Most of my week days are usually loaded with work related tasks and personal activities but still try to squeeze in having fun and enjoy my leisure time. I like being busy doing many and different things. Apart from my coaching practice I have a full time teaching job in the secondary special education. I love both of my jobs as they serve my mission to support people in reaching their full potential. However, in order to be consistent, present and accountable in everything I do, I always follow a time management plan that enables me to maintain a work- life balance, and this is what I support most of my clients in. I help busy professionals who want to execute their tasks with greater ease and efficiency and communicate their messages in a way that serves them and the people around them. So they usually come out with powerful action steps and they get the peace of mind they want by knowing that their goals will be within reach soon.
This is what draws me more to coaching. I believe in people and trust in their ability to know what is best for them and find a way to get where they are meant to be. I was always curious to listen to other people’s stories, issues, worries and concerns. This in conjunction with my constant interest in supporting others as well as in personal development and spiritual welfare has led me to the domain of coaching. I always wanted to have a job that involves flexible working hours and my coaching practice has fulfilled this vision.
A typical day involves waking up between 6 and 6.30 am. I usually spend half an hour or more doing my morning yoga routine, a sequence of yoga poses that energises my body and helps me maintain a calm and positive mindset both in my personal and professional life. After a wholesome breakfast I leave my flat and travel to work. I approximately have a one hour commute to the school where I teach and I use that time to listen to music, read a book, and check out my things to do list for the day.
As soon as I finish my teaching job, in the late afternoon, I travel back to the city centre, where I live, and usually do my shopping or have a drink with a friend. I chose to live in the city centre and be close to main attractions, as it is time saving for me. If you consider the long commute to work, it’s only fair to have every other activity of interest at a walking distance.
No matter how many things I have on my plate for the evening, I usually schedule one downtime hour. Having spent five hours teaching students with autism and with emotional and behavioural difficulties, as well as travelled for more than two hours back and forth, I need time to rest and reclaim my energy. Sitting quiet for forty five minutes or one hour on meditation helps me do that. Meditation is a renewal practice that calms and energises the nervous system at the same time, and helps once develop a greater self awareness, build concentration and increase their presence. I invest time on body scanning and mindfulness of breathing meditations.
My Yoga and meditation daily practice affects inevitably my coaching practice as well enabling me to be more present during my sessions, more mindful and more objective ‘observer’. In addition, it has helped me to trust better in my intuition and use it, as well as to include spiritual tools in my coaching toolbox. I often initiate my sessions with a ten or fifteen minute meditation practice which helps my clients relax, come to the present and get better results.
I usually spend Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evening coaching my clients and Tuesday and Friday evening reading, writing, using the internet either for networking or promoting and marketing my services through the social media, as well as for administrative tasks that a coaching practice involves. On Monday, Tuesday, and Friday late evenings I usually take my yoga class. I have chosen not to work during weekends, so as to have time for travelling and catching up with friends and significant others. At the end of each day I find a private moment to relish something that went well. I give myself time to appreciate what has been successful and notice any patterns of feeling, thought and behaviour involved. This practice helps me to enhance my self confidence and whets my appetite to grow.
One of the things I love most about my coaching job is that it involves a lifelong educational process. They say the work that a coach has to do never ends. This is amazingly true. No matter how well trained or skilled you might be, there is always something new to learn, something new to discover. There is always, therefore, a book for me to read, a coaching tool to elaborate on, a webinar to attend, a course to take. That is why I never feel daunted or bored. There is always something new for me! That keeps me energised in my personal life as well.
My experience of being a coach has been life transforming. I have become a better listener and communicator. Consequently, I have learned how to build better relationships with people. I have also learned to acknowledge and accept without judgement other people’s beliefs, behaviour and outlook on life no matter how different than mine might be. I have learned to trust even more in people, to accept and bless what is so in my life without resisting to it. I have realised that every challenge occurs for a reason, and it makes an opportunity for growth because it involves a learning experience. Last but not least, I have learned to invest on powerful tools that help me to be more organised and make my life easier.
Most of my coaching sessions are Skype or phone sessions, and this is time saving both for me and my clients, as none of us has to spend time and money for commuting. Virtual coaching also enables me to serve people from other countries and by extension, to introduce and open myself to different values and aspects of other cultures. I always pick a regular time slot at a mutually agreed time with my clients. The fact that I am located in a different time zone with most of my coaching clients is convenient for me. I am usually a few hours ahead of them so my evening hours are often their morning hours.
