coaching qualifications

Growing your client list

In today’s guest post, Ben Morton shares his experience and knowledge in a post that provides an answer to one of the “how to” questions that so many coaches have when they start their coaching business.

"Growing your client list" A guest post by Ben Morton

Growing your client list

By Ben Morton

If you are thinking about starting your own coaching practice there are two routes you can take. Both have their merits and both have some ‘big names’ in coaching purporting their benefits. Having recently stepped out of the corporate world to do just this, I have tried both and ended up coming full circle back to my original plan.

So what are the two routes?

Route 1 is to focus on getting clients whereas route 2 is about focusing on being a great coach.

But surely you can and should do both I hear you say! Well, yes you can but at the same time – no, you can’t. Or at least, I don’t believe you can do both well enough to really enable your coaching business to take off.

To be a successful coach you need to have clients. The natural extension of this thought process is to focus on how to get coaching clients, which is exactly what I spent some time trying to do.

There is a lot of advice out there that supports this approach and goes even further by saying that you shouldn’t give away your time for free. The reasons being that your time is both precious and valuable, by giving it away you are somehow devaluing your own worth.

That may all be true but the net result of focusing on getting clients is that you will not be spending time doing the thing that you love and are good at – coaching.

Now, considering the fact that coaching is an inherently personal intervention where success is largely based upon open, honest and often deeply personal conversations. Do we really believe that we will get clients through traditional marketing activity? It doesn’t mater how many adverts, tweets, LinkedIn and Facebook posts we make, people will not engage us based on this alone.

Another pitfall of focusing on getting clients is that when we meet a prospect we naturally shift into ‘sell’ mode. As we go on looking for clients we place more and more pressure on our selves and subconsciously start to project a sense of desperation. There is nothing more un-attractive to a potential client than an overly ‘salesey’ and desperate coach.

So you can see that by focusing on getting clients we can actually end up sabotaging our own chances of success. And what’s more, our energy will slowly ebb away because we’re not doing what we love – helping others to develop and succeed.

What drives people to work with a new coach? Referrals, recommendations and social proof. None of which you will ever get if you aren’t actually coaching somebody. And it only needs to be somebody, anybody. One client is all you need because then you are into the land of referrals, which is where new clients live.

So route two is about focusing on being a great coach. Route two is about the virtuous circle, and this is how it can work…

You focus your efforts and energy on being a great coach, being the best coach you can be and being of service to people. You do what you love, do what gives you energy and do what makes you feel valuable. You focus on helping people solve their problems, helping future clients and in doing so you subconsciously project energy, confidence and enthusiasm – characteristics that are inherently attractive to potential clients.

It may be that when starting out you coach people for free, you offer them the first session free or you give them the option of paying you what they feel the session was worth.

This approach does two things. Firstly, it provides you with a happy client who will be willing to provide you with referrals. Secondly and most importantly, providing you have set the relationship up with well defined boundaries initially, it removes the difficult decision of them deciding whether to work with you or not. How? Because you are replacing the decision with a far, far less painful one of deciding whether or not to continue working with you. Research from neuroeconmics and neuromarketing has found that buying something can cause the pain centre in our brains to light up. It is therefore much easier for someone to buy when they have experienced the value of your coaching service as opposed to ‘buying blind’.

So those are two routes you can choose between. You can sit in your office developing a marketing plan, updating your LinkedIn profile and tweeting until the cows come home or you can get out there and do what you love.

I’ve tried both and I’m pretty clear which has had the biggest impact for me.






About the Author

Ben MortonBen Morton is a Leadership Consultant at TwentyOne Leadership and a Chartered Member of the CIPD with approaching two decades experience in leadership and management. His work as a coach and trainer focuses on three key areas; helping clients to develop the leadership capability across all levels of the organisation, creating and delivering programmes to support key talent and helping to build highly effective, high performing teams.

You can find out more about Ben’s work via his blog, Leadership and Learning, or via his LinkedIn profile.

