I have always been one of these people who thought that coaching was a bit pink and fluffy. Those who need to find themselves really just needed to get a grip and get on with life, harsh! What I honestly never understood was how a coach can change your life; to fundamentally change the way you think to improve everything. That was until I met Sally Dhillon.
I first met Sally at a networking lunch where powerful women were standing up giving talks on life and success. We discussed something I was hoping to do but had some doubts about. Sally encouraged me to go for it and I was excited as I drove home, buzzing with the idea of doing something new. I have never met anyone who selflessly gives out as much positive energy.
A Bit of a Complex
Going back to the successful women giving the talks, I felt a bit out of my depth. I was just a freelance web designer, a one man band so I couldn’t see how this related to me but I listened and clapped at the right time. My business was doing well but I was incapable of getting my own message across without sounding over the top.
So I decided to invest in a few coaching sessions with Sally. It wasn’t until my first coaching session that I was able to start joining the dots and we identified some quite serious concerns. I was almost ashamed of being a web designer because:
- I didn’t feel I fitted the role, which in my mind belonged to a 26 year old ‘specky’ boy. My age was something I was very conscious of.
- I had the small person syndrome – nothing to do with height but all about being a one man band, an individual running a business, rather than someone whose opinion mattered and who was recognised as a successful person.
- I wasn’t communicating well with other people.
The first coaching session was very emotional. I had to talk openly about my feelings and share things I had never shared. It was very cathartic though, I was able to just talk about myself and my feelings without feeling guilty or feeling self-indulgent. This was some serious me-time and that in itself was a great experience.
Other things were hitting home too. I had been doing loads of networking but none of the people that I was meeting had bothered to visit my website. Quite simply it seemed that over the past 18-months nobody was taking me seriously. No question, this needed putting right. My attitude and my demeanour needed to change.
Lastly we identified that I was still very upset about my mother’s death and had not been able to face up to it. I wasn’t conscious of it but looking back I can see that even looking at her photos was upsetting. So much so I had hidden them all away in the wardrobe.
My homework from session one was to document my feelings and behaviours when I was at Vodafone compared to the same in my web design business. Comparing a time when you felt great to a time when you don’t seems an obvious thing to do but it isn’t. People don’t sit down and do that kind of thing of their own volition.
You need a coach.
Accepting guidance is probably one of the best things I have ever done and I will not hesitate in the future if I need it in any area of my life.
By now the penny was really beginning to drop. I was very successful at Vodafone and when I left my career to move to France I felt incredible loss, partly for the job and partly for the status. I had gone from being somebody to being nobody overnight and I think one of the fundamental issues is that feeling has never really left me.
There were also a few other things I realised. I have been having an identity crisis. I was spending loads of time trying to be what people expected of someone in web design, dressing in jeans and trying to be a bit trendy with my leather jackets and casual appearance. I was trying to be that 26 year old specky boy and that is not who I am.
The Second Session
We talked around the homework I had done and spent some time going over the thoughts I had been having since the first session. This was a much more positive session, certainly the cobwebs had been blown away and I found I was really enjoying this pink and fluffy coaching stuff!
There was still some homework I had not faced up to and that was making a scrapbook/album dedicated to my mother.
I realised that when I was at my happiest I was a smart suit girl with a briefcase, looking after myself and making the best of my appearance. I had a big job at Vodafone. I led teams of people to manage some of the largest corporate accounts on the books. I had great relationships with my bosses and directors. I won deal of the year for the Blackberry data solution that I sold to Deloitte. I left that career on a high and I needed to channel that successful woman, that previous me and use her to represent my current business.
I had more homework, I was to visualise and describe myself as I will be in 3 years time. Plus I had to face up to my mother’s scrapbook. I was not looking forward to the latter but Sally really wanted me to do it.
Putting together who I was with who I am now seemed such a simple thing to do but without Sally I would never have done it.
I am far from ‘just’ a freelance web designer and I even wrote a blog post about it. I wouldn’t be able to do my job successfully today without my previous career, that was me! What I actually am is a successful woman with a proven track record in sales and marketing and client relationship management. Guess what, my age doesn’t matter any more because the amount of experience I have cannot be achieved without years of hard work.
Writing about who I will be in the future helped me to focus on all of the positives that are in my life today and can be tomorrow with the right attitude.
Wearing the clothes that make me feel happy and taking care over my appearance, being true to myself has been just the best. I feel liberated, no longer trying to be a trendy stereotype but being me and actually quite liking it. I might even write a few blog posts about the fashion I like who knows!
Other things have happened to, I suddenly want to document my life a bit more and write about it. I seem to have found my voice in that department too.
The dreaded scrap book …. I dd it! To start with it was incredibly upsetting but as I worked my way through the photos and the memorabilia I realised I had a lot to be thankful for. A very beautiful mother, a very happy family with my mum, dad and my sister and some fantastic family holidays and Christmases. We were never wealthy and we weren’t by any stretch the Waltons but we had a happy life. I started to really enjoy this scrapbook and it made me realise that not all of this memory was gone, my sister is still here. How did she feel? I had to know she was OK and so I went to her house on the pretext of getting some photos of Mum. We sat and went through the albums together and it was such an enjoyable time, I got the feeling she had dealt with things a lot better than me. It hit home how important she is to me and that is something to be really grateful for.
I also have a wonderful husband and 2 very lovely chocolate labradors. We have a gorgeous Victorian house and live in Stratford upon Avon, a really beautiful town. I am incredibly lucky.
When you look at it all you have to wonder how I ever doubted myself but that is what a lot of women do. We need a coach.
Things have changed already
The new me went to a networking meeting this week and I felt completely different. People are different too, they want to talk to me about websites and marketing. This is new, I have gone from people not visiting my website to people asking for my business card so that they can see my portfolio. I didn’t shout about who I was, I didn’t need to. I cannot say what it is that has changed but I like it a lot!
So coaching has changed my life. What a cliche! Doesn’t matter it’s the truth. That’s why I’ve changed my mind about coaching.
Sally Dhillon is a great role model with all of her self-assurance, professionalism, trustworthiness, positive energy, pride in herself and her business and all round goodness.
Sally is someone people want to be with, she knows her unique selling points and how to flaunt them in the best possible way.
Talk to her, she’s clever!
Great Feedback from Sally!
I wanted to drop you a quick note to say how much I enjoyed your website session on Wednesday at the Socially Shared Conference. You were certainly shining brightly, oozing confidence, looked fantastic and your knowledge, passion and energy for your work came over loud and strong. If I think back to the first time I met you and also your first coaching session, I am delighted beyond words with the changes that you have made to get here. Yes, I facilitated the process, but you were so ready for the change and fully embraced everything I suggested (not all clients do!!!). And, of course, getting recognised for your fabulous work at the Woman Who Awards was a cherry on the cake. You’ve transformed from the confidence-lacking Lady-Di lookalike trying to be a 25 yr old geek to a fabulous, award-winning powerhouse of authoritative web design. Thank you for taking the steps to choose to work with me, ‘cos I can’t wait to see what you go on and do now – this is just the beginning ….