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The Courage it Takes to Become A Coach by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

So as I understand it, you’ve been doing a deep dive into how to help people form habits, which is a topic near and dear to my heart. You really help people unlock so much in their lives when you help them change. I started successfully changing my own habits about 15 years ago and it changed my entire life.

And then I started helping others do it a little over a decade ago. Yeah, that means I’m an old man when it comes to having coaching, I have loved every minute of it. But now that you’re graduating from this program, you’re in a place that is both full of possibility and full of uncertainty. You have to hang up your shingle and announce to the world that you’re a habit coach, and that is a vulnerable and often very scary thing.

I know this fear very well. I’ve been facing it myself for years, and now I help others with the fear of putting themselves out there. So I’d like to talk about that. Putting ourselves out there in the world as a coach, as an entrepreneur creator of any kind is one of the scariest things we can do. And it’s a habit, a deeper habit than most people are looking to form, but a habit, nonetheless, we have to do it over and over again for it to make a meaningful difference.

Most of your clients will want to make habit changes at a certain level change things as exercise, eating. Meditation waking earlier, quitting smoking, and these are all amazing habits to change and they not only require you to stay at the surface level, but actually to go deeper to changes of belief and self-identity, but in another way, these are pretty safe habits.

They create more solid ground under your feet and they make you feel better about yourself. A don’t require us to stick our necks out. But the habit of putting yourself out there in the world goes to a deeper level. It requires stepping off of the solid ground, into groundlessness, into uncertainty, and to fear and vulnerability.

And that’s an incredibly courageous habit to form, but necessary for anyone doing anything remarkable in the world. We cannot make a meaningful difference in the world without putting ourselves out there. We can’t change the lives of others without putting ourselves out to be judged by the world. We can’t both be remarkable and stay in hiding and safe.

It takes courage to put ourselves in the groundlessness of this uncertainty. So this practice is something that I recall training and fearlessness. It doesn’t mean an absence of fear. It means cultivating the ability to be with fear without needing to run from it or engage in our usual patterns of avoidance, our control be okay with the uncertainty and the groundlessness of it.

So there’s a story about the Buddha that is sometimes told it’s probably not quite accurate. It’s not from the Buddhist camp. But I like, I like it anyway. I find it useful. Uh, it goes something like this. So the Buddha was meditating in a cave, you know, as you do, um, he’s seeking enlightenment and the demon, God Mara, who’s known, who’s a thought often thought to represent our doubts and fears, the demon, God Mara sends thousands of armies to attack the Buddha in this.

The Buddha sits there in silence, not moving and the army is attacked but didn’t do any damage. Then, Mara, the demon himself comes into the cave to take on, to fight with Buddha. And instead of fighting with Mara, the Buddha turns to Mara and says, I see you, Mara. And then the Buddha invited Mara to. So, again, that’s probably apocryphal.

It’s not a real story about the Buddha, but I love it because it so nicely illustrates how we might put ourselves out there in the world, despite our own fears. And self-doubts, we can run from those fears and doubts. We can fight with them and try to banish them. We can moan all day long and wish we were free.

Or we can sit with them with friendliness. So this is what the training and fearlessness are all about. Turning toward the fear in our hearts. As we put ourselves out there as coaches, as entrepreneurs, or creators every single day. And being with that fear mindfully with friendliness and company. So it might think of it as like a small child in each of us who is afraid, who we can comfort and be friendly towards, um, this that’s what, that’s, what our fear is.

And so we can be with a small child, but then we don’t have to be limited by that fear. We can go on with our mission. So there’s another aspect of this training and fearlessness that I want to share with you. It’s the idea that we don’t have to hate the uncertainty that we have to put ourselves in when we stick our necks out there.

So there’s a quote by the Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa, and it goes something like this. The bad news is that you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to no perish. The good news is there is no ground. So I love that because that’s what this uncertainty is all about. It’s this groundlessness no solid ground under our feet.

It feels like the rug has been yanked out from under us and we panic. That’s what happens when we put ourselves out of. Is this feeling of like, oh, I need some solid ground. So we run for our systems for control, for perfectionism, for procrastination and avoidance. Uh, we run for safety and we run for the exit and you will find yourself running for control for safety or the exit.

These are usually responses to uncertainty and fear, but there is another way open to. Embrace the groundlessness because the fact that there’s no ground underneath us is the good news fall in love with the uncertainty every day. Intentionally put yourself into uncertainty as a training, put yourself out there in some way to be judged, write something and post it online.

Be vulnerable. Ask for support, asking for help is very uncertain. Share something honestly offered to help take up space, use your voice, make our proposal, ask for more money than you’re comfortable asking for. These are all uncertain things for us. And they’re scary. So you can run to the comfort of a cocoon, the safety of that cocoon, or you can train every day and put yourself into this place of grumbling.

And when you do this training open to the feeling of fear and doubt that arises in your body as a sensation, drop into the body and feel it with mindfulness, acknowledge this fear, this feeling, the sensation and fear that arises, be friendly with it, invite it to tea, then find a way to be grateful and joyful.

In the middle of this groundlessness, which can feel almost impossible. Sometimes see the beauty of the openness and this open-hearted vulnerability feel the alive newness of it. And then finally remember who you’re serving the people out there who need your services, people who are struggling, whose lives are just waiting to be changed with you.

Remember their pain, their struggle, their hearts there, why we’re doing this? Why we’re putting ourselves into uncertainty and then asking ourselves, are they worth the discomfort of training in this way? Are their hearts worth putting myself into this? Groundlessness this uncertainty, because again, that’s why we do this.

They are why we do this, not for our own ego, glory, fame, riches, but to help we do this for the hearts of those who need us. Thank you. I wish you all the best in this incredibly meaningful journey and may your paths be filled with joyful groundlessness. Thank you, everyone.

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