Four Simple Coaching Confidence Boosters 1

In today’s guest post coach and mountain guide Sarah Maliphant shares her thoughts and experience to offer:

"Four Simple Coaching Confidence Boosters" A guest post by Sarah Maliphant

Four Simple Coaching Confidence Boosters

by Sarah Maliphant

What’s made the greatest difference to your coaching confidence? Whether you’re just starting or have been coaching for years, the explorative nature of coaching takes us and our clients into new territory often, and that brings with it uncertainty, unknowns and potential for confidence dips.

First step therefore is to accept that moments of uncertainty are frequent and normal! They dissolve by continuing to explore, staying open, resourceful and curious; Sometimes by just noting that a particular area feels “uncertain,” acknowledging this to be the case and getting certain about what’s uncertain!

"Four Simple Coaching Confidence Boosters" A guest post by Sarah Maliphant. New Territory? Explore!

New Territory? Explore!

Behind that there is your own faith and experience of the coaching process. For me, my initial coaching confidence came from knowing how much I value being listened to, being asked questions with interest and without judgement or advice. I trust the process and love the underlying approach of coaching, that assumption that your client has the answer and simply values a bit of support to connect things up.

Conversely, my most challenging confidence-dips as a coach have been when I have a judgement on how I’m doing as a client with my own coach. Accepting that my little steps forward are often really, really mind bogglingly little usually releases that double bind… and in becoming more accepting of my own sustainable pace, I feel more confident in travelling at whatever pace my clients seek.

"Four Simple Coaching Confidence Boosters" A guest post by Sarah Maliphant - Mountain Metaphors

Mountain Metaphors: Half way through 8 hours of REALLY small steps to a summit in the Andes, June 2005

On an ongoing basis, the biggest confidence booster that comes to mind is: Ask your client

  • Not sure whether the pace is right? Ask!
  • Aware that a lot of coaching time is being used to repeat stories or detailed content? Ask if that’s how they want to spend their time, ask how and when to intrude
  • Not sure how to raise something? Ask how they’d like you to handle it
  • Wondering whether there’s more you could provide? Ask what else they’d like

The simplicity of this is rich: Asking is, after all, a fundamental of coaching. But there’s a deeper value too. By asking your client, you reinforce their belief in their ability to identify, communicate and respond to their own needs. Regardless of the specific outcome they are moving towards, this strengthens their connection to their own resourcefulness.

Does this make the conversation all about you, the coach? No, these are moments where you check in, create space for your client to do the same – and then you can continue your explorations together.

Our job is not to be awesomely amazing, but to help craft a space that is safe enough for our clients’ amazingness to blossom to their satisfaction. So relax, ask, and carry on coaching 🙂

About the author

Sarah MaliphantSarah Maliphant combines coaching and mountain guiding, a pairing she finds natural for open conversation and perspective. As well as one-one work, she leads mountain retreats in a peaceful the Brecon Beacons each month, with plenty of coaching, pampering and tasty home cooked meals – plus cake of course. The cake is a very important part of nurture in nature!

The Allure of Failure 2

In today’s guest post leadership trainer and coach Brian Lumsdon looks at:

"The Allure of Failure" A guest post by Brian Lumsdon

The Allure of Failure

By Brian Lumsdon

Now this might just be me, but don’t you think there’s a feel good factor around Britain again this summer? Perhaps it’s the prolonged spell of wonderful weather and maybe Andy Murray’s victory at Wimbledon has influenced the nation’s mood. Whatever the trigger, I sense an air of positivity amongst friends, family and the people I work with across the country.

So with this in mind you might be curious as to why I’ve chosen to talk about the topic of ‘failure’ today! It’s a subject that’s crept in and out of my thinking since the start of this summer, encouraged by some notable sporting successes and the role their ‘failures’ played in the success they enjoyed. So stay worry-free, I’d simply like to share my take on how we might embrace failure and help our clients do the same.

A seed was sown during a lecture I attended by Olympic swimmer Chris Cook, a commonwealth gold medallist. To the backdrop of a screen full of events and dates, Chris shared numerous ‘failures’ he had experienced over a five year period. The Olympics he missed because selectors thought he wasn’t good enough, the championships where he didn’t make the qualifying time. He explained to the audience with so much passion that he was as proud of these moments as he was about actually winning commonwealth gold medal.

