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Coach In The Spotlight - Michele Cohen

The Coaching Academy Blog

Posted: April 2013

I've had a successful career delivering projects in organisations where I've been fortunate to manage and lead teams and deliver training. Choosing a new career direction, I decided to deepen my knowledge of people. I'm proud to say that I've always used a coaching style - it just took the fabulous and free Coaching Academy weekend for me to know it was right for me to take coaching further as a vocation.

I’ve had a successful career delivering projects in organisations including BBC Worldwide where I’ve also been fortunate to manage and lead teams and deliver training. I’ve liaised closely with clients and suppliers, controlled and improved processes, risks and budgets and been part of projects that have taken me as far as China, looking at ethical and environmental matters. I’ve always been passionate about supporting people, especially in areas such as improving communication, time and stress management, and confidence building, and am passionate about encouraging people to take responsibility for their actions and to uncover solutions themselves.

Choosing a new career direction, I decided to deepen my knowledge of people. I had already signed up for a psychology diploma, knowing this was ‘sort of’ the right path for me. Suddenly The Coaching Academy (TCA) courses started to appear on my computer! The idea of attending the free weekend was very appealing, even though it was mixed with a ‘hmmm, there’s no such thing as a free lunch’. Saying that, you did have to bring your own lunch!

I’m proud to say that I’ve always used a coaching style – it just took the fabulous and free TCA weekend for me to know it was right for me to take coaching further as a vocation. It was a decision I consciously took because, as well as doing some research and seeing the quality for myself on the free weekend, it felt right physically. I had already learnt to utilise and trust my senses!

The course was professional, interesting and an eye-opener. I had previously completed a Train the Trainer accreditation and I “just knew” that coaching was going to fulfill me even more. I would be able to support and help people to support themselves. Another real benefit was recognising and writing down the reasons why I was doing this in the first place. Knowing the why meant that at times of disengagement I could look at this, read it and re-motivate myself.

Signing up for TCA courses was a great process, it made me focus and think deeply think about why I wanted to do this. I decided it was an investment in my life and career and that even if I chose not to make a full time business of it, I would be heightening my self-awareness.

In true project manager strategy, I worked out what was needed of me in order to qualify. I also read books around the subject and took off the shelf my much-loved copy of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey, recalling Habit 2 ‘Begin with the end in Mind’. Although there were a number of study days to attend and lots of practice coaching sessions to carry out, plus completing assessed coaching sessions, I worked out that the minimum amount of time it could take would be around 10 weeks for 1 diploma.

I had to find clients and get them to commit to a number of sessions, carry out the sessions, attend a minimum of 2 study days and be assessed 3 times. Oh, and complete the exam paper. So I was easy on myself and allowed myself 11 weeks. I then created a schedule and diarized my study days and my assessment dates. I logged when I was due to have the sessions and when they were completed. This was useful and also motivating and using a colour code meant that at a glance I could see how many sessions I had left to go to complete. I went out and asked some friends to be my clients and they said yes! Great, so I already had clients. After about 4 sessions I booked my first assessed session to coincide with my completion of about 10 sessions.

I loved my sessions, I learnt so much from “just getting on with it” and soon also learnt the effects of coaching the wrong way. What do I mean? Well, I could tell that the reaction that I got from asking closed questions resulted in losing rapport with a client and this meant I had to rebuild the trust for them to open up again. Coaching is not about telling or suggesting, it’s about asking and I learnt how to ask more effectively and listen deeply.

The feedback I received from my assessments was so helpful on my journey. I recalled the quote “feedback is the breakfast of kings” and I decided to feast, in order to polish my new skills. I’d definitely recommend people who are starting their journey to book their first assessment early. Plan, decide and take the action! I would get up 2 hours earlier than usual and the day then seemed to have so many hours in it, plus I was no more tired in the evenings than usual. It took me 6 months to complete 3 diplomas plus the NLP practitioner qualification. It was planning combined with taking action that got me there. Coaching myself was helpful, asking, “What is it that you need to do?” Then deciding, “What is it that you need to do first?” Then actually taking the action. I had decided to put my psychology diploma on hold during my coaching studies, but decided to pick up the modules again and I successfully completed my psychology diploma a month later.

I knew that I had to look after my health too and so would generally plan my meals for the week making sure that I was eating well and usually taking some exercise. I also made sure I met up with friends and that I didn't talk about coaching or to coach them, but it was a challenge at first!

Whilst qualifying I designed and set up my website and brainstormed the best ways to get business. These included ideas I learnt from TCA study days that I chatted about with fellow students and cogitated over with TCA study buddies. I then took all those ideas and thought about what the best ones would be to get me business. I made a plan, set some dates and I started taking actions.

Now, I’m delivering coaching, training and seminars. Whilst it’s early days for the business I’m delighted that I’m winning contracts and clients and the business is growing. There are great hints and practical tips on the TCA website and speaking with fellow students provides wonderful support, because you are going through the journey together. It’s helpful to celebrate your highs, as well as laugh together through your lows.

I value the magical experience you get with a client when you know they have broken through something and identified a new perspective; when a limiting belief has changed into a limitless conviction. When I have made a difference.


You can keep in touch with Michele via LinkedIn. Search on her full name - Michele Cohen or connect with her via The Coaching Academy group.

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