I started my coaching journey with Animas back in October 2013. I was running completely on gut instinct when it came to signing up for the course and I decided just to see where the journey took me. I was prepared for changes and I was looking forward to what would unfold. Little was I aware of the huge changes that were going to happen in my life and probably it was for the best. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
When I came to Animas I was a general manager of Yoga studios. I am a single mother so having a job that meant I could be at home at 6pm to be with my son, which was essential. It was a job that served me well; in so much as it paid the mortgage and kept a roof over our heads. When at work the part I always enjoyed most was interacting with the staff and yoga students, and I was known as the go-to person for any problems or difficulties. Essentially I got my sense of satisfaction from the job by being of assistance to people. Not such a big step to understand how life coaching would appeal…
I went to the Animas Discovery Day with an open mind, I had been to other coaching schools open days and so far I wasn’t impressed! What struck my most about the Discovery Day was the obvious passion both Nick and Catherine had for coaching. I felt that Animas was a coaching school with a heart and it was what I was looking for. The thought of balancing a full time job with my coaching course was a little daunting but I know that if you want change in life it requires putting in the effort… What impressed me about the course was how we were encouraged to begin coaching straight away. I’m sure I’m not alone when I share that the first few sessions are very nerve racking. Clutching my TOOLBOX model and all my notes I jumped into the deep end and got started.
I was amazed how quickly my clients opened up and this helped me to slowly gain my confidence. I trusted in what I was taught and one thing that Nick said always resonated with me. This was that although a weekend module can seem over whelming you do absorb it all in the end and it pops up in your coaching most unexpectedly! Personally I enjoyed the sessions but felt I wasn’t really doing anything apart from letting my client speak. I felt as if all I was doing was listening and in fact I saw myself as a bit of a sham as a coach.
This is where on reflection things became interesting in my development as a coach. I have always been the fixer. With my family, my friends and work colleagues.
“Go to Carrie she will sort it out and make everything alright.”
I had gained a sense of myself by fixing things for people advising them and arranging for things to happen. So suddenly in my coaching role I had to confront this in myself.
I knew I had to let go of this part of myself in order to be an effective coach. It was a struggle and my self-talk during my early coaching sessions were quite amusing.
“OMG I know exactly what this client should do… Resist it…. Don’t advise…. Just listen…. But I do know exactly what would work…. Help!”
Eventually the self-talk and the need to fix things started to relax into acceptance. Especially once I started to observe that in fact the client did have all the answers and most importantly I didn’t! Allowing people the space to resolve their own issues started to have a positive effect in my personal life too. My teenage son started talking to me more and opening up, feeling there would be no judgement or my usual attempts to fix things. I started to have a better relationship with family members too by just allowing them to be. This was a huge revelation to me.
All the time I thought I was doing the best for people when in fact I was not giving them the space to come to their own resolutions from which they could feel empowered. I had to come to the conclusion that despite my good intentions I had been robbing people of the opportunity to sort themselves out and gain a sense of satisfaction and to grow from their journey of discovery. In my coaching I started slowly to develop the ability to hold the space, to feel comfortable with silence and give the client time to formulate their own thoughts.
I was wonderfully surprised about how powerful it is to hold the silence and give your client the opportunity to think things through. The temptation to jump in and give advice started to subside and was replaced by a trust in the process. It is interesting how you are taught that the coaching process works, that you need to hold the space and give the client the time and opportunity to come to their own realisations. However, although I had absorbed it intellectually I hadn’t absorbed it emotionally and it was only through practice that I could see the process at work. It was a question of trusting the process, allowing it to happen naturally and watching the results.
My clients have been varied in age, nationality, education, and in their desired outcomes regarding the coaching. Interestingly each one has brought up something in me. An issue that I needed to resolve in order to become an effective coach. Sometimes it was impatience, an impatience stemming from the fact that although we had made progress we kept on returning again and again to the same stumbling block. Sometimes it was frustration that the client seemed to be doing nothing to help themselves and was endlessly self-sabotaging. Sometimes it was over identification as I recognised an issue that I shared with my client. Sometimes it was being sympathetic to the point of being unhelpful, as Robert would say I got in to the hole with the client instead of staying outside and helping them to get out of it.
My training started to have an effect on my personal issues; in fact it demanded that I come to place of resolution with them. A moving on and developing of my coaching practice so I could be of proper assistance to people without my personal issues clouding the outcome and compromising the benefits. For this I am truly thankful. I was told at the beginning of my coaching journey that I would change as I progressed through the course, however I had no idea to what extent. I now coach myself in all aspects of my life. My internal dialogue asks me questions continuously.
What do you think was your real motivation for that behaviour? Have you considered the effect of that action on the other person? If so how do you think they feel…. Help!!
My greatest challenge so far has been couple coaching. Before the session I went through all my Relationship Coaching CPD notes and read extensively to prepare myself to the best of my ability. It was the classic situation where my client had instigated the coaching and her boyfriend attended somewhat reluctantly. I found my greatest challenge to be to hold the space for two people. While one person talked, the body language of their partner was very negative. I had asked them from the beginning to respectfully allow each other the space to speak and not interrupt. This they did, however their body language was speaking a thousand words… I had to work very had to maintain a focused and positive session. I felt it went well and that we made some ground however we were very much at the early stages of things where I still had to gain the trust of her boyfriend. An interesting experience and huge learning curve for me.
In coaching we talk about and are as coaches catalysts for change and I believe that if we expect our clients to embrace change in their own lives we need to embrace change in our own lives too. This for me is about being authentic as a coach and not expecting your clients to take steps you’re not prepared to take yourself. Little did I know how much I was going have to live up to my words. In February of this year I was made redundant and in a heartbeat my regular income had disappeared. It was a shock and unsettling however through coaching and being present to my clients’ struggles I have been able to turn a corner. I now see my redundancy as the best thing that could have happened to me.
When I started training at Animas I wanted to change my career and start a new chapter of my life and this is what well and truly happened. I have been given the time and opportunity to build my website, learn all about social media and make the decision that I want to be a life coach. I want to be of assistance to people and help them reach their full potential. I have deeply changed since starting the course.
I so believe in being present to life’s opportunities and recognising the amazing human potential that we all have. My change in circumstances has been a true life lesson and I honestly believe that without the framework of coaching I would have found it much more challenging. I now take from this the knowledge that we have the choice as to how we wish to view the events in our lives and I see myself moving forward to a life of wonderful possibilities.
Coaching-wise I notice that I am more present with my clients. I am patient and give them the space they need. I no longer feel a desire to fix them or solve their problems. I seem to be more effective and my sessions are flowing much better. I am no longer worried when there is a silence and fearful that I won’t be able to think of the next question. I have a long way to go, however I do feel I am on the way on my coaching journey. I get such a lift and wonderful satisfaction as my clients move towards the life they want, almost so much that I feel guilty about charging as I have got as much out of the session as they did! I look forward to looking back in a year’s time and seeing how I have developed.
I’m excited about my coaching business and I’m optimistic about the future. I have had my own business before so I don’t have any illusions however this feels like just the right time to branch out on my own. I’m also looking forward to seeing how my fellow coaches develop and build their practices.
I have met many amazing people at Animas and it has been great to be part of the Animas community of coaches. To finish I would like to say that what excites me most about coaching is that it is a profession that demands that you grow as your clients do. An effective and successful coach will always be motivated to develop their skills and grow as a person. This is the challenge and I am so looking forward to it!