This is a guest contribution from Jennifer Louden.
What I’m about to tell you is the most overlooked key to being a successful teacher – as well as a successful business owner, parent, writer, athlete, and all around happy human being.
It’s the precursor to more sales, to repeat business, to turning customers into raving fans, to your ideas having a lasting impact on the hearts and minds of your students, readers, and clients.
It’s also how you unlock your own potential to thrive.
Really it can do all that, and more.
The secret? Feeling safe.
You can’t make decisions, take risks, or learn when your nervous system is on high alert. Your brain’s learning and decision-making functions slow or shut down. That’s why people click away from your sales page, stop attending your course, or never sign up for another one of your classes. They’re afraid. And they probably don’t even know it.
They’re afraid they won’t get it, they’ll look stupid, they’ll waste their money and time. In a nutshell: they’re afraid they’ll fail.
You’re afraid too, and you signal your fear to your students and potential clients. Do you worry if you have what it takes to be a great coach/website designer/Pilates teacher? If anyone will buy your services? If you can keep learning and growing? We all have these worries!
This low-grade state of fear keeps you stuck, and it keeps your customers from buying and from growing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Safety is something you can experience – and offer – starting right now.
Nothing is Going to Eat You
My favorite in-the-moment safety move is to stand up, stretch, and exhale with a long “ahhhh.” Then I look around my studio and tell myself, “Nothing is going to eat me.” Yes, it makes me laugh, but it also signals to my reptile brain that a stressful day does not equal death. You need a similar trick up your sleeve to calm yourself in the moment of freaking out. Use mine or one of the many relaxation tricks you already know.
Make Feeling Good a Priority
Remind yourself that resetting your nervous system is not a luxury; it’s non-negotiable self-care, like exercise or drinking water. Become a devoted student of what relaxes you, both in the midst of a stressful situation and when you have an hour or a weekend to unwind. Weave more pleasure into your day – music, a tea you love, three squares of dark chocolate. Nourish your senses.
Welcome your students warmly. At live events, greet people. Online, say hi (by name, if possible) as people dial on. I always include a short video welcome inside my online courses with a warm welcome, and I repeat info about how the course works for visual learners who might not read the welcome emails. Make it easy to navigate your website and sign up for your services; otherwise prospects feel dumb and unsafe, and they run away. Brainstorm simple ways to be a good host from the moment your customers and students come in contact with your business and you.
Where’s The Bathroom?
Clear driving instructions, sending the phone bridge number for each session, telling people what to bring to be comfortable – be meticulous in this area. Your customer is looking for reasons to back out. Making her feel safe by taking care of basics can feel like cheating – it’s so easy – but I’ve seen it prevent drop-outs, increase participation, and convert customers for life.
Include the Body
A few moments of calming yourself and your students or your client opens the space for learning and creates trust. It need not be woo-woo. You can joke that pro football players practice mindful breathing before the Super Bowl, then invite a few full, relaxed breaths and long exhales.
Preview Your Material & Review Parameters
I always want to skip this step because I think it’s boring. But many people need to know what’s going to happen next or they can’t relax. Remind them how long the session or class will be, when questions are welcome, how many revisions are covered in your contract, how long it takes you to answer emails, the nuts and bolts stuff. Do this often. You may think it’s overkill but that’s only because it’s obvious to you.
Less is More
One of the biggest shifts I see in teachers who take my TeachNow course (1006 students to date!) is understanding that information overload shuts down learning and hurts your bottom line. Too many teachers and business owners think being generous means flooding their customers with information and options. A big part of your job is making the hard choice of what to offer and in what sequence. Master this and your business – and impact – will soar. Discernment and focus is your friend.
I have a thousand more suggestions, but then I wouldn’t be following my own advice. I’ll stop here with this invitation: become curious about what feeling safe offers you and the people you work with. Investigate these suggestions and find your own ways to use safety as a path to growth. May it be fruitful!
Jen Louden is a best-selling author, speaker and teacher of teachers. She created the popular TeachNow course (1006 students to date!) for people who want to successfully teach what they love. Test drive TeachNow for free with the sample class, Dissolving Obstacles to Teaching Joyfully & Effectively.