Hello Gorgeous Human Being,
If you are thinking of working with me, you might want to know a little about who I am and what matters to me. I really value honest and helpful conversations. My top core values are fair, fun, honesty, kind and thoughtful. But I found myself for years stuck between being honest and kind. I would either say nothing (thinking it was kinder not to speak) or say something that was neither kind nor helpful. That was until I learned how to change the way I gave, received and invited feedback, which included changing the way I talked to and about myself. But before I learned how to do this I felt like I was two different people.
On the outside I was the person people saw as happy and confident and inside I felt a fraud. I felt like I was horrible for the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing and the lack of honesty. When I was honest, I hated myself for how mean and unkind I was.
At work and at home, fear of failure and rejection often fuelled my compliance and so I learned to listen very carefully to the needs and and wants of others. I learned to adapt who I was for them to be happy and I got really good at it.
I won Network Champion of the year in 2009, Business woman of the year in 2016 and Speaker of the year in 2017. But with each award I felt more and more of a fraud. (Hence no awards recently) Professionally I like to think I kept it together, but I now know that I was the shell of the person I had the potential to be.
Family is one of the most important things to me and my life revolves around my family. I would often hold it together all day and fall apart in private. This meant the people I loved the most saw the worst of me and work got the best of me. Sadly it took a crisis for me to change and I hope by sharing my story I can help you either avoid a crisis or give you hope that you can bounce back.
Life has taken me on a colourful journey from part time shop assistant at a fruit and vegetable shop from the age of 14 to building society manager from 1987 to 2000. When I became a mum in 1995 it broke my heart to leave my little girl. When she started school in 1999, I knew something had to change. So I became self employed as a franchisee with Slimming World in November 1999 and by March 2000 I was earning enough to leave the building society.
Some family members struggled with the change. They saw security and status in the role of building society manager. I would often be asked “When are you going to get a proper job?”
However for me I was happy. I was earning the same kind of income, the roles were similar in that I was helping people and I got more time with my children.
I loved my time at Slimming World and spent 7 happy years motivating change until one day I started to notice more and more clients coming back heavier than when they had started. I started to question if what I was doing was enough. Around the same time I was going through my divorce and having met my now husband we were doing our best to bring a blended family of five children together, run two homes and get to know each other. When I started to doubt myself at work it impacted how I felt in all areas of my life. So my confidence and motivation started to dwindle.
In my search for solutions I came across coaching and in May 2006 I invested in a diploma in personal performance coaching. That course cost me £3000 and I went on to invest approximately £30,000 in my training over the next ten years. It turned out that there was more to coaching than ‘just’ listening.
I needed to be able to manage my own triggers and emotional responses in order not to be upset or react to what I heard. I had to learn to track patterns and be able to give evidence based feedback and I had to be able to identify progress and train my clients attention. Whilst I was doing this I had to learn how to not be detrimentally affected by what I heard. So my journey to get to know, like and trust myself began alongside supporting my clients to get to know, like and trust themselves.
Then in September 2006 my mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away that November. Despite only just starting my training it had a massive impact and allowed us to have some really life changing conversations. In those last few weeks I went from knowing intellectually I was loved to truly feeling loved. Then she was gone. I was all alone grieving the relationship we could have had, if only we had known how to change the way we gave, received and invited feedback.
Fast Forward to May 2008, Mark has moved in and I am busy project managing our Wedding that is about to take place in August of that year. It’s 18 months since my mum died and I collapse with exhaustion. I was ignoring my grief whilst desperately trying to keep everyone happy. In an attempt to keep on top of things, I was working 70 hours a week, 7 days a week and despite investing in the coaching diploma I was struggling to make time to get it finished.
Mark asked me what I wanted and I said I want to be a stay at home mum. That day I quit my job and for the first time since I was 14 I no longer had my ‘own’ money.
