When it comes to building a thriving, sustainable business, you may be educating and informing – telling others what you offer –  and you may be promoting.

But – are you inviting?

More than that, do you know what it means to inhabit the invitation in which your work is based?

Invitation means to invite, which in turn means to make a request (polite, friendly or formal) for someone to go somewhere or do something.

For relevance of invitation to your business, consider the synonyms for invite:

To summon or call.

What do you and your work summon or call others to see, hear, know, experience or be?

To fully explore this question requires you to hold invitation with a dual perspective:

First as a skill that is often overlooked in coaching. It is the request you make, directly or indirectly and the artfulness which which you make the request. For example, the art of inviting change Or the art of inviting a client to take action or see something differently.

Invitation as a skill is something you DO in the coaching, yes – and at its most effective, it is an expression of something much larger because of what it’s based in. Keep reading.

This 2nd way I ask you to hold invitation is from a macro level, from the place of your being. Think of this in terms of the invitation you inhabit and how is that expressed in your work, including your marketing approaches. To revisit the definition:

This is what you summon or call people to through how you live your life.

One possible frame for these concepts is little invitation  or situational invitation – something you do in a specific situation and –  big invitation – how you are, who you are, and what you invite others to see, hear, think, know, experience – by how you show up.

Now that we’ve established two ways to hold invitation,  let’s tease them apart and circle back, first, to the little or situational invitation, the thing you DO.

As a skill or approach in your coaching (and in your prospecting), at first invitation can seem pretty straightforward. EX: I invite you to rethink your perspective on your boss. OR I invite you try on a new way of looking a that.

Now consider invitation in your coaching as an expression or reflection of the larger invitation you are. How you are being impacts others’ receptivity to your invitation.

If you are unsure of yourself as a coach, this will show up in how others respond – or don’t – to your invitation to experience coaching.

If you aren’t comfortable being visible, trust me, this will turn the volume way down on your invitation and make it harder for others to hear it.

If you feel as if your coaching business is a party you want to host – but you can’t seem to get anyone to come to the party – this is one indicator of a need for you to be more aware of your invitation and how you inhabit it. Odds are, you aren’t clear about your invitation and/or you are flinching and not standing fully in it. When this is so,  you aren’t all in with your own invitation, and you won’t actively share the invitation with others by speaking it – with conviction from your heart.

So you need to both BE it and Do it. And the doing will be far more effective, the issuing of invitation to others will land more powerfully, when you are BEing it first.

Let’s look now at the larger summoning you represent. What do you call others to through who you are and how you  live?

One way I’ve introduced this notion to students and private clients is through their message. Message is a first step to uncovering your invitation.

Many coaches first aren’t clear about their message and then don’t turn it into an invitation.

To begin a process of exploring your clarity with your message, you can listen to the audio of the June 20, 2013, Heart and Soul of Coaching call, which has an exercise for checking in with yourself on your message.

For more on invitation, you might enjoy a couple of other articles:

 The Universal Language of Invitation: What I learned about coaching while eating bread, sampling chocolate and sipping champagne in France.

The Universal Language of Invitation, part deux

I invite you first to get clear on your invitation and then explore how you embody that invitation. If you are ready for support with this process, let me know.

In celebration of you and the invitation you hold for the world,


PS: This article is a revised version of the June 20, 2013, Heart and Soul of Coaching conversation.   If you want to add your voice to the chorus and join the H&S community, look for the link beside the blazing heart on the sidebar of this page.