‘So, you just ask people questions for an hour and then what? People will buy anything nowadays!’, was a comment that rang in my ears for months and tapped into a deep uncertainty about the path I had embarked on.
Let us rewind for context. With a beautiful view of London from my modern 30-floor office block, I watched the lights of the city dance across the skyline before turning back to my report I had been working on for hours. It was 9pm. Everyone else had left long ago.
My stack of disposable tea cups had started to lean awkwardly begging to be recycled. With a sudden sense of urgency, I reached for my calculator and deducted my age from 68 and multiplied this by 12. 397 months until I could collect my pension. Wow. Assuming the government does not put up the age of retirement when I get to that stage of my life, this was a stark figure that caused an internal reaction I could not quite identify. 397. How was I going to spend the next 397 months?
Being exceptionally proud of my career achievements to date and having climbed the corporate ladder with much success, I had come to the realisation that I was ready for a change. Redundancy gave me an opportunity for a journey that I didn’t even know I needed.
Skip to hopping on and off planes and exploring different destinations. I travelled for a couple of months across the sands of the Caribbean and South America. It was fun but there was a looming thought of what sort of job should I do now? I made a mental list of all the skills I had: Business analysis, Lean Six Sigma, recruitment, service delivery, change management and a whole host of other corporate goodies. When ruminating over that list of skills I found that there was…well…nothing that terribly excited me, so I changed the questions. What do I like doing? And what is it that I really care about? These two questions focussed my list.
Coaching was at the top of that list.
Coaching teams had been my favourite aspect of any position that I have had but it was only ever a slice of what I needed to do. What if I could make my whole day look like a coaching pie rather than a slice? What if that coaching was not just around work productivity but was able to encounter the entire being of a person without a filter? I knew that I wanted to experience life differently, but I was not sure what that difference looked like. As I navigated my new reality of having left the corporate world, my coaching adventures began. Enter Animas.
I did not know that coaching could be like this. The art of having a purposeful conversation by unlocking without leading. Over my months of learning, I had enjoyed practicing in triads, was in awe of the demonstrations and genuinely formed friendships that were born out of vulnerability. That safe space was so important. When I signed up to the coaching course years ago, I had expected to learn new skills, get qualified and adopt them into another leadership role or set up a practice of my own. What I did not foresee is how this experience would hold up a mirror to understanding myself. What did I look like when I took off the mask? I didn’t even realise I was wearing one so reflecting on that image too was interesting.
The more questions I got asked in a coaching context the more I paused in reflection. It influenced how I spoke to members of my family. Questions healed relationships. Questions elicited hope. I knew early in my journey that if I wanted to coach others, I needed to be able to sit with myself without judgement. I needed to go ‘there’.
I witnessed practice clients make tremendous shifts. Honestly sometimes I did not even think anything was going on for them and at points they showed more trust in the process than I did. Coaching and being coached allowed me to get comfortable with the light and shade. To see the beauty of both. To explore choices rather than being ruled by perceived restrictions. The 5 months went by swiftly and before I knew it, I was submitting all my materials for qualification. I was pleased, proud and sure that this is what I wanted to do in life. I initially had a fixed view of what this might look like but over time chose to go with the flow of opportunity.
Coaching is an expanding industry. Even in a technologically advanced world, the connection created in a coaching relationship cannot be automated or reduced to a calculation or algorithm. We can experience being present with someone in the stillness of a thought, a glimmer of an insight or the visualisation of that which does not yet exist. We have the potential to tap into depths of understanding, all possibilities and a form of faith that begins to open pathways that may not have even been previously fathomable.
It is really easy to get tied up in knots about what you might do next after the qualification. The usual suspects of logistics tend to dominate with: who is going to build my website? How much should I charge? What will my niche be? How will I market myself? Or How do I incorporate this at my workplace? And just when you are in the midst of all these questions someone might come along and say ‘So, you just ask people questions for an hour and then what? People will buy anything nowadays!’.
The truth is, even during your coaching excitement there can be moments of doubt and uncertainty about what you are going to do with all that you have learnt. This is natural. I totally get it but while you are in the process of figuring it all out, and you will, I encourage you to celebrate and value who you have grown to be during your experience. You are creative. You are resourceful. You are whole. Transformation starts with you.
Are you interested in becoming a Coach yourself, to help and inspire others to live a fuller version of themselves?
If you would like us to help tell your story or you would like to share your coaching niche, philosophy or agenda in the form of a blog, like this one – contact Sam to express your interest: firstname.lastname@example.org