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Cathy Spaas of Cathy Spaas Academy: “Confront Your Fear”

First of all, your business needs to work for you, not the other way around. You can do this by building your business in a way that makes you happy, so that all aspects of your life are fulfilled. As a coach it’s of great interest to you to lead by example and that means […]

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First of all, your business needs to work for you, not the other way around. You can do this by building your business in a way that makes you happy, so that all aspects of your life are fulfilled. As a coach it’s of great interest to you to lead by example and that means living what you advocate.


The coaching industry is now tremendous. It is a 15 billion dollar industry. Many professionals have left their office jobs to become highly successful coaches. At the same time, not everyone who starts a coaching business sees success. What does someone starting a career as a life coach, wellness coach, or business coach need to know to turn it into a very successful and rewarding career?

In this interview series, called “Five Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career As a Life or Business Coach” we are interviewing experienced and successful life coaches, wellness coaches, fitness coaches, business and executive coaches and other forms of coaches who share the strategies you need to create a successful career as a life or business coach.

In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cathy Spaas.

Cathy Spaas is a world-class coach to professional performers, artists, and creatives. She supports highly sensitive and intuitive people to make breakthroughs in their life and career, so that they can thrive at the highest level, create their most authentic and profound work, and find lasting inspiration and fulfillment.

As a former elite international showjumper, Cathy is no stranger to the spotlight herself and the unique pressures faced by those ascending to the upper echelons of their profession. Having appeared on television and featured as a guest author in several books, Cathy has coached hundreds of highly sensitive clients through her groundbreaking Claim Your Shine modality.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and what brought you to this particular career path?

As a passionate horse girl, there was really just one option for me in life: becoming the world’s best Show Jumper and winning Olympic gold! 😊 After spending all of my childhood with horses, competing in international shows and working full time in the equestrian industry for over 10 years, I noticed I wasn’t getting anywhere.

I’m way too ambitious as a person to stay stuck in the same position for years and feel it’s going nowhere. That’s when I started my own horse stables. I was thrilled to see this part of my dream come true, finally I was able to do things my way and put all my love and care into my own project.

Unfortunately, after doing this for 2 years I was completely burned out!

I had worked the same amount of hours in the past, so that wasn’t the problem… but the pressure to perform, pay all those bills and keep everything going as perfectly as I pictured it, was wrecking me! All the passion I used to have got lost, and I developed an aversion for the job I had always loved so much.

After a while I had to get real with myself and make a decision, so that’s what I did. I sold my stables and after living a life that revolved around horses for 30 years, I turned my ship around to enter new waters. It was time for me to discover what else was possible, and what my other talents were to be able to grow as a person and create a healthy and thriving career.

So that’s exactly what I did; I started learning new things, did some internships and worked at different jobs to experience what would work best for me. This led me to a government job where I was the team leader of the communication, information and tourism office. I had a blast doing this, until I experienced burnout due to bullying at work.

This hit me like a ton of bricks, because I hadn’t seen it coming, and honestly never saw myself as the type who would have this happen to her. I was always an independent woman, who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and work hard, so I felt like I had been run over by a bus.

I lost all my confidence and sense of self-belief, thinking I really was worthless, and couldn’t do anything right anymore. Experiencing something like this is so beautiful, because it always shows up in your life as the opportunity to create a turning point for yourself. I took this chance with both hands to truly step into my own power and greatness, and was able to rise above all the inner negativity I was feeling before, and could finally let go of destructive old patterns that were holding me back earlier in life.

Thanks to this turning point in my life, I could start to see the path of bliss and joy that was my soul’s mission in life. So I started educating myself again, but this time in coaching, since I had experienced the power of these techniques myself. Every training would lead to the next interesting topic for me to internalize, and the next class to follow.

I learned from the best experts and researchers about coaching and high sensitivity, finding my way home to becoming a coach for highly sensitive people, like myself.

I noticed that being an HSP (highly sensitive person) had been the cause of my own biggest challenges in life, but I had been able to overcome these difficulties and really reinvent myself as a strong and powerful women, who can shine her light everywhere she goes and lead a happy and fulfilling life. So this is what I was driven to help others realise too.

After coaching hundreds of highly sensitive clients for the past four years to reach their own personal goals, last year I felt I couldn’t keep avoiding the next logical step for me by sharing my expertise by coaching artists and professional performers to thrive at the highest level, and create the personal life of their dreams.

