New Chapters: Flourishing in the Face of Adversity

Author : Pete White

18th November 2019

In late 2018 the guys at Animas asked me to write a piece about my journey and how it brought me to coaching. I decided to call it ‘From the Bottom of the Barrel‘ because that’s where I felt I was when I was in the midst of a mental health crisis. At the time it was a throw away title for a blog post. I never gave any thought of what it would later become or what path it would lead me down.

At that time I was two months into my transformational coaching course with Animas. I had dreams of quitting my job in IT, becoming a full time life coach and living the laptop lifestyle with my beautiful wife and puppy.

The response to my blog post was phenomenal, friends, family and complete strangers sent me messages of support, congratulations and encouragement. Several people told me I should write a book about my journey. I laughed them off and thought that nobody would be interested in a book about me. But the messages kept coming, and so, with some extra encouragement from my wife, I relented and began writing my book. It would tell the story of what happened in Afghanistan which caused me to develop PTSD and severe depression. It was a no holds barred account of what living in a mental health crisis is really like and how I came out the other side.

Studying with Animas really helped me write this book. I learnt to explore my feelings more, take my time with writing it and look after myself in what was a hugely challenging time as I was reliving the toughest parts of my life.

Publishing my book (also called From the Bottom of the Barrel) was nerve-racking. I had thoughts of people hating it, judging me and accusing me of being a fraud. The imposter syndrome was strong but I have learnt that’s a common trait with many authors.

People’s reactions to it blew my mind.

Complete strangers were messaging me telling me how reading it had helped them understand their own issues or a loved one going through a tough time. I was doing radio interviews, podcast interviews, the requests poured in. It opened my eyes to just how prevalent mental health is in our society and how one person speaking out gives others the confidence to do the same.

I got my diploma in transformational coaching in January (I don’t hang around!) and I truly loved every second of my training with Animas. I met some amazing people, made some life long friends and some valuable connections in both the coaching and writing worlds.

Studying for my coaching diploma forced me to explore my values, personality and history at a depth I had never been before. Due to my somewhat colourful past, this often meant that things got uncomfortable and my mental health began to suffer.

I discovered that if I achieved something every day, that sense of achievement would give me the boost I needed to keep my head above the water. I developed a system in which I would jot down everything that I had to do for the next week. Whether professionally, wealth, health, relationships or any other part of life. I prioritised every item in the list and each day would tick off up to three things. This became a brilliant system for looking after my wellbeing, continually progressing my life forwards and staying focused.

All of a sudden I was a qualified coach and a published author, I was in a perfect place to start turning my dream into a reality. I could get coaching clients, leave my job and make enough money to build the life my family deserve, work where and when I wanted and help people to change their lives for the better

Except that isn’t what happened.

When I was coaching practice clients for free and very cheap I had plenty of clients, in fact, I had so many that I had a little waiting list. After qualifying, I began charging for my coaching and the well dried up, I just couldn’t find the clients, and when I did have a consultation call, I couldn’t turn the prospect into a client. Once it came down to discussing my rates I became embarrassed, I murmured my words and often found myself asking the client ‘Is that OK?’, any hesitation on their part and I suddenly reduced my prices. The clients saw straight through me and never came back.

My failure was in my lack of sales & marketing skills and a deep rooted lack of belief in my own ability. An experienced coach had once told me that many brilliant coaches fail in their ambition of running a private coaching practice because they don’t know how to market themselves or their coaching. I felt myself becoming part of that number.

I felt disheartened, disappointed and overwhelmed. I would talk to people as if I had plenty of paying clients; never saying as much but always being careful of what I said and how I said it so people wouldn’t realise the truth: I was a coach in ambition only.

I continued coaching for free because I loved doing it, a couple of those clients would later become paying clients but at heavily reduced rates. That roaring fire that burned deep inside me became a flickering candle, struggling to say alight. My normally full schedule of daily tasks was empty and my daily routine which I had carefully put together so as to keep me busy and achieving every day to keep my mental health issues at bay was all but forgotten.

I considered my options; a business mentor, marketing courses, high end coaches, maybe becoming a coach employed in an organisation. It was then that I spotted a post on Facebook from an old military buddy called Mick, he was looking to speak to someone who was a coach because it was a world he was interested in. I told him I was getting into coaching and we agreed to have a chat. The conversation that followed would change my career and my life.

He knew about my mental health history and we both had a deep passion about doing something in the mental health space. We excitedly threw about ideas of different ways we could work together. Mental health coaching? Open a wellness centre? Mental health first aid courses? Motivational speaking? The ideas came thick and fast. Many of them felt daunting yet exciting. I felt a renewed energy and vigour, fuel had been thrown onto a dwindling flame and again, I had a roaring fire inside me.

We quickly realised that we had similar experiences with mental health. We had both suffered the life-changing effects it had, we had both experienced discrimination or lack of understanding in the workplace and we both knew people who felt they couldn’t fight their demons any longer and are no longer with us. This shared experience cast the mould for a simple yet powerful mission: to save lives and change the face of mental health.

Within a week Paradyme consulting was born. We would combine formal training with coaching and consulting services to help organisations create a culture of openness and wellbeing, support employees facing tough times and help them get the support that they needed.

I couldn’t believe how much had changed in such a short time. My task list was full, my routine was back and I had a well defined plan and goals. Over the last few months myself and Mick have worked tirelessly to get Paradyme ready. We launched officially on the 10th October to an audience of 200 business owners, public figures and armed forces representatives and we’ve already had interest in our services from major players in the business world.

Looking back on my journey since I started with Animas I’ve grown so much as a person. I’ve had so many highs and lows, I’ve failed in some goals and had fantastic success in others. My coaching niche has changed 6 times, from success coach, to veterans coach, mindset coach, personal development coach, back to veterans and now mental health.

In the summer of 2019 I felt as though my dream of coaching was slipping away, now I’m a coaching director of a promising new company.

Life has its weird twists and turns and everything can change in a second, sometimes as a consequence of a random conversation. Things won’t always work out like you planned but that’s OK. Don’t ever give up, step back and take assessment of the situation. What’s worked? What hasn’t worked? What could you do differently? Who could you ask for help? Once you’ve assessed then go again.

You don’t know what’s over the next hill so keep moving forward, always.

You can purchase Pete’s book here!


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: sam.chambers@animascoaching.com

Categories: Graduate stories  

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