Four years ago I started “formal” coaching with a certificate from the Coaching Academy in my file. For a year or so it took up around one-third of my time, and then I slowed down as my work with Mountview Academy of Theatre grew. Now I am settled with my Skype and laptop in my tiny office overlooking the tiny square, the beach, and the ever swooping birdlife. Time to get the word around that I am a coach – and then the most wonderful email dropped in my inbox from a past client as they tried to describe me to another person:
“Chris… took me from the bottom of the escalator to near the top. Over a period of a couple of months I skyped him every two weeks for up to an hour. We always came out of the meeting with a clear list of things to achieve – a manageable and practical list. But more than that, we looked at different aspects of life – home, work, family, money, time for myself/social/relationships, all sorts.
“Chris isn’t a counsellor, nor is he someone who tells you what to do. He listens, probes and then smiles when he sees the penny dropping!!! He also picks you up when you know deep down that you’ve not done what you said that you would by making you realise what you have done instead. You have to invest in the time and the process, but he takes you on a journey and I have to say I feel an awful lot better for doing so!!”
And then in a side note to me: “You’ll be pleased to know that I’m still using some of the things that we set up all that time ago. In fact, I just relooked at my finances at the weekend and remembered the very expensive treat dinner that I bought myself when I first did it!”
So in one email I am re-vigorated to let potential new people know what I do, and reflective on how a few focused sessions where nothing too enormous seems to be happening, can start the process of escalator climbing [their metaphor not mine]. I think we may have moved together a couple of steps walking, but then time and their own joy in aspects of their work and life, powered the escalator to move up of its own volition, taking them to “near the top”.
This month I am starting work at the University of the West of Scotland where I am engaged to support the final year students in their career paths and major projects. I will be using coaching ideas and sharing some of the very simple tools which can help you throughout your life.
At its heart it is about listening and asking questions which open up your thoughts. I found the image on a quick search and it feels rather rich in information to complement the work of a coach. I hope you agree.
I have a group of 12 creative artists who, as part of their professional development, have a package of 3 sessions each with me over a year – to be taken whenever it is time for them to think practically about realising a project. These sessions harness two aspects of my life – pure coaching (giving no opinion, but rather asking questions to help them find a path) and consultancy (having an opinion on everything, and giving them suggested contacts and ideas). These two aspects of my character need to be controlled and separated.
It is a pleasure being engaged by an organisation to do group coaching or, like the 12, to offer private individual support as part of an overall personal development plan.
Sometimes I have the fascination of meeting a new client and realising that I know virtually nothing about their world or their profession. Investment banking and Fashion Studios are not necessarily my specialist subject and so here it is easy for me to stay focussed on the person, and allow them to find their own wise self and clear strategy from the messy being that we can all be at times.
Other times I meet someone who has a work practice or world which fascinates me, and it sends me off looking to learn more about their artform or specialism. Alongside my coaching I do one off CGO Surgeries for an hour on a monthly basis, and this is when I meet such an amazing array of people. It is amazing what change can happen in one hour. And here often I will never hear from them again.
But then, years later, I’ll get an email like this one today and I’ll feel deeply grateful that I have gathered useful tools from the Coaching Academy, my own reading, so many mentors, and indeed the coaches who have helped and coached me over the years.
Time to see who needs a one off CGO Surgery in London or Edinburgh or by skype. And who needs a Coaching “six series” where we spend 6 sessions over 3-6 months finding the way to you particular metaphorical escalator.
And there may be treats.