Episode 001: How to Find Your WOW Factors

by Ben Dooley

Do you allow your unique self to shine when you’re with clients? Master Certified Coach Ben Dooley gives specific tips on how to do this, authentically and confidently. For more than a decade, Ben has been helping other coaches discover their powerful coaching magnificence and develop confidence. In this interview Ben describes the two most important places your confidence needs to shine, and he shares a simple yet profound process for quickly discovering others’ perceptions of what makes you unique.

You’ll discover:

  • Why self-confidence is critical to a coach’s success
  • What prevents you from seeing and appreciating your own talents
  • A simple question you can ask others to identify your unique WOW factors
  • How to integrate what you discover into the way you show up in the world

Watch the episode:

Connect with Ben


Free Resources

BeDo Bits Newsletter

The Coaching Skills Forum (free calls twice a month for coaches who want to discover and grow their coaching skills)

The Engaged Leadership Forum (free calls twice a month for anyone who is ready to discover and grow their Leadership skills)

Read the Transcription

Welcome to the Strong for Performance podcast. I’m Meredith Bell, your host, and this podcast is geared to coaches, consultants and trainers to help you grow your business. In particular, we are dedicated to helping you grow personally, helping you grow your skills, and also your business. And today, I’m very excited to have with me as my guest, Welcome Ben.

I’m glad to be here.

Thank you. And Ben is just one of these people who kind of lives and breathes coaches, because he’s been doing this for a long time. He’s a master certified coach himself. He’s the past president of the ICF Chicago chapter, which is the International Coaching Federation. And he’s constantly putting out resources that can help coaches both with their businesses and with themselves personally. Ben, one of the things I love is that you focus on helping build self confidence in coaches. And it’s so critical to their overall success. It’s probably one of the biggest things that can hold them back. And you publish, if I remember correctly, a regular newsletter called BeDo Bits, specifically for coaches, you have bi-weekly calls about coaching skills for them. And so there’s just a wealth of information that you make available to them. So why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your company and the work that you do with coaches.

It is … A lot of it is focusing on confidence. And what I’ve learned and discovered over many, many years is that pretty much everything that we’re trying to accomplish … We’re trying to do a lot of things. And if we don’t have a belief that is supportive of the actions that we want to take, then we’re not going to take those actions. Or, we’ll do them but we won’t do them well. Or we’ll do them and they work, but we won’t stay doing them. And that is if it’s marketing, if it’s business building, if it’s losing weight. If it’s anything that you want to accomplish, if you don’t have that core belief that you can do it, that whatever it is, that its positive, then the chances of you creating that success is minimal to zero. And yet, if we look at the confidence, confidence is really knowing … The problem is that we try to predict everything and cover all our bases and be prepared for every little thing that might get in the way or go wrong.

And if we’re talking about true confidence, we’re talking about being able to stand solidly and grounded and firmly and know that whatever happens, I can take it. Whatever happens, I can handle it. I can deal and adapt and adjust as necessary in the moment. So it’s a really solid grounding in knowing of one’s self. And when we have that, we can then open up the doorways to accomplish all those things that we’re trying to do and that we’re learning, or we’re taking classes, or hiring people, the experts, we actually get to accomplish so much more.

That’s really the area that I focus on, is confidence. It’s looking at how strong and confident do we feel about ourselves, about the relationships we have, about others around us, and about the world.

And so what are some of the specific things you do to help coaches really build up their confidence?

A big part of that … There’s two places. There’s two places where we actually get to grow our confidence, and then there’s a third. So first place is knowing self, and part of that is really getting clear about our habits, our defaults, our fears and concerns. That’s a lot of what happens in coaching, is we uncover and get a deeper awareness of, “This is my experience and this is my default and this is how I operate when these things occur.” And it’s also getting to know deeper your core strengths that you can rely upon, that you can trust. You get to learn your core values, what’s important for you, what’s worth fighting for, what is worth making … Our values guide us to having powerful choices. So the more that we have that knowing of ourselves, the more we have at our access to be able to adapt and adjust accordingly when those things occur.

