‘Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go and do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive’.
THE NIGHT THAT BROUGHT ME TO LIFE
There I stood on a hot summer’s night in Italy, back in 2005. I was attending an International Leadership Program and that particular evening was Passion Night. That night, each of the attendees, who had come from around the world, had to get up in front of everyone and share their passion with the group. My turn was coming up and I still didn’t know what I wanted to share. I’d spent the whole day restless, close to tears and questioning everything in search for the right answer. “What is my passion? What do I truly like? What does that say about me? Who am I?” All those questions and still no answer.
Then, it was my turn. I really didn’t know what I was going to share but when I got up in front of the group, I took a deep breathe, looked everyone in the eyes and an answer automatically materialised. “You guys are my passion. I love working with people from all over the world. People from different backgrounds, cultures, and religions. It makes me feel alive. It gives me a reason for being. You inspire me. People are my passion.”
That evening I gained immense clarity and I could feel my newly found certainty coursing through my veins. That might have been the pivotal night that I came alive but the real story of how I became a coach starts as most do, in the beginning…
MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
As a little girl I grew up in Africa. The experience of seeing the huge differences between rich and poor, black and white, shaped my mission for life: I want to make this world a better place. Growing up in Malawi played a huge part in defining who I am. I started by working for several human rights organisations, which was an amazing experience. But I also realized that working in the international development aid industry wasn’t always that effective or efficient which left me feeling quite restless. It just wasn’t a right fit.
Aside from being ‘the girl from Africa’, I was also an athlete. I had always been very active in sport and loved it. My career naturally progressed towards my love of sport and development and I worked in the international sport industry for many years. I strongly believe that sport is a great way to make the world a better place, by making people fit, happy and healthy. The harsh reality of my professional role was that I spent all day indoors sitting behind a laptop, designing campaigns and selling products. This left little opportunity for making meaningful connections and engaging with people. Again the familiar restless feeling reared its ugly head: “This is not it for me.”
I had focussed all my time and energy on external reasons for my restlessness and my outward search for ways to improve the world. Little did I know that I had to turn my gaze inwards first and do some soul searching. I had work to do on the inside: I had to make that a better place first.
TO BECOME A LEADER IN THE WORLD, YOU FIRST NEED TO KNOW YOURSELF
For several years, I worked intensively on myself. I followed different courses and therapy. I gained a better understanding of what that restless feeling entails and where it comes from. The process wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination but it was definitely worthwhile. Through it I got to know who I truly am. I also came to realise that I would love to give back by inspiring others with the lessons I have learned thus making the world a better place. Still, my childhood mission was there!
I completed an intensive programme to become a coach and enjoyed the course so much that eventually I decided to give up my day-job and coach fulltime. I haven’t regretted it for one second. It fits. It feels right. Coaching feels completely natural, almost as if I were an imposter playing a role all those other years. Now, I am finally doing what I’m supposed to do and using all my unique traits.
So to become a true leader in the world, you first need to be able to lead yourself. And to be able to lead yourself, you need to know who you are. The true unique you!
Apart from that, it is also important to be aware of what is holding you back and how to create the right mind-set to move forward. So let me give you a closer insight into these topics and how I have developed my look on coaching.
WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE?
Everybody (and I mean everybody) is unique and has something unique to bring to this world. People already possess within themselves all the answers, wisdom, and power needed to bring that uniqueness to life. In my own experience, as well as during my coaching sessions, I have noticed that people tend to generalize their thoughts and feelings. As long as you keep generalizing yourself as ‘one of many’, you will never realize that you are truly unique and there is only 1 you!
• What makes you unique? Pay close attention to the language you use. Use ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ or ‘we’.
• What are your values in work, love relationship, family? And what do they mean to you? Concepts such as love or freedom are entirely subjective. Getting clarity on your values is critical.
WHAT’S YOUR DREAM?
If anything in the world is possible and nothing is holding you back, what would you be doing? How would your life look like? Most people are hesitant to answer this question honestly and instead think of all the reasons why their dream is impossible. It takes time but after a while you hear the most amazing stories. Childhood dreams resurface and you literally see people light up.
The second part of the question is: Why is this so important to you? What will it bring you?
This is such a beautiful one because it is linked to your higher purpose in life, to the true you. It gives you a better understanding of the reasons behind the dream.
Lastly, how are you going to make your dream come true? What actions do you need to take to get there? For me, coaching is also about getting people focused and goal driven. It’s about getting to know my clients and guiding them in the best possible way to move forward.
WHAT’S HOLDING YOU BACK?
Along the way we face some limiting beliefs, such as “I can’t do it, because of XYZ”. This is the area in coaching that presents the most challenge but also provides the most fulfilment!
The only person that is holding you back in designing the life you want is yourself: you and your thoughts, beliefs and stories about you being not good, smart, rich, strong enough, etc. There is always a way, if you’re committed and really want to change.
On one hand, this honest insight can often be a bitter pill to swallow. It’s easier to blame everything and everyone but ourselves. On the other hand, being aware of this makes you feel super strong because you realise: “I don’t need anybody or anything to change: I have all the power in me”. And when you are aware of that, true magic can happen! And those limiting beliefs can be transformed into empowering ones.
CREATE THE RIGHT MINDSET
One of the most important lessons learned during my own journey was: “I already have it all in me.” We often think we first have to get a PhD before we can ‘be’ somebody. Research has shown that, to get things done, 20% is skillset and having the right strategy. But 80% of getting things done is having the right mind-set and psychology. Isn’t that massive? So much is already within you.
Everybody has success stories and has taken massive action in certain areas in their life before. Go back to that moment where you felt super powerful and confident, and got things done. It’s about bringing that mindset to the surface again, learn from it, and take the same approach to achieve the next outcome in life.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
My childhood mission has cemented itself as my life’s purpose. I still want to change the world and make it a better place. My journey has seen me working for international cooperation aid to the commercial world of sport. Eventually I realised changing the world starts with changing myself first. I went through a transformation, became the leader in my own life and found my true potential. Now it’s time to give back. I want to make this world a better place by making people better human beings, by coaching and guiding them, and by making them believe again that they are unique, that their dreams can come true and they can design their own lives. It’s all already within you.