Common pitfalls in the coaching process – The common mistakes new coaches make and how to avoid them with Scott McFall
Coaching the Life Coach
Robert Harrison

Episode 23 - Common pitfalls in the coaching process – The common mistakes new coaches make and how to avoid them with Scott McFall

In part one of this episode, we talk with Scott McFall, founder of Hypnosis Connection.  Scott has built and sold 5 human performance clinics and currently trains coaches and hypnotists all over the world to build their business with profitability and integrity.

Using his unique teaching model that has help build some of the biggest human performance chains in the US, Scott will help you prepare your business for real success.

In this first interview, listen in as I talk with Scott on the most common pitfalls coaches fall into, in building their business, and how to avoid them.

If you’re not getting the results you want, or the client flow you desire, this episode may explain why and what you can do about it.

You will discover the key foundational concepts that you’ll need to have in check to make sure you’re really moving towards success, like “Correct, don’t protect”,  “Leveling”, and “Sorting by others”.



Woman: This is part one of a two-part program.

[musical interlude]

Robert Harrison: Hi, welcome to “Coaching the Life Coach”. This is Robert Harrison, your guide to us, your guide to a thriving practice. Our guest today is going to be Scott McFall of Now, Scott has built and sold five hypnosis clinics, he has his own publishing company, has trained some of the biggest and brightest stars in the hypnosis industry and is currently teaching hypnotherapy for smoking and weight loss pain management, stress, and more importantly, how to build and run a successful hypnotherapy practice.

I also had the pleasure of spending some time with Scott in Bismarck, North Dakota last month where we talked intensely for five days about what it takes to really be successful in the hypnosis business and business in general. So Scott has been there, folks, he’s done that and he's got a heck of a lot of experience helping coaches and service professionals build their business and [xx] all the major organizations.

[musical interlude]

Scott McFall: One is thought [sp] identification which is a term that I learned from one of my mentors years ago and that means noticing, being able to be aware when what you’re doing just isn’t working. Correct, don’t protect, don’t be in defensiveness; correct, don’t protect, be willing to take in the information.

[musical interlude]

Robert Harrison: Scott, I want to thank you for being on the show today.

Scott McFall: Thanks, Robert, good to be here.

Robert Harrison: Thanks for coming. So this is going to be kind of a the first part of a two-part series and the two-part series is going to be the dos and don’ts and I really feel very strongly, I know you and I have talked about this, Scott, a lot of people are really overlook the very basic fundamental building blocks of being a business person and then delivering your business well. So I was just wondering today if you just tell me, what are some of the common pitfalls that you see most service professionals and coaches fall into and how to avoid them?

Scott McFall: Well, yes, if we start from that framework, then we have to start with that they're not over their family dynamics. So the way that they communicate and how they respond in the business world is directly related to how they respond in their family. As you know, I'm very fond of teaching the Virginia Satir model to people who are coaching business coach clients even if they're Fortune 500 executives. And the reason that I do that is as I look at the people I've dealt with over the last 20 years--including me sad to say--usually when I screw something up, it's because my patterns of perception, my way of interpreting the moment is unuseful and is limited based upon how wide my ability to see the situation happens to be, or based upon my anchors being triggered, my personal biases or my hassles.

There's something from within me gets triggered in a way, that I have an emotional response that is unuseful to me. I certainly see that most people who fail in business, fail in business because of what they value, and a lot of what people value is the ability to be in competition, to not level. So Satir, well you know, Robert, she said that people either blamed, placated, overrationalized what she called computed or that they destruct when they don’t feel secure enough to level or they do all of them.

Robert Harrison: Scott, do you say that the little bit quick on leveling because I want to make sure that everyone’s really getting what you mean by that.

Scott McFall: Successful life coach or consultant or hypnotist or anyone who gives any kind of feedback for a living needs to be able to level with other folks, be real, be open, be direct. Certainly you've seen that happened with me, you've been around me while I've been dishing out leveling.

Robert Harrison: Absolutely.

