for you. To do that most people find there needs to be some improvements in their way of living, their lifestyle. Making those improvements, those changes is challenging when you have to do it all by yourself. Perhaps you’ve already had some experience with that.

When I work with someone in coaching I’m here to serve you. You are the one in charge of your life and our work together. It’s your hands on the steering wheel. I’m not going to tell you what to do and give you a pre-maid wellness plan. But, together we can co-create a plan to help you succeed at making the lifestyle improvements that you want to make.

As your coach I will be working with you to get very clear about where you are at with your health and well being right now. We’ll help you take stock of that by exploring together, using some coaching tools that will help give you a more complete picture, and by going over the lifestyle improvement recommendations you’ve gotten from treatment professionals. Then we’ll work together to help you form a clear picture of the kind of life you want to live, your healthiest life possible for you. We’ll compare where you’re at and where you want to be and together form a solid plan to help you get there.

Once we have that plan we’ll work together as allies to help you be accountable to yourself and follow through on the steps you need to be taking on a regular basis to help you achieve the goals you have in your plan. I’ll be with you throughout the journey. I’ll be there to help you strategize over, under, around and through the barriers that come up. I’ll help you with challenges that make it tough for you to live the healthy life you want and together we’ll help you keep on track. Together we’ll help you find and develop the sources of support that will make your changes last. We’ll evaluate our progress and adjust the course along the way as we need to. My goal is to assist you in becoming self-sufficient in your wellness, to be able to live a healthy life in a completely sustainable way.

I bring the value of a professional that knows about succeeding at lifestyle improvement. I bring the value of an ally.”

*(Created by Michael Arloski, Ph.D., PCC, CWP) Please adapt to your own words and use it!  If used intact you must include authorship credit and contact information (web address for Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc. https://www.realbalance.com)

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In two previous blog posts I shared some ideas about Market Development for the self-employed wellness coach. Please check them out for additional resources. The Self-employed Wellness Coach and Market Development – Part One: Closed Doors, Open Doors http://wp.me/pUi2y-9L The Self-employed Wellness Coach and Market Development – Part Two: Being So Much More. http://wp.me/pUi2y-bc

Access Excess: Always Wired Makes Us Tired and Less Productive

Access Excess!
Access Excess!

Paradox, double-edged sword, blessing and curse combined, mobile devices have made our lives easier and more stressful at the same time. I remember the feeling of relief the day I finally got my calendar synched on my work/home computer, my laptop and my smartphone. Now I could be in a conversation with someone at a conference and set an appointment seamlessly. It helped tremendously using a GPS navigating app to help find a tricky destination. I absolutely love using the travel app “Tripit” to track all my business travel arrangements. Connecting with others is easier than everWhile we can benefit from technology in so many ways, we are also seeing a “dark side” rising far too fast. The accessible anytime and anywhere nature of smartphones, wi-fi enabled tablets, etc. is causing a shift in workplace norms and, sadly, a shift in in the quality of our personal lives as well. A recent cover story in USA Today reveals how the so-called digital lifestyle and work-style may be seriously damaging our health and well-being. “Nearly two-thirds of full-time workers own smartphones, up from 48% just two years ago, according to the Pew Research Center. One-third own a tablet, up from 12%.  The exploding use of these devices — and connected employees never calling it a day — has created a workplace domino effect: If one person answers the boss’s e-mail after hours, others feel compelled to as well.”

cell-phone-stress-300x199When people are under stress for performance it is so easy to create a sense of digital vigilance that never lets down. Our notification alert signal is on full volume 24/7 so we don’t miss that opportunity that just might be calling. As we get more anxious it becomes more common to even get downright obsessive about our need to be accessible.

Some companies are realizing the price they pay in stress and health and are instituting policies to “leave it at the office”. The need for some ground rules is becoming apparent as the demands on the digitally connected worker increase. “Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees entitled to overtime pay must receive it when they work beyond a maximum number of hours, such as a 40-hour workweek. The constant technological tether to work is testing what constitutes the standard workweek, and lawsuits are challenging this new world.” Salaried employees have no such limits.

