When I arrived on my coach, Yannick’s doorstep I was like a bird with a broken wing. Two years earlier, I experienced a major personal setback that turned every part of my life upside-down. I had taken great strides in the emotional recovery but I was still working my way back up from rock bottom in a practical sense. An experience like this causes you to reflect and re-evaluate. I had big dreams and ideas for my career and purpose in life but my experience left me suffering from a major case of ‘Imposter Syndrome’ (despite having extensive experience, qualifications and achievements, feeling like I was a fraud). I felt low confidence, low self-esteem and I was really struggling with my self-identity. If I wanted to achieve my goals and potential, I had to face my fears head on.
I had previously been somewhat ambivalent about being coached by a male, mainly because a part of my vision was focused on promoting gender parity and equality at work but I knew I would be just fine with Yannick when on introducing myself, he saluted me for being a single parent of a boy and spoke proudly about the women in his life including his fiancé and mother. Yannick always operated with the utmost respect and professionalism. He approaches all topics with a very open-minded and inquisitive nature and it was clear he would support me with my cause. This lay the foundations for our coaching relationship and any concerns I had about choosing the right coach were quickly dispelled.
It was uncomfortable at first; speaking about my goals, challenges and ideas with a total stranger. Coaching requires you to expose your vulnerabilities and I was not one to do ‘vulnerable’. But I quickly built trust with Yannick as he listens without judgment and offers honest and impartial feedback. Over time, his feedback made me realise that my ideas were not strange and quirky as I had originally thought but valid, insightful and potentially very valuable. I gained the confidence to harness my unique perspectives and creative thinking style. Yannick approaches his interactions with a great deal of care and caution; always open, with unconditional positive regard and just the right amount of humour to put people at ease. His feedback helped me to identify and overcome some limiting, negative thinking patterns as well as incongruences in my beliefs that were preventing me from identifying with myself and moving forward.
When I began my coaching journey, I felt like I didn’t have the intellectual and professional knowledge to move forward with setting up my own coaching practice but through the coaching I determined a unique niche to focus on and combined with Yannick’s professional knowledge and wisdom I was able to develop confidence in taking the leap. Yannick helped me to appreciate and recognise my own strengths and I realised that I have valuable tools, knowledge, experience and wisdom of my own to draw upon as I embark on this professional journey. I also learned that if I didn’t have the answers, that was ok and I knew how to find the answers.
A clear sign that the coaching had made an impact is when I published a professional article about my career on social media (a milestone in itself) which was met with a critical comment by a professional sceptic. Anyone who has suffered from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ will know well the emotional turmoil that usually comes with this type of interaction. Instead of doubting myself, I was able to stand firm and put the critic ‘back in their box’ with a few swift statements of facts and questions to probe his comment. I was confident in the technical accuracy of my article and confident in my viewpoints, therefore, rather than fear criticism I was keen to hear it so that I could develop more. So there it was, I was ready!
Through the coaching, I achieved a much clearer idea of where I wanted to go, my core purpose and values and what I needed to do (or not do) to achieve my goals. I also feel that it was critical for me to experience my own coaching journey so that I could understand and appreciate what it feels like for my coaching clients. While I have studied the theory and read about what is most important to a coaching client, nothing can replace the actual experience of being a coaching client who is investing heavily both personally and financially into the process. I now have a much better idea of how I can support my own clients through their coaching journeys. I am aware of what a privilege it is that someone is prepared to trust you with details of their life, thoughts and insecurities and how important it is to treat that with great care and attention. I am aware of what a significant role trust and confidence plays in the process. I am sensitive to the need to gain a return on investment and to feel like you are making progress. Finally, I realised that you get out of the coaching experience what you put in; I spent a lot of time personally reflecting after the sessions, ‘joining the dots’ and coming to my own realisations therefore there was significant emotional and cognitive labour on my part.
To summarise, the coaching goes down as one of the most worthwhile investments I’ve ever made in life; second to having laser eye surgery to correct my eyesight to 20/20 which in terms of quality of life, is worth way more than the money I paid for the service. I no longer feel like an ‘imposter’ and I gained the confidence to take risks and work through potential challenges as I embark on my professional journey. That to me is priceless. My wing was fixed and I was ready to fly again. So off I went to soar with the eagles!