The Hardest Business Lesson I Ever Had to Learn

Life coaching can do amazing things, but it’s not like waving a magic wand to solve all your problems.

That can be frustrating to clients who want results yesterday and aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to achieve their goals. They want it NOW!!!

It’s a sad situation because I can tell how upset they are, but I don’t have the power to do the work for them. There must be a mindset shift for the clients to finally take responsibility.

When I first started coaching, I took these situations really personally. I thought it was my fault that they weren’t reaching their goals.

Finally, I heard something that dramatically changed my perspective.

Watch this video to find out the hardest business lesson I ever had to learn.

The video transcript is below for your convenience.

Next Steps

Video Transcript

Hey there! I’m Sage Grayson, a former book editor turned life coach. I help ambitious career women edit their habits, routines, and mindsets to balance their happiness at work and home.

I’m a Life Editor…and so are you!

Today, we’re talking about the hardest business lesson I ever had to learn. Let’s go!

I’ve been a life coach for more than 4 years, and in that time, I’ve learned a lot about human nature, goal setting, and motivation.

One of my pet peeves is when I’m working with a struggling client, and we come up with 10 or more action steps she can take to get out of mess she’s in.

These include things like marketing techniques for a business owner, or how to create boundaries for someone who’s being taken advantage of.

I’m awesome at brainstorming mini action steps that would take fewer than 10 minutes to implement. It feels good to end the call knowing that the client has a guide map for where to go next.

The frustrating part is when we come together for our next call, and I’ll find out that she hasn’t done a single thing from the list.


You were complaining about your life on our last call, but you refused to do anything about your challenges? Not cool. Especially not cool if you try to blame me for you still being stuck.

When I first started coaching, I took these situations really personally. I thought it was my fault that they weren’t reaching their goals. Finally, I heard something that dramatically changed my perspective.

Here it is:

You can’t save everyone.

Ouch. That might be a bitter pill to swallow, and it was definitely something I had trouble wrapping my head around.

Because of course you want to save everyone! That’s completely natural. You’re a caring human being who wants to see other people living happy, fulfilled lives.

The problem is that not everyone is ready or willing to be “saved.”

What does that mean anyway?

Well, someone “saving” you might feel like interference instead.

Your parents might be trying to save you by emailing you corporate job listings so you can be safe and secure and give up that weird online business you’ve started.

You might try to save someone by giving them the latest diet book that changed your life, even though they’re perfectly happy with what they’ve been eating.

When I was a newbie coach, my goal was to get each of my clients from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I’m a productivity expert, and getting things done is my specialty.

I thought I wasn’t doing my job if they didn’t achieve their ginormous goals in record time.

But that narrow way of thinking was doing a disservice to me and my clients.

Yes, many of my clients want to achieve their goals quickly, but some of them just want to talk to an accountability partner. Others want to debate all the pros and cons of every possible path. Others want to fight against the system and tell me all the reasons why they’re hopeless and the whole world hates them.

And for me, I can’t take it personally when one of my clients doesn’t hit the benchmarks she sets for herself. This was incredibly hard for me to accept!

Yes, I can inspire, motivate, and provide resources, but I can’t make you do the work.

I have clients who achieve wonderful results such as hitting their goal weight, breaking 6-figures in their businesses, and even starting a family.

And I have had clients who don’t get a single sale, or have horrible fights with their loved ones, or never figure out what they want to do with their lives.

It’s not my responsibility to wave a magic wand and solve all your problems. That’s not how coaching works.

Just like how a football coach can’t make the players on the field catch the ball or get a touchdown, I’m limited with what I can do on the sidelines of your life.

I can’t save everyone. And that’s OK.

You might not be a coach, but I bet there have been times in your life when you wished you could stop someone you cared about from going down a destructive path. It’s hard to see someone ignoring good advice or pushing you away.

You can’t make people do what you want them to do, but YOU have control over your own actions. By proactively striving for what you want and not blaming others, your goals will be easier to reach.

The life you save may be your own.

That’s it! This week, hit pause on what you’re doing and see if you’re trying to save someone who’s not ready or willing to be saved. Then let it go.

You’ll feel better, and that person will have to step up and take responsibility for his or her own life.

Thanks for watching. I’ll see you soon.

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