What is coaching and how could it help me?

What is coaching and how can it help me blog white mug on table printed with word BeginThis week is International Coaching Week.  If you are not a coach that may not mean much to you.  This is the week in which those working in the industry come together to focus on CPD and to promote the benefits of coaching.  If you have ever wondered “What is coaching and how could it help me?” then this blog is for you.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a bespoke form of personal and/or professional development.  A professional coach can help you to set and achieve personal and/or professional goals by supporting, listening, challenging, guiding and, in some instances, training you.

Why Might I Need a Coach?

Sometimes in life you can see where you want to be but have absolutely no idea how to get there.  You can see the obstacles and barriers to your success but don’t quite know how to get over them.  Coaching can help you to bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.

Sometimes you don’t have any idea where you want to be or what you want to do.  You just know that you don’t want to stay stuck where you are now.  Coaching can help you to gain some clarity.

How do Coaches Work?

Some coaches work in a completely non-directive way.  They ask questions and allow you to formulate your own plan based on what you already know.

Some coaches, particularly performance coaches, work in a very directive way.  They will tell the client exactly what to do to make a difference – for example a coach might tell a tennis player to extend their reach by an extra 2cm on the serve to maximise power.

At Yellow Dot Women we work in a semi-directive way, which falls somewhere between the two.  We will never tell you what to do but we might help you to increase your skills and knowledge so that you formulate a plan based on the best information – not just on what you already know.

A coach will listen to you, properly listen to everything you say and try to understand what you really want from life – personally and/or professionally.  A coach will help you to understand yourself and your challenges and will enable you to see potential ways forward.  It’s up to you which way you go.

Once you have decided on a way forward a coach will support you to set goals (where appropriate) and work creatively to help you take each step towards them – this may include elements of counselling, one-to-one training or involve engaging with external support.

Finally, a coach will encourage and support you throughout the journey, will challenge you to stay on track and keep your promises to yourself and will be your cheerleader when you reach the finish line.

At the end of the process you should feel happier and more in control with a genuine sense of achievement.  You will also have gained some self-awareness and/or have developed some sustainable new skills.

At Yellow Dot Women we work predominantly with women but also with couples and businesses.

Coaching Women

If you are wondering why we work predominantly with women please click here.

The initial focus may be around life, parenting, relationships, personal fulfilment or professional aspirations.  Coaching can essentially help with any and all aspects of life.

Coaching Couples

Sometimes couples get stuck.  They don’t necessarily need counselling, their relationship may still be strong, they just need help to get out of a rut, to work together on some shared goals and to feel like they are growing, together.  Coaching can help.

Business/Leadership/Executive Coaching

Leadership coaching (also called business coaching or executive coaching) focusses on a senior manager (usually an MD or CEO) or business owner.  The aim is to establish a bench mark of strengths and weaknesses and to build on them.  The ultimate aim is to achieve the organisational objectives through better leadership.

Team Coaching

Team coaching usually combines one-to-one sessions with each team member and group sessions designed to integrate skills, to help team members value differences and to work together to achieve shared goals.

What is Coaching and How Could it Help Me?

If you still have questions please contact Fiona to find out how Yellow Dot Women can help you.

We offer an initial consultation free of charge so you can be sure that we are the people you want to work with.  Please click below to contact us.

I would like to book an initial consultation

How Resilient are You?

cow parsley looking weather battered to illustrate blog How resilient are youHow resilient are you?

You may have noticed that resilience is a hot topic at the moment.  News headlines tell us that employees lack resilience in the workplace.  Universities report that students are incapable of facing setbacks.  And, in that great indicator of fashionable trends – magazines are full of chirpy little quizzes designed to measure your resilience.  But resilience is so much more than the latest fad.  It is integral to good mental health and to survival in a changing world.  So, back to my original question:

How resilient are you?

If you find yourself riding a roller coaster of emotions – up one minute and down the next.  If you often feel that life is treating you unfairly.  If you regularly think “poor me” or “it’s not fair”.  If you constantly feel stressed and overwhelmed, then you could probably stand to develop more resilience.

What is resilience?

In materials, resilience refers to the ability of an object to return to its original form after being bent or stretched.  It is an items’ resistance to breaking under strain.  Think of a tree in a storm – a resilient tree will bend and sway but, when the storm passes, the tree will look pretty much the same as it did before.

In humans, resilience is a very similar thing.  It is essentially a person’s ability to recover from adversity.  Not, you will notice, to be unaffected by life’s storms, but to bend without breaking, to face problems and then recover.

Why does resilience matter?

Frankly, resilience matters because adversity will happen.  Every adult will, at some point, have to face big problems like illness, bereavement, job losses, financial challenges or relationship breakdowns etc.  In addition, they will face a multitude of smaller, every day challenges like a crying baby, an increasing workload or a fall out with a friend.

