There have been many moments in my life that have defined where I am now, and what it is that is shaping my future. This week, I decided that I would take part in Joanne Hawkers ‘Meet the Maker week. One of the prompts was: ‘Why are you a…coach?’
I thought long and hard.
Should I give the superficial dinner party answer, or is it time to dig deep and tell the whole story of why it is I chose to do what I do? Do I give the polite response, or attempt the explanation of the driving force behind what has made me, me, over the last decade. Well, I decided. It’s time for the truth.
When people ask me: ‘Why are you a coach?’ Its such a good question and also such a long story, that for a long time I have really struggled to tell it. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t regret a minute of the story. But, how do you possibly describe the emotions, the tears, the shouting at the walls, the elation, the joy, the dancing round the room, the despair, the growth, the laughter, the friends, the challenges that all went into what is essentially a journey that has spanned the last ten years?
How do you attempt to convey, that when you look back, this is always what you were meant to do, but it is only now, probably in the last six months to a year, that this endless sense of striving, this endless sense of: ‘you are meant for more than this’ has started to become clear. It’s not easy having a massive sense of purpose and not knowing in god’s name how you are supposed to manifest what you were actually put on the planet to do.
One of my favourite quotes is this:
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever’
This is it. It only makes sense when I reflect. When I reflect on all of it so far, and I hold true to my roots, my instinct and my sense of purpose, and I keep questioning. It only makes sense when I work through something with a client and they have a breakthrough and we laugh and cry and celebrate together at the sheer magic, that actually, I get it.
At the time, all of the anguish and upset, the sheer frustration, the feeling like I was fighting through fog was just a total day to day journey of lost. Totally lost. How does this all make sense? Why am I putting myself through this? All of the self doubt, lack of confidence, lack of belief, terror, heartache, fear…all of it. I can tell you now that all of that was worth it. If I can possibly help anyone else somewhat bypass or simplify the process that I went through - well for that one person I help, then my struggles were worth it too. That is where the ‘Clear Vision’ part of my coaching mantra comes in, because I know what it is like to wade through treacle towards a vision and dream that only you can see.
I’ve always been someone who focused on people. Who fights for the underdog, who cannot let an injustice lie. I’m a remarkably tolerant person, but if you ever want to see me riled - show me an injustice, and I’m on it.
Many a day I think back to my boarding school years, the times when I was banned from the Chemistry lab for being a liability with the chemicals and for ‘my own safety - and for the safety of the entire building and its inhabitants, we just need you to sit this one out..’
I remember being picked last for every single activity that involved teamwork and yet knowing that I had a part to play. I knew that I could lead and inspire and encourage and engage like the best of them if I was only strong enough to step up and put myself forward.
I remember being the one to trample all over the ‘done thing’ and stand outside the Master’s office, fighting both tears and utter rage, absolutely challenging every status quo known to man and beast by ignoring protocol by doing so, until, he, completely taken aback, decided to let me into his office. He then stood, stunned, as one of the quietest, smallest introverts that he’d possibly ever met, told him in no uncertain terms that an injustice was being done and the only thing that she could think to do was to bring it to his attention. It took every nerve in my body to pluck up the courage to even stand there, and yet there I was.
I remember the time in a previous company where the working conditions had driven me to such a place, that one morning, driving down to the South of England, I found myself shaking with such horrendous anxiety, I heard a voice very clearly say to me. "Pull the car over now before you crash it, this has to stop. You need to get out, and something needs to change.”
I then remember the catalyst of events, the call to my GP, the call to my HR Department, the being hauled into the office once again at HQ to be told that I needed to pull my socks up (bear in mind, that was actually the last thing that needed to happen and their bullying and harassment was actually the challenge here.) And then I remember. I still remember this certain persons words.
‘Els - you see the world through rose-tinted glasses. When are you going to realise that this isn’t the way the world works, and that people will always and continually let you down…and you just need to toughen up and be harder on your team.’
And…I still don’t know where this voice came from, because I can assure you at that point I was beyond rational thought, but at the point where what needed to happen was me walk away from the job, potentially before another one was even in the pipeline, two things happened.
One - that small, quiet introvert spoke up once again, and I found myself channeling the same power that I had all those years ago in front of the huge stature of the Master, and I told her, in the same way that I told him, that this was no longer the way that I was going to be treated, and that the next person she would be hearing from was my solicitor.
Secondly, when I looked down at my phone, I saw, that the company I was hoping more than anything else in the world would get in contact with me, the company which I could only dream of working for up to this point, had messaged me. The message said the following:
‘We think you may well be a fantastic fit for our company, and we love the honest and authentic way that you chose to focus on your people - will you come and meet with us again?”
Answer - ‘yes I will’ ‘oh look…turns out this is exactly the way that one of the worlds most successful company’s does business,’ and…’wow…this is what the power of the universe can do…’
Well truthfully, its only looking back that I realise this…and bear in mind, scars can run deep. This one has taken me over six years to be able to write about.
That was the moment that I decided that the hands of one person would never control my destiny again. That was the moment that I decided that there is no need to be terrified of your future when you’re the one creating it.
At that point, life changed. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t all beds of roses and angels singing and unicorns flying from that point on. What commenced was a move to a phenomenal company that inspires and continue to inspire me on a daily basis and it’s been six years, a huge amount of soul searching, numerous sessions with myself figuring out which way was up and what on earth I was supposed to be doing next but….it led to me becoming a coach.
So when people ask me why I coach, I guess its for all of those reasons and more.
I do it to show that there is no need to be afraid of your future when you’re the one creating it.
I want to be able to empower my clients to understand that they and no one else needs to be in command of their own destiny, and that they have the resources, the brilliance and the talents within them to manifest just what they’re dreaming of.
I want to encourage them and you to step out of convention, to challenge the status quo and to leave a legacy which speaks of your courage and conviction and your absolute dogged determination to follow your purpose.
You have one wild and precious life. What do you want to spend yours doing?