It’s like all the pieces of the puzzle came together, it all makes sense now that I had to go through my own process of growth to be able to understand what these artists/performers are experiencing, to know how I can truly help them claim their shine and own it.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. A strong and positive mindset, because if I continued to bring myself down like I used to, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. This is exactly what I missed while having my own horse stable, because being an entrepreneur, and living your life in the spotlight as a performer, doubt and negative self-talk can really bring you down, and make you hold back on your full potential. I keep integrating mindset work into my daily life to stay sharp, because your brain is comparable to muscles, you can train it, and since I want to be on my top game, I have to be consistent with this practice.
  2. I’ve always been ambitious and driven in everything I did, it seemed that I just needed to find the right direction to focus all that energy, so I could thrive in living my soul’s mission. Having a strong focus on your goals really helps you to keep moving forward when the road gets tough, so use your ambition as the fuel for your journey.
  3. Authenticity is most definitely what helped me grow to become a successful coach quickly after I just started. Especially high sensitive people can feel instantly when someone isn’t being their true self, e.g. to impress others. We see right through the B.S, that’s why I was able to attract a lot of clients fast; I was being honest and giving real value, I was giving personal examples and speaking from my heart, which resonated with my ideal clients. Don’t try to hide yourself, when the world can learn so much from you by just showing up as your beautiful and authentic self.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Habits are exactly the reason why I was able to turn my life around in the first place. To be honest, it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough knowledge before or that my life wasn’t working out for me, it was because I didn’t know how to get positive habits integrated into my day to day routine that nothing really ever changed.

I went to a bunch of therapists, psychologists, and took a gazillion courses in personal and spiritual development since I was 19, tried reiki healing, and even went as far as regressions to be able to let go of some old hurt and pain, but it seemed like every time there was just a small and very temporary progress.

It’s only after my burn out — when I hit rock bottom — that I was ready to take full responsibility for myself and start working towards the light and the way up, away from that victim role that I had been so comfortable in. Only then was I prepared to do the inner work that was required for the much needed (and desired) growth.

Now ofcourse I know that it doesn’t have to come to that to be able to turn your life around, but I do know that there isn’t a golden pill that will magically change your life. It’s all about you and the extent to which you show up in your life.

A few of my daily habits towards success have been:

  • morning breathing work
  • visualizations and a vision board
  • writing before I go to bed in my gratitude journal

This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Studies have shown that 95% of our thoughts are about the future or the past, and only 5% of them are truly in the present. Since all change happens in the present, that’s where all the profit is to be gained when it comes to any form of personal (or professional) development.

You become what you think, so it’s really important that you start stretching that 5 %, and if you don’t keep building towards the extension of your own awareness every day, you are simply under hypnosis all day long.

The survival brain is developed to keep you safe, and since you survived doing what you did yesterday, this part of your brain will try to make a copy of that today, because it thinks that is going to keep you safe.

Keep in mind that this is the oldest part of our brain that can only function in terms of survival and reproduction, so it can’t think logically like the rational part of your brain, which is a lot younger. That’s why whenever you feel stressed or tired, the survival brain will take over and you get stuck in the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode.

For example, after a long day at work you get home tired and your kids start whining while you try to get dinner ready, and you explode. Afterwards you feel totally guilty about your behavior, but it was like you couldn’t stop yourself, you were just too overwhelmed…does this sound familiar?

That’s why it’s so important to keep your stress levels in check, so the survival brain doesn’t feel the need to take over. By integrating some short and practical exercises, like breath work, you can reduce stress levels really fast, create strong resilience, and maintain balance throughout your busy schedule.

Good habits help you perform at your best, and find inner peace during your free time, so for me this kind of inner work improved my quality of life tremendously. You can never invest too much in your mindset.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

Stopping bad habits is easiest by replacing them with good habits instead. 
Building good habits is not easy at first, I work with clients for six months in a private coaching journey to help them build the right kind of habits and use the tools and techniques that can help them in their situation specifically with moving forward. So it takes time to build these habits and it’s not always possible overnight.

What I can say is this: Good habits build good character. Work on your integrity and stick to your commitments! Meaning, if you made the agreement with yourself to do a breathing exercise every morning for 5 minutes, or go for a run 3 times a week, don’t be discussing why today isn’t working out for you, just do it. Even if you’re tired, even when it rains, even when you don’t feel like it, and especially when you have a busy day.

Living your life by the rule of integrity is saying you will do something, and accordingly doing so. No matter how you feel about it later on (which is usually a whole lot less motivated than when you made the decision to do this in the first place). Staying true to your commitment will help you carry out these small daily habits that in the long term do make a huge difference in your life. Keep that bigger vision clear at all times to help remind you (even when you don’t feel like it) why it’s so important that you do.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

‘Claim your Shine and Own it!’

When I had made my personal transformation, and was ready to step into my own greatness by inspiring others with my story, experience and expertise, ‘Claim your Shine and Own it’ became my motto.

Somehow this quote came to me, and I’ve used it as my personal mantra ever since. When things got hard, or doubt came to mind while I was building my business as a HSP coach, I reminded myself that I was doing all of this to inspire and motivate others to truly accept their own power, and feel in every bone of their body that they too can shine their light into the world, this quote really helped me to follow through.

