What have my clients taught me over the years…

“Life is a box of chocolates, you never know which one you are going to get!”

One never knows what will be the outcome of the very first client appointment. It is sometimes a start of a wonderful relationship. And, at times, it ends right there before it even had a chance to begin.

You can not even rely on the feeling one gets as we can never be completely sure what goes inside someone else’s head. I surely was wrong many times.

These days I try not to invest any energy into dwelling what will happen. It can mess with the natural flow of the meeting. The more I am just myself and allow potential clients to be honest and true to themselves, the better chance of working together.

When the feeling is really good (and you always have some feeling) and it turns out to be true, it is the most exciting part of my work. Being given a chance of making someone’s life better is the best feeling of all and an adrenaline in itself.

And only then the real work starts…

One of the very first lessons I learnt early on was:

DO NOT GET ATTACHED TO AN OUTCOME, BE AN AUTHENTIC YOU

Being attached to an outcome makes us less authentic and client could easily feel they are either being pushed or manipulated into starting, which is not a way to start any relationship. It actually is a dead end.

For me, it also means that my happiness and love of my work is not dependent on the outcome of the single evaluation. I am just planting seeds and spreading the love for nutrition and health.

Most of my clients are a pure joy to work with and are the reason why I love my work. But, it is not always smooth sailing. And challenging relationships with clients have taught me most about myself, what kind of a coach I want to be and how I want to show up with my work.

So, another thing I learnt:

BE CLEAR ABOUT RESPONSIBILITIES & STAY ACCOUNTABLE

If I am out of alignment with myself, not taking care of my own body and my emotional being, it manifests itself as feeling stuck, overwhelmed, lacking inspiration and joy that I get through my work.

This is not the place where we can authentically serve and where love for our work can shine through!

So, I owe it to myself to be my own first responsibility in order to be able to do great work and help inspire others to take action!

I can educate, support, guide, however – I am NOT responsible what my clients ultimately think, do and the results they get.

I did not understand this always, which caused me to put some blame on myself when things did not work out. Clients that consistently did not get results used to give me anxiety.

I was questioning myself, what I missed, what more I could have done and then, when I was exhausted with self-blame, instead of letting go, I would try even harder hoping this time I could do more for them, offer more of my time, offer discounts that are fear based rather than to honour client’s loyalty and show gratitude…

Wow… I am sweating just when I think about it.

I now know that, while this came from the right intention – pure desire to help – it did not come from the right place – it came from self-doubt, feeling I was not (good) enough and fear of loss – thinking “I will lose them, if only I did more, they would stay!”

Oh how things have shifted!

And that is why every single client had a place in my own journey, which contributed to the confidence I have today!

I have nothing but gratitude to all the people on my journey as all these experiences only made me a better coach and a better human too.

What else did I learn?

PATIENCE

I am impatient by nature. I have always been a person of action, driven, as I find great satisfaction in the achievement!

Health results, however, can not be rushed. Like you can not rush your child finally understanding algebra or learning to read fluently. (I tried, failed and then got a tutor with all the patience my boys needed!)

With an enthusiasm of my early thirties when I was just starting as a health coach, I recognise now that lack of patience got the better of me on on more occasions than I wish to remember.

Because health was important to me and taking care of myself came naturally to me, I could not understand that it is a process, sometimes a rather long one for most.

It was listening to Anthony Robbins that opened my eyes to what kind of a coach I want to be. He is talking about success being 20% mechanics (my support, my meal plan, nutritional products) and 80% psychology.

Wow, it blew my mind!

I realised that I am not in a transactional business. This is a business of emotions, deep emotions that make our reality. My clients first needed a breakthrough in order to eventually start loving themselves enough to commit to change needed to see the results they dream of. They also needed to believe that this is possible.

So, I accepted that success is not a straight line and I could breathe finally, although true work was only beginning! This new awareness hardly made me an expert. What it did, however, is put me on a quest of my own personal development, so I can understand myself better as well as human psychology.

Transformations and results will happen when clients are ready and not a minute before clients want it far more for themselves than I can ever want it for them.

Actually, what I want is irrelevant. I know that now and I learnt to stay in my lane. And be OK with it, whatever happens.

My responsibility is to continue being someone who can inspire them and guide them – help adjust the sails when they go off course, with love and compassion. And, with permission, to dig a little bit deeper each time to help them go further.

Which takes me to the next lesson…

HOLDING SPACE

Holding space means being willing to walk alongside another person in whatever journey they’re on without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome.

This is paramount for health coaching.

Last thing any client needs is my judgement when they lapse. They judge themselves enough, and sometimes they get enough from the society or people closest to them.