I always give myself time between my coaching sessions, usually leaving one hour between each, because I need time to rest a bit and reflect on the session. After each session, I read my notes and I write the recap of the session which I e-mail to my clients right after along with fieldwork exercises, if they agree to take fieldwork of course. My recap contains things I want to acknowledge my clients for, some key words, phrases, ideas from the session, the action plan and the action steps that the client has committed to take, as well as their conclusions and take away from the session. In addition, I need some time before each session, to read the recap of the previous session and the preparation form that the client has e-mailed me the day before. I encourage my clients to e-mail me a preparation form I have created, containing the topic they want to be coached on, as well as the results they expect from our session. This is not obligatory for them, yet my up to date experience has shown me that being prepared for the session enables both me and my clients to have a more constructive session.
Most of my clients are high level busy professionals in corporate organisations who are already successful and want to move to the next level and become exceptional. Due to their hectic lifestyle they often need to adhere to a time management plan in order to be more productive and save time for other things. In other words they want a better life work balance. Others need support in empowering their leadership skills, being congruent in their decisions and introducing or managing transitions and changes. I am also an associate coach in Youth Coaching Global, a company founded by one of my coaching trainers, Mr Rob Stringer, in Canada and offers coaching services to youngsters and their families.
Whenever I start a coaching session, I always ask my clients if they have a win or something special to share with me, I acknowledge them afterwards and I invite them to celebrate their success. Coaching is not only about addressing issues. It is also about sharing, acknowledging and celebrating. All of us need to be acknowledged and celebrate our successes. This is what empowers, motivates and energises us to go further and take the extra mile. This also facilitates the building of a better rapport between me and my clients, which is paramount for a successful coaching relationship. Ever since I became a coach I have also learned not to take things for granted. I have learned to celebrate and bless my successes and to acknowledge my self and other people for their strengths, steps and any kind of wins. This of course, has helped me improve not only my relationship with other people, but also with myself and build a better sense of confidence. My coaching model is named after one of my favourite English words, Thrive, which is an acronym for the words:
It therefore, contains five elements that are not necessarily implemented sequentially. After identifying the issue, I invite my clients to think and brainstorm approaches so as to develop a greater awareness of their own potential. By reflecting back to them what they have expressed and with the use of powerful questions and tools I support them in reframing their perspectives and managing any obstacles. I then help them carefully examine the facts, the pros and cons of a situation, and elaborate on possible strategies that will support their decision-making process and will give them the way to get what they put their minds to. Creating a vision is essential in energising the client, in creating a realistic action plan with them, and in holding them accountable.
Mark, a 37 year old well educated man, was stuck in a profitable career that did not inspire him anymore. When he started working with me, his initial goal was to make a change that he could not specify, and find inspiration, which is one of his core values. I first invited him to define inspiration and think about what inspires him, and how could apply the very thing that inspires him to his career. Amongst the things he said, he emphasised travelling. In my attempt to find out want was holding him back from making the chance he desired, his belief that in life you can’t always do what you want came out. When we worked on the cost of carrying this belief, he identified his belief as disempowering and he acknowledged that it needed reframing. I challenged him afterwards, to check the validity of his belief and invest on a powerful one in order to reframe it. Mark came out with a belief that you can have what you want in life if you are clear about it and if you take the right action steps. Motivation, perseverance and persistence are a few of his strengths. I invited him them to visualise the result he wanted to create, so as to get the big picture, and he saw himself working in the tourist industry and travel once in two months. The investigation of options, action steps and resources available for help formed his action plan. He did not want to quit his current job at that time, because it was his only source of income. His first action step was to take one month off and travel, so as to reclaim his energy and get inspired, then he decided to do a postgraduate course in tourism management and network with people with a view to pursue a career in tourism. I acknowledged his decision making skills and his motivation to affect the change he desire. When we finished our coaching agreement he already had started studying and networking and we had formed a realistic time management plan for him. He recently wrote me that he works for an organisation as a tourist operation manager and he is happier than ever. I am very happy and proud about him and touched when he expressed his thanks to me for my support.
The name of my coaching model, Thrive, conveys my intent. I want my clients to thrive in their lives. I want them to realise their greatness and become aware of their potential, to invest on their strengths, to own their weaknesses and find the gift that their weaknesses involve, and what is more, to learn how to be using tools that suit them, in order to be managing better their objectives with or without my support.
The vision of the future I would like to create involves teaching, coaching, training, working for organisations abroad, offering workshops, growing as a coach and a human being, but mainly supporting people to thrive. This is the very thing that makes life worth living.