Learning from your story

What can you learn from your story?

Considering our own story is invaluable when considering our own life, work and development.  In a presentation on mentoring and narrative, Professor Bob Garvey, introduced the quote below from film maker Krzysztof Kieslowski and it got me thinking;

Coaching your story


It got me thinking about why I was there, in that room, listening to Bob Garvey, Professor of Coaching and Mentoring at Sheffield Hallam University alongside other experienced coaches and mentors. It encouraged me to consider my commitment to furthering my learning and professional development and my interest in coaching in general. It opened up a host of mini stories that brought me to sit in that chair, each one equally valid in how it has shaped who I am today. Suddenly, I felt like I could see clearly the path that had brought me here, as if a spotlight had been positioned onto my past.  Focus seemed to centre on the aspects of my past that I had enjoyed, found interesting, motivating and above all influential in putting me on this road. I realised the benefit of these and how I would like to do more. We can all feel frustrated or self critical when we consider our past decisions, but by seeing it as a story, that you might read in a book or watch in a film, a new perspective often opens up as we realise that each is a sum of what we are today.

Passive or proactive?


All that we do leads us to where we are

This quote helped me stop for a moment and reflect.  It helped me consider what drives me and realise that all that we do leads us to where we are. We can be passive in this and just find ourselves somewhere, or we can be more proactive and actively do things that will take us to our desired outcome. Being passive is always an option and can work well for many.  Being conscious and clear about outcomes brings more purpose and increases the chances or us finding ourselves doing something we enjoy and find stimulating.  This is relevant for our personal lives as well as at work and business.

What next? You can influence this.

Being aware of what has brought you this far can inform you of what you’d like to happen next.  It might be more of the same, some changes or a complete transformation.  It’s so important to realise that you really can shape your next steps, but being clear about what you want and putting a plan together of how you’ll get there. It can be scary to think that you can shape your future – it’s a big responsibility and you’ll be able to blame no-one but yourself. It’s worth asking yourself what the alternative is and whether or not you’re happy with that.

What if


What would be the right chair, who would be the right people?

What if considering this quote, you realise you’re in the wrong chair, with the wrong people? It’s not an easy realisation. It could help to ask yourself what makes it wrong? What aspects can you change? What can you do? Is it just a bad day? Or do you want to make some changes? Ask yourself what would be the right chair and who would the right people be? What first steps might you take?

This quote is a great catalyst for some thinking and questioning.  Take a moment to consider what thoughts come up for you. It’s essential that we all realise that we do have some say in shaping our own futures.

Ask yourself if the story that has brought you here, can help you shape what happens next.

To discuss coaching, please get in touch: or phone 07785 996917.

Coaching case studies: Entrepreneur loses confidence on buyout

Entrepreneur loses confidence as business is bought

Steve has enormous entrepreneurial talent and grew his first business quickly and successfully. His company was approached by a larger business who wanted to buy, and wanted him to stay on to run that part of the business.  As an entrepreneur, this was a whole different ball game.  Used to putting plans in action quickly, he found the structure of the larger firm stymied his creativity and he became frustrated.  He believed that he would be sidelined and would lose control.  He was aware that his way of communicating didn’t fit in with the new, larger organisation’s expectations. He contacted me and explained that he wanted to become regional managing director and not find his way out of a job, as he feared might happen.

The group CEO said that his people skills were lacking.  Steve is a strong analyst and quite an introvert, gaining people’s trust through delivering what he promises. He was given feedback from his senior management that he didn’t perform as they’d like in meetings and wasn’t an inspirational leader.  This all meant that Steve started to question his own ability and whether he had “lost his touch”. He became quiet and withdrawn in meetings as a result, feeling all eyes were on him, expecting him to be outgoing and charismatic, character traits that simply didn’t sit well with him.

During coaching, we discussed whether leaders had to be charismatic, extrovert performers to gain their team’s trust. If this was the case, then Steve felt he could not be authentic, could not be himself and would have to leave. As an entrepreneur, he realised he had many strengths that perhaps others lacked, and he decided to focus on these. He soon realised that there are many ways of leading and gaining trust, and that an introvert who communicated confidently but without the great performance, can also win over others.

It became clear that confidence is not necessarily being able to perform like an Oscar winning actor, but that it’s something that comes from within, a belief that what you stand for is genuine and valid, and that you will provide clarity and strategy quietly and calmly.

This took a little practise as his confidence has been knocked, but each time he used the techniques we discussed in our sessions, he took another step forward.  Even though the business has gone through some difficult times for various reasons, he has won his team over and is seeing his strategy play out as he wanted it to. He was made Managing Director and feels he has the influence he wants on how his business is shaped. He is confident that he has the right skills and self awareness now to manage his staff and communicate successfully with the board. The insights he has developed over the coaching sessions mean that he can gain a different perspective on why people do things, which enables him to feel less stressed and clearer about what he wants for the business.

Steve began with weekly coaching sessions two years ago, and now returns periodically when he has a big meeting or issue to resolve.

Any names or details that might identify clients are changed.

Feel a bit of a fake?

Leadership Coaching

Impostor Syndrome – do you suffer from it?

A number of clients that I work with say they feel like a fake.  They dread the moment when they will be found out, and someone will ask them to leave.  When questioned further, they know there is little foundation or logic behind these feelings, but it can be deep rooted and take some work to shift.  These feelings, beliefs and behaviours have been identified as Impostor Syndrome. The term was first used in an article written by clinical psychologists, Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes in 1978.  It is present in many leaders and senior executives who have achieved a great deal and are respected by their peers – no matter how successful they are, or how many times they’ve been promoted, they still feel deep down they shouldn’t really be there. Read more

Guilt – get rid of it!

Guilt – you can reduce feelings of guilt with a little practice!

The Oxford dictionary’s definition of guilt is as “a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation”.  Most people suffer from this to varying degrees. Some may say it can be a good thing as it means we are behaving in a sensitive way, in a way which considers other people’s feelings.  They may have a point when the guilt doesn’t impact their thoughts and behaviour negatively. However, too many clients I work with suffer from guilt which prevents them from doing so many things that would ultimately benefit them and make them happier, less guilt-ridden people. Read more

Self-Confidence and coaching

How do we transform ourselves into confident individuals?

In my work as a development coach, be it with senior executives, managers, company directors or sole traders, no matter how successful they are, 9/10  lack self-confidence.

Outwardly, these people often seem self-assured, but as soon as they sit down , they tell me about their doubts and anxieties. They worry about what others think and many confide in me that they are “just waiting to be found out”. What exactly does this mean?  Many successful people are concerned that someone will find out that they are faking it. They fret about being exposed as someone who doesn’t know anything and should never have been given the job! Read more

Be more resilient

Many people could benefit from working on their resilience…..

Many successful people, be they business owners or CEOs have something in common – a healthy dose of resilience.

They manage to pick themselves up when things go wrong and start all over again. The classic glass half full analogy seems to work for them – they see opportunities where others may see obstacles or challenges. Read more