To be more specific, he was as proud of himself when thinking about these moments of failure in the context of his focus.

I know we are often conditioned to a culture of deleting the negatives and accentuating the positives to achieve success. I do believe this can be really useful. But there seems to be something liberating, even energising, about acknowledging a failure and just continuing in the direction of our focus. I’ve used the word ‘focus’ here. You may prefer to describe this as your purpose, goal or best intention.

“Our greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising every time we fall” Confucius.

My summer failure-theme was cultivated by Justin Rose, who in June became the first English golfer to win the US Open for 43 years. In one of his post-tournament interviews he recounted the fact that when he first became a professional golfer Justin missed the cut TWENTYONE times in a row. (In these four day tournaments, ‘missing the cut’ means a player failed to reach a qualifying standard after the first two days and is therefore removed from the competition).

“If I missed the cut by six shots one week and by four the next, I would spin it in a positive light. I didn’t drill myself further into the ground.” said Rose. He also went on to say that days like that help remind him that winning is even more special.

So for some people, like Chris, just to understand our reaction to failure is in our own hands is enough. The fact we know we are in choice allows a more resourceful thought or reaction to appear without having to work at it. Others, like Justin, greatly benefit from spending a few moments cultivating a useful meaning or philosophy.

Throughout my coaching career I’ve worked with clients who have become stuck or even crippled by their own thinking of a failed event. This has applied to job interviews, delivering presentations, working with sales targets, relationships, parenting and countless other examples I could mention.

I’ve noticed that two patterns of thought typically play out for clients, often unconsciously, after an event that didn’t go to plan. They often get stuck in either the ‘what if…’.or ‘blame’ patterns of thinking.

  • What if….it happens again… I’m found out…’s worse next time….all my fault….I’m just useless
  • Blame …it’s my partner / parent / colleague fault … I blame the lack of resources / luck /culture

Either way, these thought patterns create a negative state of mind and affect our entire physiology. And of course from this unresourceful state it is little wonder we either don’t perform next time or we do everything in our power to avoid the same situation next time.

Benjamin Zander, Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Leadership guru, insists his students use a novel approach whenever they make a mistake. Their natural tendency would be to cringe, perhaps slouch into their seat and look to the floor. Instead he has them jump up, fling their head & shoulders back and shout ‘HOW FASCINATING’. Now which of these two responses do you think helps the student smile and quickly move on?

You see, if there is no blame or shame attached to a failure, no holding on to negative thought of an experience, we are free to head towards better results.

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure” Bill Gates

My failure-themed summer concludes with Andy Murray’s glorious success at Wimbledon. I’d imagine the majority of people reading this will know he was the first Briton to win the men’s title for 76 years.

In a radio interview shortly after his Wimbledon success his biographer told how the way Andy had kept hold of his past failures was something he had discussed in depth with his coach, Ivan Lendl. ‘Take what you want to learn and move on’ became a bit of a mantra for them. Andy also caused a bit of a stir in a pre-tournament interview this year when he admitted he may never win the Wimbledon championship. While this was hard to hear for many at the time, his biographer said this admission seemed to be a liberating and pivotal moment for the player.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually afraid you will make one”

Elbert Hubbard

So here is an approach I’ve found to work really well for myself and clients recently, helping us embrace failure. You might want to adapt them to your own style or try them out for yourself as they are.

  • Re-examine a lingering ‘failure’ from the past and consider :
    1. What was your key focus (or best intention) at the time?
    2. What does that focus say about you?
    3. What can you learn from that moment before you move on?
  • Think ahead to a future activity or challenge. Spend a moment in healthy anticipation of failure :
    1. What does it say about you that you want to go for this thing?
    2. How many times are you willing to have a go? One, TwentyOne or as long as it takes?
    3. How will you ensure you learn from, or even celebrate, this brilliant failure?


About the Author

Brian Lumsdon is a leadership trainer and coach with TwentyOne Leadership and has created lasting change in diverse organisations over the last 15 years.