Scott McFall: And leveling is not, and I repeat, not negative, leveling can be very complimentary. But it means being real, it means having the self-esteem, the security to be real, to be open to be real in the moment. It does not mean being rude, it doesn’t necessarily mean being overdirect. But what it does mean is that you're not blaming or you're not just saying things to get another person’s opinion because if you have to get approval, you can't be direct enough to be a coach in this modern world.

Robert Harrison: Scott, if I hear you correctly, what you're really saying is it's about that really being gently honest with themselves which is very different than beating themselves up, I'm a big performer [xx] never works, but allowing themselves to essentially see reality as it is, see where they're getting themselves stuck, see where their own patterns are getting in the way. Do you have some simple tips on how to do that that would be useful?

Scott McFall: One, Scott, is identification which is a term that I learned from one of my mentors years ago, and that means noticing, being able to be aware when what you're doing just isn’t working. That’s one of the reasons the Satir model is so powerful because if you feel yourself blaming or if you feel yourself having to say what you know will get approval or if you feel yourself overrationalizing or if you feel yourself destructing from the situation at hand, then you know that you're not feeling secure in yourself in that moment. You're not really in the position of self-acceptance where you can do your best work. You can tell whether or not you're in the right state of mind by using those four models, which is why that particular way of viewing it is so powerful.

So having thought [sp] identification and then directly moving to what is the outcome that I'm really wanting to get here? What's the outcome that the other person really wants to get? Am I really blending that together or am I working from some weird agenda that’s all about me? Because of course, as a coach or as a consultant, it's all about them, it's never about us, not at all, not even a little. So it's incredibly important to be able to sort by others to help them to stay under agenda even if they don’t really see it.

So that’s where I would go, the direction that I would take the answer to the question I would say that you have to be able to notice how you're responding. It's no different than a therapist being able to notice when they're in reverse transference, when they're projecting emotional responses from their real life into therapy conversation. You need to be able to notice, “Am I really on the agenda of the people that are paying me or am I on my own?” Or, “Am I letting my own personal family, my reactions there destroy my business?” which is the number one reason, the business has failed.

Robert Harrison: Excellent. Scott, I want to dig a little bit deeper into that when we get back. But real quick, we're going to take a short break to support our sponsors. This is Robert Harrison, with “Coaching the Life Coach” and I'm here with Scott McFall of, and we’ll be right back.


Robert Harrison: OK, we're back, I'm Robert Harrison and this is “Coaching the Life Coach” and we're talking to Scott McFall with about some of the most common pitfalls that service professionals fall into and how to avoid them.

Scott, one of the things that you're saying just before the break is how the person not getting over their own familial dynamics and their own unusual patterns of behavior. I'm just wondering if you could give us like a common example of one of those patterns that you see seems to tend to pop up again and again in the mentoring you do with small business owners.

Scott McFall: Just an hour ago, I had a client here who I'm coaching and she is opening an art business. Her father and mother were having a huge fight about this with the mother is supportive of her and the father who is on many businesses, is not supportive. But the dynamics are actually between her father and mother, they have nothing to do with her. But her ego and her security is rising and falling based upon the debate between her Mom and Dad, and she is pushing 30 years old. OK, so a lot of the time, it’ll have to do with the reactions that people have with regard to being right like their wife or their husband will be heading a direction and their fear will be that they're not right or that they need to prove that they're right.

So the whole situation becomes about getting even not about success, it comes down to that they're trying to prove that they're as good as the other person or better instead of just succeeding at the business they're supposed to be focusing on, and what motivates you matters as you know, Robert. So the question is, can they be motivated by the things that will work or are they motivated by proving themselves by comparing themselves to others, which actually in my opinion, is always a mistake.

Robert Harrison: So can you say a little bit more about how she was doing that and how you helped her to see that pattern, like as an NOP or and it's pretty easy to identify that, but a lot of people out there may not have those kind of skills. So how did you first identify that pattern in her and then helped her shift that in service of the business?

Scott McFall: In her case, Robert, she just told me the pattern. It wasn't a revelation where I was doing any kind of mind reading, she just literally spit it out because she was so upset about it. So it was like, in this particular case, she just told me flat out.

