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Your Worth Has Nothing to Do With Your Pricing

Part Three of the High Cost of Coaching Series. Check out Part One and Two.

We are all, already, radically worthy. By virtue of being human, we all possess inherent and unconditional value. 

Each person on the planet is deserving of respect, dignity, and acknowledgment irrespective of their background, accomplishments, or perceived societal status. 

And yet, worth has become a dominant theme, and source of conflict, for so many coaches. 

The coaching industry has increasingly conflated individual worth with monetary value and success, leading to a pervasive focus on “charging one’s worth” as one of the primary strategies for charging higher and higher coaching prices. 

When did “charging our worth” become not only the go-to strategy but the most encouraged one for coaches? Are we somehow wasting our potential if our prices aren’t high enough? 

What if we challenge the assumption that our individual worth is connected to charging high fees? What if, instead, we advocate for a broader understanding of the impact coaches can have that goes beyond mere financial considerations? 

If we tie our individual sense of worth to our pricing structure, whenever someone can’t afford to pay us, we run the risk of making inferences about ourselves, and our work, that likely have no basis in reality. 

That doesn’t just harm us personally, it harms our ability to show up in the way our clients need us to.  

Decentralizing Our Perspective of Individual Worth

The assumption that our individual worth stems from our pricing practices tends to be informed by privilege. This assumption also inadvertently sidelines the collective role, and impact, of coaching. 

Without acknowledging specific privileges and resource imbalances among coaches, the profession risks unintentionally perpetuating a system that prioritizes individual achievement over community well-being.

If we do not decentralize our perspective on individual worth—and decouple it from external metrics that should not have any bearing on it—we are compromising the collective and the Ripple Effects that I know so many of us are deeply committed to. 

How do we move beyond a myopic focus on wealth accumulation to a broader consideration of the positive transformations coaching can bring?

Today, coaching is often used to help already successful or highly resourced people attain even more of what they already have. But the coaching toolbox can help with so much more. 

During my daily conversations with coaches, I learn about your ideas and visions for what the work we do is capable of. 

And I have yet to hear a single one of you tell me that your goal is to amass wealth without consideration for how it’s created or serve thousands of people without discerning who those people are. 

It seems that many of us can feel that these things are out of alignment with the kind of impact that we hope to create in the world through our coaching. They certainly don’t reflect what first drew me to coaching. 

Why Coaching?

I didn’t come to coaching through the lens of achievement, goal attainment, or the desire to create more excellence in high-performing people. 

I came to coaching out of my time as a social worker and as a graduate student in systems counseling. 

Before my very first coaching class, I’d spent my time studying how to get support and mental health resources to those who needed it most and for whom it was least accessible. I spent my junior and senior years in college as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence, helping them to build new lives as safely as possible. 

But in the eyes of the law, unless they were suffering on a disturbing level, little to no intervention was offered. 

Even at 19, when I was still just a kid, I knew the systems set up to support those who needed it the most were inflicting even more harm in the process.

I left social work almost as soon as I entered it. I was already burning out at just 21 years old. But my intent to alleviate unnecessary suffering never subsided. 

Maybe this is why when I found coaching—and my colleagues were directing their practices at leaders, business owners, and achievement—I tended toward the work that centered around trauma, embodiment, grief, and belief systems. 

As a coach, I was operating in the fringe of the industry, but these were the kinds of conversations I knew were deeply needed, even if they had nothing to do with goals. 

Navigating Privilege and Impact

Self-improvement spaces have a way of luring us in. 

We’re presented with coaches making six and seven figures, charging $500, even $1000, an hour. Coaches taking to social media to talk about their celebrity clients and massive reach. 

Coaches bypassing accessibility to photograph their new Tesla and use it as an example of how much coaching has helped them prosper. All because, as such coaches often remind their audiences, they “charged their worth.” 

Now, I also won’t be a hypocrite here. I make six figures, we have a very nice home, and we drive new cars. 

My work has provided a very comfortable life, which didn’t happen by charging $50 or even $150 per session. There was even a time in my business when my 12-month coaching program was $30,000. 

Looking back, I realize I was caught up in the idea that charging high prices better reflected my worth as a coach. I was certainly influenced by other business experts who followed, and encouraged, this pricing model. 

But I was always uncomfortable. There was an ever-present dis-ease that I felt when it came to my pricing, but I was taught that this feeling meant I was pushing myself the right amount and, therefore, “charging my worth.” 

Before decoupling these things from one another, I found myself falling into the trap of equating these financial metrics with both my personal worth and how successfully I was meeting my clients’ needs. 

But what matters most is doing the work that is most meaningful for those I’m here to serve. I want to serve people who want access to new ways of thinking about their lives, people who desire to shift old storylines, and people who want to use their strengths and interests to build interesting and whole-hearted lives. 

Life coach talking to her client

And I want to serve people who haven’t felt fully seen in therapy spaces, and whose full spectrum of identity has been neglected by coaching spaces in lieu of dangerously simplistic advice like, “Just go for it.”

Maybe it’s bypassing to say I’m still working through the solution to all this but, truthfully, I am. Right now, I know that I need to be in the messy middle, where there is no one-size-fits-all approach. I may falter from time to time, but I have to be willing to try.

Better Metrics to Inform Our Pricing

Skill

  • How does your particular blend of skills inform your coaching process?
  • How do you explore and demonstrate your skills with your clients?
  • Which of your coaching skills needs additional attention or improvement?

Experience and deliberate practice 

  • What, to date, is the depth of your experience? 
  • How genuinely confident are you in your capacity to support your clients? 
  • What level of experience do you want to get to?

Value system

  • What is your commitment to inclusivity?
  • How do you hope to foster positive change?
  • What is your Ripple Effect and how can this inform your pricing?

True need

  • If you decouple your true internal needs from external scarcity-driven needs, what is your measure of enough?
  • What additional needs must be met through your work? (ie. spiritual alignment, mental and emotional capacity, creative stimulation, personal fulfillment, etc)

Who you’re serving 

  • What communities are you serving? What fee structures best support these groups?
  • Who do you most want to have access to your coaching? How can that access become their path of least resistance?

Should we practice our craft from radical worthiness? Yes. 

Inherent worthiness challenges conventional notions that tie individual worth to external achievements or societal expectations, advocating for a more profound and unconditional acknowledgment of the inherent value each person brings to the world. 

When we decouple our individual worth from our business pricing and income, we just might tap into the kind of inner abundance that lets us serve from a deeper well of support, and reminds us that we are already enough.

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