So that’s one of the big places where, when we’re working together and when I’m coaching clients or when I’m training coaches to … Look, this is what we do. We help the client get to … We reveal the client to themselves so that they are more at choice. Most of the time we react out of fear, we react out of habit. We react when something occurs or something gets in the way, and we’re not really owning fully and responsibly. And yet, when we come from that place of knowing ourselves fully and we are able to really trust it and lean into it and we’ve worked and practiced those muscles, then we can actually override the fear. We can actually continue moving forward. We can keep going because we have the confidence in ourselves. Confidence comes from the Latin word fide, which means trust. So we trust ourselves. We trust our experience. We trust our skills. We trust the relationship. We trust others.

A great example, if you look at like those actions movies with like Arnold and Sylvester Stallone and all these other guys, they’re able to do amazing things because they have incredible confidence and trust about their skill sets and how they’re going to handle these unbelievable situations. Now that’s an extreme version, but we can distill it down. The example is the same across the board. So the more that we know ourselves, the more that we’re able to really access our skills and strengths and our past proof of success and all of our abilities. And all of that proof, that’s the big part, is that we are constantly looking for proof to back it up. Just because we think, “I’m really good and strong,” if we don’t have the proof to back it up, then it’s going to fall apart and crumble. So all those things internally, we’re building this fortress that we can stand solidly on.

The other place is outside of us, and we need to really be clear about how we are showing up. Because we are responding and reacting to the outside world anyways. And so it’s important for us to get a better idea about, how are we truly showing up versus how we think we are? Great example. Here is a podcast and you listen to it. And anybody watching or listening to this, if you’ve ever watched yourself on video, “That ain’t me.” If you’ve ever listened to your recording, “That ain’t me, I don’t sound like that.” I am convinced that I am basically a dead ringer and I sound just like George Clooney. Now, that’s my own perception, and anybody watching this video or listening to the recording, you probably have a very different opinion. So it’s going to be important for me to get clear and get a really good idea about how I am seen, how you see me. How you perceive and get who I am and what I’m about. Because if I’m just going around in my own made up world, in my own delusion, yeah it’s going to be nice and fun for a while. But again, there’s nothing to support it and it will fall apart.

So having that balance and blend of internal knowing and external knowing combined together creates a clarity. And as I said, you’re also looking for proof to back it up. Now you’re getting proof from the outside world. You’ve got other people saying, “Hey, this is what I see about you. This is what I love. This is what works, this is what doesn’t. This is how you occur to me.” Now we have much more control and we have greater awareness. And with awareness comes choice. And with choice, that’s where we hold the power to create amazing change. And that’s where our confidence lies.

And I like what you’re saying from the perspective of an individual coach needing to do those very things, as well as their focus with their clients to perform those functions. One of the things that I had seen in the programs you offer was this idea of WOW, NOW. There are specific things that you help coaches with, and there were these five words that you allude to and kind of tantalize people with. And I want you to talk more about that.

Well, yes. And that’s actually part of what we’re already sort of leaking into. Because you’re right. As coaches, we need to know ourselves. And the same with thing consultants, with trainers. With teachers. With therapists. With anybody that is interacting and engaging in some type of support, guidance, and growth with somebody else, we have to be grounded and solid. We have to know ourselves. Yes, there is a model. There is the technology or the information that we’re relying upon or that we’re utilizing and conveying. And that’s just stuff. It’s data. And quite frankly, delivering data is a dime a dozen and it’s computer, and that part will be easily taken over in the future with AI anyways. So delivering data is commonplace and really kind of boring.

What’s important is how we’re engaging, how we’re delivering it. And that comes from having the confidence. Look back at your past history with teachers, great example. There were some teachers who were really kind of not sure, or whatever. And they were just droning out stuff. And how well did that stick? You don’t care. You had other teachers who knew themselves, who brought their passion, who brought their own creativity, their own skillsets. They really reached out and put their whole selves into it. And those are the teachers that made the greatest impact in you, and that experience stays with you longer. It’s the same thing with coaching. If we are willing to bring our full selves and immerse ourselves entirely into the coaching experience, that will help our coaching be that much deeper, that much more powerful, and impactful, and stick around a lot longer. If we’re just doing FaceTime and delivering data and content, it’s boring and it will not stay.

Well what you’re talking about is engaging the emotions. You’ve got to get people emotionally involved at a feeling heart level, not just a head level.

