How I coach entrepreneurs
I get asked many questions about how and why I coach entrepreneurs. Here are some answers:
Q: What are typical problems that entrepreneurs want to solve?
A: Everyone has a unique situation. But there are patterns. Difficult situations with cofounders, business partners, with investors. Family life suffers. Surprisingly often, even young founders are worried about their health. Some clients are extremely successful and wonder why they are not happy.
Q: Are entrepreneurs less happy than other people?
A: Entrepreneurial success does not guarantee a happy person. To embark on the entrepreneurial journey, there must be strong drivers in life. If you’re very happy with the status quo, you don’t become an entrepreneur. If you ask entrepreneurs what drives them, you get surprising answers. These answers are often along the lines: “I have to prove that I can do it”. When we dig deeper, we sometimes discover a sense of self-worth that needs to be filled by accomplishing a lot. In many cases also, self-worth is related to being able to buy bigger things. Or comparing yourself to others. We all know that this is just a band-aid. And when you dig deeper here, this is where a process can start.
Q: What keeps entrepreneurs from addressing their happiness head-on?
A: Often, the same that keeps everyone from doing this: It takes courage. It can be painful to go deep and know yourself and what shaped you. It can be painful to challenge your own set of beliefs and where they guide you in the wrong direction. In some cases, entrepreneurs know exactly what drives them into unhealthy behaviour, like an extremely high workload or not letting go. But they fear that addressing this driver will cause them to lose their edge in business.
Q: Is that fear correct: Could they lose their edge?
A: In my own experience, I have become much better with people the more I allow my emotional side to grow. Working with teams has become easier, and addressing conflicts is less of a drag. Saying no to things that just don’t feel right became easier. This has made me way more efficient and able to accomplish much more. I have observed this in others as well. So in my view, this fear of losing your edge if you address your inner self is entirely unfounded.
Q: Where did you get your coaching skills? You’re not exactly known to be the touchy-feely type.
A: I started my career at a large corporate where, at a young age, I was part of an excellent leadership training programme. I later worked with different types of coaching, which enabled me to work better with people and build fantastic organisations. Building organisations is one of my secret superpowers. Not so much running them.
I have been coaching entrepreneurs for more than 10 years now. At some point, I started working with Johanna Junholm. She inspired me to include more openly the personal and emotional side into the work with founders. This was a breakthrough for me: When I started doing this, I started getting amazingly positive feedback. And this made me realise: I can do more of this.
Q: How do you work practically?
A: I strive to be highly efficient. While I work on an ongoing basis with a client for a period of 6 months, the real breakthroughs regularly happen when I take clients on one-on-one hikes in the mountains. The change in the situation and physical exertion accelerates our ability to open up. This is a two-day exercise where we work together. Often this experience has been literally life-changing in itself. Sometimes it leads to a longer coaching relationship. Sometimes I just remain available in the background.