Above: My vision of what life coaching would turn me into
Photo credit: Delhi College of Photography
In 2020 I became a certified life coach as I launched Stuff Talks, a coaching program designed to help people master their emotions and communicate effectively in a way that is aligned with who they are and what they believe in.
Today, I feel this job was made for me. But if you’d told me just a few months before the launch of Stuff Talks that I was about to become a coach, I would have said “no way.”
In fact, this is exactly what happened.
In 2020, I hired the services of a business coach (you can read more about it here). As part of the program, I did an exercise which involved doing tests to see what job would be the most aligned with my core values and my natural skills.
The answer: a life coach.
When I saw this, I instantly rejected the possibility.
I remember telling my coach: “Don’t take it personally, but I would never choose to be a coach.” She laughed.
To understand this, I need to tell you a little about French culture (I am part French and was born and brought up there). France is very, very academic driven. There is a very strict hierarchy of what is considered a good school, what is considered a “serious” and prestigious education, most of which is based on a legacy that is a hundred years old.
Most French people I know (including myself) are obsessed with degrees. The system and culture push you to get as educated as possible for the longest possible time - because that’s what is most prestigious.
Even in middle school, when many countries with a far more modern understanding of education encourage kids not suited for the traditional academic curriculum to switch to professional training, French parents will fight tooth and nail to keep their children, regardless of how much they may struggle, in what they consider to be the only respectable journey to education and to a respectable job.
Similarly, there is a contempt for anything that is considered “new age.” Life coaching would definitely fall in this category for many people, just as it did for me.
So my first reaction to seeing that life coaching would make sense for me was to think “Life coaching is definitely NOT a serious job and I am a serious person.” I imagined myself telling my French entourage about becoming a coach and could already feel the embarrassment.
So how did I get from there to here?
First, the business coach I hired was French and she helped me work through a lot of the limiting beliefs I held (including false beliefs I had about how I thought this would be perceived by my French entourage).
Second, I started coaching myself. I led programs with three people who accepted to be my “guinea pigs.” By the end of the two months of trial programs, my guinea pigs were transformed and I was converted. I absolutely loved the whole process, from start to finish.
To put it simply, a life coach is there for people who want to change something in their life but who find it hard or feel stuck. A life coach takes a holistic approach by looking at every angle of that person’s life and helps them reach their goal by identifying and using the resources they already have.
Regardless of how society (French or otherwise) views coaching, the above is a definition that I feel entirely aligned with. By stripping the concept of “life coach” of all the limiting beliefs I had about it, by freeing myself from how I thought it would be perceived, and most importantly by experiencing it myself both at the receiving and giving end, I could see it in a whole new light.
I knew this was for me.
Another very important thing that life coaching helps you with, which was key for me, is to bring together what may feel like fragmented parts of yourself.
This is something that I really struggled with. For over a decade I felt my life was split. There was the “corporate” me, the me who runs a successful commodities media monitoring business catering to traders and bankers. That part of myself is comfortable wearing a suit, speaking to hundreds of people in five star hotels around the world about trading and the food supply chain.
And then there was the “other” me, the part who lives in dirty jeans on a horse ranch, the part passionate about animals, nature and communication, the part who wants to empower all of us to live in line with our core values.
For 10 years I was convinced that these two parts were irreconcilable. In fact, it hadn’t crossed my mind to bring them together.
Next week, I will tell you how I was able to bring these two sides together.