Coaching for Creatives Workshop

Every week I host a 90-minute videocall workshop for creative projects. Bring “a project, and a problem,” and we will randomly select two participants. Each person selected will get 45 minutes of intensive coaching and group brainstorming to help you power through whatever your block is.

The workshop will be a video call hosted on Zoom. Attendance is free, but space is limited to the first fifteen people who register each week.

Registration is done via this link!

See you Thursday!

What Is Your Essence?

Who is the Real You when all the distractions, fears, and “shoulda/coulda/woulda” factors of life are stripped away?

Do you know?

Would you like to find out?

The “essence conversation” is one of my favorite coaching tools. It’s a roughly hour-and-a-half conversation that distills your true core, your essence, to five guiding concepts. Sometimes I find that people are afraid of what they might find out… but in practice I have never once had a client discover that they were anything but amazing.

By the end of the process, we come up with five words that describe your real self. (Why five? No magic secret, just that people are generally too complex for fewer than that, and more than that creates mental clutter.) Everyone’s words are different. My essence words, as distilled by my own coach using this same tool, are:

  • exuberance
  • play
  • trust
  • connection
  • heart

When I’m stuck trying to make a decision, or working on a difficult problem, or even just feel like something is “off,” I return to my essence to help me choose what to do. I also find, when things are not working, that I’ve probably been choosing from ego or survival mechanism instead of essence — but that’s a topic for another post.

I’ve done dozens of essence conversations, and it’s always amazing. It’s where I like to start the coaching process, to create a powerful foundation for success. I also don’t charge for essence conversations, so if you’d like a taste of coaching and learn the power it can bring to your life, it’s a great way to get your feet wet. E-mail me today to schedule a call!

The New! Improved! Bringing the Awesome Website

Welcome to the new digs! I recently completed working with Braid Creative to bring together twenty years of writing, comics, and coaching under one banner, and I am very pleased with the results.

Which makes all the more ridiculous the drama I had to push myself through to get to it. >.>

Because Braid is a professional agency, they charge Professional Agency Prices — prices that set off my survival mechanism big time when they were first quoted to me. I had seen their work and I knew that they were who I wanted but… y’know… money scary. First I put off contacting them at all. Then I contacted them and backed out in a panic two weeks later when I had a slow clients month.

And then I noticed: backing out of getting the branding overhaul that I knew I wanted, made getting clients harder instead of easier. I had effectively told myself and the Universe that I wasn’t worth the investment, and if I didn’t believe I was, why should a potential client? From there, it was just a nudge away from going into a tailspin of suck, resignation, and beating myself up.

I am pleased to report, dear reader, that I didn’t go into that tailspin… but it was a near thing. Basically it took the support of my own coach, my other coachy friends, and a certain amount of mule-headed stubbornness to decide that no, I wanted to invest in myself, and especially that I was worth investing in. So after what felt like a year but was more like three or four days and angst about it, I found the money, put it in my business account so I wouldn’t use it for anything else, and called the agency to say “Let’s do this thing.”

Now the good news? I’m actually glad the delay happened, because in the intervening time I also had some major breakthroughs around figuring out what I actually wanted from my brand. Where I had originally just planned to create a look and feel for, I realized that this was a great opportunity to create an integrated new me — which is in fact Braid’s specialty. If I hadn’t had my little freakout, I would have been wasting their integration expertise by just telling part of the story.

So be grateful for your breakdowns! They may just be leading you to better things in the end!

Regeneration Season

If you’ve known me for a while, you probably know that I’ve spent the past year training with Accomplishment Coaching with an eye towards ICF certification, and that it has indeed been a long, strange trip. My finals were this past weekend, and as of this writing I don’t have my results yet, but I put in a strong effort and I’m hoping for great things.

But something I’ve become keenly aware of over the past month or so is, regardless of what grades I may or may not get, and regardless of how long it takes me to reach the criteria for certification, is the value I can bring to people as a coach, today. Something that really drove that home for me was something a client wrote for me:

“I’ll admit, I was skeptical on the concept of a life coach. I wasn’t really sure if something like that would be for me. But I gave [John] a chance and, my goodness, was I blown away. After our discussions, I realized how helpful an outside perspective was. John helped me figure out a way to get things flowing in my life in a way that actually worked. His advice, guidance, and honesty was a treasure I needed and I look forward to where I’m going to go from here.”

It took me several minutes to just sit with a thing like that. I’m still kinda verklempt about it.

So now, as my year of training nears its completion, and my clients and I take stock of where we are and where we want to go, I am present to being in the process of regeneration. Later today I am meeting with someone to help me hone in on the whole Bringing The Awesome “brand” (they’ve already helped me focus my process and distinguish my services). Later this week I’m going to starting an inventory/audit/review of my 2018 projects to see where they’ve succeeded and where they still need work, with an eye towards laying the foundations for 2019.

