Latest posts by Joanna Martin (see all)
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You know a certain path is calling you. Maybe it’s becoming a coach, or perhaps it’s writing a book, taking a promotion, or starting an initiative. Whatever your big leap is, the doubts often surface when you start to dream big. Will the challenges you’ve faced in the past block you from stepping up to this new challenge? Some of the really common questions we hear from women thinking about becoming a coach start with “Can I learn to be a coach if…”
… I’ve experienced mental health challenges?
… I’ve been through a relationship breakdown – and things are still messy?
… I still don’t feel like I’ve got my sh*t together?
It’s a version of that old familiar phenomenon we know as “imposter syndrome”, and it often boils down to a deep-rooted doubt: “Who am I to think I can do this?”
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself if you’ve found yourself here.
1. Do you need to put your own oxygen mask on first?
First things first, it’s important to make sure you’ve accessed the care and support you need before thinking about being of service to others.
Many of us are well practiced at putting everyone else’s needs before our own. It’s why at One of many, our Soft Power principle number one is “First, replenish your energy”.
That applies to big picture stuff – like seeking help from your GP to manage your depression – as well as the little things (drink that glass of water, lady!).
Just as you wouldn’t show up for a new role if you were so physically unwell you couldn’t function, if you’re currently experiencing mental or emotional challenges that need taking care of, pause.
Get the support you need from an appropriate professional before stepping into a new challenge that will require your energy, creativity and focus.
Stepping back to look after yourself doesn’t mean you can’t go on to become a coach, enjoy a fulfilling new career, or shine as the leader you’re meant to be (any more than taking time off for a broken arm would). But trying to “push through” could do more harm than good, so make sure you listen to your instincts, and ask for help when you need to.
2. Can you reframe your pain?
The archetype of the “wounded healer” refers to someone who takes on the role of healing others by drawing on the pain they have themselves experienced.
When you’ve been through tough times and managed to come out the other side, you’re often able to access a profound empathy and depth of understanding.
We often give ourselves a hard time for times when life hasn’t gone well, or feel shame about things we wish we’d handled differently.
But as our own coaching graduates come to recognise, it can actually be those hardest experiences that enable us to help others through their own pain.
In the words of One of many in-house coach Jane Lewis,
“Most of the greatest coaches I have come across have gone through a journey and done a lot of work on themselves. I have been coaching over 20 years, but going into it I was coming out of clinical depression and burnout.” – Jane Lewis
3. Have you got the training and support you need?
Just having been through a challenging experience doesn’t on its own qualify you to help someone else through it. To know you’re going to do a great job in any new role, you also need to have the right support in place.
For coaches, that means ensuring you’ve undertaken rigorous training that means you’re clear about how you’re able to deal with your own “stuff” and have the tools you need to support clients. Are you clear about the support you need, and how you’re going to manage if a client shares an experience that might be triggering for you?
In a new role, it could be finding a mentor or asking an employer to invest in leadership coaching to support you to meet any challenges and make the most of the development opportunity.
Setting yourself up for success means making sure the support is there before you need it – especially if you’ve found yourself in burnout or overwhelm in the past.
4. Does your experience give you a key to your own specialism?
For many coaches, deeply experiencing a difficulty gives them a clue as to where they are able to best be of service in the world. Thea is a “recovering perfectionist” who now works with other women struggling with self-doubt, negative chatter, or constant striving for perfection. She says:
“The best thing about the ups and downs that I’ve been through is that now I know all the nitty gritty details of the journey from self-doubt to self-confidence, from depression to happiness. Being able to see the same patterns in my clients and help them let them go is incredibly rewarding for me.” – Thea Jolly
With time, your challenges can become your biggest strengths as you begin to understand how they’ve shaped you into the unique, powerful and perfectly imperfect leader you are today.
And in the words of Anna, one of our recent coaching graduates:
“I see the things I have gone through as one of my greatest strengths – they made me into who I am today. It shapes my coaching practice and how I show up in the world” – Anna Louise
How about you?
What experiences have shaped and guided you – and how have you been able to turn your biggest challenges into sources of strength? If you can relate to this, we’d love to know your story – celebrate and share in the comments!
Curious about coaching?
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In it I share some really valuable tools you can use straight away if you coach, manage or lead women – and introduce you to someof the key distinctions that make our certification differet from any other.
Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
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