“I felt I had found ‘my people’”

13th May by Lee Robertson

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“I felt I had found ‘my people’”

Looking for a new direction in her professional life after 13 years as a stay-at-home mum, Marie Wright found coach training and now runs her own thriving practice, bold bean coaching. Here she talks about her experience of completing the Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching with the AoEC in 2016.

You come from a background in recruitment. Who or what introduced you to coaching and led to you signing up for coach training with the AoEC?

I had been a stay-at-home mum for the previous 13 years and had lost my identity. I wanted to return to work but had no idea what I wanted to do. I spent a week brainstorming by myself and talking to lots of friends and came up with the idea of becoming an executive coach. I wanted to create a new purpose for myself outside of being a mum and wife and coaching seemed to fit really well with my personality, values, strengths and interests.

One of the people I spoke to, was my husband’s executive coach and she invited me to a drinks evening where I was able to chat to a whole room full of coaches. A number of them recommended the AoEC which  seemed to fit with the kind of training I was looking for as it suited my needs in terms of it being practical as well as having the potential to monetise the training fairly quickly. It also seemed professional and of a high standard which also appealed to me.

What were some of the positives and challenges you experienced while doing the diploma?

Positives: It was wonderful to be learning again after so long; I felt like a sponge soaking everything up. I also really enjoyed being amongst a group of interesting and diverse people and being able to share ideas and our learning together.

Challenges: the biggest challenge for me was overcoming my lack of corporate confidence. Although I believed in myself, having been out of a corporate environment for so long, I felt inferior to everyone else on the course, and had a big case of imposter syndrome! It took me a while before I felt “good enough” or even equal to the other participants. As the training progressed and I received good feedback from my peers and the faculty staff, I gradually grew more confident.

What would be your top piece of advice for anyone thinking about doing a professional coach training programme?

Find a course that really speaks to you. I knew I wanted to do a practical based course that I could monetise. Although I enjoy studying, I was clear that I didn’t want a long term academic based course. The AoEC Practitioner Diploma was exactly what I was looking for in this regard. It was also a good cultural fit as I felt at home among the Faculty staff – I felt I had found “my people”.

Looking back at doing your diploma, what has been its lasting impact on you as a person and you as a coach?

Doing the diploma has had an enormous impact on me both as a person and as a coach. It gave me a new identity and purpose which has led to a successful coaching business and new career that is way beyond my wildest dreams. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life and has opened the door to so many incredible current and future opportunities. It has had a huge impact on my personal life too and opened my eyes and given me the tools to make the changes I wanted to make in my own life but didn’t know how.

Can you tell us more about your personal coaching model and how this has evolved since doing the diploma?

My coaching model is varied and nuanced, and although it is very much in line with the one I set out in my diploma, it has grown and evolved as I have done over the past five years. The essence of it is the same, but there are additions to it that have come with my growth in confidence and the learning I have done both as a coach and personally. I would say I have taken something from all the models I learned about and put it all together in my own unique way that fits with who I am as person and what I value.

You set up your own practice bold bean coaching in September 2016, can you tell us about the type of clients you are working with?

I work with a real variety of clients, which is part of the appeal to me. Anyone from young graduates through to C-Suite. I enjoy working with different age groups and helping clients through diverse challenges. Working with 20 – 30- year-olds I find fascinating and keeps me young (I hope) but I also enjoy working with my own age group of 40 - 50 year-olds who I can relate to as I have often faced similar challenges. The coaching I do is also varied, ranging from career transition coaching, to career progression coaching, through to performance coaching for businesses. Common themes tend to be confidence, anxiety, stress, mindset and overcoming fear. I would summarise my coaching purpose as seeing and validating others so they can understand and embrace their innate authentic selves in order to live their purpose and thrive.

What are some of the issues and opportunities you coach people around?

I have probably answered this question in my previous response. I would, however, add that the underlying theme to my coaching is helping people understand who they really are, and then helping them to accept and embrace themselves flaws and all with total self-compassion. We all give ourselves such a hard time, and paradoxically, once we accept ourselves, we are able to make the changes we want to make in a powerful and unstoppable way.

Have you seen the need for coaching change in any way as we have gone through the coronavirus pandemic?

The obvious change has been no face-to-face coaching; it has all been via Zoom. This is more convenient but not the same because it’s harder to read people’s energy and vibe via a screen. For me, I have seen a big increase in clients this year, which I think is partly to do with the pandemic. Many people have taken stock of their lives and it has been a catalyst for people to make changes either professionally or personally.

What kind of impact is coaching having for those you are working with?

I help my clients to be seen, heard and validated, and then to find their voice so they can overcome their fears and be in the driving seats of their lives rather than feeling paralysed or like a victim. This has a huge impact because it gives them real freedom and brings joy back into their lives.

Whilst respecting confidentiality, can you tell us about a coaching situation that had an impact on you?

There have been so many situations that have had a huge impact on me. One of them was working with a woman returner who had lost her confidence since having her children. As a single mum she wanted and needed to go back to work but she was finding it impossible to get a job offer despite lots of applications and interviews. Through our work together she was able to identify what she wanted to do and why, what was holding her back, what she had to offer, and she gained the confidence to be able to market herself in an authentic and powerful way. She ended up being offered two amazing roles doing what she loved with salaries way above her expectations. It was incredible to see how much she grew in confidence and the impact of this on her, her children, her career and her whole life.

What has coaching taught you about yourself and other people?

I have learned so much about myself and others. Here are a few of them:

  • The human experience is similar for us all despite all our difference; what we are going through is normal
  • Most of us think we aren’t good enough
  • Everyone suffers from self-doubt at times, even the most confident looking people
  • We all just want to be seen, heard, validated and understood
  • There is so much power in talking to someone who is truly listening at a deep level
  • I have seen that the most people are kind, loving and good, and want to make a difference for others
  • We are all doing our best
  • It is only through being brave and facing our fears that we can find freedom and true joy
  • We all need connection with others

What do you find most rewarding about your work as a coach?

I find so many things rewarding in my work. It always feels good to see a client lacking in confidence gain real lasting self-confidence, and seeing the impact of this on their lives, both personally and professionally. I also love seeing someone go from feeling powerless to feeling empowered, and then watching them transform every area of their lives as a result. Seeing tangible results such as when a career transition client secures a new role that fits with who they are and what they value and seeing all the hard work we have done together culminate in achieving their goal. It also gives me great joy when clients face their fears, step out of their comfort zone and achieve things beyond their wildest dreams as a result.

A huge thank you to Marie for sharing her experience.