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Unexpected Success

Here’s something I never expected to declare only five months after I launched my practice.

I have started a waiting list.

I struggle to find the words to effectively express my gratitude to everyone who put their trust in me as their coach and to those who have already expanded my coaching further within their organizations. Thus far, every single hour of coaching has been as fulfilling and joyful as I hoped it would be.

My sister, Kim Westrich put it into perspective for me last week when she commented “Imagine if you could go back in time to one year ago and tell yourself what you’d be doing today.” That brought tears. March-2021 Josh had decided he would be a full-time coach someday but was resigned to that day being 3-5 years in the future. March-2022 Josh is three months from completing his coaching certification, coaching 20+ clients, and starting a waiting list. A former Ellucian executive whom I genuinely admire put it better than I could. “Wow. Just wow.” That email brought tears as well.

The question I’m getting a lot is: “What advice do I have for other coaches looking for similar success?” When I reflect on how I got here, two actionable things stand out for me, and they are relevant regardless of your professional aspirations.

1. Nurture your network

2. Always be your authentic self

I’ll admit that nurturing my network comes naturally to me. Every personal assessment I’ve ever taken has validated this. One of my Clifton StrengthsFinder strengths is Relator. My Everything DiSC style is Si, and that style thrives on connectedness and supporting others. My top values from the VIA Survey of Character Strengths include Perspective and Social Intelligence. Connecting with people feels natural to me.

If connecting with people is less comfortable for you, keep it simple. Years ago, when LinkedIn was just getting started, a friend challenged me to a playful game to see who could make the most connections. That simple game turned into a habit. I’m not talking about reaching out to people you don’t know and trying to persuade them to join your network. Just adopt a daily or weekly practice of going back through your calendar and sending a connection request to anyone you had a meaningful interaction with that week. That simple habit, over time, will grow your network substantially.

Next, you need to both support and leverage your network. Be there for the people who need you when they need you, and they will pay it forward. A year ago, I formed a personal Board of Directors of four close friends that I trusted completely to support me, challenge me, and help me grow (more on this in a future blog post). I am a leadership coach today because one of those individuals asked me to coach a leader at his company, knowing this was my long-term goal. I told him I’d consider it and planned to give it a week before I told him it wasn’t the right time. Instead, he texted me the next morning – “Have you thought about rates? I’m in a meeting and we are ready to move forward.” Thank you, Jeff Davison, for nudging me across the starting line. Thank you, Mark House, my coach and now partner, for answering my call and helping me navigate the unknowns of launching my practice. I’ve been happy to pay it forward with Felicity Coe as she launched her practice, and will hopefully pay it forward with many more to come. 

The second piece of the puzzle is simple, but not easy. Always be your authentic self. I am a trusting person. I trust new people by default, and I hope to earn their trust as well. As a Relator, I thrive on 1:1 interaction, and I try to bring my whole self and be fully present with another individual. I can reflect on times in my career when I was advised to “stretch” myself by being someone that wasn’t my authentic self. I’ve grown in many ways, but I’ve learned the difference between growing and pretending to be something other than who I truly am. Over the years, I guess I’d say I grew comfortable in my own skin.

Why is that important? Because people want to work with someone they trust. Someone they feel is authentic, and they know that WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). As I closed out my career at Ellucian, I reached out to many of the clients I worked closely with over the years to let them know I was moving on to follow my passion and that they’d still be in good hands with Ellucian. Three of those clients asked to hire me on the spot to my surprise and awe. They knew me, trusted me, and were happy to have me grow their leaders. I was stunned. Upon introspection, I am so incredibly grateful I’ve stayed true to myself over the years.

So that’s my advice for the week. Regardless of your professional or personal goals, nurture your network, and always be your authentic self. 

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