They need to know I am a safe place that will hear them without judgement and help them, in their own time, to turn it around.

And this is something we can practice in every relationship we encounter. With our children, spouse, friends…

I have heard of the concept only few years back and I only wish I understood it even sooner, but it is never too late to develop this awareness and learn to intentionally show up with tenderness, compassion, empathy and kindness. It can transform any relationship.

Holding space is also about understanding the next lesson…

BOUNDARIES & SELF RESPECT

Oh, this is a tricky one! Tricky for most and it certainly was for me! Big time.

I will be honest. People with (healthy) boundaries used to irritate me. I thought they were rude, unhelpful, selfish.

Eventually, I realised that other people’s clear boundaries only caused such resistance within me because I personally had issues with asserting boundaries.

I now recognise people who lack boundaries and also grew to have much admiration when I come across people with healthy boundaries (especially when they also have a skill of communicating it well).

I come from the society that lacks boundaries to the core, I do not even think we have a word for it, so, if I ever wanted to have healthy and happy relationships, I had to get better in this respect. Or continue to grow bitter.

I have entered this business prepared to be inconvenienced, but without setting my limits, knowing where I stand, feeling uneasy about confrontations or showing assertiveness – it was a tough going at times.

I open my door to clients and often see them at times that fit into their busy schedules even if I had to go out of my way to rearrange my own schedule. Of course, I am more than happy to accommodate as they are equally trying to accommodate my services into their busy, often too busy, life as well. So, it is a healthy “give and take” on both sides.

Then you get little red flags with some clients. You feel unappreciated, taken advantage of. Resentment sets in, which literally sucks the joy out of the work you love.

Experience taught me that the right client with the right character would know this boundary. Because most times it is a matter of respect. Respect they have for me, but – respect I first had to have for myself.

They were only following my lead, after all.

So, I raised my standard over the years, which was a subtle change that happened within me, not something that I necessarily openly communicated, although, it must have come through how I spoke and how I carried myself.

I noticed type of clients that sought me has changed, there is a healthier “give and take” relationships, whilst existing clients that gave me those little red flags just naturally dropped off. Relationships that do not work out are mutually communicated and there are “no hard” feelings.

This brought so much peace and reignited the joy my work gives me.

And, all those that pushed my limits – I am forever grateful to as they brought to light where I needed to improve in order to honour my feelings whilst developing healthier relationships with not just my clients, but anyone in my life.

Of course, I am still for greater part work in progress and learning to be kinder to myself, but the awareness of the boundaries issue has been a game changer.


Health Coaching is a privilege I do not take for granted. My clients let me into their lives. I get to know their family members, their stories, their fears, their dreams, their hopes, their challenges. Whatever they feel comfortable sharing. This is an honour. Never a burden.

I am dealing with real people, with real emotions and as much as they are here to learn from me, my clients are bottomless well of insights and lessons I am blessed to receive and grow from.

Sharing these insights is my way of honoring every single person who walked through my door and who let me into their world.

If you are my client – “Namaste!”

If you used to be my client – “Namaste!”

And, final insight…

DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

Everyone has hopes and dreams, fears and challenges, real emotions and is just trying to do the best they can.

Sometimes, other’s best is not good enough for us and we take someone else’s actions to heart too much and give it meaning and unnecessary emotions that suck the energy out of us.

Here is what gave me a different perspective. It literally blew my mind and I go back to it each time I run a risk of interpreting someone else’s actions as an attack on me. It is a quote from one of my favourite books, “The Four Agreements” and The Agreement Number TWO says:

“Don’t take anything personally! Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream…”

Understanding this has truly set me free from needless suffering and frustration on many occasions and it continues to do so.

It helps me have a better flow when working with clients, without resistance on my part.

It certainly helps with letting go, letting live and moving on.

This brought me most peace.


I would like to finish with the quote from Wabi Sabi book that speaks volumes to me:

“We bloom and ripen with time. Our character develops and our wisdom deepens as we age. We have more to offer to the world with every experience we go through!”

I turned my lessons into blessings and failings into my strengths and I am excited about the next chapter and what new experiences will teach me.

I have finally excepted that we are never a finished products… we are all rough diamonds at a different stages of polishing…

The same as my clients, I am also only trying to do my best! And that is the best anyone can do!

If you are looking to start your health journey – NAMASTE!

If you are a coach that is just starting off – hang in there, it is a beautiful profession and hope some of this has been of a value.

If you are an experienced coach – I would love to know – what were YOUR biggest lessons on your coaching journey?

If you are someone who can relate in any way – let me know!

Thank you and, until next time, yours in health,

Sanela

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