Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only organization for successful leading business and career coaches. In this spotlight series, we profile our incredible members and share their advice with you.
Keith Baldwin is the coach at Baldwin Success Coaching, a firm that specializes in helping you engage your team and build value in your business. Keith is a Gallup-Certified Strengths coach who helps small business owners and insurance agents build strong engaged teams that maximize production.
What inspired you to become a coach?
A desire to bring out the full potential in others. At about 40, I got tired of being sick and tired at work. It had started to affect my mood all day long and my relationship with my wife. After one particularly emotional ‘discussion,’ she challenged me to quit and do something that would make me happier. I had to ask myself what that would be. I began studying motivation, mentoring, and leadership. I wanted to change my own attitude and inspire myself – regardless of what the company I was working for was doing.
I started talking informally to others about this personal transformation. Basically, I told them “I’m tired of complaining about work. I’m going to start focusing on the good.” As I was growing and changing, I started to attract others who wanted to know how I was becoming so positive and inspired. I was just sharing my own journey with others, and I then found inspiration in their growth and excitement.
As I started to informally coach others, I could really see their gifts. Even though they were focused on what they lacked – I kept bringing them back to the incredible gifts they already had.
I’ve had mentors, family, and my wife (Cindy) who believed in me before I believed in myself – it was powerful. I find it inspiring to be that person for someone else.
What one piece of advice do you find yourself relying on most? Why?
The piece of advice I rely on is more of a question: How can you leverage your strengths? Most of us diminish our strengths and magnify our weaknesses. Even worse, we spend too much time trying to get better at things we’re not good at, and not enough time purposely using our natural talents. Strengths develop best in the context of goals we’re trying to achieve. So just reading about or thinking about strengths is not enough. The question “how can you leverage your strengths” includes three components: What specific outcome are you trying to achieve? What strengths can help you achieve that outcome? How will you specifically use your strengths to reach that outcome?
This approach empowers people to act now based on the gifts they already have, rather than delay action until they can get the training and experience needed to do something they don’t naturally enjoy. Most of the time it brings to light the need to build a team around them, to support areas they may not be strong in.
What is the biggest hurdle your clients face? What advice would you give others struggling with this issue?
Entrepreneurs are often “busy” with non-business growth tasks. Stephen Covey used to talk about the urgency addiction we often fall prey to. It feels like we’re doing great things to grow our business if we’re busy checking things off our to-do list. However, most of that busy work won’t lead to business growth. The tasks need to be done – but not by the business owner. The key is to make sure you’re only doing the handful of high-leverage activities that are your strengths and that make the biggest impact on the bottom line of the business. Otherwise you’ve only created a job for yourself, not a business.
A quick way to start working only on things that truly matter:
1. Make a list of everything you do all day/week long. Add everything to this list, even if it only takes 5 minutes.
2. Go through the list and circle tasks that you love and excel at. Make a new list with those items.
3. Go through this new list and circle items that leverage your time and provide a high return. For instance, running effective weekly meetings allows you to get the team focused and leverages your time because the team will go to work while you’re doing other things.
Then, just focus on those things.