In this week's Coach in the Spotlight our accomplished business and personal performance coach, Graham Little shares how a shift in his career - and priorities - led him to a new profession in business and youth coaching. We hope you enjoy his inspiring journey and top tips.
The actual coaching desire launch point goes back at least 15 years, but the final ignition was in 2015. After a huge amount of soul searching, I walked away from a career as an ambitious IT Programme Director and became a stay at home dad, with absolutely no clue of what to do next, or for that matter, how to run a household.
During this time in my life, my son was experiencing emotional bullying at school and I started coaching him every evening so that he had the courage and confidence to cope with each morning at school. He built resilience and I am still proud of him today for how he progressed with his own strength of character. I realised then that I was also mentoring and advising ex-colleagues, friends and family, but I knew there was more to this support approach than I was experienced in or able to deliver. I truly believed that I could have supported my son and ex-work colleagues more effectively if I had formal training in coaching methodology.
The ‘World of Graham’ then turned upside down due to my overindulgence in social media surfing. My Coaching Academy journey began when Facebook popped an advert into my digital feed. During October 2017 I clicked on the link and signed up to the Foundation Day. So, completely against my way of doing things, four weeks later I attended the Manchester Coaching Academy Foundation days and was hooked within the first five minutes.
I found myself and my future self.
What was/is your profession before becoming a coach?
On a good day, I was a Chartered Accountant acting as an SAP Programme Director and on an amazing day a Stay at Home Parent winging it.
Tell us about your journey as a TCA student:
I once travelled for 36 hours (a direct flight is just over 6 hours normally) trying to get from Tokyo to Bangkok to witness the birth of my son. It was a trip of mixed emotion, barriers and many diversions (3 flights and a 10-hour car journey), but unbelievably worth it, as was the journey to deliver my final coaching qualification submission 18 months after commencing. I originally planned to finish two diplomas in 6 months. I got there in the end. I have always been a tenacious soul (not the word ex-colleagues would have used).
What was the most rewarding part of your training/journey?
The most rewarding part of the experience was successfully completing the practical assessments. This was the part that I found the most daunting. If it could go wrong, it did. Unable to connect three people via Skype, swapping out a volunteer client last minute, new headphones with a constant hum, calling the wrong conference number, you name it, it happened to me. I learnt so much about myself and the feedback was invaluable. It defines me as a coach today.
How did you fit coach training into your busy life?
By delaying my completion date and acknowledging that this was acceptable and then eventually being disciplined about time management (well mostly, if you exclude the 3 month Summer break). This really took the pressure off and allowed me to become focused on becoming an independent professional accredited coach.
Where are you now? How are you using your coaching skills?
As a qualified business and personal coach, based in Chester, I am now regularly networking, making classic networking mistakes (apparently it humanises me), building my online presence and growing my reputation, trust and credibility as a coach. I also provide complimentary coaching to the iGen generation focusing on confidence and reassurance.
What is your coaching niche and why did you choose it?
My current business coaching niche includes IT business owners, accountants and self-employed expats. Working with professional services and technology businesses links to my corporate background. However, as a ‘new to the market’ coach, this provides me with confidence, rather than being a necessity to coach in this area.
Also, I am building my personal coaching niche through attending CPD courses, finance coaching, reinvention coaching and voluntary iGen coaching for 16 to 26 years old. I selected these CPD courses as I already had experience or an interest in these subjects prior to becoming a coach. With iGen, this was linked to wanting to give something back and I had the honour to work with the charity GRIT in this area last year, supporting three young adults for 9 months.
What are your top tips for:
People who are looking to become qualified as a professional coach?
• Understand your purpose for being a coach and identify the impact it will have on you.
• Invest in reading around the subject and build up a library of resources.
• Spend time with other coaches coaching, being coached or having a good old moan.
Those currently in training with TCA?
• Book your practical assessments - don't wait because you think you are not ready.
• Read the final ten questions - before every accelerator day.
• Mentoring really makes a difference - pick the right mentor for your individual style.
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