• Mark Ames

Coaching for life beyond Covid

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

For many people, the disruption caused by Covid has provided an important moment to pause and reflect on their professional and personal priorities. I have been coaching a number of clients who have been utilising these insights to plan for significant changes in their professional and personal lives.

In this post, I want to share the reflections of two clients at very different stages in their careers who write about why they decided to access coaching, what the experience was like, how coaching helped them, and what advice they would offer others thinking about coaching. I hope this will help others planning for the next phase of their lives to decide whether coaching might be a useful resource for them.

Bob Mytton

Partner, Creative Director at Mytton Williams Ltd

Why I decided to access coaching

Running a business or team can be rewarding but also demanding, with the ‘day-to-day’ issues and challenges taking priority. Finding time and headspace to consider the bigger, more strategic questions and working out what feels right personally, can all take a back seat. Sometimes we can work these things out ourselves, but sometimes I have found it far more effective to have someone else –  someone outside the business – to help work through the possibilities and arrive at solutions that feel right. This is where I have found coaching has helped me in the past. After 25 successful years running a design studio, I was looking for someone to help think about the next steps for my business and for me personally. 

What the coaching experience was like

The regular sessions worked well. Initial sessions explored how the process might work, what issues I was struggling with and how coaching could help. The sessions could be challenging – in that I was prompted to think carefully about the different aspects I had found difficult to think through in the past – but ultimately enjoyable, as with the careful and considerate guidance from my coach, I felt at last that I was making progress. 

How coaching helped me

The regular sessions made things happen. Sometimes just having the space in the day – and in the diary – meant I devoted that hour to reflecting and thinking about my specific issues and thinking through what I needed to do. I was committed to the session and did not want to let the coach down. Having two hour long sessions per month was manageable   

Having someone really listen to you and reflect on your statements – not just what you say but how you said it – unearthed my feelings in a way I had not noticed before.

Often we are too close to a subject or issue and having someone challenge me, ask me questions and guide me through the process helps me arrive at the solutions that feel right. I’ve worked with consultants on different aspects of the business before and sometimes their recommendations might be right for the business, but do not feel right for me personally – and then it is difficult to follow through. 

My advice for others thinking about coaching

Be prepared to give it time. It may take a number of sessions to work through the issues and what feels right.

Don’t expect the coach to provide the answers. The coach is there to help you think through what’s possible and arrive at the answers yourself.  

Invest in the process. Not just giving the hour sessions your undivided attention, but reflecting on the discussions and doing the agreed actions. Even if they are small – it means you are moving forward.

Be prepared to be challenged. Keep an open mind as sometimes the outcomes from the discussions might not be what you expect, but might be just what is needed.

Patricia Sebastian

Researcher at Berwick Partners

Why I decided to access coaching

My name is Trish and much like many others of my age, I graduated from university with no clue as to what the road ahead would look like and most importantly, what I wanted to do.

I first encountered coaching through contacting a charity that provided young women with 4 free coaching sessions as I aimlessly applied for 20 jobs a day, during the summer after graduation. I had a session once a month which led to my first full-time temporary job that would get me by in the meantime.

Fast forwards to a year and after the first lockdown had ceased, I landed a job in Business Development (Sales) in the software space - which was not the role I envisioned for myself nor the industry I wanted to develop and progress in long term. Although it provided great opportunities to learn, meet new people and take me out of my comfort zone, I gradually became drained, anxious, and lived in constant fear of losing my job through the pressure and the nature of the role itself. Although it was physically clear to others how much the job was taking its toll on my well-being, due to the culture of the company and my environment, I was in a state of limbo and would regularly fluctuate from loving my job to hating it – ultimately leading to my burn out and poor mental health.

My second and most impactful coaching experience was serendipitous. Mark is a member of my close circle and after hearing about the train-wreck that was my career/life, I count my lucky stars every day that he had just launched his new coaching career at the same time, and we discussed the potential benefits of working together.

What the coaching experience was like

My coaching experience can only be described as life-altering. I worked with Mark on a bi-weekly basis – each session had different focal points but would ultimately help to advance my career and achieve my personal goals. I was fascinated by the insights Mark was providing and the conclusions we drew from our discussions. It’s strange to think about how much we already know about ourselves, our situations and how we need to act but be completely oblivious at the same time. I looked forward to my coaching sessions because it provided a safe space to openly explore any issues I was having and my desires. It helped me to perceive scenarios in a different light and I would always feel more secure and confident to tackle the problem afterwards. This made me more excited to catch up on how it went down and how I’d developed from 2 weeks ago in the following session.

How coaching helped me

Coaching has been pivotal in improving my mental health and securing a new job that is more in line with my life aspirations. It helped to nudge me in the right direction, boost my confidence, improve my overthinking and indecisiveness, and learn more about myself and the essential skills needed to navigate the adult working life. It’s baffling to reflect on my journey and how much my life has effectively changed and improved prior to coaching. It provided a source of stability in my life and acted as a check point to keep my development and goals on track. It was something I did not know I needed until I committed myself to the process and saw the results unfold.

My advice for others thinking about coaching

It’s not always easy to recognise when you need a little bit of help to understand your situation and where you want to be in life. Most of the time, people already have the skills they need and recognise what it is that would make them happy. However, these are muted by our thoughts and our many other obligations in life which makes it more difficult to stick to a plan or make progress. I have reaped tremendous rewards from my coaching experience, and I feel more confident in myself and my abilities. I would encourage anyone who is experiencing any kind of doubt or dissatisfaction with their career or life in general, to give coaching a chance because it can be more effective than many other methods out there and is more readily available. I am eternally grateful to have had this opportunity and would advise to anyone on their coaching journey to fully commit and trust in the process.

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