Brian specialises in helping business leaders create a high-performance coaching culture. He develops an organisations capability to coach their people brilliantly well.

You can contact Brian via e-mail ( or connect via Twitter (@brianlumsdon) or LinkedIn (


Finding a moment of calm

In today’s guest post, Sarah Hutton shares some of her experience and thoughts around supporting clients and herself.

"Finding a moment of calm" A guest post by Sarah Hutton

Finding a moment of calm

By Sarah Hutton

As coaches we always want to show up 100% for our clients, to give them our absolute best. This can be more easily said than done, especially if our personal lives are in turmoil, or we’ve just received some distressing news.

The same of course applies to our clients. Whatever it is they’ve come to us for coaching on, they want to get the most from their time with their coach. They want to be able to think clearly and be as free from distractions as possible.

So what do we do when we know our executive coaching client has just had bad news or we know they are experiencing problems at home which will affect their stress levels and decision making capability at work?

It was this quandry which lead me to seek different ways in which to support my clients – and myself. With a background in complementary therapies as well as coaching I felt there should be something more I could do to support clients in difficult situations, other than to “just” coach them through it.

I was also experiencing challenging times at home as a relationship slowly broke down, and at the same time I needed to perform at my best in my business. I wanted something simple and easy I could apply which would help me get off the emotional roller-coaster and think with a calm, clear head. I needed something which would enable me to reconnect with that deep sense of inner calm we all have within us.

I’ve tried going outdoors and grounding myself, moving around and changing my state, or even dancing to my favourite music. I’ve also used NLP, and have anchored feelings of calm, focus, confidence etc, but I wanted something more.

My answer came through training in Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). A really simple breathing and tapping technique enables me to release stress and get myself onto an even keel where I can think clearly and focus on my clients – in the space of less than 5 minutes! I share the same “Finding Calm Amidst The Storm” technique with my clients – especially those going through emotional turmoil. It has proven invaluable, and helps both me and my clients to perform at our best even when faced with troubles elsewhere in life.

I now work much more holistically, combining coaching, belief transformation and EFT to helping my clients develop emotionally, as well as to transform their lives even when it feels as though their world is falling apart. And while there is never a “one size fits all” solution, I have found that sharing how to find a moment of calm helps both me and my clients to stay calm, focused and to achieve great results both during and after a session.

What do you do to ensure you are in the right “space” to coach your clients?

What do you do to find that moment of calm to give you clarity and focus?

How can you support your clients in the same way?

About the Sarah

As a life coach, therapist, BeliefCloset practitioner and speaker, Sarah Hutton from Dare to Live Your Dreams specialises in working with business leaders and solopreneurs who need to perform at their best while going through a relationship breakup. She uses fast, effective techniques to help her clients manage stress and get off the emotional roller-coaster so they can stay calm and focused, and step forward confidently into their new lives

You can sign up for Sarah’s free “Finding Calm Amidst the Storm” technique along with her free 6 day self coaching e-course on her website here.

STRESS: This too shall pass

In today’s guest post, Susan DiGiaimo, a certified Health Coach who also teaches Boot Camp and kids fitness programs, shares some of her experience around dealing with stress.

"STRESS: This too shall pass" A guest post by Susan DiGiaimo

STRESS: This too shall pass

By Susan DiGiaimo

Stress. It creeps up on you like a daddy-long-legs spider. Stress can scare you as well because symptoms of stress can mimic more serious ailments like a heart attack. A couple of these sneaky symptoms are pain in your shoulder blades, elevated heart rate, and high blood pressure. We all experience it one way or another. How to handle it is the differentiator.

You start burning the candle at both ends, skipping sleep, and serious down time. You have constant deadlines, either self-inflicted or given to you by your spouse, friends, boss, or your family. Watch out, Honey, because I am going to be irritable, miserable, and angry all the time. Great. Everything and everyone suffers when you have stress. We feel doomed and know that our performance will not meet rising expectations.

