Why I Coach Failing Clients

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Why I Coach Failing Clients

Homeless man

I was just referred to a new client who was having a tough time.

He was homeless.

He didn’t have a job.

He was estranged from his family…

Homeless man

…and living on the streets of San Diego.

I asked a friend who lived near him to deliver some food…

…some sandwiches, fruit, etc.

And then I coached him.

Even though this guy was really down in the dumps…

…It didn’t deter me.


Because the worse off clients are…

…the easier it is to turn things around.

It doesn’t take much for clients who are struggling to get value from coaching.

…just like a $20 tip was life changing in my “broke” college days.

The point?

You can always help someone.

No client is ‘uncoachable’.

But coaches think they need to work with clients who are already successful.

I’ve heard too many coaches say

  • “Coaching isn’t for everyone”.
  • “My client just isn’t coachable.”
  • “I only work with winners.”

…and if you pass those judgements, then you’ll create that reality.

This ‘elitist’ mindset puts your actions and coaching in motion…

…which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Pretty soon, coaches get absolutely certain that coaching is only for the ‘elite few’.

But that’s just not true.

In fact, the least successful people often benefit the MOST from coaching.

Clients who are worse off can get even more value from coaching compared with those who are already successful.

How much EASIER is it to coach a ‘down in the dumps’ client?

I recently worked with two very different ‘levels’ of clients…

…a hyper successful client…

…and a client at a very low point.

Both were in imminent danger of going bankrupt…

My ‘Elite’ client was a high net-worth real estate investor.

My ‘Down in the Dumps’ client worked at the local Walmart.

Think that it’s easier to coach the millionaire?

I actually had an easier time coaching the Walmart worker.

The reason?

It didn’t take much to help the Walmart worker in a BIG WAY.

I helped him break through his barriers…

…and worked with him to plan how he’d generate another $400 per month.

He took action, and his income shortfall disappeared.

It only took a few days.

In fact…

…he went from being a drain on his parents and siblings…

…to supporting his own brother during his own crisis.

THAT’s Transformation.

In fact, the least successful people often benefit the MOST from coaching.’

How did it go with the high net-worth investor?

Think that coaching was easier with the client whose life looked amazing?


I gave them all my positive thinking coaching

I told them that their psychology was the key to their turnaround…

I helped them break through their limiting beliefs

…and do you know how they responded?

“Colette, positive thinking got me to THIS POINT.”

“I have a strong psychology, and that’s why I’m ALREADY successful.”

“My limiting beliefs aren’t causing the market to go sideways.”

“I hope you have something more helpful than that! My payroll problem isn’t going to fix itself.”

…and even though his payroll problem was a small percentage of his successful business’s income…

I had no clue how his business worked.

I had no clue how he was going to generate that additional income (given his very specialized situation).

  • He was ALREADY motivated.
  • He was ALREADY positive.
  • He was ALREADY pretty perfect.

And then It dawned on me…

At his HIGH LEVEL of success…



Do you see how much easier it can be to coach the ‘down in the dumps’ client?

It just doesn’t take much to change their life for the better.

A hot shot that’s already successful?

It might take a lot to significantly impact them.

Please don’t get me wrong on this…

I don’t mean that you shouldn’t strive to coach the most successful people.

You’ll usually charge higher fees with more successful clients.

But part of the reason why you’ll tend to make more money with those high ticket clients…

…is that they’re HARDER to coach.

There’s a good chance that your ‘high level’ clients will stretch your coaching skills.

  • There’s MORE at stake for them.
  • There’s MORE pressure on them.
  • They’re in MORE complicated situations.
  • There’s MORE high level thinking required.

You’ll generally pay a price to coach that high ticket client.

But coaching a client at a low point doesn’t have to be hard…

…and you probably already have some of the skills that will universally help these struggling clients.

Here’s how you can help struggling clients:


Strategy is a fancy way of saying “how to do it”.

There are two types of strategy work you might do with a client:


Many struggling clients just need a few basic life skills.

So many clients are down in the dumps as a result of missing some pretty important (and obvious) strategic changes.

I’ve seen client’s lives change using obvious strategies like:

Your struggling client may not have friends or family who can provide these basic strategies or insights.

Fill in that gap!


Some clients (struggling or otherwise) will need you to ‘drill down’ into more nuanced areas to develop strategies that will work for them.

This may take…

  • more questions
  • more session time
  • more discussion

…before your client reaches a valuable conclusion that makes a difference for them.

The key to this ‘not so obvious’ coaching is:

  1. Patience: Take the time to discover the situation and discuss possibilities.
  2. Presence: Be with your client so you notice what’s really important, and what’s really going on.
  3. Practicality: Get to the best solution that’s likely to work for your client, without expecting perfection.


Accountability helps your client take action.

Usually ‘lack of action’ is a major problem for clients that are in dire situations.

Helping clients learn how to be unstoppable in the face of their circumstances can be a game-changer.


80% of your client’s results are related to their psychology.

Helping your client learn tools to manage their state of mind and break through their limiting beliefs is priceless.


Whatever your client focuses on will determine:

  • Their decisions
  • Their thoughts
  • Their experience of life

Accountability helps your client take action.”

Help your client clarify what they really want, then support them to:

  1. keep focused on that outcome
  2. Keep focused on the actions it takes to achieve the outcome
  3. Keep focused on solutions, rather than problems


So many clients who fall into hard times miss out on peer support.

Your client’s resources come from the 5 people they associate with most.

Support your client to find a resourceful peer group so they access the resources they need to live their dreams.

Next time you’re running a discovery session with a client at a ‘low point’…

…so low that they shouldn’t be a good candidate for coaching…

Don’t give up on them.

See the possibility.

If you help them bridge a tiny gap

Even if that gap seems to them like the chasm of the Grand Canyon…

You can change their entire life.






Colette “Coaching Through Crisis” Coiner

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