It made me get out of my own way, and see the bigger picture again, because it has my ‘why’ crystal clear; putting others in their light by shining my own upon them. To me that means that I can step up and do amazing things in order to get there. ‘Claim your Shine and Own it’ gave me some sort of permission to do that and to fully embrace my own greatness while at the same time it makes me see the beauty and potential in others, which they can’t see yet for themselves, so it lifts to me a higher power which helps me serve my clients at an even higher level.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The Inside Scoop is a monthly podcast where I will interview a professional performer or artist and talk about his or her biggest growth process. We will share tips and techniques on how to overcome certain challenges while working and living in a highly demanding and visible industry. Through this podcast I hope we will be able to touch lives with practical steps that the audience can integrate for themselves into their own personal growth.

The Inside Scoop is shared every 3rd Friday of the month on all my social media platforms, as well as on YouTube, Vimeo and SoundCloud.

Besides that I am writing a book that is specifically for professional performers and artists who are highly sensitive (which most of them are , unknowingly).

I also offer private coaching sessions which you can find out more about here.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Many coaches are successful, but some are not very successful. From your experience or perspective, what are the main factors that distinguish successful coaches from unsuccessful ones? What are your “Five Things You Need To Create a Highly Successful Career As a Life or Business Coach”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Laser Focus
    The mind is a genius at distracting us from what we want to achieve. As I mentioned earlier in this article, it’s created to keep you safe by having your thoughts float around here to there, and everywhere except for in the present moment, because that is where change or growth lies. 
    This distraction is keeping you from taking actual steps towards your goal, so focus on one next step you can take, and do it! When you integrate this consistently, you are making huge progress in a very short amount of time, because you are actually moving forwards.
  2. Confront Your Fear
    Don’t let fear or resistance overcome you, because it can take over your thoughts, making you freeze and preventing you from taking action. Take smaller steps, so it doesn’t feel like you have to conquer an entire mountain, but you can just do this one little thing now. Train your brain by managing your thoughts, and move them away from bringing you down. When you feel paralyzed in taking a certain action step, give yourself the answer to this question: ‘Why would it be great if I do this right now?’ and move forwards from there on.
  3. Get Out Of Your Own Way
    Working as a coach is a soul mission, and it’s important to keep in mind that this is never about you as a person. You are just the conduit, but in fact it’s all about your client. By turning the attention away from yourself and towards your client, you instantly remove the pressure from yourself. I teach actors and singers/DJ’s this exact same thing: ‘It’s about connecting with the feeling that you want to provide for your audience.’ This can help you to get out of your own head, and straight into alignment.
  4. Shift Your Limiting Beliefs
    Limiting beliefs can subconsciously keep holding you back. Notice if you are taking the right action towards the right people — yes, the “right” people, because when you want to serve everyone, you are serving no one — nothing is happening. There is an underlying belief holding you back from achieving your desired result. Write down what you believe about this situation and get clear on which limiting belief is behind this conviction. Work on the emotion that you connect to this belief and conviction, and start shifting that towards the vision you do want to see, feel, and experience for yourself. By connecting thoughts to emotions, you can shift underlying challenges a lot easier and faster! 😉
  5. Energy, Energy, Energy
    It’s all about energy! Everything is energy, and so are we, we function like a magnet, attracting exactly what our vibration is set to. The laws of the universe aren’t prejudiced, so they will not interfere, and therefore simply follow your strongest vibration. You create your own vibration with the frequency of your thoughts. Are you worrying about why things aren’t working out for you, then that sets the tone for your vibration and you will attract more of the same. This is just simple physics, but a tremendous powerful tool to consciously implement in your day to day life to help you attract the things you DO want.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen coaches make when they start their business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

When you let fear and resistance run the show, they will hold you back. Focusing on a million different things is getting you nowhere, and the same applies for your ideal client/audience. Speaking to everyone isn’t serving anyone, because nobody will recognize themselves in your story or content. People need to be able to relate to what you are saying (or writing), and if they don’t have that connection with your content or personality, all impact is lost. Your words can be as beautiful and powerful as they are, but they won’t resonate, because a person needs to recognize him/herself first, before they will truly take in the rest of the input. 
Therefore start thinking about your most fun and ideal client: Who is that person? What do they love? What are their challenges? What do they aspire to in life? Writing this down will generate a bunch of great topics to create content around as well.

The next step is thinking about how you have the most fun working with these lovely people? Work out a program that impacts them, and that makes you happy! You want to serve at this level for the long term, so make sure you get excited doing this too! What makes your toes tingle, resonates with your ideal client as well, because they are just like you!