Patience is a virtue they say. I haven’t had much of it in the last six months as I am trying to accomplish everything all at once. That will definitely kill you. I constantly tell myself to write down my goals and make lists. I make sure these lists are in direct view either in the kitchen, near my bed, in the bathroom, or wherever else I am often, oh right, my car. If I can just knock off one item on that list I have accomplished something. Baby steps get you to your bigger goals. If you are always looking at the big picture you will never get there. Yes, it’s good to envision it but just like a kid learning how to swim, he or she is not going to jump into the deep end right away. They will slowly build up their confidence and swimming skills prior to that.

Taking care of your body and mind should be top priority but for most of us it’s number five or six on our list of to-dos. My schedule makes quite the demands on my body. I have an extreme activity level and this too can cause serious stress not only emotionally, but physically. I try to take my necessary days of rest, but seriously rest to me is Stand Up Paddling. It releases my mind and rejuvenates my body. You have to do what works for you. If you are not getting enough sleep or if you are overtraining, this has a double negative effect. Welcome to my world. Certainly if I want to live longer I need to figure out how to beat stress. I don’t have an anti-stress strategy in place, do you? Who does? I know my health depends upon it. I need to figure something out.

Certain supplements can help you manage and/or minimize stress. You need to help your brain produce more GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which helps to wind down your nervous system. Magnesium, L-Theanine, Lemon Balm, and B vitamins all help support GABA production. You can also help out your Adrenal glands by taking Vitamin C, Ashwagandha, Holy Basil (not sure how “Holy” this basil is), and Phosphatidylserine. These all support healthy Adrenal activity. I would just choose one of these and see how it works. Most of the time we just need to get our brain to calm down so we can see and do things more clearly and without a great deal of stress.

Most stress I believe is self-inflicted. We put so much pressure on our ourselves. It handles us more than we handle it. Being a Type A personality doesn’t help either. Most people would say that I am an expert at multi-tasking and able to do it all in the blink of an eye. I really try to stay positive and for the most part I do. ”Three steps forward, four back.” As long as you keep moving forward that’s all that matters. I know I can manage my stress and yelling in Boot Camp at 5AM certainly lessens the blow. Stress is usually the result of negative thoughts. Our mind can play sick tricks on us if we want it to. Things can get so warped and blown out of proportion that it seems way more stressful than it actually is. In reality, nothing is worth having a heart attack over.

Summer is approaching and I need to start thinking about taking a vacation. Just thinking about it is stressing me out. ”I don’t have time.” ”I have a company to run.” (one that is just getting off the ground) ”Who’s going to cover for me?” Maybe I should see a shrink or maybe I should just drink more. Those things may help but they definitely do not resolve the problem. I need to make my vacation a priority because everyone needs down time and I also need to spend time with my family.

You can’t go 100 miles per hour 24 hours a day. That will definitely wear you down and may even send you to your grave. Sometimes I feel like digging one for myself just in case. Who am I kidding? I have dealt with stress in the past and know that I can overcome it. As an entrepreneur, you learn to fail to succeed. If you told this to a kid they would think you were crazy, as my kids do. You have to make mistakes in order to succeed. That is how we learn and that is how we get better. So the next time you are feeling stressed, sit down, take a look around you, take a deep breath in, and know that this too shall pass.

Unstressfully Yours,


About the Author

First and foremost I am a Mother of 3 children. I have been teaching a 5AM Boot Camp class for 10 years now and decided to pursue my Health Coach Certification. I am the CEO & Founder of FitZinga – Get Your Zing On! We provide engaging tools and solutions to individuals, fitness centers, and companies to keep you on track to reach your fitness goals. FitForensics is my blog which details my daily fitness habits from nutrition to workouts to how to deal with stress.

From Invisible to Visible in 7 Easy Steps 2

In today’s guest post Karen Williams shares some her expertise and knowledge around the business of running a coaching practice.

"From Invisible to Visible in 7 Easy Steps" A guest post by Karen Williams

From Invisible to Visible in 7 Easy Steps

By Karen Williams

It’s not easy being visible in business.

You’ve got to fight through the noise of everyone else out there who does something similar to you.

You’ve got to understand what makes you shine.

