Can coaching change your life for the better? These two Lancashire businesswomen believe it can.
The first step to getting help is, it is universally accepted, to acknowledge you need it.
But sometimes the barriers go up before you can get to that point.
Coaching is expected in disciplines such as sport, dance, music, but what about in life and in business?
For two Lancashire businesswomen coaching is not just their chosen calling, it has changed their lives.
Kate Pollitt of Desire Branding is due to qualify as a business coach in March, a skill she will offer as part of her services to clients.
Her journey to qualification started when she decided to invest in coaching for her own business which she set up 14 years ago.
The Ribble Valley-based graphic designer and branding expert said: “I was seeking a business coach for me and this ran in parallel with the fact that working very closely with small business owners they would sometimes come to me with things that were not branding and marketing-related and I didn’t feel equipped to help them - things like work life balance and time management and more strategic small business decisions.”
She stresses that coaching is a non-directive, but an empowering process: “The coach is just the facilitator,the coach gives accountability. It’s about helping people make progress quicker than they would on their own
“It’s about helping people to be their best and achieve and reach their full potential.”
In 2017 she embarked on a personal development coaching diploma. She explains: “It has made a massive difference to me personally. I’m learning a lot about myself on the journey, it’s been a very empowering process and I’ve learned lots of life skills that I feel should be part of the national curriculum.”
She continued: “Active listening is a really big one - it’s listening on quite a deep level.”
Listening attentively and noting someone’s body language is key: “And it’s as much about hearing what they’re saying as what they are not saying.”
Kate said: “I wish I had found it (coaching) much earlier. You can get objectivity and find a way forward. As a result of business coaching it’s given me a lot of clarity in my business. It’s taken me in a new direction. “
The brand strategist and brand identity stylist has practised what she preaches:“I’m really excited about the future. I’ve invested in business coaching which will come back tenfold because of the changes I’m implementing – the way I’ve transformed my business and repositioned it. It’s made me find what makes my heart sing. As a result I’ve renamed and rebranded and have a very new direction going forward. I’ve got a very specialist niche whereas before I was very broad. I’m helping people who need to rebrand.”
Meanwhile in Preston, Grimsargh based Lou Booth is also dedicated to business coaching and empowering people and believes mindfulness has a great role to play in helping people become more discerning of their needs and the way forward.
Her business elementas offers business mentoring, one to one coaching and wellness services which she says “facilitate clients to experience true, natural, life-changing changes with lasting benefits”.
She added: “Elementas mindfulness brings new life to traditional business and coaching approaches, helping clients to harness more self-awareness, greater self-understanding, better communication skills and improved connections and relationships with others.”
Lou offers a definition of mindfulness from The Mindfulness Association as “Knowing what is happening while it is happening without preference”.
She believes the practice of mindfulness has become more popular because it is a way for people to stop and make sense of their lives and make the changes they may need to make.
Pointing to the stresses of everyday life she lists the challenges an individual may juggle – from work to illness, from dealing with ageing parents and children, to people feeling less secure in their employment. “If people feel unsafe at work they are less efficient,” she said.
Fight or flight responses rather than resting become increasingly the norm. Lou cites the national reports on days lost due to stress and illness.
In coaching she aims to help a person get under the surface to discover what they really want and know what their goal really is. “That’s where coaching can help and give you support and help you understand what your values are.”
A holistic approach takes in health and wellbeing issues too.
Lou worked in the manufacturing industry and public relations after taking a degree in marketing and management at UCLan.
She sees continuity in her working life: “Marketing is a lot about change, getting people to do things in a different way and I realised there’s a lot of resistance to change. I realised I needed some different skills.”
Lou trained in coaching and later trained in executive coaching at the University of Cumbria. The next step was to make the connection between mindfulness and business .
A visit to Tibet also has been influential for Lou who divides her time between Grimsargh and Hove and is now studying mindfulness for an MSc at the University of Aberdeen.
She reports how a client wrote to her saying: “You have pointed me to think differently. As a result I have changed.”
Lou adds: "What I create is a space, a safe space and it’s spacious, so people can become more self aware, have time to think and reflect. I really challenge people.”
* Desire Branding see www.desirebranding.uk
*elementas see www.elementascoaching.com