Robert Harrison: She's already aware of what the…

Scott McFall: Yes, she told me flat out. How I helped her is I helped her to notice there's a difference between accepting and loving her Mom and needing her Mom’s approval. There's a difference between accepting and loving your Dad and needing your Dad’s approval. I started to point out that there's a huge difference between when she was a kid and now. So I started talking about cutting the cord between her and her folks and beginning to choose to connect with what was going on now. And I worked on her seeing--you know of course, I did some modality shifts where I had her see herself as taller than her parents, I changed the way that she saw herself compared to them.

Robert Harrison: Excellent.

Scott McFall: Changed the volume of their voice in her head, but the other thing I did was I pointed out the other problem she had is her self-esteem was tied to whether or not the business succeeded. It's like if it succeeded, she's a good person; if it failed, she's a bad person, and that had to change also. So I also worked on the fact that it's just a test, and I changed the scope of how she was going to test the business to take less risk so that she could get a feel for how it was going and have realistic responses.

So instead of that being hypothetical like “Gee, I want this pie in this business.” We set up realistic goals, realistic actions to take to test the waters, to lower and mitigate her risk which began to make her have a realistic structure in her mind for how to do it. I want to point out that took weeks because she was high on “If I can just make this business work, then I can finally feel good about myself.”

Robert Harrison: But did you find that you had to constantly bring her back to noticing that pattern?

Scott McFall: Not exactly, what finally worked--yes, I was doing that--but what finally worked was different than that. It was getting her more accepting in the first place that it's like surrendering into self-acceptance was what made her calm down enough to realistically look at the business.

Robert Harrison: Exactly. Making more where she was at actually OK.

Scott McFall: Right,

Robert Harrison: Like it's OK where you're at, it's not a big deal, embrace it. Would you agree that like people really avoiding seeing reality as it is thinking that it's going to be like more than they can handle or it's going to make them so miserable? Would you agree to that that is seem to be at the core level, one of the biggest pitfalls that really gets in the way that people being successful whether it's a client or a coach or any business owner?

Scott McFall: Right, because you know that I do magic and juggling and comedy and stage hypnosis, and all kinds of things in the entertainment field. Let's face it, that whole field is about thinking unrealistically.

Robert Harrison: It's really the whole point of it.

Scott McFall: So I am painfully aware of what I do when I think unrealistically. So here's what I've had to realize, although I make money in those fields--and I do--my real job is I'm a consultant in the human performance field and I get paid a lot to do that. But in reality, I wake up wanting to go into magic tricks or be silly on a stage somewhere. Then I have to mature myself into going and doing my actual work because I was originally a theater major. I switched to Psych [sp] and all the stuff that I eventually took, it wasn't my first choice.

So what I'm saying is that a lot of people are in that self-expression stage of maturity but, Robert, if I buy an illusion or I design an illusion for what I do in entertainment and that illusion costs $30,000 or $50,000, how many shows do I have to do to get that $50,000 back? So it's incredibly important for me to admit that if I spend that $50,000 it's because I'm being artistic, it is not because it's a good business move.

Robert Harrison: Exactly, [xx] in Vegas, then maybe [xx] casino.

Scott McFall: Right, when people put on TV shows pilots, what a lot of people are unaware of, is those usually are not money makers. OK, so the reason that I point this out is I myself can give lots of personal examples of where I am a moron because I am self-expressive. I think it's important for everybody to realize that there are parts of your life that you do because you want to do them, but that does not make them good business decision.

Robert Harrison: Exactly. So how do you distinguish between the two, Scott? How would you help a starting out coach or hypnotist or service professional really like just to get that from the get go. They have a sense of what's going but they're not sure how it will work that they're not sure how to identify it.

Scott McFall: It's pain, what originally teaches you is pain, and I got confused because I did on a company at one point where I'd make $80,000 in a night doing shows. That’s like winning at a slot machine, because all of a sudden, you'll go “Woohoo, I can make this work!” While in reality, it means I made it work once really big, it does not mean it works as a business. It means that once I had that corporate sponsorship. So what I'm saying is that failure, when you get too self-expressive and it's all about you, is the best teacher and if you can associate clear hassle and pain, with thinking that way and clear benefit with knowing that what you bring is of value to other people is what makes your consulting business or any business payoff. In the long run, it's do they make more because you helped them. Did their life improved? It isn’t about you, and if you can keep that clearly in mind, then you’ll be able to identify how to make business decisions.

