The interview edition: Simon’s reflections on coaching
‘The greatest thing coaching affords you is space to think and talk - it's such a simple luxury that you can grab yourself’
What began for Simon as a quest to find a new job soon turned into something so much more.
Over the last 2 years we’ve been working together, I’ve been continually impressed by his approach to our coaching sessions and the strides he’s made in between.
Not only did he secure himself a new job as Partnerships Manager at TikTok, he’s also run a marathon and discovered what’s important to him and where he wants to focus his time and resources.
Coaching is confidential. What you talk about during the sessions stays between you and your coach. Simon, however, has kindly agreed to share some of his experience to provide a deeper insight into the coaching process:
What made you look into coaching initially?
When I think back to the place I was in mentally, I felt quite trapped career wise and very disillusioned. I didn't really know where my current job fitted into a wider picture - what I wanted to do or how I defined myself as a person.
I was extremely reluctant to ever talk about anything to do with work with friends - as soon as they’d ask me how work is going I’d shut them down and say, I don't want to talk about that.
I recognised that I was in quite a dark place and needed significant change. I made multiple attempts to look for new opportunities. I’d spent time soul searching yet I hadn't been able to channel this into significant change.
A couple of setbacks had come and I wasn't able to move on to do something else that I wanted to do, which made me feel more disheartened and more adrift. At this point my wife actually suggested coaching to me.
I wanted to find a new job, to find new attitudes to approach my career. But I was also wanting to understand the behaviours and the circumstances which brought me to this situation. I was in a place I didn't want to get to again in the future.
If you’d have asked me 2 years ago to articulate any of this, in any clarity, I probably wouldn't have been able to. Being coached over the last 2 years freed up a lot of my thinking.
What does a typical coaching session look and feel like for you?
You could probably divide them into 2 types:
Sometimes ahead of the coaching something has come up and it's an immediate trigger for me to say OK - I want to talk about this in coaching. I want to zoom in on this.
Going through a coaching session we might end up at the end of the session somewhere completely different or I might be able to realise that the the issue I was wanting to talk about is either part of something much bigger or it might not be relevant at all or not important to me.
The other type is when maybe something hasn't come up and I haven’t thought ‘yeah, this is what I want to talk about in coaching during this session’. These sessions can be just as useful either going through exercises, looking at different viewpoints, looking at saboteurs that may be inhibiting my progress or thinking about the types of ally I can lean in on in different situations.
All sorts of really useful exercises and experiences that have helped me lead to a greater understanding of something or even a greater understanding of myself.
How has coaching impacted you?
Coaching has been life changing. And I don't use that lightly.
I think anyone who knows me and knows the mindset I was in when I first went into coaching compared to now can see a monumental shift in my attitude.
Not that I have changed who I am, or that I’ve been reborn as a new person, but I am someone who is much more content with who I am. I’m much more in touch with the tools that I need to solve problems and much more in touch with what might cause me to get frustrated or upset.
I've achieved huge things during that time that I didn’t think were possible. I’ve run a marathon, I've changed career, I’ve completed recording and working on a podcast that hadn’t been finished for such a long time.
Amongst the big things, there's also been things along the way which maybe aren't as big or noticeable to anyone. From a well-being perspective I'm doing much, much better, I’m happier, I feel more fulfilled - I feel great. All of that has been because of coaching and my coach.
What was the biggest surprise for you with coaching?
If I think back to my first session - we went through an exercise which highlights the things that are most important to you.
It's a series of questions and at the end your answers are given back to you. When I looked at the list of answers I had given - I hadn't been thinking whilst answering that it was a list of all the things most important to me.
Seeing that presented to you on paper was really surprising. It had so succinctly and clearly identified the things that I consider to be me and who I am as a person.
By going through that exercise and comparing it to what I was doing, how I was thinking and how I was living my life – I could see it was worlds apart.
It's such a simple exercise but seeing all the things that I wanted, reconfirming what they were and putting me on a path to actually start living a life much closer to these things – that was a big surprise for me. I think I even cried in the first session – which was even more of a surprise!
What would you say to someone who is thinking about coaching but who is on the fence?
If you have a sense of malaise or restlessness or your mind is unclear - the greatest thing coaching affords you is space to think and talk. It’s judgement free and it’s results orientated so you are going to come away with this personalised time for you to think and feel and act.
I can only speak for myself - coaching might not be for everyone - but you can make fundamental changes to your life and change your experience and your outlook on everything. That is really, really powerful.
I’ve recommended coaching to everyone I know! There's been people who’ve been reluctant, but it's such a simple luxury that you can grab yourself.
To move forward and have someone to hold you accountable and help you get close to your goals is wonderful.
Can you describe your coaching experience in 3 words?
'Fun… change… and contentment.'
You can dance around heavy subjects, it's about exploring and engaging on subjects which you love or are very important to you so, for me, coaching has always been fun.
Change is constant in everything in every time of work and every situation. We're never going to be living in the same set of experiences and coaching is about learning and adapting to that. It’s giving you the opportunity to build up the mindset to help you cope with that.
The third thing is contentment. Things can roll around in your head that distract you - you think about how a situation went, what you said to someone, you're frustrated that you haven't done something … those things remain in your head and they don’t go away.
But you can take that nervous energy and plough it into doing something - achieving that goal, correcting that behaviour or setting you on the path to something. When you achieve it and your head hits the pillow at the end of the day and those thoughts aren’t there - that level of contentment - it’s brilliant!
A huge thank you to Simon for taking the time to answer my questions and for agreeing to share his coaching experience with you all.
I hope it’s a useful piece to show the potential coaching has across different aspects of your life and what sessions may involve.
If you’d like to reach Simon’s ‘head hitting the pillow’ level of contentment please get in touch to start the ball rolling!