Suzie came to coaching feeling intrigued and needing support, wanting an experience of transformation for her next steps. She heard about coaching from a friend and had been given a recommendation.
At the time she began, Suzie’s focus was on ambition and creating goals. She wanted to become a great architect, to feel part of a team and to do the type of projects she found appealing (community and public projects). She wanted to learn more about the technical side of architectural drawing and structure, but also wanted to grow as a human being.
To move forward, Suzie wanted to feel more positive about her career. She wanted a better work/life balance and wanted to de-emphasise drinking during her relaxation time (“cut down getting s*** faced,” she said).
She needed to start her own journey
Coaching provided a space for Suzie to find out who she was. It offered an opportunity to explore her core values. A tool that enabled her to do this was the ‘Top Ten Core Values’ exercise. She sifted through different ‘value’ cards (loyalty, honesty, friendship etc) and when she had them whittled to ten, she ranked them.
In the sessions that followed Suzie explored incidents that were live for her at that time, particularly at work. By going through these incidents, she realised her workplace was putting her under enormous pressure. She realised she was surrounded by toxicity, and this had become food for her inner critic. Her inner critic was saying ‘Don’t speak up or you may not get on’ and ‘they can’t help treating you like this; they are under pressure as well.’ She realised her boundaries were getting permeable, leading to her feeling disrespected and even under attack.
Suzie allowed herself to sit with the emotions caused by this realisation. She cultivated a deeper meditation practice which brought awareness to her moment-by-moment living. This combination of regular meditation and her newly acquired ‘top ten’ list meant she experienced a deeper connection to her strengths.
Mindful meditation had further profound effects. As well as moment-by-moment awareness, she also learned to listen to her body. She refers to this as ‘trusting her gut’ and it has become her way of life. She found that by tuning into her body, she could speak with greater authority. It helped her discover a kind of life she never knew she was looking for. It introduced her to the concept Tara Brach, Buddhist mindfulness teacher and psychologist based in the US, refers to as ‘Radical Acceptance’.
She strongly developed this habit of ‘tuning in.’
Tara Brach has become a major source of inspiration for Suzie’s learning. Her coach also. Suzie found that when her coach reflected back her own words, it was particularly useful.
Other ‘wins’ followed.
With a heightened level of self-respect, Suzie made an extended commitment to her vegetarian and vegan beliefs, bringing compassion to humans and animals!
Stage 1– Suzie ‘woke up’ and saw how her life really looked. Before this, she was in ‘trance’ and had not finished integrating who she was with who she wanted to be. She realised that the journey she was on, post student days, was that linear process of becoming an architect.
She realised there were two problems with her workplace:
1. Some interactions there were unpleasant and highly distressing.
2. Getting meaningful recognition off her bosses was an uphill struggle.
Stage two –Her core values became her key drivers for action. Though the values exercise had been hard, internalising the results turned out to be easier, and she felt proud: “I was surprised just how fricking decent they (her values) were” she said. With this serving as motivation, she had the made the painful realisation that some people around her did not share, or indeed respect, her values. She wasn’t living congruently with them either.
Stage three – This stage was about owning her progress. In fact, Suzie realised the coaching experience had been all about owning her progress, about refusing to assign her talent to anybody else but herself. She said, “It was about having the courage to see I had strength. Knowing I can do important stuff…is quite a revelation.” She was able to pinpoint when those expectations were unfulfilled and see when she when she was being stifled. It was crystal clear that working with a spiky higher up was the root cause.
After finishing coaching Suzie noticed other benefits.
Firstly, Compassion. Previously she had offered it to others but not to herself. After coaching, she saw the importance of trusting herself and living with self- compassion.
Secondly, mindfulness became a central part of her life.
Thirdly, She realised it had been helpful to have access to someone non-judgmental, like a coach, who was able to accept her feelings, just as they are.
Everything Suzie learned during her time in coaching has stayed with her, she says. She feels an enormous sense of gratitude for the experience, but the standout realisation was bringing compassion to painful situations changes everything. She sees this as the invaluable lesson.
Artwork by Mindful Art London (twitter: mindful.art.london)