And you have to find a way to clearly and succinctly tell people what you do, that enables you to stand out with ease.

Many solopreneurs, especially coaches, start their business because they want to make a difference. You want to give back and help others, so becoming visible may not be the first ‘to do’ item on your list.

It may not be in your nature to “big yourself up”, celebrate your uniqueness, or shout your successes from the rooftops. Yet unless you tell people you exist, you won’t be creating the successful business that you dreamt of, or reaching those who need you.

You have a choice whether to become visible in your business or remain invisible. You can stay the world’s best kept secret or make the decision to step up, stand out and do something different.

It isn’t always easy to stand out in your business, which is why I teach this to my clients. As a Business Coach and Mentor, I use my own 7 Step Success System to help them to put the foundations in place to become more visible and create a successful business. And I get great results! Just like Steve who contacted me last week and said “I had my highest paying client on Saturday, and it was all down to the business strategies that I have learnt from working with you!” and Alex who told me “When I started your 90 day programme I was at the stage of getting a ‘proper’ job and now I’m very busy meeting prospective clients, working with other organisations and most importantly signing up new ones”.

It can be difficult to acknowledge what makes you different. We’ve all got blind spots, hidden areas, and characteristics that we don’t recognise or know about ourselves. The key is to strengthen your own self-awareness to discover what makes you stand out. Here are 8 tips to help you to do so:

1. Ask your current clients for their feedback – what do they see as your strengths and areas of expertise?

2. Review your client testimonials. What have your past clients said about your skills or the way you work with them?

3. Carry out a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) to delve into that hidden area and create greater self-awareness.

4. Listen to your client’s language. What do they want? How do you help them? What do you do that makes you stand out?

5. Work with business mentor, as they will point out the things you make you different – (it’s more than your Unique Selling Proposition!) and help you to develop your uniqueness and expertise further.

6. Remember that what makes you unique is you, so how can you express this clearly and concisely in your message?

7. Don’t follow the crowd when it comes to your online presence or elevator pitch, think benefits, outcomes and solutions rather than the method in which it is delivered.

8. Know why you are running your business. When you know why it is important to you, it makes the how so much easier.

“There are 5 frogs are sitting on a log. 4 decide to jump off. How many are left? 5. Why? Because there is a difference between deciding and doing.”

What decisions and choices are you making today to become visible?

What are you going to do to make it happen?

Karen is running the Star Biz conference on Saturday 6 July, which is a conference with a difference. Last year she had a firewalk and she has something else up her sleeve this year too. Karen promises an action packed, inspirational and business shifting day. You will get to the root of what you could do differently in your business. Those things that can help you to make more money, get more clients, whilst making a difference and doing what you love.

About the Karen Williams

As a business coach and mentor, author, speaker, and firewalk instructor, Karen Williams, from Self Discovery Coaching, works with coaches and solopreneurs who are ready to step up in their business. She helps them to develop the foundations for a successful business, stand out from the crowd and enjoy every step of the way.

Karen is the author of The Secrets of Successful Coaches, which reached #1 in the Business charts on Amazon. Her second book, How to Stand Out in your Business, was published in 2012. In the second book she shares the 7 Step Success System that she uses to help her clients to become more visible and create a successful business. She is half way through writing her third book.

You can sign up for Karen’s free EBook ’30 Ways to Stand Out in your Business in 30 Minutes or Less’ on her website here.


Stuff Happens!

In this week’s guest post Marie Yates, The Survivor’s Coach, invites you to consider…

"Stuff Happens!" A guest post by Marie Yates

Stuff Happens!

By Marie Yates

Essentially, you’re born and stuff happens. Some good stuff and some not so good stuff. There’s a high chance I’m over simplifying but this is the stuff that happens ‘to’ you, the stuff you’re handed. There’s no rhyme or reason, it just is what it is. There can be a tendency to dwell on the not so good stuff though can’t there?!

What about the rest of the ‘stuff’?! In the spirit of over simplification let’s make a list of the good stuff versus the not so good stuff in the average day. I’m not necessarily talking about major life events as these don’t happen every day – not to me anyway! Yet, how often does a major life event take over our thinking?

