Wiggly careers – how I got here…
I wore a few different hats before I started coaching. I spent a decade working in busy London primary schools, initially as a teacher and then as a SENCo and leader. A big part of this work was about finding potential. No matter what we were up against – children with complex needs, budget cuts, challenging management dynamics – my role was to unearth the gold and create the best container to support that child and the team around them.
As a coach, this plays out in every bit of my work. While it helps to have an understanding of positive psychology, coaching is just as much about sitting with discomfort and digging into it. Often I work with people who are really struggling in their professional relationships or career. It is through staying with the pain and paying attention to it that deeper understanding comes and a gateway into opportunity and potential. In just a single session there can be huge shifts from despair and stuckness into action and a return to agency.
There is always a thread running through our work life – a theme which ties things together and makes things make sense. For a while I didn’t talk much about my teaching background. I thought my time in schools didn’t count when I was working with scaling organisations. But now I see that shining a light on potential, whether it’s dyslexic seven year old, an overwhelmed new manager or an ambitious leader, is all the same process.
If you’re feeling lost in your work, or like you’ve taken a wrong turn, take some time to think about the themes that run through your work. Go right back to the beginning – to your earliest jobs as a teenager. It could be helping people, being a decision maker, an ability to see the bigger picture or create a really warm welcome. Notice which themes have given you the greatest satisfaction.
Next think about how these themes are showing up today. How could you turn the volume up on them? Think broadly here – you can be a great decision maker in your family setting, in planning outside interests or voluntary involvements as well as in your current role. As you bring your attention to these themes you can strengthen your trust in them, and use them to navigate your next steps. What opportunities open up for you when you make space for more of this theme?
Self-leadership is about understanding yourself and the things which matter to you, and taking consistent steps to bring these forward in your life. Coaching helps you uncover this, and brings you back on track again, and again…and again!