Itís a big leap of faith and not a little bit scary to decide to step away from the more financially secure world of education to one of uncertainty and volatility that is self-employment. But I did just that in 1989.
Well, twenty-eight years on and a ton of water under the bridge, I’m still kicking!
Back in ’89 I had set a goal to start my own business as a trainer and coach and finally, with numerous qualifications and certifications, including an Open University degree in Psychology, I opened the doors of ‘Coachworks’ on 1st January 2003.
During this period of wing-gaining exploits I decided to undertake a coaching qualification. Spookily, a few days after I’d made that decision a Coaching Academy Taster Day flyer dropped on to the mat. Ah, the power of the sub-conscious mind!
Following accreditation, I enrolled for an Executive Coaching training - also through The Coaching Academy. This created the backdrop for what was to become the most exciting and rewarding future developing others.
Coaching has played a significant part in the success of my business (now called ‘Art of Reinvention’) and has enabled me to facilitate the most amazing changes for many hundreds of people both at a personal and business level.
From corporate leaders to business owner-managers running small to medium-sized organisations, I’ve been able to make a massive difference using the power of coaching.
However, it has been my experience coaching cancer patients as a volunteer that has had the most profound effect on me.
In 2007, I volunteered my services at The Olive Tree, a cancer support centre in West Sussex. Coaching there wasn’t available then. I had no idea if and how this was going to work but it felt right and so I swallowed hard and knocked on their door.
I hadn’t been trained to coach people in this very specific niche but I did believe in my abilities as a coach and in the coaching process. I work with patients, carers and family members.
All new clients attending the Olive Tree are given an hour’s interview with the centre manager who talks through all the interventions on offer. So often patients who elect for counselling initially request coaching as a follow up. They are motivated to look forward into a hugely uncertain future. Coaching or counselling? It can be a difficult choice for the patient. It can also pose an interesting dichotomy for the coach - where does my coaching become counselling (or, indeed, therapy)? I guess we all have our own perspective and are driven by instinct.
I came across a very interesting article recently in ‘Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research’ entitled ‘Coaching Versus Therapy - A Perspective’ by Vicki Hart (Autumn 2001). Hart said, ‘If the field of coaching continues to expand, as its current popularity suggests, future research will no doubt find these and other issues worthy of further inquiry. It is likely that, as more scientifically validated coaching practices and their applications are identified, "professional standards for coaching will also emerge." (Laske,1999, p.158). I think she was right!
My clients have expressed on many occasions that they felt it was cathartic being coached as well as helping them feel more in control. The most consistent message that I’ve recognised from working with these extraordinary people is the need to recover this sense of control. It is control that most have articulated is the over-arching loss they experienced. We can help, right?
Despite the need for specialist treatment and support, coaching can still make a massive difference to cancer patients and those affected by this life-changing disease.
This disease may take away so many of the qualities of life that we can take for granted but it doesn’t have to take away our dignity, our humanity. These extraordinary people have shown me that attitude is everything and… it’s a choice.
Some seven years ago, The Olive Tree had the chance to bid to work with Macmillan on a pilot scheme titled ‘Cancer & Vocational Rehabilitation’. The principle premise was to work with cancer sufferers to help manage the often tense and seemingly untenable relationship between them, their employers and the workplace. It was highly successful not least because of helping many establish a positive way forward for all parties. This required building a team of expert and experienced coaches.
An unexpected spin-off benefit has been that many of those coaches are still coaching at the Olive Tree!
I’m still astounded by the resilience of the human spirit. I am truly humbled and privileged to be given this opportunity.
There is and always will be an exigent need for great coaches to weave their magic!
Simon is a business psychologist, corporate mentor, coach and trainer at Art of Reinvention. He is also a speaker and very nearly an author! His favoured areas of focus are: personal reinvention during career transition, leadership development and the psychology of language.
If Simon’s words have inspired you and you feel that Coaching could be a potential full or part time opportunity for you, or if you would just like to know a little more about what Coaching is and how it can benefit you and the lives of others, please contact our Specialist Course Advisor, Jamil on 0208 996 4830 or email: Jamil@the-coaching-academy.com
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