You can bet, I’ll be working with my own coach on these things as well! All those great things my client said about me? They’re true of my coach in spades.

Building, growing, always creating. That’s how we move forward. I am excited for the next stage of the journey!

Where are you in your journey? Creating something new? Lost in the weeds? I’d love to hear from you and talk about it!

In Which I Have No Idea What I’m Doing (But Do It Anyway)

Networking events! How do they work?

I have no idea. But I’m not gonna let that stop me.

I’m a coach. A big part of my job is getting people to take that uncomfortable step and do the thing they have no idea how to do– but if I’m gonna talk that talk, I’ve gotta walk that walk. And for me that means trading out my usual tropical shirt for a nicely pressed biz-cajh button down, wrap a tie around my neck, and head to PassionFish in Reston for a networking lunch. There I’ll meet with business owners, accountants, executives, and other high-rolling grownup types to talk up the power of coaching and invite anyone and everyone to come observe and go through our Power Tools for Living workshop.

Anyone who’s seen me up on stage or at a convention dealer table might be surprised by the idea that I’m faintly terrified by this prospect. I love talking to groups! I love to put on a show! Right?

Well, yes. But… business is, y’know, serious business. I draw silly cartoons, I make dorky faces. In a room full of high-rolling grownup types, I feel like the Alien From Planet Goof, and that’s a scary thing.

But here’s the thing: what you’re most terrified of about yourself, is also your superpower. Yes, I am the Alien from Planet Goof. But that also means I am not a corporate catchphrase clone, there to help people conceptualize their paradigms and monetize their assets. I am a real person who will tell you straight what I think. I am creative and engaging and I bring play and fun to the heavy business of making a living.

So yeah, today I’m stepping out of my comfort zone– but I’m also doing it in full ownership of my power and potential. Let’s bring the awesome!

What Are YOU Doing?

Now let’s hear from you! How are you bringing your own awesome today? How are you going to step out of your own comfort zone?

Crossing the Streams– Coaching and My Patreon

Most people who come to me looking for coaching have heard of me through my art and comics, and so like chocolate and peanut butter, I’ve decided to combine two great things that go great together! ;D By offering my coaching services on a limited basis as Patreon subscription tiers for people who may be more comfortable working that way.

Specifically, there are three Creativity Klatch seats, as well as three full coaching service openings. Both of these include a Patreon subscriber discount, as well as access to all of the lower tier benefits for people interested in my art and merchandise.

For members of the Creativity Klatch especially, this is a great deal on the “whole package.” C’mon over and let’s get started!

Badass the Awesome

It’s almost exactly a year ago now that I decided “maybe I should look into being a coach.” I was reading (and re-reading) Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass and seeing all kinds of parallels to my own life– lots of searching for meaning, lots of frustration with a less-than-renumerative writing career, and lots of being stuck. One day she decided she was sick of being stuck and decided to fix it, which led her into coaching, which led her into being a book-writing rockstar making millions. So when, in one chapter, she suggested “pick someone to emulate and do that,” I figured she was a good candidate for the job.

Some hunting around for a way to get started led me to Accomplishment Coaching, which in turn led to the intimidating decision to plunk down five figures for a year’s worth of intense vocational training and personal mentoring. If ever there was a leap of faith, this was it.

So here I am, one month away from my final exams, having faced my survival mechanisms over and over again, having changed my diet and sleeping habits, having dredged up all kinds of dark muck from the swamp of my childhood traumas and unexamined beliefs and exposed them to the light, and having done Scary Adult Things like setting up LLCs and creating business bank accounts. I look back at my “to do list” around coaching and see that item number one was “Get my shit together.” Well it’s taken me a year, a lot of money, some yelling and fighting and crying, and doing some stuff that had me absolutely terrified, but I think I can finally check off that item as complete.

Phew! Now. What’s step two, again? I have it written down somewhere…

In a moment of synchronicity, Jen Sincero happened to come to Politics and Prose in D.C. on a book tour way back in March or thereabouts, so I rounded up a handful of my Accomplishment Coaching teamies and we went to see her there… where I utterly failed to create any kind of meaningful connection with my would-be role model. It happens. But after that weekend, I kind of forgot about her and about You Are a Badass, because I was frantically trying to build a practice and reading lots of other books by Neale Donald Walsch, Debbie Ford, Steven Covey and more. I was too busy actually doing the work, to remember what had prompted me to go into it in the first place.

Yesterday, I remembered that I had the audiobook of Badass sitting on my phone, so I decided to revisit it. And let me tell you, coming around again after the past year, it’s a very different experience. Things that had been completely theoretical, and things that had me originally say “Yeah that’s great but…” have taken on a whole new meaning. You Are a Badass could almost have been called Ontological Coaching for Dummies, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s light, it’s breezy, it’s for the neophyte or the curious layperson, and it does a great job of introducing you to the concepts of the work.

