Coach Interview Series: Mischa Duffie

by Brandon

Mischa Duffie

Coach, Speaker, and Writer

Our main objective here at the National Coach Academy is to enable aspiring coaches to reach their full professional potential. One of the most effective ways to educate students about the world of coaching is by offering them a window into the world of real, practicing coaches and showing them all the different ways coaches make a difference in the lives of their clients.

We hope today’s interview adds another insightful glimpse into the dynamic world of coaching.

Today we are interviewing Mischa Duffie. Mischa is a Coach, Speaker, and Writer based in Los Angeles, California and serving clients globally.

NCA: Can you describe your coaching practice and the kinds of clients you typically work with?

Mischa: I consider myself an accountability coach. I feel like it’s my responsibility to hold people accountable to reach the goals, dreams, wishes, and desires that they hold for themselves. I don’t consider myself a life coach because I believe that’s a little bit more than what I’m called to do. If we pay attention to life, life is always guiding us and coaching us. What we really need is an accountability partner: someone to really hold our feet to the fire and cause us to do what we say we want to do.

I also do book development coaching. I have a publishing company for people who have a story, concept, or idea that they want to bring to the market, but have never written a book and don’t really know what that process is about. I guide people through the process of working through their thoughts to develop chapters and titles of books. They may or may not choose to publish with my company. They may not actually be ready to publish at all, but they want to flesh the ideas and thoughts out.

My target audience is typically women. Although I have published books for and done accountability coaching with men as well, I tend to work with women between 25 to 75 years of age.

I also do work with pastors around story development — pastors who have a desire to take sermons and turn them into books.

NCA: What initially got you interested in following this career path?

Mischa: I went to school for social work, but I knew that I did not want to become a licensed clinical social worker. I was not willing to adhere to some standards of practice that prohibit the inclusion of spirituality in working with clients. I didn’t want my brand attached to anything that excludes God. Not to mention, because some people are really scared of the terms “social worker” and “therapist,” I realized that coaching was a safer way to help people through processes and transitions in their lives.

I was first introduced to life coaching, but personally I feel like God is ultimately our life coach and the universe is always coaching us through this thing called life. I stopped giving people guidance to things they already knew. They might say, “I know I want to do this. I just don’t know how to do it.” or “I keep saying I’m going to do it, but I don’t have the wherewithal to hold myself accountable.” I found myself saying, “Let’s set up a plan. Let’s set up a timeline and I’m going to be here to hold you accountable.” That’s how I came to the accountability coach title.

You really have to be connected to your intention around what you’re doing. If you’re called to do it and your intention is pure, you will be fully supported even in the moments where you feel like you don’t have the answers and when you don’t know enough.

NCA: What would you say is the most rewarding part of that relationship that you have with your clients and on the flip side of that, what would you say is the most challenging aspect of the work that you do?

Mischa: The most rewarding part, hands down, is seeing people reach their goals. Seeing people come to the realization of, “With this support and with somebody holding me accountable, I can actually do it.” I have clients who were trying for 2, 3, 5 years to do something and never got it done. They may have started and stopped and started and stopped, but through our process and through the way that I work with my clients, we start and we see the project through to the end. That is the most beautiful thing for me because it always feels good to finish what you start.

I think a lot of people are frustrated in their lives because they don’t finish what they start. It can even make you feel like a failure if you’re not careful because you keep starting this and you stop and then you start something else. It starts to wear on you psychologically. It’s not that you’re a failure; it just means that you need some help. If you have a plumbing problem in your house, you wouldn’t sit there and just let the plumbing back up or the water just keep spilling over. You’d call a plumber!

You can’t do it all by yourself. When you come to that realization, you call somebody who can help. It’s not a stain on you or an indictment against you. All of us need help in some kind of way. I, too, have been blessed and still am blessed to have some amazing coaches in my life who have guided me.

Another part of this work for me is paying it forward and being able to give to people what was given to me. My coaches continue to make such a profound impact on who I am and the way that I live life. Any way that I can give that to somebody else, that is amazingly rewarding.

One of the most challenging or frustrating parts of what I do is when I have to let a client go because they’re not ready. They may say they are and they may even have the financial wherewithal to do it, but as I say to everybody before I take them on as a client, “You can’t pay me enough to waste my time.” It doesn’t matter how much money you’re willing to pay if you’re not willing to do the work and be consistent in what you said you want to do.

I will release a client and terminate a relationship if it’s just not time. You’re not ready. And if you’re not ready, I can’t make you ready because what I can’t do is make grown people do anything. I’m good with that. I don’t try to frustrate myself with that. There are too many people who do want help and support to try to push something down somebody else’s throat.

The other challenge is seeing people that you know can use some coaching. They may have even come to you for the preliminary conversation, and then you encounter them a year or two later and they’re in that same place. That’s really, really daunting for me because I know the power of what our relationship together could do and could bring for them. But because they’re not ready, you can’t impose your will upon anybody to be ready.

You have to make it a priority. If getting your life where you want it to be is not a priority for you, how can it be a priority for someone else? That doesn’t even make sense. If I have to work harder than you’re willing to work, then I’m doing something wrong. We’re not going to do that.

NCA: One of the most common challenges new coaches face is self-doubt. Some coaches call it Imposter Syndrome, where early on they feel somehow inadequate to take on the role of coach. What is one piece of advice that you would give to somebody who is in the beginning stage of their coaching career and dealing with these doubts in their mind?

Mischa: The first thing you have to know is that this is what you’re called to do. We live in a culture and a society where a lot of people are getting into coaching because it’s the sexy thing to do. There are these online trainings where you can learn how to be a coach in a month and people get into it for those reasons. I was called to be a coach. It chose me. I didn’t choose it. That’s the first thing.

You really have to be connected to your intention around what you’re doing. If you’re called to do it and your intention is pure, you will be fully supported even in the moments where you feel like you don’t have the answers and when you don’t know enough.

I’ve had a number of clients whose situations or goals felt bigger than me. But because I believe in the power of prayer and because I know that this is what I was called to do, I get still before I get on a call or before I have a face-to-face with my client and I always ask God to give me everything I need to help the person. It never fails that God always come through.

In my opinion, you have to be connected to something bigger than yourself. For somebody else it might be yoga or meditation. As a coach, you need to be able to anchor yourself for those moments before, during, or after a session when self-doubt creeps in. It’s the nature of the beast called helping people. We always get to that place where we feel like we’re not doing good enough. You have to be able to combat that feeling with a knowing that keeps you steady in “This is what I’m supposed to do. And because it’s what I’m supposed to do, the help I need will come to help the people that I’m called to help.”

Don’t sink yourself in it. When you feel the feeling coming, you have to have something that lifts you out of it to really answer your question.

I wrote a book in 2018 called The Silent Confidence Killer. The silent confidence killer is the doubt of it all. Doubt can come from loss. Doubt causes us to think we’re not good enough. In my book, I attribute doubt more to loss and to how experiencing multiple losses, whether big or small, have a way of chipping away at our confidence. If you are a coach and you’ve lost some clients or you feel like you and your clients aren’t making substantial progress, you can feel like a failure. Again, failure can make you lose confidence in yourself.

You want to set yourself up to have more wins than losses and the way you do that is having a way to assess the clients you take on before you take them on. You have to make sure that your client is ready because if they’re not, they’re going to make you work too hard and sometimes, nothing you do is going to be good enough.

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