The self-employed have to set their own limits and often don’t. Fear of missing that opportunity for a sale by not responding at light speed keeps the smartphone charged and within easy grasp. The infectious sense of urgency in society is hard to be immune to.Double Cell

The whistle never blows in this world of Access Excess. There are no natural breaks. Time off has disappeared. This of course runs in total opposition to how our mind/body system works. We are wired to deal with stress, but can survive only if we also have what the authors of The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working call “sufficient volume and intensity of recovery”.

Wellness coaching clients almost always list stress as a barrier to them living a healthier life in almost all dimensions of wellness. Coaches can help their clients to consciously work on their fears, communicate and create agreements at work that are healthier. We can also help our clients to determine if their work environment can be changed for the better or if looking for work in a healthier environment is final solution. We can help our clients create experiments to help them see just how digitally healthy they really can be by being less “wired”. We can help them increase awareness of how much they are allowing fear and anxiety to rule them and work consciously on this issue.

Boundary setting is so much harder when it insidiously has become weakened by cultural norms. “Access Excess” has become a norm that no one ever agreed to. Let’s create agreements at work and at home that allow us to make times to be “unplugged” and healthier!

Question?  Is the man in the picture below able to be free to be at this relaxing lake because he can still be connected, or is he there and stressed because he is allowing himself to be connected?

Lakeside Tech

The Self-employed Wellness Coach and Market Development – Part Two: Being So Much More.

Growing a business means lots of personal growth as well.

In “The Self-employed Wellness Coach and Market Development – Part One: Closed Doors, Open Doors”, http://wp.me/pUi2y-9L, we shared three keys to opening up coaching markets and improving what you deliver:

#1 – Help others realize the true potential of wellness coaching.
#2 – Realize the true potential of wellness coaching ourselves!
#3 – Create even more value by considering specializing in helping people with specific health challenges.

Now, let’s take a further look at how the Self-Employed Wellness Coach can put themselves out there more effectively by looking at these three ideas:

#4 – Be more than just a coach.
#5 – Become part of the “treatment team” without delivering treatment.
#6 – Treat your business like a business.

#4 – Be more than just a coach.
One of the first things I usually tell aspiring self-employed wellness coaches is that they will need to do more than just attract one client after one client. If you are going to be a wellness coach then “be wellness”! Be what you are coaching. You do that by having integrity and living a wellness lifestyle yourself, with your entirely human, but sincere, fallibility. You also do this by promoting not just your coaching business, but by promoting wellness. Become a recognized wellness resource in your community. Become a go-to guy or gal who people think of when they want to know more about wellness, when they want a speaker at an event, etc.

Do this by writing articles for media that reach people. Professional journals are nice for academia, but if you want to bury some wisdom that has become the place to do it. Instead, put yourself out there online (blogging for example), on the radio, talking at the local “whatever you can think of” club or writing in local papers, magazines, company or organizational newsletters, etc.

You are more than your coaching. You have more to offer the world. If your name is Mary or John Doe you have “Mary or John Doe-ness” to share with the world! Do so in whatever spheres your skills lie. Consult, speak, train, write and network. Your work as a consultant or a speaker can lead to coaching work. The free talk you gave at the “Whatever Club” luncheon shows the world that you are competent, and, very importantly, likeable. You get a chance to attract the kinds of clients who will work well with you. The consulting job with a school system gives you contacts that land a flow of clients from the school’s employee health program. Sharing valuable links and information on your blog connect you with a potential client half-way around the world.

Help rehabilitation patients keep going at lifestyle improvement.

#5 – Become part of the “treatment team” without delivering treatment.

Evidence-based medicine is conclusive: lifestyle profoundly affects the course of an illness. Treatment professionals know this, but often are discouraged by the lack of success they see in their patients that attempt lifestyle improvement. They write “lifestyle prescriptions”, but upon just being told what to do, patients seem to rarely follow them. What’s the number one rule of business? “Find a need and fill it!”

