11 Powerful Behaviour Change Ideas for Successful Coaches

How do successful coaches bring about the most important changes and be a living example for their clients?

11 Powerful Behaviour Change Ideas for Successful Coaches

Seriously, how do successful coaches do it?

How do successful coaches bring about the most important changes and be a living example for their clients?

And they seem to do it effortlessly.

You know the type we’re talking about – everything this coach does exhibits success, integrity, and walking the talk. Clients come to them like moth to fire.

And of course, you can’t help but think: Why can’t this be me?

Here’s the truth – it can be you. And you don’t need super-human powers for that.

Here’s how you do that: You consciously model their psychology and physiology.

Now that you know the “what”, are you ready to know the “how”? I hear a “YES”. Great, let’s dive into it:

11 Powerful Behaviour Change Ideas for Successful Coaches

Cultivate a success mindset

In her research with fifth graders, Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, suggested that parents praise their children’s efforts, perseverance and engagement to stick to a goal instead of complimenting them on their inherent smartness or intelligence.

Dweck found that doing so boosts a growth mindset in children as opposed to a “fixed mindset”. When operating from the latter, we tend to believe we’re good at some things (talents and abilities) while not so good at others.

As you’ll agree, this leads to a limitation-based thinking.

For example: Instead of saying “You are very good at this” you say, “You have worked really hard on this and got some great results”.

See the difference? Once you label yourself as naturally good at something, you don’t want to lose that positive image. This hampers taking up new challenges that seem out of scope of your natural abilities.

A growth or success mindset on the other hand promotes openness to learning. You weren’t just blessed with it – you worked your socks off at it.

It doesn’t necessarily mean making more money, although that could be a part of it.

There is nothing wrong with setting goals, but cultivating a success mindset works so much better in the long run.

A coach with a success mindset doesn’t fixate on perfection. To them, progress is more important.

Because here’s the thing: If you are stuck on perfecting things, you barely have anything to show for because, well, it isn’t perfect yet (and never will be).

It’s a vicious circle, and you’re smart to break it and focus on progress instead. That’s what a successful coach would do . Even slow progress is progress.

two people discussing at a desk whilst smiling

Do not hold the past against you

Let’s face it – life is not all butterflies and roses. There will be times when things get tough.

As a coach, you might face challenges finding new clients. Or you’ll stuff up with technology in your business. You’ll regret some decisions you made. You’ll go through steep learning curves – you name it.

And you will make mistakes. Because at the time you are doing the best you can with the resources available to you.

But here’s the thing: You don’t have to be so hard on yourself. You can choose differently today – and that choice is immensely powerful, should you choose it.

Successful coaches give themselves a break; learn from the past and move on. They are conscious and kind to themselves.

Are you?

Make mistakes


They happen to the best of us.

And every time you make one, you have well-wishers advising you on what’s the right course to happiness. “Get over it!” “Well, that’s life.” “Don’t be ridiculous – you’re doing much better than you think!”

And it goes on.

But wait – what’s wrong with that advice?

Although well-meaning, it is like setting up a very narrow path to feeling happy (or effective, clear, connected, attractive, successful, worthy or anything you want to feel really).

My point? Make mistakes. Lots of them. It shows you’re hustling. 

Then make sure you know why it was a mistake. Build reference points and consciously look back on them every time you’re about to make a new decision.

Sometimes, a mistake is not really that. It’s a growing pain from learning a new skill or facing a natural challenging moment. Successful coaches identify and differentiate between the two.

They understand success is not an absence of problems but an ability to deal with them.

Girl sitting on bench with a book in her lap whilst smiling

Know that worrying changes nothing

Mark Twain said: My life has been filled with calamities, some of which actually happened. 

Your mind is a beautiful thing. It’s also a pretty little trickster.

It tricks you to think worrying is productive. Successful coaches adopt a different thinking – they focus on the solution and express gratitude for problems they don’t have.

A University of Cincinnati study found that 85% of our worries never come true and that 79% of us handle the 15% that does happen with surprising ability to turn the situation around.

What does that mean? Worrying is just empty chatter. Of course, it has its place, but more often than not, you are cooking up worries in your mind. Most of which will never come true.

Instead of worrying 24/7, set a time to worry later during the day. Your conscious mind somehow wants to worry because we’ve been conditioned to do so. If you’re not worrying, you must “not be serious” about the important stuff.

But worrying is hardly a solution. It could be a precursor to motivation, yet there are better ways out there. You can choose to be motivated by something other than worry.

Successful coaches know that very well and invest in shifting their focus away from worry toward their goals, and that’s when creative intelligence kicks in.

proverb saying "A day of worry is more exhausting then a week of work"

Celebrate small wins

In the world of super-sized meals and “big is better” culture, we often believe that ticking off important goals is the only thing that matters. What we conveniently forget is that key habits are formed around tiny, small wins.

Research shows that small wins are enormously powerful. And celebrations are positively disruptive.

Acknowledge the small steps along the way. Celebrate small victories. Like that email of appreciation from your client. New sign-ups on your membership site and new milestones that you usually take for granted.

Here at TCI, we ring a bell every time a new student enrols. We all gather in a circle and a team member tells us all about the new addition to the party. And then, we do a dance number. Everyone in the building celebrates for the new student.

As a successful coach, you want to have a ritual to celebrate wins, big or small.

