Ask HaviNote: it is almost impossible to get on the Ask Havi list. This person got in by a. being one of my clients or students, b. flattering the hell out of my duck, and c. making life easy on me by being clear about what the question was and what details I could use.

Here it is:

“How did you get into the coaching thing? How did you get started? Is there a post about this already? If so, can you point me to it?”

Crap. I was positive there was a post about this.

There wasn’t, so I must have either written it in my head (in which case, where did it go???) or answered it in an email a million years ago when I still did email.

Anyway. Here’s the abridged version.

And I should warn you that the problem with my particular story is that it’s weird enough to be un-repeatable. But I’ll try to throw in some Useful Bits at the end.

People started showing up.

It’s 2003-ish.

I’m living in Tel Aviv.

I haven’t heard the word “coaching” yet. And if I had it probably would have made me throw up.*

In the meantime, I’ve been processing my transition from professional bitchy rockstar barmaid to kooky yoga teacher.

And that’s when they started showing up.

People. Wanting me to help them shift stuff.

First it was other yoga teachers. Wanting to know what techniques I was using to pull off the tough life changes they’d seen me make. Then it was my students. Then it was random strangers.

*It still kind of does. I really, really dislike the word “coaching”.

So I started teaching.

The issues people had were all different.

Everything from broken hearts to losing weight to wanting to learn Russian (I don’t speak Russian, which made it even more interesting).

And the stuff I taught was always about figuring out what your stuff was, and then interacting with said stuff in a conscious way.

I’d started experiencing for myself how Dance of Shiva was rewriting my patterns in the craziest of ways, so I prescribed it in small doses. And of course yoga. And cognitive exercises. And and and.

In my mind it was all yoga, just … not the stuff they teach you in the kind of classes where the focus is, you know, how to stick your leg behind your head.

Then people wanted to pay me. Which totally freaked me out.

Like a lot of yoga teachers and alternative health practitioners of all stripes, I was dealing with more than enough stucknesses of my own around “receiving” in any form.

But especially the “monetary renumeration” kind.

It was becoming clear that people wanted to give me money for my help, so I used my techniques to work on that too — slowly, slowly, slowly.

In the fight between “I can’t take money for sharing universal wisdom — something that I’m just distilling and helping someone apply to their specific situation” and “but I also can’t make enough money teaching regular yoga”, the need to pay rent won.

Well, the need to pay rent combined with my inability to stay in a job anywhere that’s not a bar or a yoga studio.

So my help became a thing.

And now the Twilight Zone part.

I moved to Berlin. And within the first week everything went to pieces.

The ear infection from hell changed everything.

I lost all hearing in my right ear for six months. I was weak. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t teach. I couldn’t do yoga.

None of my trusty techniques were relevant in this situation.

In total desperation, I turned to flavors of weird energy stuff that I had always thought were ridiculous — and ended up adding all sorts of wackiness to my repertoire of things that can potentially be useful.

In the meantime, something about the stuff happening in my middle ear allowed me to access all kinds of intuitive abilities. Scared me half to death.

So I was healing from huge amounts of pain. And I was learning how to use my powers.

Oh. And I’d decided to use them for good. Which was also scary.

I got better. And three things happened.

1. I threw myself back into my Shiva Nata practice. Epiphany city. Huge, huge, huge understandings about everything in my life.

2. I downloaded the entire Fluent Self system in one afternoon. It just came — and I spent the next few months furiously writing down everything I could.

3. And I started teaching workshops about changing habits and rewriting patterns. See also: How The Fluent Self Got Its Spots.

Then more things happened.

People started hiring me to help them problem-solve.

The Dance of Shiva parts of the workshops were very successful. So successful that I started focusing on the brain-training part of my system, because that was what people seemed to want.

After an eleven year hiatus, I returned to the States.

I discovered that this helper-mouse thing I was doing was already sort of a thing.

People didn’t do it the way I did it. But in a sense it was a thing, and that thing was called “coaching”.

To certify or not to certify.

Aside from my issues with the word (it still conjures up an image of a gym teacher with a whistle hanging from his neck, yelling GO GO GO GO GO), I also had issues with certification.

One of the things I’d learned from the yoga world was that certification is one of the most bullshit things there is. At best irrelevant, and at worst scammy.

I don’t regret any of the yoga teacher trainings I have done. That’s how I first connected with Andrey Lappa, who became my intellectual and spiritual mentors.

These kinds of trainings have allowed me to study with phenomenal teachers, to go deep into all kinds of learning, and to become a better teacher through watching other people do it.

But you know what?

I was a perfectly good yoga teacher before those trainings.

And in all my years of teaching yoga and Shiva Nata in yoga studios around the world, not once have I been asked if I have international certification. I do, but no one has ever asked.

So I decided that I would keep learning stuff from the coaching world. And I would take trainings if and when I felt moved to. But I wasn’t going to jump through a bunch of hoops for a totally meaningless piece of paper.


And then?

Well, no one (aside from people who want to become coaches) has ever asked me if I have “coaching certification”.

People hired me and my duck. They had ridiculously great results. They told other people.

Selma and I turned some of our workshops into online programs and ebooks and stuff.

We went through some really rough parts too. Got all kinds of terrible advice.** Made mistakes. Learned stuff. And it didn’t happen overnight either.

**Thanks for nothing, everyone who thought I needed to specialize in something targeted like ‘helping 45 year old women quit smoking’.

I used my techniques to biggify my own business and — more importantly — to gradually feel more comfortable being all biggified.

Which got me all fired up about the connection between working on your stuff and bringing your thing into the world.

The intersection of non-cheesy self-help and mindful business biggification.

And here we are. Hi.

The take-aways, such as they are.

So I wouldn’t recommend that you try to follow my path or imitate what I’ve done because yeah, even if you could, it would still be painful and horrible.

Not recommended.

What I would say is this:

  • I definitely wish I’d spent less time waiting for external forces to give me the legitimacy to help the people who wanted my help.
  • The smartest thing I did along the way was making my first priority working on my own stuff. Everything comes from that anyway.
  • If I were doing it again, I’d spend less time hiding my duck from the world while trying to sound like an expert (yuck), and more time being my kooky self out loud.
  • Continued learning and education = the bomb. Certification = hugely unnecessary.

Hope some of that is helpful. And, if not, then at least semi-entertaining.

Good luck with your thing. Your thing! And even if this seems impossible to believe right now, the world needs you. And hiding from the people who need you isn’t fair to them or to you.

Okay. Off the soapbox. I promise not to be all inspirational for at least a few weeks. 🙂

The Fluent Self