Confession: I Was A Copy Cat Coach
I didn’t think I had anything interesting or new to say. Scratch that: I DID believe I had something to say, I just wasn’t saying it. Instead I was copying others and passing it off as my own. Because I was scared…
When I started out as a health coach, 19 years ago, I followed the exact formula set out by the school I attended. That strategy helped me engage and support clients, so I stuck with the formula for years. But then it stopped working. And I thought I just needed a new formula to grow my business again.
So I signed up with a coach who trained me in a new formula and system, and I began to see a new burst of growth and clients. I used that formula for a while, and it started to get harder and harder to find and support new clients.
Was it me? I tend to get bored with systems and formulas, so I have to wonder if my diminishing lack of enthusiasm caused the decrease in clients. Or was it the system?
I spent years pin-balled from coach to coach, system to system, learning new formulas.
That’s when I realized I was copying other coaches. Not just the coaches I was working with, but other coaches who put out newsletters I read, writers who wrote books I loved, and more.
It didn’t feel good.
It wasn’t very successful either.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, but when I imitated or copied other coaches, I heard a nagging voice in the back of my mind. The voice said:
“You’re copying someone else. You don’t really have anything original to say. And if it’s not yours, then what good is it? You’re just a poor imitation of someone else. Might as well give up. You’re going to get caught and called out. Better not get too big, or people will notice you’re a fraud…”
UGH. It felt gross.
I hated hearing that voice and the way it made me feel.
The impact of this voice, my Bitch Brain, (AKA Imposter Syndrome, Inner Critic, Resistance), was that I didn’t grow as big as I said I wanted to. My passion for my work was dampened by the fear of being “found out.” My impact on the world, helping women grow into their best versions and create abundant, satisfying lives, was smaller than I dreamed it could be.
And I got called out for my imitation a couple of times.
When I got called out, I made immediate steps to rectify the problem:
- took down a sales page and rewrote it
- redesigned a graphic with new colors and words
But the real work was in seeing that I wasn’t facing my fear:
The fear of putting out my real work, my real ideas, in my true voice, and possibly having it ignored, criticized, or not making an impact with it at all.
In the hard work of becoming yourself, and clearly presenting your vision, teaching, work, or art, you will have to face the voice that says your work isn’t good enough.
It may keep you quiet and not working at your fullest capacity…
It may cause you to copy-paste someone else’s work and not give them credit…
I may even cause you to close up shop and stop pursuing your dream…
…if you let it.
It’s a dance to create who you are, using the inspiration and education you’ve acquired, and not simply copy someone else who inspires you.
The truth is, even the greatest masters learn from someone, and often copy the work of other creators to learn technique.
- When we learn how to cook, we use other people’s recipes.
- When we learn an instrument, we play other people’s songs.
- When we start a business, we follow tested models that have worked for others.
But at some point, we reach a place in our work where we itch to create our own unique way of doing it. And some point, it becomes necessary for growth and our own satisfaction.
- My most successful cleanse programs, which made tens of thousands of dollars, came after I fused traditional detox practices with positive psychology mindset work.
- My private coaching has become highly sought after since I integrated dance, art, and creative writing techniques to the personal work of professional success.
To become a unique and authentic teacher, artist, or coach, we have to learn how to filter all of our influences through our unique lens of personal experience and vision.
To create something unique and magnetic, healing and useful, we must bravely do the work. And risk getting is wrong.
My own work and drive to create is fueled in part by a desire to be original and fuse all the truths together.
Your work, or art, or services are a tapestry of all of your experiences and education, sewn and woven together in real time, always evolving.
You are a coat of many colors, not a copy-paste meme.