In hindsight, I have been a coach for a lot of my life. At age fourteen I started assisting as a coach in the gymnastics club where I trained, I went to the local primary school and listened to children read, I babysat for my cousins and family friends. Little did I know that the things that came so easily to me were developing and showcasing important skills which I could utilise later in life.
As I moved through my career I continued to be in situations where I took on the role of a coach: continuing to be a gymnastics coach, undergoing extensive training and becoming a buddy for the Terence Higgins Trust, working with young people in the theatre and eventually building and developing the Interactive Scientific team.
All of this is easy to see as coaching when I look back, however, the breakthrough didn’t come until I experienced coaching (and mentoring) for myself. On the whole, in the industries I have worked in and the society I live in, social and emotional health and self development are still seen as second class compared to revenue generation or building technology. From experience I can tell you that this is a major flaw in the system and the journey that coaching has taken me on is testament to that.
I have been helped out of some really dark places and some challenging times by coaches, I have also been supported to grow and create my dreams with coaches. I would like to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to some of the people who have provided me with intense coaching or mentoring. Greville Commins , Rick Chapman, Catherine French, Richard Male, Amy Armstrong and Emma Mumford. These people have been there for different important transitions in my life. I don’t have time in this blog to tell you the individual stories and changes that they have helped me (that would make a whole book), however, over time I will come back to the stories.
The crux of the matter is that the education system (not people) I experienced, from starting school to finishing my PhD, had been designed to crush my spirit and build negative thought patterns (perhaps not intentionally). The coaches mentioned above, using different techniques, gradually, over the past decade have helped me to rewire my brain, build positive thought patterns and rebuild my self esteem. This puts me in a healthy place so that I can spend more time on creation and connection in this world and less time on tearing myself down.
Running a technology business focused on the science industry can be a lonely place, over time I started to lose the opportunity to connect and help people on a human level. The good parts are when you get to see the light in the eyes of another human being and see that you are starting to do something that is really making a difference, but, in my role I was getting to do that less and less. I knew I wasn’t in the position to move on from that role, however, two opportunities came up that made me realise I can start to flex my coaching and mentoring muscles:
- I was drafted onto the University of Bristol’s mentoring programme and began mentoring an incredible 2nd year physics student, I hope over time as we work together she will begin to see just how powerful and talented she is. Sessions with her just made me smile.
- I was asked to go back to gymnastics coaching (just a couple of evening sessions) and within minutes of starting to coach I remembered how much fun it is to connect with another person, build trust and help them shift their own mindset with positive psychology methods.
Coaching and mentoring became a source of energy to me, so I did some additional training specific to life coaching and loved every minute of it. Through interactions across the entrepreneurial space I began to see that I had something that could help others, the way that I had been helped by coaches. I have always been asked to sit on panels and give presentations and every time my strength seemed to be using my experiences and vulnerability to help others build their confidence. I was starting to get asked so much to be an advisor, speaker or educator for other entrepreneurs (particularly women in tech) that I had to draw boundaries, it just wasn’t sustainable to do it in an informal way any more, alongside all my other commitments.
That is when I made the decision to formalise my coaching practice. I believe that I have to continue to be an entrepreneur to be a good coach, so I can’t do it 24/7, however I can create a schedule that allows for both, so that is what I have done. I have now started with more formal coaching and, whilst I’m learning with every new session I take great satisfaction in knowing that the hard times that I have been through can be used to help others.
If you are interested, you can find more information on my coaching packages on my coaching page.