Robert Harrison: That makes so much sense. Now, Scott, I want to talk a little bit more about that when we get back. We’ll just going to take a quick short break to support our sponsors. This is Robert Harrison with “Coaching the Life Coach” and I'm here with Scott McFall of and we will be right back.

[radio break]

[musical interlude]

Robert Harrison: We're back, I'm Robert Harrison and we are talking with Scott McFall of about avoiding some of the most common pitfalls in really building a thriving business.

Scott, you were talking a little bit before the break about some of the decisions that you've made in the past that you see some of the people that you worth [sp] with making. I'm just wondering, before we wrap up here today, give some simple techniques--if you have them--that our listeners can use to really check themselves on a daily basis, make sure that they're really be in service of the client. And I heard you mentioned that, to focus on making sure you're providing value to the clients and the people that you serve, and if you do that, the business will be taken cared of. But can you be a little bit more specific about where to start with that or how to actually do that as a daily practice.

Scott McFall: Ask yourself this, “Am I trying to reinvent the wheel just because I wanted to be for me?” That’s one great question, because if there's already one to make it work well, why would you be reinventing the wheel? Secondly, ask yourself, “Is the client getting what I said they would get?” and that is not specific it's a general thing. “Is their life improving in the way that I imply that their life will be improving?” Ask yourself, “Does the client hear me and are they able to implement it in themselves? Is the meaning of my communication the response I'm seeing in the client or do I think the client is just stupid because they're not doing what I tell them? Am I being smart enough to realize that I have to change my communication in how I'm explaining things or what I'm giving if they're not getting it?”

Robert Harrison: Exactly, I can imagine that, really taking a look and going, “Hey, how is it working? Are they getting the results that we promised? If they come to quit smoking, do they actually stop? If they come to lose weight, does the weight go away?”

Scott McFall: Right.

Robert Harrison: It's kind of really measuring your results, and I think that so--to use something to me when we're hanging out in North Dakota about a month ago, and you mentioned we're talking about the open back end referral system that I developed for some hypnotist practice smoke cessation. I remember you mentioning to me, you said, “Hey, man, it's a great idea but only if, only if follow up marketing the back end referral [sp] is a great idea only if the hypnotist, working with the client are actually getting the results in the first place. And you'd said to me, “Otherwise, it's just reminding them once a month of how it didn’t go so hot with the [xx] that they worked with.” It can actually just make them more annoyed, so it totally defeats the purpose.  So if you could talk maybe just a little bit more about that and how a person can really measure it?

Scott McFall: That’s one of the things that it's so painful is being able to say it's defeat, but that’s the difference between somebody who’s excellent and somebody who is really in their own ego. For instance, there's a thing that Stewart Emery wrote in one of Tony Robbins manuals and it said, “Correct don’t protect, correction is essential for power and mastery.” I don’t know who Stewart Emery is but it's a great line. “Correct don’t protect, don’t be in defensiveness. Correct don’t protect, be willing to take in the information.”

Like I uploaded a bunch of stuff to my website recently, I got 10 emails today because a whole bunch of the stuff I uploaded won't download for people. So I've got to fix that within the next 48 hours but I like took the phone calls, they took the emails and went, “Oh, no, it won't open? OK.” But there's so many people who just don’t even take the feedback. So the question that you're asking is, “How do you face bombing in the business and then fix it?” Bombing can happen after you get paid a lot of money, and you still have to fix it.

I showcase for some fairs recently and I'm pretty successful in the entertainment business. But you know what, I had a bad day and I mean, everything went bad, and I was in front of like 50 fairs, that once that have used me. A lot of them know me and I bombed, man. I bombed, and that never happens. I mean, 15 years, I'd never had that happened, but I had a really weird day in front of like a quarter of a million dollar worth of potential business.

Robert Harrison: And the beautiful thing about that is it just really like everyone who gets out there, does the job, it's like life take us away. You're going to have your good day, you're going to have your more challenging days, but the beautiful thing about that is remind us of our humanity, it remind us to keep sharpening the saw and keep working on the craft.