Your “market development” here is all about reaching your target market…the healthcare providers themselves. Remember “market development” is not the same thing as “marketing” or even “attracting”. It’s more. It’s education and connection.

Like the challenge you face with potential coaching clients, healthcare providers often need to become acquainted with just what a wellness coach does, and most importantly, what a wellness coach can do for them! Basically our message is always the same: “I help people succeed at lasting lifestyle change.” Coaches do not deliver treatment, but we are the behavioral change experts that help treatment be more effective. You have to tailor that message to the particular professional you are connecting with.

A wellness coach can help rehabilitation clients continue to exercise and follow a healthy diet long enough after rehab is over to make the lifestyle improvement last. A wellness coach can help diabetic patients with medical compliance (self-testing, medical appointments, etc.) as well as helping them lose and manage their weight, follow a diabetic diet more rigorously, and ultimately get their “numbers” under control. Get clear about your own niche and be able to explain what you do fluidly. Then point to how disease management and insurance companies, hospital and corporate employee health programs are hiring wellness coaches to hold down healthcare costs because they are effective at doing so.

Just like in behavioral change, tracking helps avoid self-deception.

#6 – Treat your business like a business.

If you are a coach you do not have a “practice”. You have a business. The ICF (International Coaching Federation) (http://www.coachfederation.org) urges all of us coaches to call our work a business and not refer to it like it was a treatment practice. We don’t “practice” coaching. WE COACH! And if we don’t make our own mindset shift to see what we do as a business, and act like it, we will be out of business very shortly.

There is an endless supply of books out there about business, but I would say the challenge is to find the ones that help you build a business that still reflects who you are. Your values, dreams and aspirations still need to be front and center. Then you really do have to see how that merges with the world around you. “Do what you love and the money will follow.” does not mean it will follow “magically”, or “effortlessly”. The challenge is to discover what you love doing and see how the world values it. Then it’s about learning the how-to’s of business. We can get down to some details in a later post.

To start with, allow yourself to identify as a business person. That was tough for this child of the sixties, believe me! But when you really want to help people and realize that the greatest way to make a difference may be to keep the doors open and lights on by being a successful business it’s a whole lot easier to embrace.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Henry David Thoreau

The Wellness Coach Training Institute…powered by Real Balance Global Wellness Services, Inc., is a leading worldwide resource for the very best in wellness and health coach certification training. http://www.realbalance.com.

The Self-employed Wellness Coach and Market Development – Part One: Closed Doors, Open Doors

Dr. Michael Arloski, Professional Certified Coach, Psychologist, Certified Wellness Practitioner

Wellness and health coaches (let’s just call everyone a wellness coach) who are building a business of their own face some of the same challenges as any life coach, but unique ones as well. All have to usually start from the ground up with very little capital. (Lenders don’t usually make business loans to small companies that offer a service instead of a widget for sale.) All face the challenge of acquainting the world with an unfamiliar service, but for the wellness coach this is even truer.

Many of the almost three thousand coaches we’ve trained through The Wellness Coach Training Institute (Real Balance Global Wellness Services, llc) (www.realbalance.com) are independent coaches who want to grow a coaching business with wellness and health as their niche. Talking with them, drawing on my own entrepreneurial experience and doing mentor coaching with coaches who have wanted to jump start their business or take it to a higher level, I’ve found some ways to help wellness coaches with their unique business challenges. Here’s my take (ideas and opinions) on three important steps for building your wellness coaching business.

#1 – Help others realize the true potential of wellness coaching. Wellness coaches, especially folks without a clinical background, often find doors shut to them. Disease management companies may be hiring R.N.’s and R.D.’s almost exclusively. Coaches are challenged by being seen as not having the background to meet the needs of medical patients. It’s outside of your “scope of practice” they are told. (Even though there is no evidence that medical folks make better coaches) This is where it is critical how we portray our services and our role in the healthcare field.

