Everyday self-leadership is at the core of the work I do with my clients. Coaching has taught me to prize the un-celebrated courage of women and men whose ability to face up to punishing and cataclysmic life events. The courage and fortitude of my clients inspire me. I draw strength from them as much as I do from the publicly celebrated and revered individuals who live in our imagination.
This opening blog post of 2018 celebrates one such client.
When I started coaching Toni was unhappy at work, feeling undervalued and out of sync with the culture of the organisation in which she worked.
Coaching helped her to change workplace within a matter of months to an organisation that was more aligned with her values and aspirations and, so she felt well placed to begin to pursue her ambitions to become a senior leader. That happened between May and July 2017.
Then, over the summer, she discovered that she had the life-changing condition, Lupus. She started a new academic year struggling to accept the implications of this fact for herself, her family and her new employers. But it was not to end there. In October she had to undergo an emergency appendectomy which also revealed the presence of a cancerous tumour. Luckily it has been removed but now on top of managing her condition she also has to undergo regular monitoring in relation to the cancer risk.
As you can imagine, this sequence of events has turned her life upside down. Where before her concerns were about how long it would take her to find a good place to pursue her dreams of becoming a senior leader she is now concerned with just being able to weather the storm of uncertainty that threatens to overwhelm her in relation to her health. How to manage her own emotions and be there for her husband and children? In our last session of 2017, we agreed to abandon goal seeking and to focus instead on her being.
This deep fundamental work is where life can take us when striving and status is not enough to answer the questions that life poses to us. When your plans go awry when the things you wanted to achieve move beyond your grasp, what then? My client’s determination to continue to define herself is moving and inspirational.
Time and time again I have drawn inspiration from the words of Victor Frankl.
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
As a coach who has integrated mindfulness and compassion based approaches into my work, I was able to offer her a new programme of coaching that would focus on developing resilience. Toni's major focus now is just how to live with the new circumstances that she finds herself in, a situation not of her choosing. How to face everything and rise. This is a new world in which she needs to regain her sense of self, re-examine her values and purpose and rebalance her priorities.
So 2018 will be a transformative year, a journey of discovery and metamorphosis for Toni. I will be following up this story in future posts. For now, I will leave with words from Toni:
"Coaching sessions with Charmaine have provided an immense amount of emotional and professional support. Charmaine has given me the time to talk openly and at length about strategies to help cope with day to day life, particularly significant as this year has been one of the most unpredictable by far. This process began as a journey of professional goal setting but has now transitioned to one of building an overall resilience to whatever life throws my way. One which I fully embrace."
Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality.