Standing on my own two feet
Updated: May 20
“Sisters are doing it for themselves, standing on their own two feet…” so sang Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. I’m from a generation that was almost indoctrinated to do it for ourselves, to be self-sufficient, to make our own way in the world. But for a couple of years, I struggled to work out what I wanted really wanted to do. I read books, explored options, learnt new skills and I was determined to figure out what I was passionate about. And I believed I could do that on my “own two feet”.
The key to a successful coaching relationship is rapport between the coach and client. Therefore, it almost goes without saying that clients will work best with a coach they feel they “click” with – someone they can identify with – someone who “gets” them. This is how I felt when I first met my coach. I listened to him speak, tell his story and heard him when he said how difficult it can be for people to ask for help. I felt compelled to speak with him. I did.
For me the beauty of coaching is that the coach helps you to find answers within yourself. A coach doesn’t tell you what you should do or show you what you could do. A coach supports you to find your own answers, to solve your problems, to unlock your own insights, to see your own potential, or unleash it. A coach also supports you to build and strengthen your sense of self-belief. Decision-making is key to building and reinforcing our self-belief. Making our own decisions allows us to feel responsible for ourselves, for our destiny, for our successes and failures.
Coaching is, in essence, a conversation. The coach need not be an expert in your field – they are coaching you and not the subject or content. The conversation typically involves open-ended questions and while answering you receive the undivided attention of your coach – this feels like a luxury and something we rarely experience. Our words often define how we feel about something. Attentive listening is a key trait of a coach. A coach needs to listen, truly listen, to their client.
Open-ended questions are a powerful way to drill down and explore what your answers actually mean. They can be thought-provoking and challenging but you are in a safe and supportive space. The conversation will go at your own pace and follow your train of thought. The style of questioning is non-judgemental, objective, empathetic, compassionate and open. There is an acceptance of your answers. You trust your coach.
Of course, you cannot escape dealing with feelings. Feelings and emotions. I had a habit of expressing my feelings as a thought – “I think that I feel x”. But, with a gently persuasive approach my coach got me to drop “think” and focus on “feel”. His questions helped me to challenge long-held assumptions and beliefs and see them from a different perspective. Changing the perspective of how you view a situation can help you unblock a fear that is limiting progress towards fulfilling your potential. Creating awareness of the fear allows you to break free of these limitations.
I was able to open up about expectations and fears, what ifs and maybes and any nagging uncertainties I had. Sometimes, as you say something aloud, it is as if you admit it to yourself and then you realise that it is something you created for yourself and that doesn’t make it true. So, you can let it go, recognise it doesn’t serve you, you don’t need it, it isn’t who you are and doesn’t define you. Working with a coach helped me to focus on my future, the future I want for myself. I uncovered my passion and my purpose. I worked towards concrete goals.
And, importantly for me, I still felt like I was standing on my “own two feet”.