And then stick to this. Don’t be thinking about a million different programs, because people don’t like having to choose. Start by focusing on one offer, and then later on, maybe, you can offer a second one. And that’s it. 
Make it easier for your (potential) clients to work with you, because if they don’t know that you are there to help them, they can’t ask for your support either.

Based on your experience and success, what are a few of the most important things a coach should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience? Please share a story or an example for each.

Always offer more than the client is expecting, service is everything!

You don’t need to be available 24/7, I even prefer that you are clear to them that you are not. That being said, providing your clients with aligned input and feedback, is gold! In order to achieve this, it’s really important that you train yourself to stay out of your own head, to be fully present when they speak or communicate, because then you will pick up everything that isn’t said, and you will be able to read between the lines to discover what it is that’s actually going on underneath of their story. This way you can inspire them on a much higher level, and help them outline and achieve their personal or business goals a lot faster. When my clients need support in between sessions, I am here for them via channels like email and WhatsApp. This way you can respond in regard to your own calendar and terms, and they get the help they need to move forward again and to stay focused. I do work on a very high level with my clients, so I like to take care of them like the luxury stars that they are and give them a royal treatment via the way I show up, and when I can do something extra for them.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business, and particularly in coaching. What are the best ways for a coach to find customers? Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Show yourself and get out there! Create content for social media, build your email list for a weekly newsletter where you share your golden tips, and make sure you get to speak at online and live events to share your expertise with the world. The more people can get a taste of who you are and what you stand for, the easier it is for them to decide if they want to work with you or not. Be your authentic self and share stories about challenges you have overcome for example, give tips on how they can do this for themselves as well, make them want to know more about you and will create loyal followers. You don’t need a huge tribe, just a loyal one, and that’s something you can only create by openly being you.

Another aspect I really liked in this process of growing my business has been networking and interviewing like-minded people to expand my reach and impact. Networking is the most important thing you can do in business, whatever industry you are in. Be mindful that networking doesn’t mean talking about you, again, it’s all about the person standing in front of you and how you can be of service to them. This way they will think back on your conversation with joy and remember you. You never know where interesting opportunities may come from!

Coaches are similar to startup founders who often work extremely long hours and it’s easy to end up burning the candle at both ends. What would you recommend to your fellow coaches about how to best take care of their physical and mental wellness when starting their business?

First of all, your business needs to work for you, not the other way around. You can do this by building your business in a way that makes you happy, so that all aspects of your life are fulfilled. As a coach it’s of great interest to you to lead by example and that means living what you advocate.

A few things to keep in mind in order to take good care of yourself (in your business):

  • Do you implement enough me-time every day?
  • Are you eating healthily?
  • Do you work out or have enough movement?
  • Go outside! Enjoy the beauty and healing aspects of nature. It’s there and it’s free.
  • Integrate your mindset work every day yourself, start your day with some breathing work
  • Be grateful about everything you have
  • Celebrate small wins!
  • Give yourself a break when you need it, and don’t bring yourself down while doing it

In other words; just be kind to yourself. Give your body and soul what is good for them and what they need. Don’t bully yourself when you feel you need a break by telling yourself that you are weak, or because things aren’t going your way, but treat yourself with all the love and care you would for a friend or client.

You can only lift yourself up by uplifting input, so be the person who takes such good care of her/himself, that living this way you get to inspire others again just by being you.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Self Love! If we all love ourselves and feel that we are (good) enough, we wouldn’t have the need to bring others down or judge them, and there would be world peace 😊.

In order to achieve anything in the world, we need to start inside ourselves. When I experience imbalance in the world around me, that is telling me something about my own beliefs as well, and I will always start there. I know that if I want to change anything, or make an impact, I can only influence my own state of mind, which is where all the power lies. For far too long I blamed others and gave my own responsibility and therefore power away, leaving me empty, lost and stuck in the same position. By shifting your own vibration, you can uplift others just by being you. People learn by copying the behavior of others. That is why a lot of great leaders say that you become the 5 people closest to you, and why you should surround yourself with positive people who are where you want to be, but what if you use that theory to bring your energy to a frequency where others want to be? We don’t need to fight or defeat darkness, we just need to step into the light and all else will resolve instantly.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Lady Gaga is definitely one of the people who I would love to talk to, since she created such an interesting and amazing character, and I would love to discover what inspired her, where she gets her drive, and what’s going on for her behind the scenes as a person instead of the artist.

Also Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande gave some breathtaking speeches in their lives, and I like to see where that is coming from and what made them these strong women, standing for what they believe in. Also the tennis player Naomi Osaka, I think she has been really brave and strong discussing her mental health struggles, I could help her a lot.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Linkedin

Clubhouse: @cathyspaas

YouTube

Vimeo

Soundcloud

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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