But like the Dummies books, it’s also just a starting point. Unless you have the world’s most easygoing Big Snooze/Gremlin/Survival Mechanism, it’s going to take a lot more than a breezy read to actually get you up and at ’em. This isn’t a condemnation of the book, it’s simply the truth that a book is not a coach. And in fact, a book can be dangerous, because buying and even vigorously reading the book can feel like you’re “doing something,” even if it’s really more like a valve letting some steam escape to keep you lodged right there in your comfort zone.

But really, what else can a book do? Until a person is really ready to stand up, do the work, and really make a change, a few pounds of ink printed on wood pulp isn’t going to have any effect. The best the author of a book can hope to do is to communicate the idea that change is possible, and hope the spark of that idea lights the fire inside the reader.

You Are a Badass did that for me, and judging by its sales I imagine it’s done that for a lot of people. It couldn’t do the work, no book possibly could, but it did help me believe that it was possible to do the work, and helped me understand why I might want to.

Step two? Oh yeah! Get out there and actually be a badass. Got it.

Who wants to join me?

What Am I Afraid Of?

You know what? Coaches need coaches too. Here’s what I mean…

Yesterday was my 25th wedding anniversary! Which just proves that I can commit to something if I really put my mind to it. 😉 My wife and I spent the day going up to Skyline Drive to enjoy the autumn leaves in the mountains, with the intention of doing some kind of more significant commemoration when we’ve got the financial situation nailed down again.

But said financial situation, and the “Un-suck Our Lives” project generally, has been a topic much on my mind lately. My coaching practice is taking a bit longer than I would like to really take off, which largely boils down to my reluctance to go client-hunting. This is a thing I’ve always had and why, even though I probably could have made more during the dot-com boom as a freelance designer/web programmer, I opted to find a job with a company instead. My preferred mode is for clients and/or customers to come to me, rather than hunting them down.

But short of finding a life coach clearing agency (do such things even exist?), there isn’t really any way to operate in that mode as a coach. Until someone has actually had a good coach, the benefits of coaching can seem esoteric. Everyone understands that the best athletes have coaches and why; leaders in any field from business management to filmmaking understand the value of coaching and will gladly pay top fees for the best ones. But to more “down to Earth” people in everyday life, it often seems like something that just doesn’t apply to them.

So if I want to coach, I’ve got to get out there and clearly get across to people why they’d want me to coach them. And that means, for me, buckling down and going out there and actually finding some ding-dang clients.

This is where I get stuck. Not in the coaching work itself– that comes naturally and I’m actually pretty darn good at it– but in the process of finding people who can benefit from coaching and finding a way to talk to them about it. I have a project plan around that, but the best plan in the world won’t help if, instead of doing the thing, you spend the whole day staring at your computer screen telling yourself “Do the thing, already!”

Despite having some clients (I love you guys!), I’ve spent the past two months fighting with the problem of both needing and wanting more. I had an interesting epiphany about it earlier today, while talking to one of my coaching colleagues. I told her that the things I’ve had success with in the past (such as my comics), had that success because I was motivated by love. I love my comics and my readers, so when I get bogged down I remember that and it keeps me going. I loved The Hobbit Hole. I loved my cat Buddha, so even though he had FIV and we were advised by a vet that we “should probably put him to sleep,” we moved Heaven and Earth to give him 8 happy and healthy years before his body failed him.

I told my teammate that I loved coaching, but for some reason I was still getting stuck, mired in my defense mechanisms. Since defense mechanisms are a symptom of fear, she asked, “So, what are you afraid of? Is it love?”

I have been asking myself the same question for two months. Today, being coached by my teammate, an answer came to me.

Ten years ago I had a life that, while not perfect, was certainly successful. Friends and family, a house I loved, a cat I loved, and so on. Then my Aunt Iris died. Then my parents died. My best friend and business partner died. We lost the house. Buddha died. So many of the things I loved were suddenly and painfully gone. And it’s hard, now, to let myself love things, because I don’t want any more things that I love to be torn away.

My teammate said, “So you’re not afraid of love. You’re afraid of loss.”

And honestly? I think that’s a big piece of it. The immediate pain of grief has largely passed, but the trauma of it is still there. I think that on some level, I’m afraid of building a new life, because I don’t want to risk having it come crashing down again.

These ideas are an illusion, of course. First, there are so many things in my life I haven’t lost, not the least of which is my wife (as our 25th anniversary so clearly demonstrates). I have friends. I have Dasher and InkyGirl, who are also great cats. I have my comics. As tempting as it may be to think of myself as being bereft, the truth is that I am actually surrounded by things that I love every day.

