‘What the hell am I doing?’ I asked myself midway through my coaching diploma. I had left a well-paid job to throw myself fully into my coach training and was wobbling.
During a long career in HR, training and mediation with some experience of coaching, several people had independently suggested to me I would be a good coach. I went on a few open days for coaching schools and picked Animas because the energy in the room was right, the pitch was honest and I was drawn to the course content of the Diploma in Transformational Coaching which goes deeper than other coaching schools.
I had had this vision when I started my coach training that I was going to become an Executive Coach. You know, the kind that earns a lot from a few fabulous corporate clients. And that would sit nicely alongside a HR consultancy, given that my long career to date was in HR.
‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ (from a Scottish poem by Robert Burns ‘To a Mouse’). I had big ideas. I had plans. I just didn’t know they would get turned upside down.
I was ready to start my Diploma. The first thing that happened about a week before I went on my Foundations module was that my mother, who had been diagnosed three years previously with an incurable cancer, was told she had weeks or months to live. It was a bombshell.
However, I realised that the Universe had given me a gift in me leaving my job in that I had time – time to spend with my Mum that I certainly would not have had if I had stayed in my full time job. I could split my time between working on my coaching diploma and visiting my family.
As my coaching journey continued I discovered that I had a secret passion that was not aligned with my executive coaching/HR consultancy plan. Damn it. And it would not go away. I put off thinking about it anyway.
Mum died about a week before I got my Diploma in Transformational Coaching. For a while I was in a dark place with my grief. I didn’t have energy for anything forward-looking. I hunkered down. I ate too much. Then I started meditating.
I gradually surfaced. I think it was a final push for me to think well if I don’t do what I really want to do with my life, what is the point?
See, my passion is in two seemingly unrelated areas. The first is people-pleasers, those that give and give, often to their own detriment. I know exactly what that’s like. I spent about 20 years lost in putting others first, denying I had any needs, that my feelings didn’t matter and that I was happy as long as other people were happy.
I almost burnt-out at work from repetitive strain injury (RSI) because I said ‘Yes’ to every request. I came close to a breakdown in my personal life too.
The trouble is I had forgotten that the commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself starts with loving myself. I had lost myself and my trust in myself and since have worked hard on recovering and re-building both.
I know that people-pleasing sucks, but the default action of trying even harder doesn’t work. I now help recovering people-pleasers re-discover themselves, get out of their own way and find their own beautiful life.
I have started support groups in Surrey and London for women who identify as recovering people-pleasers as I believe it is much easier to make changes when we know we are not alone and have others accept us as we are right now.
The second area I am passionate about is supporting those interested in or involved in diverse relationships. Here I am talking about anything non-traditional, such as non-monogamy, BDSM and LGBTQ+.
There are a lot of misunderstandings and prejudices that people who identify with these types of relationships face. Having been on my own journey exploring gender and sexuality, I know how empowering it is to be able to talk with someone openly who you don’t have to hide that side of yourself from. Whether we are talking about issues concerning gender, sexuality, or something unrelated, I am honoured to be supporting people who dare to be different.
What do these two seemingly different groups have in common? They are on their own journeys to find themselves and live a life they love, on their own terms.
I want that for everyone! For new coaches just starting out, I would encourage you to keep an open mind and follow your passion. Things rarely work out how you planned to begin with, so don’t be daunted by setbacks.
What’s next for me? I don’t know and it’s exciting. Coaching has helped me set aside automatic assumptions like ‘I can’t do that’ and helped me get over myself enough so that I don’t get in my own way. It has also helped me be more disciplined with my time! I am writing a book and speaking at events and wondering how I am managing to do it all.
But I know really. I am learning to tune into my inner voice, what’s in my heart, better every day. I love what I am doing and I love what I am being. I am free to be myself and blossom and create that space for my clients to do the same.
Where is your inner voice calling you?