25 Jul, 2012
Coach In The Spotlight – Barbara Friend
For once I followed my heart. Initially this meant relocating from South Africa to England to set up home with my soon to be husband.
However the experience of building a very new and different life, at a time when most people are comfortably settled into a rhythm of life heading towards retirement, soon became a journey that changed more than my marital status.
My South African career had been tough but rewarding. Various interludes in Information Technology and Human Resources had finally led to a fascinating role in Knowledge Management and a directorship in a large construction engineering organisation.
Here I learned that the essence of what makes me fulfilled is the development of people. It wasn’t the administration, the systems, the never-ending meetings, the ‘glamorous’ travel or the profile.
It was the marrying of business strategy with the development of its people – whatever intervention or programme was required.
Career counselling, graduate development, skills training, job shadowing, employment equity, self empowerment – creating the systems and opportunities for growth in confidence, technical ability and management at all levels.During this time I was first introduced to coaching and was on the receiving end of Leadership Coaching – then a new concept in South Africa.
I experienced coaching at its best and its worst.
The dichotomy proved to be valuable further down the line.
So arriving in England where I was unknown, and to some extent perceived to be superfluous to requirements, was a bit jarring. It took time to realise how much I had based my identify and self worth on external factors.
Those who have known you for a long time, the reputation you have built up over years – the track record that you have created in both your work and personal lives.
Intellectually I was ready for the challenge of a new life – I had thought through every aspect of it. But nothing prepared me for how it would all feel. In time I worked out that I had to look inside myself and reassess who I was and what I had to offer.
A really difficult process but so core to growth and ultimately to successful coaching.
Just as I had settled happily into living and working in England, news came that we were off to Hong Kong on a 3 year contract.
Immediately I started looking for something to set up that was about people, built on my existing experience and new personal awareness, and was completely transferrable – anywhere.
I happened upon an advertisement for a two day Coaching Certification with the Coaching Academy and headed along one dark February weekend in 2010. One hour into the first day and I was sure that I had found ‘IT’.
Now how to complete this before we left for the Far East? The Law of Attraction really does work and a month before our departure the distance learning version was launched. Et Voila! I arrived in Hong Kong with a few clothes, a new husband and a lot of Coaching Academy material!
Most interesting has been the understanding that to be an effective and authentic coach you have to do the work on yourself. You have to challenge your own baggage, beliefs and attitudes. Constantly.
It is not a hurdle to get over – it’s a challenge to go through. It is not an event – it is a process. It takes resilience, perseverance and an ability to detach but still empathise.
I loved discovering that I had the discipline to take on long distance studying with goals and deadlines and make it part of the adventure of building yet another chapter of my life on yet another continent.
I made the Personal Performance Diploma part of my life and not about work/life balance. It wasn’t extra work – it was The Work. For example – I didn’t have any practice clients and had to get out into Hong Kong and network to find them.
The result – a new skill and new clients. This helped me settle down in a new and very diverse city. I networked through the Coaching Academy Community to find coaching buddies and more practice clients.
I got taken for granted, dumped, treated as a ‘freebie’ – but ultimately have made great friends with a fellow Coaching Academy graduate – we supported each other through our qualification and made a point of meeting on skype at least monthly for a catch up and to set a new goal.
She’s in Barcelona and I am in Hong Kong but I plan to meet her face to face one day. I value this relationship.
I currently run a career coaching programme for the trailing spouse – freelancing for an international relocation company. Those of us (and I was one of them) that accompany our employed spouses have to find our own way in a new environment.
What do you need to do to find your place in this sexy, vibrant but culturally different island city? I coach candidates through the preparation, projection and paperwork required to find that place. And it always starts with the journey of looking at oneself through ‘fresh eyes’.
I didn’t find my niche – it found me. The programme was offered to me as part of my relocation package and I chose to use it to build my own coaching business.
Watching my clients challenge themselves and achieve what they set out to – through the catalysts of questioning and support is exactly what I should be doing now. This is IT.
The programme offers that perfect combination of personal performance and fulfilment under the Career Coaching label. It is always challenging as each client brings a unique kaleidoscope of values, beliefs and attitudes.
I fill up inside as I watch the ‘A-HA’s drop into place. My favourite question is ‘How does it serve you to hold onto this thought?’
But it’s not enough. Next journey goal to be an even better coach with an even bigger business is an NLP qualification.
As I write I am preparing for a course next week. Through the NLP pre-work it has become very clear that Personal Performance Certification offered through The Coaching Academy is an excellent one. It is holistic, authentic and applicable wherever there are people.
As I engage with coaches who have qualified through different organisations from all over the world – I can more than hold my own.
For those of you who are on a similar journey – whether your road is less travelled or more so – I feel there are three nuggets to hold on to:
1. Trust that you have made the right decision. Never give up. Set backs are opportunities for learning and reframing.
2. Seek out and spend time with people who are like you. You need the reinforcement. And they are out there -all over the world.
3. Just Start. Take that first step.