Yeah. And it’s not to say, “Oh, you’ve got to do it just like me.” I am very engaging. I’m very animated. I’m very creative. I’m very energetic and all playful and all that stuff. That’s great, that’s me. It’s actually finding what is you. What is your style, your skill, your strengths, your essence, your mode, your awesomeness. And everybody’s is unique and different. And that brings us to the five words. And I can tell you right now, I cannot give you the five words because I don’t know what they are. They’re your five words. However, what I will say is that everybody else around you who knows you is holding those five words ready to give to you. And so it’s really just a simple matter of going and finding out. It’s like I said, when you listen to your recording or you see yourself in a video, you look and sound different. And it’s important to see how you occur to everyone else. Because when I look in the mirror, I see something very different than others do.

So it’s a simple question that we get to ask anybody. You can ask family, friends, coworkers, clients, associates. It’s a great thing to pop up on Facebook. It’s a great way to interact and engage with a simple question, “What five words describe me when I’m at my best.” And we want to be sure to ask that last part, “When I’m at my best,” because that’s the wow that we’re looking for. If we just simply ask, “What five words describe me,” you’re going to hear stuff you do not want to know. And they’re going to be really uncomfortable having to pass along this information and, “I wish I didn’t have to tell them that they were this, but they asked.” So avoid that. Make it simple. Make it inviting. Make it easy. “What five words describe me when I’m at my best?”

Oh, I love that question. That’s great. Especially that phrase at the end. And it’s even better than something like my five strengths.

Right. Which, when I offer this a lot of people say, “Oh, I’ve done that before. Yeah. What am I good at? What are my strengths?” That’s actually pointing to something that you do well. Now, it’s good to notice and it’s good to recognize and all that. But then that acknowledgement and that recognition only exists and has life when you’re doing that thing. This question speaks to who you are in everything that you do. So what’s really great is that if you reach out to family, they’re going to know you in a certain way. You show up, you operate, you engage with them in a very specific way as a family member. And so their responses will be skewed to that culture. On the other hand, if you ask coworkers and fellow this and that, they’re going to have a different experience of you. If you ask your clients, they’ll have a different experience of you. And you’re not asking about your strengths and what you’re good at, you’re asking about you, your quality, your essence, your gift, your richness. You. And that’s the stuff where when you hear different words, you going to get a wide range of things. Because everybody sees you differently.

Not only that, but they’re seeing you through their own filters. They have their own things in their mind and what’s important to them and what they like about you. I mean, you can put 20 people into a room with opera and you’re going to get 20 different opinions about her. “Oh, she’s such a brilliant businesswoman.” “No, no, no, no, no. She’s so spiritual and deep.” “No, you’re an idiot. She’s a champion for the people.” “No, you’re a moron. She’s so creative and industrious.” “No, I hate her. She’s no good at all.” Everybody’s got a different opinion based on their own filters and their own style in life and all that crap.

So you’re working through that, which means just because one person says it, doesn’t mean that it’s the end all be all, everything, wonderful, incredible, all-encompassing truth amen. The end. It just means that it’s information. And so when you speak and ask this question to another person, you’re going to get different information. And another, different information. And when you start talking with five, with ten, twenty people … If you talk to twenty people, five words. Come on, everybody here watching and listening to this, you need to have basic math to get along in this world. An app can’t do everything. Five words out of twenty people means how many words?


Right. 100. 100 words. That’s a lot of words that just dropped in your lap about how wonderful, amazing, awesome, and fantastic you are in this world. You. Not what you do. Who you are. And you’ll start to see certain words mentioned again, and again, and again. Five, seven, ten, twelve times. Those words that are mentioned again, and again, and again, those are the ones we’re paying attention to. That’s the cream of you rising to the top. That is your wow. Because those are the qualities that, across the board, there is a consensus and agreement. This is you. And take a moment. Test it. Is it really that hard and challenging for you to be this thing that everybody loves about you? No. It’s easy. It’s effortless because it’s pouring out of you. You just have no idea that you’re doing it. And so recognizing, “This is who I am. This is what everybody has said is my best self.” And that’s your wow.

I love that. And one of the things, Ben, I’m thinking about as you’re talking is, one of the benefits of doing this exercise is it helps us affirm that a lot of times people admire something in us that we take for granted.

Oh, all the time.

We don’t think it’s very special. I’m married to someone who’s a mechanical engineer. There is nothing he cannot fix in our house, so I’m very lucky. And when I affirmed to this him, what a genius he is in my mind because I can’t do any of that, it’s not that he discounts, but he’s like, “Oh, it’s not that big a deal.” And I think that I would really like you to speak to this tendency that people have to not necessarily discount, but underestimate the power of these qualities that people are bringing out about them and how they can best utilize that information.

