Sabine Karko sportmentalcoach lives and functions in Berlin. We met on dance competitions and she coming from a Hungarian father we shortly found our common language and became good friends. Then she offered ‘practicing’ her sportmentaltraining with us, a kind offer that changed my life big times!
“Body, mind and soul form a unit. Only a harmonious interplay of all three improves your performance. Sabine’s motto: Personal development should be fun and ease your life. As an active dancer, she knows that ups and downs are a natural part of physical training. Sports mental training helps you to always keep your goals in sight. Your benefit: you boost your performance and improve your quality of life.
Sabine shares her know-how with people for whom sport is an enrichment of life. She offers her clients a confidential collaboration and aim at breaking new ground. The client’s personal success is her ambition.”
MC: How did coaching come into your life?
SK: It came in my life via dancing and sportmentaltraining. I always had a strong focus on all the psychological aspects of sport. When I was a dancer I did a lot of mentaltraining to become a better dancer, to be mentally prepared for competitions, and to make my trainings more effective and competitions successful. And via sportmentaltraining I heard about coaching…
MC: When did you decided on going on freelancing with it?
SK: It was in 2007 – after my biggest success in dancing at the OutGames in Montreal –
we reached all our goals and afterwards I spent a week recovering in Maine/ USA. There and then was it that I thought about how I could mix my experience of sport / mentaltraining and social work (being a social worker at that time).
And suddenly the idea was born: Sportmentaltrainer. The main reason was to find something new, I was so happy with the sport theme and I wanted:
- to work with adults who take responsibility for themselves
- to work on the theme of optimizing things
- to use more my strength in finding solutions,
- to bring in my own experience.
That seemed to be a very exciting new way for me to go.
MC: What were the questions to consider, obstacles to overcome?
SK: At the beginning nearly none… I still felt so pushed by my success I had experienced in dancing – I was so motivated to go that way and I felt so fearless and powerful – nothing could stop me.
There were a few people who came along with their own fears towards the idea of being self-employed: „Oh I could never do this!“; „Are you sure?“; “How can you leave this safe job?“; And what are you doing when it doesn’t work?
I jumped into something that had its difficulties:
- the theme not so well known yet – the market still small
- I was completely a newcomer
- dancing is a quite traditional field
2 years later I had my doubts if I could live / exist in the future just and completely from my work as a coach and sportmentaltrainer – because I still had not enough clients – so I also had to work in a second job but close to my theme, I worked three evenings a week as a dance trainer.
It was often a question of my own mental state – I had times when I reduced the power and the focus that I put in my work, suffered sometimes from procrastination and did not give myself a proper work structure – as I worked alone it didn’t matter, do I „go to work“ or not.
Now I have found my work structure that I feel good with and that brings my work forward.
MC: How did your business develop?
SK: To be honest – the first years too slow… I was mentally prepared that it would not be a „Spaziergang“ – as we say in German (an easy walk) – especially as I knew: the idea of mentaltraining was still a young / rather unknown method in the world of sports.
Many people associate the word „mental“ with psychological problems and this feedback I got quite often when I offered my work.
Over the last 5-6 years the social understanding about coaching and mentaltraining has changed quite a lot – many sport teams work with a mentaltrainer, the field of coaching become more and more known.
So I relaxed and thought in a way I have to wait until coaching becomes clear fully in peoples heads ,as well as Yoga, Pilates, Bio-Foodstores or vegan lifestyle needed their time to become well known and kind of „normal“.
So I consciously put my focus on self-marketing, personal branding and developed my coach professional image:
- I put advertisements in special magazines
- went to special Events where I knew my target group would be present and put my leaflets everywhere
- I gave workshops
- connected with people who I thought might be open for what I am doing, and slowly, step by step I became more known.
- social media helped also to present my work (Facebook, Xing)
- did studies, used supervision and my peer group to reflect my work in getting better
MC: There were the choices of working alone vs business partnerships vs joining others...
SK: This is the big question in my life as self-employed. Even that I am quite good at being on my own, I know I produce a very powerful work modus when I work with someone.
In the Idea of working with a partner I like:
- brainstorming together,
- enjoying small and bigger successes together,
- sharing the doubts and finding solutions together,
- decorating the work with some laughter and humor,
- valuing the work that has to be done even without getting paid for right away,
- feeling stronger together,
- and the most important and simple: having somebody to ask you: „How was your holiday???“
The commitment to another person pushes my „discipline – muscle“ - I am very reliable and disciplined when I have a commitment with someone.
That’s what has changed – I have great business partners working for or with:
- Sport team trainers,
- Berlin Dance Federation,
- Berlin Coaching Institute
MC: Has (and how) your clients changed, emerged?
SK: Yes, at the beginning I was focused on all kind of sports. Over the years I became more specialized in dance-mentaltraining / coaching for dancers, where I do a lot of coaching for couples / teamcoaching and mentaltraining.
I also do Business coaching for private clients and business coaching via the Coaching Institute, where I mainly work with academics who want to change their jobs, so we focus on orientation, creating new business perspectives and alternatives.
MC: Where are you now as an entrepreneur, enterprise? What challenges are you facing now?
SK: Focusing on growing in every aspect of self-employment.
MC: Where are you heading, what are the plans for the future?
SK: Staying focused on my studies to become „Systemic Coach and Mediator“. Transferring all the new methods and ideas in my actual work as much as I can. I want to focus on Group Coaching as a great tool for Groups of self-employees. Also want to make myself well-known as a dance-mentaltrainer in Northern and Eastern Germany.
And when I have finished my studies I will work with 1-2 partners in a team for Business coaching in companies.
MC: What have you learned, how has you developed via doing your own business?
SK: My learnings:
- be patient with the development – give it the time it needs
- ask for support (if you ask / say clearly what people could do for you, they will help)
- you never know which marketing strategy really works the best – keep trying continuously!
- sometimes great things happens that you don’ know why
- networking often brings out new contacts after years – so trust in networking
- trust the process and stay focused
- fix holyday time in your diary right at the beginning of the new year, later it might be difficult!
- connect with other self-employees to speak about the special themes of work
- experience grows over the years – what has been a big challenge three years ago will be normal over the time…