Turning Failure Into Focus With Your Clients

Turning Failure Into Focus With Your Clients

Have you ever had a client that got off track?  This is a bit of a rhetorical question really, since it’s bound to happen. Your clients will get off track from time to time, so it’s important to know what to do when this happens, so you’ll feel empowered and equipped to handle it with grace and confidence.

Today’s post is from the amazing Marilena Minucci.  For those of you that attended IIN, you may remember her as one of the featured guest speakers. She was one of my favorites, so she’s likely one of your faves too.

I know you’re going to love this post, and find it incredibly helpful. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment for us at the end.

Here’s Marilena…

I love my clients, don’t you?  I love celebrating their successes and I’m so honored to walk the path beside them as they challenge themselves, continue to grow, and stretch their dreams beyond what they could have ever imagined. I love those “light bulb” moments where they make those meaningful connections.

However, what can confront us all as coaches, are the times when our clients get stuck, off-track, find they are in their own way or lose their focus altogether. I call that going from “the sizzle to the fizzle.”

I used to be afraid of these “retrograde” moments and what I felt they implied about me as a coach. But once I learned to embrace and welcome these times as the “most coachable” moments, I learned just how sacred and precious they could be for both my clients and myself.

It is here we can choose to enter a critical portal to the deeper coaching we all desire to do. It is here where the “Quantum Shifts” can happen that will contribute the most to a client’s sustainable success.

Are you willing to go there? To do so, you will have to embrace the role of the coach as a “Challenger.” This means to hold your client to their highest and help them stand in their truth in a safe, non-judgmental way that can lead to a recommitment to their goals and to themselves.

Here are three areas to explore with your clients. Keep in mind, the goal for you here is to gently guide them to the possible root of what is blocking, stalling or draining their energy around the goal.

Embrace the concept that the client NEVER fails. Instead, it is the goal, strategy, environment or a belief system that may require a tweak or that sometimes needs to be tossed out and redesigned altogether!

Is it a case of Goal Fatigue™?

If you are more excited about the clients’ ambitions than they are, it could be a sign that their goals may have gone stale.  Sometimes items that have been taking up space on the “to-do” list unaccomplished for a long time lose their juice.  Perhaps the client has had too much experience with setbacks to clearly envision their eventual success. Perhaps they have never taken the time to work through the details of moving forward. They may also just get bored, be progressing too slowly or have other more compelling issues calling for their attention.

Tools: Coach to the Juice! Spend more time during the goal-setting phase really getting clear on the goal and its relevance for your client at this point in time.

If it does not sound juicy or compelling to you, challenge the client to either recharge the goal or let it go. You might try breaking down any goal that is too broad, reformulating it, finding a way to get more excited about it… or tossing it out and finding a better one altogether.

Quantum Questions: What are you most passionate about right now? What is the importance of this for you? What are you hoping will change as a result? How long have you had this goal? What has-hasn’t worked for you in the past? Is this a “should” goal or a “non-negotiable” one for you?

Is it a case of Resistance?

Change is scary no matter how much we say we want it. As we begin to move in a new direction, fears of success and failure are often triggered and there may be an imagined ripple effect that can impact relationships, careers, and our life path in general.

When people stop “showing up” for themselves, it can be a normal form of distraction or self-protection (a.k.a. self-sabotage). Challenging a client here does not mean pushing. It means listening more, acknowledging their feelings and helping them decide where they want to go next.

Tools: Use your Reflective Listening to hear between the lines to what it is your client may be feeling but not saying. Let them drive the agenda of where they want to go next. What is critically important is to break down all goals into tiny action steps so as to help them handle any fears that might arise.

Quantum Questions: What is the risk to make the change now? What is the risk to NOT make the change now? Can you say more about what feelings have been coming up for you? How will you handle it when you feel scared to take the next step? How can we make the steps even smaller? What is the worst thing that might happen? What is the best thing that might happen?

Is it a case of Conflicting Intentions and/or Underlying Beliefs?

When clients stall out, it is helpful to troubleshoot their obstacles. They sometimes feel torn between their desires and other intentions or obligations.

They may also have an underlying belief that can undermine the best of their plans. For example, if they have a belief that they are meant to serve others first, this might cancel out any energy and momentum they feel towards “selfishly” prioritizing their own goals.

Tools: Help the client identify where they may need to create what we call “Compassionate Boundaries.” This will allow the client to say “no” or “not now” in a loving way that still honors both sides. Challenge the client to get clear and really prioritize their current intentions, roles or obligations and the time commitment required for each.

Quantum Questions: What would it take to make your current goal your single-minded priority this week? What would have to go on the back burner in order for you to succeed? What belief do you have that is undermining your progress?  How will prioritizing this goal help you meet the demands of all your other roles? What would you have to let go of in order to move forward? Where do you need to create a healthy boundary for yourself? What do you know to be true in this moment?

When our clients get stuck or fizzle out the temptation is to get in there and “fix” or push… neither of which are helpful coaching behaviors.  If this happens, try to catch yourself and gently return your focus to some of the tools and questions I have shared with you.

Also, resist the urge to think you haven’t done your job and instead, keep your attention on the client. Share with them what you see from an honest, non-shaming way so as to hold up the most powerful mirror you can.

Quantum Questions for the Coach to Sustain the Sizzle!

  • How well does the client’s stated goal and their energy around it match up?
  • Is the goal clear and broken down into smaller than small steps?
  • How does the client stay in touch with the meaning/motivation behind the goal on a regular basis?
  • Are the action steps tiny enough to ensure the client’s success and build momentum?
  • How might frequency of sessions or contact impact the outcome?
  • How can the client find a more fun way to track their progress?
  • Am I being consistent with my accountability?
  • Are we celebrating small successes along the way?
  • How have I been stuck myself in the past that could offer me some insight on the situation?
  • What are my judgments about my client’s lack of progress?
  • Am I being triggered in any way that clouds my coaching mirror?
  • Am I being self-compassionate and embracing my learning along the way?

Change is never a straight-line process. We must embrace every step forward and back as part of the dance of transformation.

As a “Challenger” you are also your client’s biggest Champion. You dance in the moment with them and wisely let them lead all the while holding the vision of their greatness until they can fully embody it for themselves.

In the meantime, I “Challenge” you to keep doing your own work and lean into the beliefs you hold that are bigger than any fear you possess. Let go of what no longer serves you and embrace your passion for this work to which you were called for a reason. I will always hold the vision of your greatness as you continue to stand more fully in its power every day!

Go Quantum with Your Coaching and in Your Life!

Marilena Minucci, MS, CHC, BCC

As creator of the Quantum Coaching Method™, Marilena has trained and mentored Health & Wellness Coaches over the past 25 years in a dynamic way to work more deeply and effectively with their clients through her Functional Coach Approach™. This includes a solid foundation Whole-Person Wellness, Soul-Centered Self-Care™, lifestyle change, personal development & productivity.   Her book, Quantum Coaching Questions is a highly acclaimed primer for Coaches and her training program Quantum Coaching Essentials™ offers coaches an approved pathway to recognized International Certification.


Receive Two Sizzling Excerpts from Quantum Coaching Questions, Marilena’s highly acclaimed, must-have guidebook for every coach:

Bonus Guide #1: Quantum Questions for Clients Who are Stuck and Self-Sabotaging, and Bonus Guide #2: Quantum Questions for “Closing the Deal”

We’d love to know what you think. Please leave a comment below, and…

Join the conversation over in our FREE Facebook Group HERE (for certified wellness/fitness professionals only)