Personally, I like to keep an archive of emails from all my past clients – these are positive, uplifting emails that remind me about my successes that I may have forgotten about. It is my way of celebrating all those wins.

woman in field smiling with hands in air

Express gratitude

Admit it – you want a great life. You want better health, deeper relationships, top productivity, and a successful business – the whole lot.

And that’s OK. In fact, that’s great. Because you can get all of that and more by doing a 5-min exercise, daily.

An expression of gratitude.

Studies show that expression of gratitude can have huge positive effect on health, mood and relationships. In one study, Robert A. Emmons and Mike McCullough assigned participants one of the three journalist tasks – one group wrote down five things that they felt grateful for in the past week; another group described five hassles and the last one was asked to write down any five things that affected them (positive or negative).

Ten weeks later, the positive group had fewer health complaints than the hassled group. They even exercised 1.5 hours more.

Here’s an info-graphic about the benefits of gratitude (you can print it out too!):

infographic on how gratitude can benefit you

Source: Greater Good

According to clinical psychologist Philip Watkins, clinically depressed people show significantly lower gratitude  (about 50% less) than non-depressed controls.

Everyone likes to be appreciated. But in our fast-paced society, the power of “thank you” as an overused phrase is declining. Good manners aside, “thank you” no longer seems to do the magic on its own that it once did.

This can easily be changed by what behaviorists call “magnitude of reinforcement". It simply means that by increasing the size, strength or duration of a reward, you can reinforce your message.

Have an early start to the day

And by early, we mean well before 6 AM.

Why wake up early? There are several benefits. For starters, there is quietude – no babies crying, no horns honking, no telly noise in the background.

You got time to enjoy the sunrise, exercise, do yoga, set goals for the day, commute traffic-free, and eat your breakfast in peace and relish every bite.

Harvard biologist Christoph Randler discovered that early risers are likely to anticipate problems and minimize them efficiently, which is a great skill to have in business.

This is something you have to try for yourself to see the difference. Believe it or not, becoming an early riser is easier than you think.

Here are some tips to get you started:

- Ditch the snooze button (forever)
- Schedule travel early in the morning rather than later
- Advertise your early wake-up habit to your friends and family

Woman on Beach in Morning, Smiling

Practise random acts of kindness

Random acts of kindness make people happier – and this not only has effect on a spiritual level but also biologically. When you are kind to someone without expecting anything in return (that’s why it’s called “kindness”), the levels of natural morphine and heroin go up, leading to the “helper’s high”.

Here’s a real-life example: The other day a stranger in line ahead of me paid for my coffee. Before I could thank him, he was gone. So I did the same for the lady behind me in the line – she was surprised and genuinely thankful for the gesture.

That little incident kept my spirits high for the entire day.

two women laying on jetty smiling

Avoid seeking approval

Let’s admit it – you want to fit in.

You hate to be the odd one and want others’ validation, desperately. So you hold yourself back from being you.

But here’s the thing – you just cannot make everyone love and respect you. No matter how much you try.

And to be honest, it’s a pretty dull goal to have in the first place, because you end up beating your head against the wall. Ugh. Not exciting at all.

We all experience this need for approval and validation – but how you react to it makes all the difference. As toddlers, we look up at our parents and see if they’d clap or smile or nod at each little action.

But here’s what happens while you repeat this behaviour as you grow up: You get conditioned to seek validation. Soon, you’re questioning your own decisions and judgements as adults.

A successful coach knows the fine line between seeking validation and objectively looking at suggestion/feedback.

When the going gets tough, they are their best friend and practice being real. Makes finding their tribe super-easy.

In short, don’t be ashamed to seek a little bit of approval every now and then. It’s delicious that way. But don’t be a hardened, round-the-clock approval-seeker.

In one of her stories, Martha Beck shares an experiment with “seeking approval for getting disapproval”. When she was teaching college-level sociology, she assigned students to pick a social norm that was wrong or silly – the students who violate the norm would get her approval.

One student went to the church with “Resist religious intolerance” written on his forearms. A football player wore his grandfather’s lederhosen to a nightclub.

Needless to say, such acts of disapproval led to a feeling of liberation, eventually letting them get comfortable in their own skin.

Two friends having a coffee.

Zig when others zag

In business, you want to keep blazing your own trail. It’s one of the core foundations of disruptive leadership – to zig when others zag.

Simply put, you “read the herd” and move away from doing what everyone is doing. So if they all turn left, you turn right. Successful coaches are naturally curious that way. They always ask: “What if I turned right when everyone’s focused left? What happens then?”

Ironically, Despair.com disrupts and thrives in the motivational market by insulting it.

In short, you pick it up from where your competitors stopped thinking. That does not mean you dive into a market where there is no competition – competition is actually a healthy sign. You do your research (whether there is enough demand) and put a new cool “zig” of your own to it.

Not ready for a massive zag? Go small. Offer a wildly different option than others. Market a new skill. Bring a different perspective. Catch attention. But do so in a way that allows you to attain your goals.

Your customers might even love you for it!


Dream Team is the award-winning marketing and innovations hub for The Coaching Institute and the coaching industry. Whether it's testing new ideas or challenging the old, updating best practices or disrupting conventions, Dream is here for you with the latest and best in the coaching industry along with tools, tips, strategies and case studies of real-world results that are breaking industry records.

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