It comes from a couple places. Part of it is, again, we don’t see what others see. I mean, it’s hard to appreciate the artwork when you’re in the frame. So Mona Lisa is sitting there going, “Eh. Bet you I don’t look good here.” And yet everybody else is looking at her going, “Oh, she’s amazing. She’s beautiful.” So that’s part of it, is that we have a lack of information and awareness about how we show up. And the other thing is that for many, many reasons, we’re trained by society to step back, to subdue ourselves, to kind of mute and ease back and don’t stand out, and don’t rock the boat, and don’t shine too much, and don’t do this, and ease back, and hold on. You don’t want to … And so we’re just constantly reinforced in our culture to turn a blind eye to that gift. And ironically, it’s that same gift that everybody is seeking. We’re wanting that.

I mean, that’s the thing had I known this when I was in my dating days … I thought girls wanted hot, chunky guys. Solid, chiseled jaw, and who had lots of money that could take them out and do fantastic, amazing things and just buy, buy, buy, and dress snazzy. I thought that’s what girls liked. I was wrong. Girls are attracted to confidence. Just the same thing. Women fall into this trap. They think that they have to be this hot, slim, sexy, and what is it? The mother in the kitchen and the sex kitten in the bedroom. I mean, all of these projections, and women have to be this for men because men like this about women. No, that’s all visual and it’s all temporary.

The thing that is attractive, insanely and psychotically attractive, is confidence. And it shows up in how a man or a woman dresses our holds themselves or engages with people. That’s the thing that we’re actually really attracted to. When we’re hiring and looking for jobs, people are attracted to confidence. If I’m hiring somebody, I want to know that they can take the job and handle it. When people are hiring coaches, fine. Great that you can help my problem. But I want to know that you can handle me. I want to know that you get me. I want to know that you have the confidence, because I can’t pay attention and take care of you. I’m dealing with my own stuff. So confidence is the key to everything.

My whole dating world would have been completely different, and I probably would have walked into jobs, interviews much more different. That’s what people are attracted to. And the best way to get that is to know yourself and to own it. Know who you are, because of who you say you are, and to know who you are because of how others see you. And you’re not looking at all the stuff. In this case, you’re looking at when you are at your best so that you can harness that, back it up with an avalanche of proof, and stand proudly as that.

So what do you recommend then, Ben, when somebody has gone through that? And I think it’s a fabulous exercise to gather that kind of information and be able to look at it. Once they’ve identified their five wow factors, then what are the practical applications in terms of what they do with that information? How do they integrate it into their behavior going forward?

Well, the first thing is just to remember it. Because if you don’t remember it, it’s worthless. Who cares? So that’s part. First, get the awareness. And now you need to remember it. So there’s many different ways. I encourage my clients to make a lovely poster board and put their words up, or even just have an affirmation phrase that they say every day, or whatever it is. I mean, think about it. Affirmation phrases. We’re given these phrases. “You just look in the mirror and tell yourself you are powerful and this and that, and you’re a winner,” and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Who cares? That’s their words. It’s not yours. And the brain, you cannot lie to yourself. The brain will spot a lie instantly. Your own brain. And so when you say, “I am a powerful being and I deserve this,” and I walk in, if there’s anything in your brain that says, “No, no. You really don’t.” It’s going to override that. And then the tragedy is, those empty affirmations are actually reinforcing, “I’m not.” Because I keep saying it to myself, but I know it’s not true. And then it doesn’t work and it doesn’t happen and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And therefore it’s true I’m not.

But look at this. You’ve got these five words that … Everybody around you just told you the truth. This is who you are. These are yours. So there is no lying. Even if you are having a hard time buying into it, because that happens. We get uncomfortable with it. A little spotlight. “Hold on now. I don’t like …” But who are you going to believe? You or everybody else? Are you going to call all of your friends and family and clients and coworkers and everybody around you liars? No. Apparently you’re just missing some information here. They’ve given you the truth, and it’s a general consensus so you know it’s true. And those are your five words. So yeah, put them up on a vision board. Make a collage. Reinforce it. Say that phrase every day. “I am these five words.” For me it’s, “I am playful, creative, compassionate, generous, and wise.” And that shows up then. I get to look at how that shows up in everything that I do in my coaching, in my relationships, in everything that I do. If I can be intentional in bringing that in, that is our secret sauce. That’s yours.