So, the list… Here’s mine so far today – it’s still early!

Good Stuff:

  • My current favourite song came on the radio (P!NK’s ‘Give Me A Reason’- I’m sure you were curious?!)
  • The sun was shining for my morning walk with the dogs
  • I had a text from a friend that made me laugh
  • I had a delivery from Wiggle (this is an online sports shop… best thing about it is that they send tiny packets of haribo with each parcel… simple things!)

Not So Good Stuff:

  • A very early morning wakeup call from one of the dogs who heard a car door shut 3 miles away. This resulted in a 4am bark-a-thon at full volume.

Without even trying I’m up 4:1 on the good stuff! Not bad hey? I grant you that these are hardly life changing events but they are all things that have ‘happened’ today. If I had rolled out of bed & only concentrated on the fact that ‘bad stuff always happens’ and to prove this I had been woken up at silly o’clock then I can guarantee that a grumpy day would have ensued. I’d have ignored my favourite song, been annoyed on the walk, found the text a little irritating and complained that there weren’t any fried eggs in the packet of haribo! What a waste of a day that would have been!

Even on the days where the not so good stuff is at the forefront of your thinking. Ask yourself ‘What Am I Choosing To Focus On Right Now?’ Keep it simple and allow yourself to enjoy the little things! Open your eyes to the good stuff and I guarantee that more will come your way!

About the Author

Marie Yates, ‘The Survivor’s Coach’, is the founder of Indigo Turtle.

Taking the experience of rape and sexual violence and using it to create a catalyst for positive change is something that seemed impossible. Marie has shown that it is not only possible; it is changing the way that survivors see themselves and the way that survivors are seen by others.

Through a variety of ways, Marie looks at what it means to be a ‘survivor’ and then takes it to the next level. Looking to the future and exploring what can be achieved gives a renewed enthusiasm for achieving success as defined by YOU!

Follow Marie on Twitter here.

To Be OK, or Not to Be OK, is that the question?

In this week’s guest post Lorraine Hirst shares some of her experience, thoughts and knowledge as she shares on the topic of mental health.

"To Be OK, or Not to Be OK, is that the question?" A guest post by Lorraine Hirst

To Be OK, or Not to Be OK, is that the question?

By Lorraine Hirst

In a new part time role, developing support for young carers in Oxfordshire, and in my freelance work with individuals and teams, I have found myself using and referring to Transactional Analysis theories and tools all the time.

As with all the best learning, if it has been effectively ‘taught’ then it is ‘in the muscle’ and I, we, need only refer to the base theory for clarification. That’s the difference between reading something in a book (many trainers and coaches use TA they have learned from a book) and having become a Transactional Analyst (or certainly on the way to becoming one) via a substantial amount of high quality learning.

At the time, this training was hard work, giving up weekends (three-days ones!), turning down social activities and leaving my son for long days in Oxford city. Looking back from where I am now, it was worth it, along with the monetary cost.

As a participant on a short mental health in young people course right now, I am acutely aware of the difference between training and coaching that will have lasting impact, and that which merely ‘tells’ and ‘informs’.

A Transactional Analysis model:

transactional analysis OK corral

OK Corral

I would be in an ‘I’m OK, they’re not OK’ position if I was too damning of this recent training, so I am simply comparing the different learning experiences and wishing more were like my TA and previous NLP training, that way everyone would learn in a relational and lasting way. A real Learning Utopia, there’s a wish…!

Anyhow, what exactly did I learn about mental health that may be of use to other coaches, especially those working with young people? Firstly, blending my previous TA experience and the recent mental health training, I would say, ‘it’s OK to not be OK.’

Mental health issues affect 1 in 4 of us. One of the participants on the course gave us a surprising statistic, in that this figure rises to 1 in 3 of those who go to university and 1 in 2 of those at Oxbridge. I suggest that these statistics tell us something about our results-driven Education system and it’s effect on mental well-being, although my husband was erring more towards the notion of ‘genius being closer to madness!’ I’m not subscribing to that theory myself.