Wellness coaches need to hold themselves out there to the world, and especially the medical world, as experts in lifestyle behavioral change, not as content experts in the myriad number of dimensions wellness has. We need to be seen as allies of the medical field, not competitors. We need to portray ourselves as the solution, not the problem. We are the solution to the medical clinic, practice, community program that wants patients to live a healthier lifestyle and be medically compliant, but doesn’t have either the time or the expertise to accomplish that with their patients. We can take it beyond education. We can show results.

Remember, wellness coaching covers the whole continuum of health.

#2 – Realize the true potential of wellness coaching ourselves! Mentoring a wonderful wellness coach recently I helped her realize that she was presenting herself to her community in a way that eliminated perhaps 80% of her potential market. She was portraying wellness, and her services, as being primarily about prevention. Well, like they say about chocolate and breakfast, wellness is not just for prevention anymore! Who knows the real number, but it is quite likely that about 80% of the people that wellness coaches work with already have some type of chronic illness or health challenge. They already have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, experienced an operation or some other medical intervention. The key here is reminding the world that lifestyle improvement helps with the course of an illness, not just it’s prevention. The person with diabetes who is medically compliant, loses weight, stops smoking, becomes more active and follows an approved diabetic diet may be able to thrive! Those who don’t suffer, but that is a whole lot of behavioral change!

Often the people who are referred to wellness coaching programs are the people who have been identified as having multiple health risks, and/or some form of life-style related illness. For some programs, despite warnings from health experts like Dee Edington (http://www.hmrc.umich.edu/) wellness coaches work exclusively with clients who are facing these serious health challenges. (Dr. Edington would love for programs to coach the healthy people to remain well. “Everyone needs a wellness coach.” are his words. See his book Zero Trends: Health As a Serious Economic Strategy.)

So, let the world know that you are able to help people make lasting lifestyle improvement when they need it the most! Look at the needs of your community and see what health risks are most prevalent. See where you may be needed more…and consider “specializing”.

Wellness & Health Coach Intensive Training – June 2012 in Colorado

#3 – Create even more value by considering specializing in helping people with specific health challenges. Instead of simply presenting yourself as a generalist willing to help “anybody”, consider how you might develop more expertise in working with a particular population focusing on a particular health challenge. “I help people with diabetes thrive!” sounds a whole lot better than “I help people be well.”

Study that particular health challenge. Learn the language, the common medications, treatment procedures, self-care steps, etc. As a coach you don’t need a treatment-level of knowledge, please refer your clients to get that kind of education and expertise. But, you do need to be able to talk fluidly with your client about their world. For example, if you are working with a client challenged by diabetes, you’d best know what an A1C score is and what it means when your client talks about a new percentage they just hit.

Any successful businessperson (and, as the ICF encourages us to say, coaching is a business, not a “practice”) with experience will tell you that it was a journey of open-doors and closed-doors, ups and downs, cash-flow blues and at times manna from heaven. We’ll take you further on that journey next time in this series as we look at more ways for The Self-employed Wellness Coach to grow their business.

Please add your comments here on the blog and share your wisdom.

Top Ten Wellness Strategies for The Self-Employed

It’s lonely at the top, especially when you are the whole mountain!

Profitable corporations have embraced wellness programs as a way to effectively hold down healthcare costs, boost productivity, creativity and reduce absenteeism and turnover rates. If you are one of the more than sixteen million self-employed people out there, what’s your wellness program look like? When you are self-employed and you become really ill, it’s like Hewlett Packard locking the gate and turning off the lights…you’re out of business! Making conscious investment in your company’s biggest asset, you and your health, is critical.

About one out of every nine people in the American workforce is self-employed and 90% actually chose to become so. Corporate-culture refugees are often happier on their own, but this new territory comes with it’s own particular stresses and challenges. Nobody tells you to stop working for the day. There is no schedule other than the one you make yourself. Couples who have their own business together must become communication experts with each other. There is tremendous freedom and potentially tremendous pressure.

