What brought you to coaching? My daughter! I had taken voluntary early severance from my previous employer and was looking around at what I might go on to do. She reminded me that I had 'invented' a coaching process for her when she wanted to combat her nerves going into an ice skating competition and she said that it really worked for her. She told me I should do it for a living and so I decided I would look into it.

NLP Coach of the Year 2016

What brought you to coaching?

My daughter!  I had taken voluntary early severance from my previous employer and was looking around at what I might go on to do. She reminded me that I had ‘invented’ a coaching process for her when she wanted to combat her nerves going into an ice skating competition and she said that it really worked for her. She told me I should do it for a living and so I decided I would look into it.

What drew you to The Coaching Academy?

I found the Academy online, but being quite cautious by nature, made lots of searches and enquiries to see what was available. I felt that The Coaching Academy was the most professional and well-established of those I found.  I attended the free initial two-day course – which was everything it promised to be and was great value, at last it was something I felt I was good at!  I’m a good listener and I spot language patterns quite easily, so reflecting things back to the client and gently challenging them, came naturally.  Being a mum I’d always aimed to ask open questions in engaging my daughter in conversations about her world.

What was your profession before becoming a coach?

I had been working for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for nearly 14 years and there was an opportunity to apply for voluntary early severance. I had no idea at that time what I was going to do, but I knew that I wanted to be self-employed. I had experienced coaching and mentoring through the organisation at the time, and was very much a believer in the power of coaching. 

What did you find most interesting to learn?

NLP! I was absolutely hooked. I sat in on that first accelerator day thinking “doesn’t everybody think like this anyway?” and realised I had been using NLP all my life without knowing! I had never heard of NLP at the time and had opted to start the NLP course first just because the timing fitted. I wanted to do something straight away that I could complete in a relatively short time.  

What was the most rewarding part of the training/journey?

Seeing and feeling the effect it had on me.  Without setting out to, I found myself changing completely from a very glass half empty person to a definite glass half full one. Simply going through the learning process and having practice sessions with others achieved this profound change in me too.  As well as it boosting my confidence and self-esteem it was also a huge help to both me and my daughter when she went through some personal challenges enabling us to navigate them more positively than we would have without all that learning.

Which bits did you enjoy the most? 

I loved the accelerator days.  There was always somebody I had met on another one of the diplomas or at another day and there is such energy in the room. People are there because they are genuinely interested in learning and there is a huge diversity of age and experience at every session.  As a protégé student I really enjoyed that hour or so between arriving at Latimer and the formal start to the day, when I could.

What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?

I coach young athletes in confidence and mindset skills to enable them to perform at their very best in competition.  I mainly work with figure skaters. My daughter initially suggested it because she was coming up to a competition and feeling some pressure. It was open to all skaters nationally, but being held at our home rink and she felt there was an expectation from others for her to do well.

I worked out a plan to coach her over four evenings leading up to the competition using materials I had and worked it all into a skating theme.  It really worked for her (she came 1st!) and I realised that this was an area which the youngsters training hard on ice just weren’t taught. I wanted to do something about that and let them perform as well in competitions as they knew they could in practice. 

It also helps with confidence in general in their lives – many of those I work with tell me they use the same skills with their exams and revision and when faced with challenging ‘frenemies’. Often a youngster lacking in confidence won’t necessarily engage with confidence building programmes, but when it’s all about the sport they love, they are only too happy to take it in that context with all the consequential knock-on positive effects in the rest of their lives.   More recently I’ve been contacted by some adult skaters too, who are also enjoying the benefits of the impact it has had on other areas of their life.

How did it feel to win an award and what difference did it make to your life and business?

I was absolutely over the moon! Setting up and running a brand new business and having this recognition meant a great deal. Winning the award gave me a tremendous feeling of confidence that I’m on the right track with what I’ve chosen to do.
Clients and Facebook supporters were all very complimentary about it when they heard and I recently learned that being an award winner has a major impact on the decisions of potential clients when they are considering whether or not to work with you. Although I haven’t been able to measure it precisely, I have had more enquiries since winning the award and I do believe it is having a positive effect.

What is your favourite coaching question?

“What would you do if you had a magic wand?” and “Where do you want to be by this time next year?”  The first one enables them to set aside their thoughts of impossibility and the second one starts them on their way to creating goals to work towards. Both very much key to the process!

What do you enjoy most about being a coach?

Seeing the results!  Watching young people light up with excitement because they are achieving results they never dreamed of. It’s sad seeing a youngster demotivated and really lacking in confidence, but seeing the results after a few coaching sessions, and even better, hearing that other people have noticed the difference in them without knowing they are working with me is just priceless because it proves to them that positive changes are being created.

What are your top tips for people who are looking at coaching?

I’m a strong believer in learning how to coach formally. As an unregulated profession, far too many people set themselves up as coaches when in fact they are consultants, counsellors or advisers in the truer sense. If you’re considering it, learn it properly. It will have a lasting, positive impact on your own life. The most profound change and best results come from the client finding their own solutions and implementing it from within.  And it is so satisfying to see.

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