Scott McFall: Yes, that’s what my point is I am not good at what I do because I've succeeded at it. I am actually good at what I do in any degree that I am good at it because some of it I'm still learning to be good at. But the reality is that I'm good at it because of how much I screwed it up and how much feedback I have received over a few decades. So it's not that you got great because you do great or that you're good at it, and I learned this from the martial arts, people who are great at it right away usually quit long before they got very far, because it wasn't the challenge. The people who got truly great often were people who totally beat it in the beginning. It was a huge challenge, it was confusing to them, it was almost like magic. That is what I was pointing out about magic is that magic is all based on illusion. So the point is that that whole field is a bunch of delusional people. And I have a great time doing magic shows because I love getting people to use their imagination. That’s really one of my favorite parts of my vocation is helping people use their imagination and then knowing how to make it real, how to make it more and more real.

But the thing that’s so hilarious is that people who are life coaches are like that, too. They're frequently delusional. They're such cheerleaders, they're so happy in their cheerleading or they're so jacked up in their motivation that they forget to be grounded. They forget to apply themselves.

Robert Harrison: Isn’t that what really brings the balance, I mean they need that, they need to be delusional to a certain point where they can see beyond where the client seen. That’s what the client’s paying them for to have that vision which means, “OK, this is what could be” and then motivate them along towards that, help them develop and cultivate the skill towards that. But what else you were saying, Scott, is that really being grounded in [xx] you're at is also the other pieces of the puzzle that’s necessary so that you really know what needs to be done to get there.

Scott McFall: Right, right. You're aware that I had a heart surgery recently and the fact is that in no situations, reality is undisputable. Here I am in a bed with a bunch of hoses hanging out of you and you can't move. Well, you can go into you're imagination to help you or you can go into hypnosis technique or whatever to limit the pain, all kinds of things like that. But in reality, you're still laying in a bed with hoses running out of you and what not, and you have to be able to envision what it's going to be like to be passed the problem, that’s true. But you can't just delude yourself that you're already there. You have to take the actions to get there.

And in business, the problem is that a lot of people want it to be solved before they're taking any actions to get there. They won't measure their risk and they don’t break it down into smaller steps because they use envy or compare themselves to others or are caught up in greed. So if you really want my opinion on what the common pitfalls are, you could literally use the seven deadly sins, and the one that gets business people the most, the two are envy and greed. They get so caught up that they forget that the reason that you get value from the world in the form of money, in the form of support, in every way that you get it in the long, long run is how much money or how much value you're bringing to the world through what you're doing. In the long run, that’s how it works.

Robert Harrison: Excellent. Scott, we're almost out of time and I really appreciate you being on the [xx]. We're looking forward to our next interview which is [xx]. We're going to talk about some of the actual characteristics of a true business owner and a person successful particularly in the coaching business. What makes up that characteristics and how we can cultivate those qualities within ourselves.

I really want to just thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming on the show, sharing with us your insights, and what I'm really getting, Scott, from you today is the importance of really just being in service to others and be willing to recognize how you're doing that in a way that’s working and how you're doing that in a way that aren’t working, then be willing to see that and correct it.

Scott McFall: Yes, and I know we don’t have a lot of time but I will say this, by the time other people are willing to tell you this isn’t working, frequently the relationship is already askew. So it's very important for you to be open to seeing that.

Robert Harrison: Very true, very true, excellent. Well, thank you, Scott, that brings the end of the show. I want to thank everyone for listening. Everyone tuned in next week to get part two of the do and don’t of really getting your business off the ground, having solid fundamentals with Scott McFall. This is Robert Harrison with “Coaching the Life Coach”.

For text and transcripts of this show and other shows on Personal Life Media Network, please visit our website at And Scott, real quick as we leave, can you just tell our listeners how they can get a hold of you or find out the offering that, what's the best way to reach you?

Scott McFall: Hey, just send me an email at [email protected].

Robert Harrison: Right. All right, thanks for being with us. I'll see everyone next week.

Scott McFall: Thanks, Robert.

Woman: This concludes part one. The interview will be continued in the next episode of this show.