There is certainly an upside though…many of them in fact. When you see that the temperature at noon will be in the nineties, you can get your walk or run in at 9:00 am and work through your noon hour. You may commute just across the hallway. There is no pay-scale, and no glass ceiling.

The big challenge is work-life balance. How does the self-employed person achieve a wellness lifestyle and one that is both personally and financially rewarding? How do we really apply the old adage “work smarter, not harder”?

Let’s look at the Top Ten Wellness Strategies for The Self-Employed.

1. Identity. Realize that you are not your work. Your business is something you own, not vise-versa. The key is to “have a life” and to, in fact, nurture a well-rounded, full and meaningful life. Meaning and purpose in both work and life ensure motivation to be well and to be successful. When your work is in alignment with your values and beliefs conflict and stress are minimized and energy emerges to get the job done.
2. Boundaries and flexibility. The old joke that being self-employed is only half-time work…you can work whatever 12 hrs./day you want to work, is much too real. It’s a double-edged sword you want to take conscious command of and have it cut for you instead of against you. Track your work hours by writing them down if need be. Set alarms. Give yourself days off. When things pop into your head, jot them down for discussion later and then return to being back in the present moment. Make agreements with partners to create some hours each day and some times each week when business is not discussed.
3. Confidence. Overcome the fears that drive you to over-work by building your confidence and belief in your ability to be successful. You do not have to be available 24/7 to be productive. Know that your skills, abilities, and investments in your work can allow you to take time off and still thrive.

“I have so much to accomplish today that I just meditate for two hours instead of one.” M.K. Gandhi

4. Self-care/Self-permission.Give yourself permission to take fantastic care of yourself. Confront outdated and fearful personal beliefs about putting yourself last on your list. It may feel strange, but practice what feels like “extreme self-care” and it will probably be about right!
5. Investment. Invest in your own wellness. Get all of your medical check-ups on time. Invest in your own physical health with regular exercise and high quality fuel (food). Invest in your own mental health by expressing your creativity and having fun with others.

6. Energy. Re-charge your energy with frequent breaks. Stretch, move, breathe every hour. Studies show that your creativity and productivity will soar (http://www.ernestrossi.com/interviews/ultradia.htm) (http://www.polarunlimited.com/2010/09/the-way-were-working-isnt-working-summary/)

7. Organization. Your to-do list won’t magically go away while you’re doing all of this wellness stuff! Your work has to be efficient, not just excessive effort. Educate yourself about what organizational systems will work for you like GTD (Getting Things Done) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done) or ZTD (Zen To Done) (http://zenhabits.net/zen-to-done-ztd-the-ultimate-simple-productivity-system/) . Experiment with HOW you work, not just working harder to find out what really catalyzes your productivity. Delegate. Repeat, delegate! Hire an IT person (even just one time) to help your technology work for you instead of bogging you down. Use the famous Urgency/Importance Matrix (easily found online) to prioritize and streamline tasks while eliminating what really doesn’t matter.

8. Self-compassion. Be kind, patient and self-forgiving. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” May sound cliché, but it’s true. Keep lifting your head from where your nose is on the grindstone and see the bigger picture of your progress and that of your business. (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/go-easy-on-yourself-a-new-wave-of-research-urges/)
9. Connection. Self-employment can be very isolating and this can boost self-doubt, depression and pessimism. Get out and connect with other professionals at organization meetings. Do some work at coffee shops and go ahead and talk with people!
10. Get a Coach. It’s lonely at the top, especially when you are the whole mountain! Invest in an ally who specializes in helping entrepreneurs and folks like you. A business/life coach may give you the support and accountability you need to create a plan for success and effectively pursue it. A wellness coach may help you find the life/work balance you are looking for, help prevent burnout, and help you find a totally sustainable way of living and working that maximizes your health and well being, allowing you to actualize more of your wonderful potential.

What’s your experience either being a self-employed person seeking wellness, or a coach who has helped people in this way?  Please leave a comment here on the blog.  Thanks!