For the better part of a decade I had the honor and privilege of running successful coaching businesses, both independently and as a partnership with one of my best friends (and yes, we are still best friends!) When people think of “pageant coaching,” most envision Toddlers and Tiaras, Honey Boo Boo, or the girls on TV that bomb their final questions regardless of the fact they knew ahead of time they would be drilled on controversial topics.
While drama and kiddie pageants attract the attention of mainstream media, I assure you that we never crossed over to what I consider the sensationalized side of pageantry. The main focus of both businesses was 13-27 year old women that were primarily competing in the Miss America or Miss USA organizations. These were extremely dedicated, intelligent and driven young women who were motivated (or highly encouraged) at a young age to strive for success. A standard client profile was a young woman in her late teens or early twenties who nailed high school and was super involved on campus and in her community. Our focus was to take each of our clients from good to exceptional. No carbon copies or “cutting and pasting” allowed since most of them ended up competing against each other at some point.
My business partner and I dug down deep with each of them through discovery and one-on-one sessions to figure out who they truly were and what they dreamed of accomplishing, far beyond any pageant competition. We focused on confidence and what they needed to do to get out of their own way in order to mentally prepare for success. Simply stated, if you don’t believe it can happen or that you are worthy of it happening-- it won't. We always said “life is bigger than a pageant” and those who knew who they were, what their strengths were and had a vision for their life would be the winner every single time.
And we were right. For those that never went on to win the big, grand overall title they had once hoped for (because let’s face it, there can only be one winner and their age eligibility is limited) they still went on to accomplish amazing things by channeling and tailoring the lessons they learned throughout the process. We grilled them on interview questions ranging from politics and current events to pop culture and issues related to their community service platform of choice. Everything was fair game and it was our job to work through the challenges during our sessions, rather than letting them get stumped onstage or in an interview room with the judges. Additionally, both the platform and overall personal development exercises helped to identify a plan of action for them for their future. More than 90% of the time was spent on who they were as a person and how they could articulate it, not how they looked. We focused on substance – not superficial – which set us apart significantly. We helped them identify, create and develop their own personal brand which led to confidence and clarity for each of our clients. They learned how to “sell themselves” and make the judges believe they were the winner the moment they stepped into the interview room. Because of the intensity of the coaching they had been through, job interviews or public speaking presentations at work or school were now something they enjoyed, rather than feared.
Taking time to decompress from pageant coaching allowed me the opportunity to appreciate everything I had gained through my training and through what I had coached literally hundreds of clients to do over the years even further. I was fortunate to land a position in a company that is growing exponentially. I was the second person hired in an organization that, only two years later, has more than 500 employees. To say it has been a whirlwind is an understatement. I have been blessed beyond measure to continue my own professional development as promotions have pushed me to expand my knowledge base, increase my capacity, learn about things I never knew existed, and oversee and train a talented team of individuals who never allow a dull moment during my day.
Overseeing all aspects of our corporate branding and the business development team for a national healthcare organization is an honor, privilege and huge undertaking. Not only is it my responsibility to ensure that the organization’s brand is well developed, authentic and always represented accurately, it is my job to make sure that everything people hear and see about the company is first class. My team of ten superstars are the faces and voices that represent our company across the country. They are on the front lines, not only promoting the company, but also working with families and loved ones who need treatment. They have to be prepared for anything and they have to lead with compassion and empathy for the various situations that they will find themselves working in. They truly save lives every day and look amazing doing it.
So much of the training that they have experienced has been adapted from what I used to do with my former clients. Goal setting, strategic planning, presentation skills, professional development, and sales training make up a huge portion of what my team experiences. I give so much credit and appreciation to those that spent time working with me over the years because there is no way that I would be able to do what I do today had I not had these experiences. For me, constructive criticism is a game changer. Those that resist it or have a hard time hearing it never grow. Staying in your comfort zone prevents you from experiencing life-changing moments. Why would anyone want that?!?
One of my favorite things to tell my coaching clients was “don’t be afraid to be amazing” and that still holds true today. Think about it: fear alone can prevent you from trying new things. Worrying how others may perceive you is crippling. Are we always going to be successful when stepping outside of the box and trying something new? No, but isn’t it a heck of a lot better to know that you tried than to wonder “what could have been?”
These lessons are transferrable to every day life. Whether it’s winning a title, a dream job, getting a killer opportunity or simply working on personal development, change and success require you to get away from comfort. My challenge to you is to be amazing every day. Win at each task that you set out to accomplish and for goodness sakes, shake things up a bit! Leave your mark – be a game changer – and never regret putting yourself out there. As Wayne Gretzky said, "you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take."
Go for it! I believe in you!
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