Be Inspired Series
Life, Business and Arts Coach
What does your job entail?
I work with individuals in one-to-one coaching sessions, helping them uncover the beliefs that are holding them back from reaching their potential in their lives and careers, and using questioning and active listening techniques to help them develop creative solutions to any challenges they may be facing.
I run training workshops and programmes in a range of areas; confidence building, presentation skills, social media, wellbeing and stress management and much more.
How did you get into this line of work?
I first read about coaching when I was completely burnt out in my previous career. Enjoyable as many aspects had been, it wasn't right for me. I was working in a large IT company and there just weren't enough opportunities for me to use my strengths.
Whilst off work with stress I read a small note about life coaching in a magazine, got intrigued and promptly bought a small library of personal development books from Amazon.
I completely turned around my own thinking and outlook, getting myself from a really unhappy place to feeling more optimistic and enthusiastic about the future than I'd ever been, and I wanted to be able to help others do the same. So I signed up for a distance learning course in life coaching and began coaching pro bono whilst I studied.
Outline your career to date?
Whilst studying for a Bsc in Industrial Management at Queen's, I did an IT training programme which led to me being hired by a small but ambitious IT company. I stayed there for the next seven-plus years. I began my coaching course in 2004, whilst still working. With the company's blessing, I went on an entrepreneurship programme in autumn 2006 and resigned in January 2007 to launch Soul Ambition.
What qualities are required for your job -- personal and professional?
To be a great coach and trainer, you have to be a good questioner and a good listener.
You also need to believe in the potential of all your clients -- and have strong self-belief yourself; you can't just talk the talk.
A great coach needs to encourage and champion their client; helping them uncover and value their strengths, and what it is that gets them fired up.
What is the best advice you ever received?
There's been so much -- from good friends and family, books, articles, random conversations.
One thing which stuck with me which I believe is one of the keys to a happy, liberated life, is the notion of seeing things in terms of "my business, your business, any other business". (This came from the author Byron Katie; she uses the term "God's business" rather than "any other business".) It's the idea that I am responsible for my actions and my reactions, and you are responsible for yours -- I shouldn't be 'over there' in your business saying you should do this, that and the other, I can ask you to treat me in a certain way but if you don't, then my business is what to do about that.
'Any other business' is anything outside of my control -- the economy, unexpected life events, etc. I only have power in the 'my business' area and I am solely responsible for that.
This is at once the most challenging and most liberating philosophy.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
People are constantly inspiring me. I have a lot of fantastic friends I'm eternally grateful for, and I meet new people all the time -- people who're taking leaps of faith, trying new things, developing new outlooks. People who are working on big, noisy projects; people who are quietly getting on and making a difference, of whatever size.
I have a brilliantly supportive family -- and for inspiration I need look no further than my own parents, who have worked hard all their lives to clothe, feed and educate the seven of us.
When I was in my teens my mum decided that, having left school at 16 and becoming a wife and mother at 18, she wanted to go back into education. So she did some A-levels at night class, then a degree at UU, then a master's, then a PGCE with the OU -- and became a teacher. I use her all the time with clients as an example of how the only thing holding you back is your belief about what you can do, or what's 'allowed'.
And my dad was so supportive of her; taking on more of the workload at home -- he's a great cook now! I admire him so much for his integrity and work ethos.
They've both been incredible parents, encouraging me, supporting me, believing in me; I owe so much to them, and my siblings.
I always tell clients that if they haven't been fortunate with their biological family, to create their own supportive family around them; I was very lucky to be born into one.