That’s great. And so could you give an example or two of some of the coaches that you’ve worked with who have gone through this exercise and what impact it’s had on them and their work?

Oh, easily. It’s actually, it’s a core component of an advanced coach training that I offer. So what I created picks up beyond basic coach training. And all of the other schools that are out there are pretty much, “Here’s how to coach.” My job is, “Here’s how to coach deeply, powerfully, and brilliantly.” And one of the ways to do that is to get to know who you are as a coach and as a person. So this five words exercise we launch out pretty early on. In fact, lesson two. And we reinforce it every day. Every week we have class, we reinforce it. We say it aloud to each other. There’s other people witnessing it. There’s other people supporting and welcoming going, “Yes, you are.” And every week it becomes deeper and more true. And boy, it’s amazing. Even after just doing it three, four times, there are some coaches in the class who go, “You know, I kind of thought this was sort of a weird exercise and I wasn’t really buying it. But now I totally am on it. This is me.”

Sometimes it takes a little longer, and by the 10th or 12th, or even nearing the end, some coaches take a little bit longer to get it, but by the end every single one of them is a completely different person. A completely different coach. It’s the same person, they’ve just been able to access this part of them that’s always there. Because the truth is, these five words are in you already. They’re coursing through every cell and fiber in your being. It’s like the electricity in your house. It’s just you’re not plugged into it. You can’t turn it on. But when you get to know more about where your plugs are and you get to know more about what this is and how you experience it and how it serves you, then you can plug into anytime, anywhere, with anything. This is how people overcome stage fright and performance anxiety. This is how people step in and start taking on jobs and roles. This is how coaches handle those clients that are scaring the pudding out of them. This is how we are able to then stand with strong confidence that says, “Whatever you got, bring it on. Whatever you need, I can be that for you. And whatever happens, I can handle it. Let’s go.”

That’s great. And we are right at our time, Ben. So it’s a great segue to ask you to share with our audience, how can they learn more about you and what you have to offer? You mentioned this course you have. What are some resources you have available, and how can they find you?

Well there’s always the advanced training. But I’ll tell you, for every single coach, I cannot recommend enough the calls that I host called the Coaching Skills Forum. And these are calls that happen twice a month where coaches from all over the world, all types of training, all levels of experience, gather. And we explore a single skill and aspect of our coaching in deep and provocative conversation. Part of that is building that confidence, getting to know these skills and how we engage with them and how we can utilize them much more articulately and powerfully. What is our range? What is our options? What is our possibility?

And we’re not about narrowing and defining, “This is what it is.” It’s actually widening and deepening. The discoveries are unlike anything else I’ve encountered in any other coaching calls out there, especially free calls. These are free calls. And I’ve been doing them for over 13 years as of this date, which means that we have also amassed over 300 recordings. So anything you need to know about our coaching skills, it’s not training. It’s supplemental. It’s filing in the gaps and it’s deepening in. But I highly recommend everybody check it out. Coachingskillsforum.com. Pretty easy. Other than that, my stuff … Also, there’s a link on that to my homepage, which is bedo.org. It’s BeDo as in being and doing. Look, if we’re being confident, then we’re going to do things confidently. Simple.

I love that. It’s very simple and easy to remember. And where can folks connect with you on social media. Which types of sites are you on?

Oh, holy smokes. LinkedIn. Facebook. BeDo Coaching. Look it up, find it, that’s where I am. I don’t do a lot, but I jump in and engage from time to time and it’s always nice. Especially if anybody has any questions about your coaching, send them to me. Because I’m always looking for questions that coaches have. “How do I do this? What do I do that?” Even the basic elementary stuff, I’m always happy to jump in and fill the information. “How do I find those clients? What’s the best thing to charge? How do I handle when a client says this? What is the best way to handle it when the client does that? How do you handle a client that disappears?” All these common questions that coaches struggle with and encounter all the time. You are not the only one. And send them to me, I’m happy to respond.

Excellent. Well, we’ll put your contact information, your email and the websites you mentioned, on the show notes page. So Ben Dooley, thank you so much for join me today. You deliver such great value for our audience. I really appreciate it and you.

Thank you. I appreciate you too for inviting me and having me be a part of this. It’s been quite fun.