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Coaching and combat, surprisingly good bedfellows.

Posted 989 Days Ago in: Niche Spotlight

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Coach Tara Shaul has very kindly shared with us her take on finding your coaching niche.

“Demonstrate your knowledge and passion for your coaching niche” That seemed relatively straight forward, but then I had a realisation, I hadn’t completely decided upon my niche. Sure there are areas of coaching that I am naturally more interested in and find myself being better at – but is that enough? Is it justified to make a decision from the outset that there’s a magical area or specialty you belong to? Obviously that is a rhetorical question, but it’s a valid one nonetheless. At least in my opinion.

In order for me to explore this further I wanted to look at other areas of my life, and see if there was anything similar. Initially I was unable to think of a single thing that I felt was appropriate or would be useful. Then of course it happened. In a moment of reflection post coaching session it suddenly occurred to me where I could go to seek inspiration. What, aside from coaching, was the other thing that consumed my mind? What else lit me up inside and made my heart sing? Krav Maga!

For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, Krav Maga is Hebrew for “contact combat”. It’s also an efficient and brutal self defence system utilised by the IDF, Mossad and many law enforcement agencies worldwide. You may be asking “what’s that have to do with coaching niches” and quite honestly I wouldn’t blame you. I was seeking some sort of parallel between my life experiences and coaching, and it occurred to me there were many between Krav Maga and coaching.

Let me explain further. Like some people I entered my late thirties feeling restless. I just couldn’t understand why I felt so unsettled and then it dawned on me I was totally unfulfilled. This realisation was quite shocking and I set about doing something about it. I got a coach and started finding ways of getting some juice back into my life. As a way of combining fitness with self-defence I started Krav Maga. I had no knowledge of the brutality of the system. Apart from one Karate lesson 20 years previously (which terrified me sufficiently that I never set foot in a dojo ever again) I had never done any martial arts before. I imagined the class to be full of women 30 plus like me, resplendent whilst effortlessly mincing around doing, well – “stuff”! To say it was a baptism of fire was an understatement.

It hurt. Defending yourself means getting bruises sometimes. It was uncomfortable. As in major invasion of personal space by huge sweaty men. It was terrifying. Total strangers trying to punch and kick you. Yet the trade-off was huge. Endorphins mixed with fear and a sense of triumph that I survived, were utterly intoxicating and I was hooked. I left that class exhausted, bruised, and grinning like a Cheshire cat. Best of all I knew I did this in an environment that was safe.

So again, what’s that got to do with coaching niches? For me, understanding what your niche will be is a process, not an overnight decision. I believe that process will, at times, be uncomfortable and a little scary, and I think it’s meant to be that way. Isn’t part of becoming a good coach understanding how your clients will be feeling within their stretch zone and their panic zone? Is there anybody out there who hasn’t, as part of their coaching diploma dipped into the panic zone? Naturally I can only really speak for myself here but I have. Understanding this, understanding yourself, understanding when you feel panic and why and what you do to alleviate that is the key to finding your niche.

Recognising the things that stretch you or terrify you is all part of this process. I believe to know your niche first you must know yourself.

Learning with The Coaching Academy has another similarity to my Krav Maga training. There isn’t a “coaching” demographic per se, so the diversity of the people I have encountered has been a particular sweet spot. What unites us is our love and passion for coaching. For our determination to be the best we can in our chosen field, and our desire to serve. To do all that we can to empower our clients and to work with them so they can get the absolute best out of their lives. Yes of course we want to earn a living and be paid for our skills, but this is secondary.

Part of my coaching experience that I have enjoyed most is the sense of community. The support from my peers has been humbling and gratifying. Every person I have coached or been coached by has helped me on my journey to decide what my niche is. So it also occurred to me that in some small way I must be doing the same for others. What an incredible honour. Certainly I know that I plan on staying in contact with some of my “buddy” coaches throughout my career.

So have I found my niche yet? The short answer is no. Yet I refuse to panic, because I know it will come. It is all part of my evolution as a coach. By eschewing a traditional “career” and becoming a coach I know I’m completely outside of my comfort zone. It’s terrifying and exciting and marvellous and I plan on embracing it fully. With the help of my coach of course!

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