International Coaching Week is a celebration of the coaching profession. As my contribution, I wanted to share my first direct experience of coaching.
A few years ago, I was mentally and emotionally running around in circles frustrated about my professional life. I was a fundraising manager and my next step was to go further up the fundraising ladder. The only problem was that I had never wanted to be a fundraiser. Like many of us, I had fallen into a career which I was very good at, but which I had got into more or less by accident. I could only see the obvious, logical path ahead of me, which I didn't want to take. The word I used most about my situation was "trapped". I got to the point where I was miserable on a daily basis. I also didn't have a great deal of spare cash.
But times were drastic and something had to be done.
I decided I needed help, someone who could look objectively at my situation and help me find other possibilities. I signed up with a fabulous career coach, Cherry Douglas. I will be honest and say that as much as I took to Cherry during our first consultation, there was a part of me that slightly resented having to pay someone else to help me. After all, I was an intelligent person who spent a great deal of time problem solving and had always been able to sort out my life on my own. But this time, with all my thinking, I could not see a way out of my dilemma.
I signed up for a programme of 6 sessions with Cherry. She questioned, probed, and reflected my thoughts back. By the third session, I suddenly noticed that I was talking about feeling free to do anything I wanted. In just 3 sessions, we had altered my mindset, clearing through a lot of the doubts, apprehensions, fears and frustrations. We identified my transferable skills, my values and dreams, creating the foundations of my new future. It was all so valuable that I added extra sessions to my original 6 and ended by designing my perfect job. (And it wasn't always obvious how it was going to turn out. I clearly remember at one point, Cherry asked if I had ever considered becoming self employed. I crossed my arms firmly across my chest and said, "No." Now look at me!)
Out of those sessions, I discovered many things, including that coaching was a tool I had been using throughout my career when working with people. Another was to create a big vision for my future which would not only give me a career I love, but which also supports other people in fulfilling their dreams and potential.
I started my coaching sessions with Cherry in the April, resigned my job in August and started my new business in January. I trained with James Wright of Performance Coach Training and Deborah Barnard of Relational Dynamics 1st and still see a coach on a regular basis to continue my own professional development, both for my benefit and for my clients.
I am very clear that coaching has and continues to change my life in ways that would not be possible if I was trying to do it on my own. The investment of time and money then and ongoingly has repaid me several times over, both in money and even more in personal satisfaction. Now I am spending the rest of my life offering that same opportunity to the people whose creativity enhances all our lives.
If this has struck a chord with you and you want to find out if coaching will support you, check out how we could work together and get in touch.