Like everyone else, I was a caterpillar waiting to become a butterfly at school. And like most of the caterpillars around me, I didn’t know that becoming a butterfly was even vaguely within my capabilities. I thought I would follow the route laid down by my Mum, and her Mum before her, which was to be a secretary, even though the idea gave me an itch that I did not know how to scratch.
Dad offered me the chance to get some work experience with some journalists he knew, but this did not fill me with any kind of enthusiasm. The itch turned out to be a desire to work with people in some kind of helping capacity. Becoming a nurse was an obvious choice back in the early 80’s, and it was the only suggestion offered to me by our schools careers advisor. But, I didn’t like the idea of mopping up vomit, and in those days I didn’t like chemistry or physics either so becoming a doctor was out of the question.
Eventually I chose to go to college and study to become a medical secretary. A halfway house between a familiar world, and what I really loved. I was able to study human biology, and when I eventually got my first job at as a secretary at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, I loved all the specialist terminology as well as being part of the fabric of the hospital environment. I loved the atmosphere. To me hospitals are a place full of hope. Everyone working towards a common goal of restoring people to health.
I lasted just 9 months however when the itch returned and I felt the need to find something more fulfilling. I went to work as a PA in the Inner London Probation Service at Kings Cross. This livened things up a bit I can tell you. I loved it there because I met some of the most vivid characters London had to offer. I chose to sit at the desk nearest the reception area, which meant I was the one who greeted all the clients as they reported in to see their assigned probation officers. I would make them cups of tea and listen to their personal stories. I’d sometimes go to Court with them, and I’m the only person of all my friends and family who’s been to Clerkenwell Court, and Pentonville Prison on several occasions!
I left the Probation Service after an enjoyable 3 years in search of new challenges, and to some extent had forgotten about the itch. I got a job at Hemel Hospital in Personnel, as a Medical Staffing Officer. I was responsible for the administration for all the junior doctors. The bit I liked most was when I used to sit on the interview panels, and help nervous candidates prepare for the interview. However, the itch returned with avengence. This was in the 80’s when the first round of cuts was being made to NHS budgets, making it a challenging place to be. Listening to the news and others around me discussing the cuts made me question whether I should be having all this stress for relatively little financial gain.
So, I went in search of a better paid job and a year later I got a job as a Recruitment Officer at BT in Hemel. I ended up staying at BT for 14 years, moving steadily up the management ladder. There was a huge amount of variety there. You could do almost any job you wanted. I tried my hand at customer services, telemarketing, inbound selling, and training.
In 2001, whilst still at BT I took a week off to read a book. The reason was because I had developed repetitive strain injury which had rendered me almost disabled. At my lowest, I couldn’t use my arms at all, not even to feed myself. After several months off work, I decided the only way I could work again was to go back part time. But this still proved too much. Looking back, the RSI was only a symptom of the real challenge. The real challenge being that I was very, very unhappy with my life. Despite the fact that on paper my career was going well, and my pay was relatively healthy, I knew in my heart that I was a square peg in a round hole. At home I was in a relationship that was going nowhere, and I was already into my 30’s. The RSI as it turned out, had been a gift. It helped me to re-evaluate my life and what was important to me. It proved to be the itch I had to scratch and I realised that I still hadn’t found the job that inspired me to really help people. So, the book helped me to change the course of my life and I realised there was such a job as a life coach. Best of all it didn’t require me to mop up vomit!
I signed up to study life coaching in 2001 and was among the first in the UK to qualify. I set up a part time practice in the hours I wasn’t working at BT. My salary enabled me to attend tons of inspirational courses run by successful coaches in their own right. I walked on burning coals with Anthony Robbins, rubbed shoulders with Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson, shook Wayne Dyer’s hand, studied quantum physics with Deepak Chopra and enjoyed further coach training with Thomas Leonard. I studied NLP with Tad James, and career coaching with Laura Berman Fortgang. You may not have heard of many of the names I’ve mentioned, but those who work in the field of personal development will agree they are some of most influential and inspirational practitioners of our time. My learning was solidified by my own personal coach and mentor, Peter King, who taught me more about the meaning of life than words could ever describe here. This time of personal learning proved to be priceless.
I didn’t leave BT until 2004. Partly because the thought of leaving a well established corporation still filled me with fear, partly because of peer and parental pressure – after all, who in their right mind gives up a stable, well paid career to persue a profession that no-one has heard of? And, it wasn’t all bad. My new understanding of people and their motivations was put to good use. I was able to observe how other managers got the best, or worst from their staff, and I was able to navigate the rocky terrain of constant organisational change in a calmer, more detached way. I even created a golden opportunity to create my own job role, as a Careers Manager where I helped other people in BT manage their careers more effectively.
When a voluntary redundancy package came along in 2004, I jumped at it. I realised that the only way to attract true wealth, was to follow my heart. So, I left BT to concentrate on my coaching practice. As it turned out, following my heart accelerated my life in ways I did not predict, and I fell in love. I married Mark a couple of years later and we started our beautiful family just before I turned 40. Its never too late!
Being a coach for the last 11 years has been a true honour. I’ve worked with literally hundreds of the most remarkable people. Not in the sense that they’re famous, but because I’ve learned to recognise that everyone is remarkable. Everyone has within them the capacity to turn into their own uniquely beautiful butterfly. My passion is to help my clients realise this for themselves. And through their new-found self belief and confidence, help them to go on to achieve what they really want, whatever that may be.
If you would like me to help you take your journey to a new level, I’d love to work with you. I have clients all round the UK, and oversees because as well as face to face consultations, I work over the phone and skype.
Contact Swan Coaching at: 01582 413013 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org