Why are some people more resilient than others?

Now we are entering the realms of the great nature/nurture debate.  Some people are simply more resilient.  They have a naturally optimistic and positive attitude to life and they bounce back from adversity with relative ease.  Some may see life more negatively.

Resilience is also a learned behaviour.  A child who is allowed to explore, to make decisions, to fail and to face the consequences of her actions, is likely to learn how to be resilient.  A child who is shielded from life’s challenges may not learn any coping mechanisms.  A toddler who is not allowed to climb (she might fall) becomes fearful and risk averse.  A child who is constantly told she is perfect may come to believe it.   A teenager who is always defended by her parents (against teachers, other children etc.) does not learn to take responsibility for her actions.  These are not qualities which lead to resilience.

How can I develop more resilience?

Learning happens in adulthood too.  If you can learn a lack of resilience in childhood you can develop more resilience as an adult.  The following will help:

  • If you have low self-esteem consider working on it. Low self-esteem does not have to be locked in for life.
  • If you have excessively high self-esteem it is probably time to learn that you are not, and cannot be, without fault.
  • Build a strong social network. Good friends will help you and support you when times are tough.  They will also be honest with you when you are contributing to the problem.
  • Develop your Emotional Intelligence – people who respond to situations appropriately, with emotional maturity, tend to be more resilient.
  • Try to shed any idea that you are a victim. Identifying as a victim can reinforce a sense of helplessness.
  • Learn to be honest with yourself and try to develop a balanced way of evaluating your own behaviour.

How resilient are you?  If your answer is “not resilient enough”, you might want to consider working with a counsellor or a coach to develop your ability to ride life’s ups and downs without being consumed by them.  To find out more click the button below and get in touch.

I would like to be more resilient

Please stop giving unsolicited advice

View from above down onto rocks and a rough sea to illustrate a blog about unsolicited adviceWhere do you go when you need advice?  Most of us will consult a professional or chat with someone we trust, maybe a particularly insightful friend, or a family member with the relevant experience.  It is unlikely that any of us would ask a random stranger on the bus or someone we met whilst out on a walk and yet that won’t necessarily stop those people from giving us unsolicited advice.

I’ve been thinking about unsolicited advice a lot over the last few days.  At the weekend I was walking along the coast path near Land’s End.  I had already walked about ten miles and I was hot so I had put my jacket in my rucksack  The T-shirt I was wearing was perfectly adequate.  And yet an elderly man took it upon himself to accost me, saying (somewhat grumpily), “It’s not as warm as you think, you need to put a jumper on or you’ll catch a chill.”

I’m basically quite a polite person so I simply nodded and smiled and continued on my way.  But, you know what?  I’m 54 years old, I’ve got this!  And unless you have lived in the body of a middle aged woman you cannot possibly understand that there is no correlation whatsoever between the weather and my body temperature – I haven’t been cold for at least two years!

I mentioned this episode to my daughter, who, as the mother of a three month old baby, had her own stories to tell about unsolicited advice of the “that baby needs feeding/is too warm/too cold” variety.

I’m not talking about the sharing of information.  I’m walking a lot at the moment and I love all the little conversations and shared moments along the way.  I love it when someone says “I’ve just seen seals in the next cove”, or “there’s a loose plank on that next footbridge”.  That’s different.  That’s helpful.  That’s a basic human connection that says “we are here separately but doing the same thing and isn’t it great?”

The difference is that unsolicited advice so often sounds like criticism.  It doesn’t matter whether the giver intended to criticise or not, even with the best will in the world they are essentially saying “I know better than you”.  There is an arrogance in the giving of unsolicited advice.  In a recent blog I talked about the difference between sympathy and empathy and there is a strong connection here.  The man who told me I needed a jumper probably thought he was being helpful but he was judging me based on his experience not mine.

It’s not just strangers who offer unsolicited advice, friends and family are often the first to tell you what you “should” be doing in any given situation.  Too often the love and understanding we are looking for will be met with advice on how to fix a situation rather than with the empathy we desire.

So why do people feel the need to offer unsolicited advice?  Well, the reasons vary and range from a well intentioned desire to help, to a less well intentioned need to control others.

People are often surprised to find that, as a coach, I rarely give advice.  It is not my job to tell people what to do.  My role is to help people look at a situation dispassionately, to work out what they would like to happen and to find a way to make that happen.  Along the way I may offer information or training if it is appropriate but only ever with the express consent of the client.

If you find yourself giving unsolicited advice, please stop.  Ask yourself why you feel a need to tell someone what they should do.  Try to work out what need of your own you are trying to meet.

If you have an area of your own life (home/work/relationships/goals etc.) that you would like to improve, and you would like someone to help you find the right path with empathy and without ever telling you what you “should” do, please get in touch.

click here to get in touch