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Coaching: The life skill that benefitted me the most

The Coaching Academy Blog

Posted: September 2023

This week's Coach in the Spotlight is Farnaaz Sharief! Farnaaz is a GP who has worked in various leadership positions within the NHS, including that of a Medical Director. A qualified Coaching Academy Life & Personal Performance Coach, Farnaaz has delivered a multi-award-winning resilience programme (Mind Your Mind), that has seen people improve their psychological well-being, build confidence, and enhance fulfilment in their job roles. This saw her feature on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2018, as well as receive a British Citizens Award for healthcare at the House of Lords the year before. She's a true advocate for thinking outside the box, helping people uncover their unique strengths, and bringing them towards making profound improvements in both their personal and professional journeys. Read on to learn more about her journey!

I was exhausted. The pressure was relentless, the demands were endless. A lot of people were relying on me to do my job. Everybody wanted a piece of me and I wasn’t sure what the right thing to do was. Within me, I lacked direction. I felt like I was making little progress and the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I really wanted to make a difference. 

I had stepped up to the role of a Medical Director because I wanted to do more. But that step up coincided with the start of a global pandemic that tested me in unimaginable ways.

Coaching became a ‘life vest’

I signed up for coaching because it was being offered and I had no idea where to start, what to expect or how to use the sessions. After talking of my confusion and current challenges in our first session, my very serene-faced coach queried “How have you handled confusion before?” – and that one question changed everything! It was instant. My energy changed, my focus shifted, I looked up and remembered my strengths, my many previous successes and I started drawing on these to make sense of my current problems.

I saw the light. I felt the power. I had solutions and I tested them in this safe reflective space. 

Coaching became a life vest. It helped me navigate my way forward and very quickly I realised this is the difference I needed to learn how to make for others too.

I resonated with the learning…

After a lot of online research, a couple of free webinars and a lot of phone calls, I signed up with the Coaching Academy for their Life, Personal Performance Diploma. It was a good fit. ICF accredited. Online, with a portal that explained everything clearly. Progress at your own pace with live online training scheduled at the end of the day in bite sized manageable chunks. These are a rich learning environment. 

They are a trainer-led forum for like-minded people who stimulated healthy debate, made difficult topics seem meaningful – with some trainers throwing in humorous personal stories for good measure. I made loads of friends here. Connected with some outside of the scheduled training to set up study groups where we met regularly to practice, work through the modules or blow off steam. Additional support from The Coaching Academy was available through mentoring sessions with peers, or those who had vast amounts of experience in the field. I resonated with the learning. I could apply it to my life. Some of the workbook activities were really powerful and whilst doing them, I felt as though I was coaching myself.  

I was having so much fun I qualified in 11 months!

They said it could take me up to two years to complete the coaching diploma, but I was having so much fun, I qualified in just 11 months, with merit. It was their ‘how to qualify’ flowchart that helped me stay on track and their helpful feedback after every practical assessment that encouraged me to improve.

Trusting the coaching process is what appeals to me the most. I always thought coaching was about asking the right question, but I realise now that coaching is about maintaining a presence. An unassuming, non-judgemental, solid, trusting presence that reflects the truth. The truth that transpires when vulnerabilities are exposed is one that shakes and strengthens the very core of a human heart. To hold that space with a person is a privilege. 

Transformation can happen in seconds or, be a culmination of thousands of small steps that lead a person to where they want to be. Witnessing that experience with compassion, patience and a broad mind add to the richness of the journey.

Coaching is an essential life skill that will never leave you

Coaching has numerous benefits for the client. We do it because we want to empower others. But the truth is that the essence of coaching, the value it adds, the meaning it brings and the soul changing effect it catalyses – has to be felt, experienced and lived first by the coach.  

My willingness to make a difference is still there, but my perspective on how to do this has changed. I recognise the vast potential of the human mind, the complexities of peoples’ behaviours and the strength and determination of their hearts. I realise that a large part of my role as a Medical Director is to empower people to find solutions that already exist within them. I make progress everyday by harnessing the collective energy of my teams to shape the way forward and use powerful questions in safe spaces that allow for relationships and trust to flourish.

For those embarking on this journey – coaching is an essential life skill that will never leave you. It touches every facet of your life, adds richness to every conversation, brings meaning to every experience and adds value to every relationship.  Immerse yourself in it!

Thank you Farnaaz for sharing your inspirational coaching journey with us!   


If you are feeling inspired and would you like to find out more about the impact that life coaching could make on your life and those around you, then do join us on our Introduction to Life Coaching webinar - choose from available dates here.   

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