To celebrate International Coaching Week (ICW) I’m running a series of daily blogs on both coaching & mentoring.
Today I am delighted to host a guest post from Vera Woodhead (@verawoodhead). Vera is a professional coach, facilitator, trainer and lecturer in business, leadership and personal development. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking out her blog here.
Vera’s post gives a great perspective on the learning & development that coaches themselves take from the coaching process. It’s a great story to end this weeks series of guest posts. I hope you enjoy it!
Having spent over 15 years in people development, the route to coaching seemed a natural progression. Of those the majority was spent in large organisational environments where performance, effectiveness, goals, strategic direction… were part of the coaching repertoire.
This changed when I undertook my Masters in Coaching and Mentoring some years ago where we engaged with ‘coachees’ to practice new skills, techniques… etc on. I used my contacts to find 5 professional women who wanted to take up the offer of 6 free coaching sessions. They included a head teacher, lawyer, judge, HR director and a business owner. They were all local and came to my house (where I have a private ‘coaching room’) for their sessions. I was surprised about the type of issues that were being raised. They were intertwined with aspects that were personal, professional, family and much more emotions were coming through than I was used to.
Many of our conversations resulted in shifts in paradigm and beliefs and in most instances were cathartic. I was struck by how much they seem to get out of the sessions, the transformational changes and how liberated they felt. My approach since been one that is holistic, developmental and works with core values and beliefs.
However, the most transformational change was in myself. I arrived in England as a young teen and have been financially, emotionally, psychologically independent since the age of 17 years old. I was tough, hard, aloof, didn’t show any emotions as this would be a sign of weakness. I had to be strong, to cope with whatever challenges came my way – on my own. This continued throughout my married life and even when I had my children.
It wasn’t until I worked with this group of women, that I became aware that showing signs of vulnerability does not make you a ‘less strong’ person. I was also moved that they felt safe and trusted me enough to share some of those inner feelings. This was a huge turning point for me and the start of my journey in getting in touch with my emotions, being aware of them and sharing them. I became better at asking for help and in talking about how I was feeling. I find it much easier to be empathetic and to share my own feelings.
My thoughts, feelings and actions are much more aligned and the perspectives and learning that I get from coaching clients continues to help me grow and develop.