I’m a big believer in the benefits of reflective practice. Taking time to look back on our journey, our achievements, our successes, what is working? what are we grateful for? To reflect on our mistakes, what have we learnt? what might we do differently? This process of continuous learning is empowering and motivating and helps us to develop and grow.
As I reach my second anniversary as a freelancer I’ve come across a reflective essay I wrote as part of my coaching training. I find it interesting to reflect back on what was going on for me then as I entered the world of coaching and how much is still relevant to how I feel today. It gives a sense of what it means for me to be a coach and how my specific coaching style is evolving, so I thought I'd share some bits from it.
Reflecting on what drove me to step into self-employment:
"I was driven by a desire to better support the other areas of my life beyond work: as a parent, friend, wife; my personal wellbeing; my interest in the world and people around me; my sense of adventure - something had been lost in all these areas and I wanted to create a lifestyle that could encompass and satisfy it all! Far more than the potential for flexible working, I feel coaching is a vocation that supports my values and beliefs and can be incorporated into a more holistic approach to life.....”
At that stage I really had no idea what I was getting in to! Training to be a Transformational Coach brought an eye opening spectrum of learning about psychological theory and coaching approaches; I hadn’t expected the journey of self-discovery it would set me on. I encountered numerous lightbulb moments, and calming (sometimes quite emotional) realisations that there was a name or theory behind the anxieties, emotions, thoughts and feelings that I experience, and an understanding that others experience these in very different ways. This gave me a wonderful platform to learn more about myself, how I interact with others and how I would like to show up which has been invaluable to my coaching relationships.
Looking back I see the transformation in myself from my initial coaching encounters to where I am today. As my client base began to grow and diversify and I developed my active listening and presence skills I saw a step change in my ability as a coach:
“I began to listen to my intuition and allow myself to be fully present without distraction. This allowed me to really hear what was going on for my clients: Not just the words, but the tone, repetitions, negative thoughts, emotions. With this subtle shift curiosity and more impactful questions started to come naturally. This was the point when I truly saw the value of what I could offer!”
I remember from that point something changed in my practice, I began to see what happens if you simply trust the coaching process. I began to really help my clients explore and make sense of the assumptions they made about themselves and their world and to get below the surface of what was going on for them.
I became fascinated by the winding path of my clients' own self discovery, the uniqueness of their experiences; feeling honoured to be part of their journey:
“As well as hearing them, I began to notice subtle shifts in their body language and what these might be saying that their verbal transactions were not. One of my earlier clients, would hug her knees to her chest while she talked about what she felt society expected of her. When we explored her inner wishes more deeply she released her knees from this defensive position, her face lit up, her eyes looked to the ceiling, and she talked enthusiastically without hesitation. Reflecting this back to her was impactful, enabling a deeper exploration around what was really stopping her from reaching those dreams. A powerful experience for both of us!"
I love reflecting back on where I was then. As I continue to develop and evolve my practice all this still rings true. The journey of self discovery that coaching has sparked in me has helped me understand my own strengths and where they may be lacking. As I learn to embrace and respond to my own imperfections and vulnerabilities I find it easier to support clients to understand theirs. I love the fluidity of coaching, each client’s unique situation and outcome demands different approaches driving me to continuously learn and explore new techniques and styles - I don’t believe the journey will ever end!
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