Secondly, I am perfectly capable of building anew. I have many new friends, who I’ve made in the intervening time since so much of my previous life collapsed. I’m building new skills as a coach every day. I’m creating a whole new self based on the values that I think are important, instead of those that I’ve passively “inherited” from my upbringing or other external sources.

I don’t think that fear of losing the new life I want to build is necessarily the thing that’s immediately jumping out at me every time I drag my feet about hunting for clients. There are plenty of “lieutenants” of that fear I get to play with around that specific issue– insecurity, being trained to come from lack instead of coming from abundance, attachment to outcomes as a validation of self– but I do think that fear of loss is the Boss Battle of my Client Game. All these other little fears are what the fear of loss throws at me to get me stuck.

Knowing that, I can see these other fears for what they are: distractions meant to keep me small and disempowered. And seeing them as such, strips away a lot of their power. I’m sure I would have realized all this eventually on my own, but being coached by my teammate absolutely saved me tons of wasted time and energy to get there, and for that, I’m very grateful.

Fear of loss? I’m coming for you, Jack.

San Diego Modular Coach Training Program Slots Open!

What invisible jet? I don't see any invisible jet.
Interested in flying in to San Diego?

As folks may know, I am an affiliate of Accomplishment Coaching (graduating in January, woohoo!). I can and no doubt will gush about the ways this training has helped me out, but for now suffice to say that their goal is to produce the best coaches in the world, and it’s a goal they take very seriously. They work closely with the International Coach Federation (ICF) to develop a comprehensive (and intense) training program designed to transform participants from the inside out.

Typically this program involves twelve two-day sessions, one a month over the course of a year and weekly calls with a mentor coach of your own as well. But this isn’t the only model they have– November 7th will be the first day of a “7 Module Program” in San Diego. Long story short: it involves the same number of hours of training as the regular program, but it’s condensed into seven sessions that are 2-4 days each.

If you’ve been looking to get into coaching yourself, this is a great opportunity to jump in! Given how intense the regular program is, I can only imagine what the 7 Module Program is like. I keep thinking of the difference between strong coffee and espresso. >.>

You can sign up directly on their website, or if you’d like more info you can toss me a line as well. I’d love to hear from you!

Iiiiiiiiii’m… Hooked On the Feelings!

Swear Trek: The Worst Year Ever
Image Courtesy of Swear Trek

I’m a coach. My job is to help people overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. And sometimes, shit happens. It does.

But sometimes, shit just keeps on happening. The client comes to me with something big and dramatic and important that they just have to work through– and it’s always a very legit problem, mind you– and we address it, only to discover that next week, the client has a new big and dramatic and important thing to address… Their aunt is in the hospital. Their credit cards were stolen. Their car randomly exploded, taking out the garage and breaking every window within a half-mile radius. Over time, if we let it, what started out as a fairly straightforward coaching relationship will turn into a crazy game of “whack-a-problem.”

And none of the client’s goals are being met. How could they be? The client has big, important, SUPER REAL PROBLEMS to deal with! What’s going on here?

As a coach, my assumption is always that you are the master of your own life, and that therefore anything that’s in it, is there because you are making something of it.

Just to be clear, I don’t mean that my disaster-stricken client is deliberately going out and poisoning their aunt, giving their credit cards to the first thief who wanders by, or dynamiting their own car. But the events taking place are just that– events. It’s what those events mean to you that gives them their power.

If your aunt is in the hospital, you have a choice: 1) spend your time freaking out about it, or 2) acknowledge it, maybe visit and bring her some flowers and a book to help her feel better (hospitals are boring as heck), and then get back to your goals.

If your credit cards were stolen, you have a choice: 1) spend your time freaking out about it, or 2) call the credit card companies to get them replaced, and then get back to your goals.

If your car randomly exploded… well okay, that one probably takes a little more dealing with, but even then you can reach a state of equilibrium and then get back to your goals.

“But these problems are real!” the client may object. “They’re important! They’re valid! They’re waaay too big for me to pay attention to anything else!” And the client isn’t wrong, but the client is still making that choice. Literally, as long as you can breathe and move and operate in the world, you have the ability to be working on your goals; and if you choose to spend your time freaking out about your problems– as real and valid as they are– then freaking out about your problems is all that will get done.

And, I mean, if you want to pay a coach to sit with you and freak out about all the crazy things going on in your life, I can totally do that, but you could probably get it a lot cheaper by inviting a friend out for coffee.

You might consider, instead, taking full advantage of your coach’s services: exploring possibilities, creating new ideas and moving in new directions, creating a new future based on what you really, truly want from your heart– instead of just taking the least-uncomfortable thing you think you can get.

That’s a conversation I’m much more interested in. How about you? 🙂