The decision to be a Life Coach
Our minds — whether the big lump of brain matter in your head, or the larger, connected Mind of all the neurons in your body — tend to want to make order out of chaos.
I tend to leave my subconscious Mind to it. It gets less distracted by shiny things and dad-jokes than surface-me does.
And every now and then, despite the seeming lack of patterns, themes and obvious conclusions around me, my Mind pulls a blinder.
I had a plan.
If you’ve been made redundant then having a plan seems like a good idea.
My plan used the IT Leadership skills I had to bring money in. I’d work on my goal of being a coach and writer in the background. The next three to five years were mapped out. That’s when I’d achieve my goal. That’s when I could be a coach. I’d have to adapt, sure, but I’m good at planning. I’d even visualised that future. Jumped ahead in time to that point. It looked good, so I cracked on.
A good plan. It felt okay. Achievable. Realistic. It’s what I needed to do.
Yeah, the balance of my dream was tipped to one side, the side of necessity, but that’s okay. I recognised it was tipped, so it wouldn’t get to me. It wouldn’t bring me down. Not again. I didn’t need the balance because I knew I would only be imbalanced for a few years.
Lucky for me my Mind was cleverer than I was.
Lots of things happened over the week I came to the decision. I was putting off writing and job hunting to do some more coaching training. I connected with a coach, who’s amazing and has helped me massively. I got an email from a web design team about the best templates for Life Coach websites.
Still, I kept on job hunting. I had my plan. The plan I needed to do.
Then two very specific things happened.
One hugely changed the way I saw things. Really saw things. My perception was challenged massively and I liked, no, loved, the result.
The other showed me how I truly felt. One of those moments where everything clicked and I couldn’t ignore that amazing feeling in my gut anymore.
There I was, sat on a Skype interview for a consulting role. An amazingly good role. I was nervous, it was my first interview in over a decade. I was confident though. I’m good at speaking with people. I’m told I have an easy manner, a truth to the way I speak and hold myself.
And it was going well. All the usual stuff. I felt good about the examples I was putting out there, the capabilities I had, the value I could add to the team.
Then she asked me what I was most proud of.
I stuttered, mind having gone blank. I managed to grab some time by being honest. Exclaiming that in all my years of being the interviewer I’d asked what was someones best achievement, what would their boss say was their greatest strength, and just about every variation of that question. Save one.
What was I most proud of…
I started talking, then it felt like the words were pouring out of me so fast I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.
Simply put, during the last two years of a challenging outsourcing deal, I’d done right by the people I worked with. I’d made sure more than 250 people got a role, or left the company for the right reasons — their reasons. Many people were targeted to be made redundant against their wants, but I’d helped all but three people get an outcome they wanted. I listened to them, I steered them, I cried with them. Even the three who didn’t get what they desperately wanted, painful as it was, have come through the other side with a lot to show for the experience. They are moving forward. I know, I’ve kept in touch.
I helped people get what they want during a huge change. That’s what I was proud of.
The evening after the interview I was sat on the sofa. My wife was reading with our son upstairs. That’s the time I scour through job apps and websites. Looking for IT contract roles. My plan hinged on me getting a contract or becoming an interim leader or equivalent for different companies. It pays well and I’m told I’m good at it.
I saw a couple of roles, saved one for proper dissection the next day, the other looked similar to a previous application. So, I sent off my CV and used v1.4 of my covering letter, which seemed appropriate based on the keywords.
I was on autopilot.
My wife came down. A little teary, but smiling.
I asked what was up.
She sat down, placed her hand on my knee and said, “Matthew just said, ‘I’m going to sound silly but I feel a lot closer to Dad,”.”
My wife asked him why that was.
“I get to see him in the mornings now. When he drives me to school we sit there and listen to songs. We don’t say anything. Maybe a joke. Then we fist bump bye.”
That was it. To Matthew that was all it took.
I was flooded with my own memories. Driving back from town with my own Dad. Listening to Huey Lewis and the News. Not saying anything. Comfortable silence.
I can picture it, clear as day.
Then I realised, in just over 5 years time Matthew will be old enough to drive himself to school.
I welled up too.
Long story long, I realised I can pursue what I want, and really, truly get what I want.
And I want to do it now.
I want to help people, especially when they are faced with change. It’s a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason. I’ve narrowed it down to some specifics, as I know that will help others much more in the beginning. But my purpose, what I perceive to be important to me, the true me, is helping others make the changes they want.
No more need.
Time to listen to the want.
I know it will make me happy because I can picture how I’ll feel when I’ve done it. Because it’ll be the same feeling I had explaining that story on the interview, it’ll be the same feeling I had when my wife told me what my son had said.
I’ll be proud.
And I want to be proud of what I do.