At first I was busy with wedding plans but come September when everyone went back to school and Mark went back to work, I realised I had asked for the wrong thing. What I really wanted was to be a really good working mum. So I contacted the coaching company and asked for an extension and gained a distinction in personal performance coaching in December 2008. That very same month I launched my coaching practice. Coaching is a bit like passing your driving test. The test gets you started but the real learning starts when you have to put your learning into practice. Once I started having regular paying clients, I felt the pressure on me to do well. I didn’t want to let the mums and daughters down. That is when I came across Clean Language which transformed the way I coached for ever by changing the way I talked to and about myself. It also gave me access to a community that would go onto to resource and support me to be the best coach I can be.
Remembering the grief I had felt when my mum and I did not know how to communicate with each other, I decided to niche as a mums and daughter relationship coach. Little did I know that coaching was not the only kind of listening I would need to develop.
That took me on a journey of learning about conflict resolution and the more I listened the more I heard how much inner conflict the mums had. They felt under pressure with work and life and constantly felt like they were failing. Their lack of confidence and lack of time impacted how they reacted and responded to their daughter. Then I got asked if I could help Father and sons and husband and wives.
What they all had in common was a desire to understand why they behaved the way they did and a lack of time to work on it. That is when I started to work with my clients to manage themselves, their time and the expectations of others. Something I have always been great at doing is organising and planning to make things happen.
I love the transformation that happens when someone gives themselves the gift of time. Time to think and make sense and make decisions. I was by now getting emails almost daily with success stories and gratitude. Only at home in my own life things were not going to plan. My daughter hated me, she was was self harming, taking drugs and drinking. She hated me so much she would rather live on the streets than live with me. I struggled for almost three years then one day I collapsed. I was too scared to ask for help and genuinely believe no one could help me.
I felt like I had nothing left to give. Being a good mum is one of the most important things to me. Instead of being pleased for my clients success I started to become resentful and jealous. Then I felt shame and guilt for feeling like that. The harder I tried the more my daughter pulled away.
The more success my clients had the more I thought I was the problem and that she would be better off without me. I remember telling my husband that I wanted to die. I could not face another day of feeling a failure.
Then my husband asked me what I would tell my clients to do. The one thing my clients had done that I had not. They had asked for help. They had me in their corner noticing change and progress when they lost sight of it. They had me reminding them of the difference they made, their patterns and their process. I had been too scared to ask for help in case it damaged my business reputation.
That day with the support of my team, my husband and my mentors I started to take myself through my own programmes. I got clarity of what I wanted and I started to create a support network that could catch me getting it right.
I stepped back from the business and worked on my relationship with myself and my daughter. I am pleased to say that I now have an awesome relationship with her and my son. Not to mention my wonderful blended family that now includes our gorgeous grandchildren.
In order to ask my team, family and mentors to support me, I had to pay attention to what I worked and what didn’t. I had to understand what I needed to be at my best and learn to have the confidence to ask for it. I can’t explain how much that changed my life. Not to mention the boost of confidence it gave me to realise that the things I had been doing to support my clients actually work. The feedback and testimonials were lovely but to really feel it for myself – that was magic.
I also came to understand that there was no one person that could do all the things I did, but a combination of them could.
I asked my husband to support me by asking me what I would like to have happen or what is working whenever I was complaining or putting myself down. My team helped me work out what I needed to work, learn and live at my best ensuring that I planned for success and learned how to make good decisions. My mentors helped me track patterns and change the way I gave, received and invited feedback.
I feel blessed to finally feel okay about being me. I now spend my time as a motivational speaker, author and coach determined that no one will ever be stuck at home shedding tears in private unable to ask for help. Sometimes all the help we need is a good listener, capable of giving evidence based and effective feedback.
When I get tired or I am having an off day. I remember how alone and isolated I felt. I remember the impact it had on my loved ones and that pushes me to find a way to make it happen.
I now spend most of my time working with entrepreneurs, managers and parents who want to be better at managing themselves. If that is you, Please know that myself and my team are here and we are happy to listen to help you work out your next best step.