Matthew has kindly shared his story of how he discovered coaching and his journey to qualifying.

Why Coaching?

My wife went to the 2 day certificate course in Leeds. Months later she suggested I go as I was looking for a career change. I was in a rut, heading down that infamous creek with no paddle. My dad had died the previous year which had hit me for six. Nonetheless, his passing made me think long and hard about my own life. There were several aspects I was unhappy with and the time was right for change.

I confess to not knowing much about coaching as an intervention so read up and applied for the certificate weekend. I attended the first day with an open mind. Part through the first day it just hit me like an epiphany moment. This was what I wanted to do. Lying in bed that night I hardly slept thinking of all the possibilities this direction could take me. Not ideal for the next day 2 hours sleep, but I made it through and applied for the Personal Performance Diploma and was delighted to get on the course.

In a way, my life and work experience has been geared towards coaching. I had previously worked in sales but for the past 12 years in insurance, mainly as a claims manager. This role means I deal with all levels of people in many differing circumstances. It is about listening to the client, showing empathy and working towards closure with agreed actions and expectations along the way. My managerial role also means developing and motivating my team. I’m there to set the example and when times are tough and lead them through. Something I have enjoyed doing.

The Course itself

It could be easy to be a bit over faced by everything but it is good to get organised early. I signed up to TCA forum and pretty much straight away got the ball rolling with some coaching buddies. These folk I believe are essential in getting through the course. You get to bounce ideas around and discuss the various aspects of qualifying. They are also a good boost to morale if you find yourself flagging. I have met some great people doing the course and still in touch with many of them.

With the Personal Performance Diploma, I found myself absorbing everything and was hungry to take more on board. Coupled with the course I was also reading books and blogs which I continue doing to this day. I’m not saying I lived and breathed coaching obsessively for the course duration. I did find at times going for a few weeks without much progression. I would do the practical sessions but found other interests filling my time. Mainly it’s about finding a good balance with other areas of your life.

The accelerator days were amazing and the coaches taking them were extremely knowledgeable and motivational. I found these essential and learned so much in going. Again, being with fellow students was a huge bonus and you just absorbed the positive energy from everyone.

It was really interesting to review and plot my progress. I would look back to my first coaching session and compare it to how I was in later ones. I felt my confidence growing but appreciated there was always room for improvement. I was also seeing clients getting closer to their goals and making progress themselves – almost going hand in hand with my own journey. It was so rewarding seeing clients get to where they wanted to be. I was motivating these people. I was asking some challenging questions and you could really see them think about things before answering. There were a few good “Eureka” moments which I got a buzz from seeing. This for me was both rewarding and a privilege.

The real measure of progress was having the practical assessments. I had tremendous constructive feedback providing focus on development areas. It was also lovely to hear the positive comments about what went well. As I was progressing towards the end of my Diploma, it was natural to think more about the next steps once I had qualified. I had set up F5 Coaching and started on with a website, the various documentation and marketing strategies.

Where are you now?

I passed the Diploma a few months ago. My website has recently been finished and I have had a few enquiries already. Although I’m still doing the day job I’m making the right steps forward.

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

Previously, I was overweight and unfit. These were to be areas of attention after the certificate weekend. The following week I had signed up to a military boot camp, reviewed my diet and set some goals. A year later, I had lost over two stone and was significantly fitter. I completed a 10 mile mud and obstacle run. So, my wellbeing niche found me! I have made so many contacts doing what I do, it seemed the perfect way forward.

What is your favourite coaching question?

One that has evoked many emotions and the odd tear. If you had a future Wikipedia page what would you want it to say about you?

Tips for:

Coaches in training?

Write up your practical sessions straight away. This was on advice by another coach and one I adhered to throughout. Take on board the feedback from the practical assessments – and don’t be afraid to book one. If you feel your confidence waning or progression slowing, speak to your fellow students. They may well be experiencing the same issues and you can act as a boost for each other.

Coaches about to qualify?

If you are using your Diploma (s) to start up your own business I found Bev’s Do It or Ditch It resources invaluable with things like business and marketing plans. If there is a gap between starting your business and finishing your course, keep on with your coaching buddies. Don’t get rusty!

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