As coaches, we love our metaphors, so I’m going to take you on a journey. I’m based in London, so let’s make it a journey of several tube stops.
Stop 1 – Getting Unstuck
One grey morning about a decade ago, I was walking to work and saw some waste collectors load bins into their rubbish truck. I was surprised by the wave of jealousy that washed over me. They knew exactly what they needed to do to have a successful day on the job. For the first time in my professional life, I was feeling stuck. I didn’t know what success looked like.
On a friend’s recommendation I started working with a coach who helped me uncover where I was and get a feeling for where I wanted to go in both work and life. I bought myself a glossy new notebook, which I filled with notes from our discussions on my values, what brought me most satisfaction at work, the parts of my previous experience I regretted not using, and a series of principles to help me move forward.
That powerful experience left me determined to become a coach myself one day.
Stop 2 – Training as a Parent & a Coach
The years passed and, with my renewed career vision and direction, I landed a couple of wonderful roles that moved me much closer to my values and made me feel truly fulfilled. I was leaning more heavily on my previous experience in the areas I enjoyed the most – strategy and storytelling – and started to manage teams of people, which I loved.
I was also fulfilling dreams outside of work by becoming a mother. And that came with its own surprising challenges. Juggling motherhood and full-time work was harder than I had ever imagined. Against this backdrop of feeling more secure in my career but grappling with working parenthood, it seemed a good time to start my own coaching training journey.
As part of the training, I was able to bring the need for better balance as a coaching topic to my fellow trainee coaches and use the frameworks I was learning to reflect on my changing needs and expectations.
Stop 3 – Burnout & Rekindling
One child turned into two, and I landed what I always thought would be my dream job. It was in an industry that I loved, managing a large team. Unfortunately, I ignored all the contracts I had made with myself about exercising and not working late. I threw myself into the role, ignoring some of my core values, slowly but surely feeling like both a bad employee and mother.
I started working with a coach again to figure out next steps, the actions I needed to take, and the conversations I needed to have. The coaching community was a lifeline for me as I recovered from burnout, and I was part of a wonderfully supportive Mentor Coaching Group as I moved towards my ICF credential.
Coaching and learning helped give me my spark back. Being coached helped me put plans in place for the next steps of my career and my life. And going through the experience of burnout made me a more empathetic and sensitive coach.
Stop 4 – Helping Others
I have since worked with a huge range of people in different professions and at different stages of their careers. Two very different examples come to mind when it comes to helping people explore their potential.
One was a single session with a client wanting to discuss a role they were considering. The conversation turned to the fact that they were nearing retirement. They came to realise that their current role was actually the perfect one for the culmination of their career and walked away with relieved certainty.
The other has been several series of sessions over years. This client comes back whenever they are stuck. We tend to start in one place and end somewhere different and surprising. They walk away with a similar outcome – clarity and a series of next steps. In the time we’ve worked together, my client has written two novels, made significant changes in key relationships, and rediscovered activities that gave them energy. Coaching has helped them realise their potential in so many elements of their life.
Stop 5 – Life Now
I now specialise in coaching people who are at a crossroads in their lives, as I was on that grey morning many years ago and at several stops since. I help them recalibrate after having children and trying to balance those new demands and work, after (or hopefully before) a period of burnout, or when generally feeling stuck in their careers or their lives.
Coaching has been – and will continue to be – there for me at so many stops on my journey. And I feel privileged to be able to help other people on theirs.
Next Stop – Watch this Space!