Another fact is that suicide is the second most common cause of death in the 15-24 age bracket in the UK. Of course, it’s not OK to be suicidal, this is the extreme of not being OK, in TA terms. We may know all the risk factors that may lead to this position for a young person, economic disadvantage, abuse or poor home life, poor academic performance, but also stress, bullying and discrimination are factors.

Much of the time, as coaches with parents and young people, we may not be able to do anything about the socio-economic or environmental factors for a young person (but I have know situations where moving school can bring great positive changes for some children, where bullying has been a problem, for instance. Having said this, I would warn some parents against ‘over-protecting’ their child, i.e. moving them repeatedly whenever there is an issue at a new school).

What we can do is be mindful of all the risk factors and at the same time build inner resilience in that child, as well as support parents and teachers with these tools.

Something else to be mindful of is that the psychological effects of early puberty in boys generally results in higher self esteem, whereas this has a negative impact on girls at the same stage. Later in puberty, boys tend to have lowered self-esteem and girls level out. This is only a guide but interesting nevertheless.

My recent research into peer pressure suggests that it is not only puberty and biological changes that are going on, but also huge psychological changes, including the heightened ‘thrill-seeking’ effect and great desire to ‘fit in’ and ‘to belong’ (belonging to other groups, not necessarily the nuclear family). At the same time, the executive functioning, the planning part of the brain, is not yet fully-functional. All this combined, means that teenagers are going through a lot and anyone who has of this age will tell you, it can be tough, on everyone.

Although it’s the biggie, it is not only suicide that affects the young, there’s depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders and other issues also deemed ‘disorders’. I don’t like this term at all but this is the mental health lingo – meanwhile they wax lyrical about young people wanting to avoid the stigma and about professionals reducing the impact of labelling!!

So, when is a mental health issue a problem?

When it is impacting on someone’s life (and I would say when it is impacting on the lives of others, say in the case of parental mental health). Therefore, self-harm, in the form of controlled cutting, may not be a problem to a young person, although it may encompass some risks. It is of course a way of coping and it would be more helpful if that young person found some different strategies for dealing with their emotions.

This brings me to the Mental Health First Aid approach. It’s a bit like regular first aid, but for mental health. For this, the wonderful term, ALGEE (pronounced like the stuff that lives in the sea), is used. It stands for:

  • Ask, assess, act,
  • Listen non-judgementally,
  • Give reassurance and information,
  • Enable the young person to get appropriate professional help,
  • Encourage self help strategies.

For most coaches, this approach may be similar to how you work anyway, especially the last ‘E‘. At the same time, it does ‘no harm’, in every sense, to have another model in mind, especially one where the metaphor of green slimy stuff is hard to forget!

My intention in the post is to give others the confidence that helping young people with mental health issues, or indeed anyone with a diagnosed mental health issue, is not rocket science or to be feared. This is not the same as people with mental wellness or poor emotional well-being. As the training noted, someone can have a diagnosis of a mental health problem, such as post-traumatic stress or depression, and have good mental well-being and, conversely, not everyone is experiencing prolonged emotional distress has a diagnosed mental health condition, thankfully.

I hope these terms and ideas have been useful. Here’s to helping people with OK-ness, whether that be slightly not OK or really not very OK at all. Above all, it’s a person’s own choice whether how they are is OK for them or not. Not dissimilar to emotional coaching, the ALGEE steps can guide younger clients towards a more resourceful way of thinking and hopefully a brighter tomorrow. If only we could do the same for the UK weather!

About the Author

Lorraine is passionate about resilience as a key component in a child’s mental toolbox and as a prerequisite to achievement, whatever that might be for that child. Lorraine delivers emotional resilience-building programmes, known as, in schools and runs workshops for parents and teams. She also works with other creative practitioners to deliver peer mentoring, after-school and holiday clubs, transition projects and targeted programmes for children who are at risk of not meeting their potential or those who need a confidence boost.

Being an emotionally resilient parent, carer or educator is vitally important. Therefore, Lorraine also offers emotional wellbeing sessions for school staff, including school leadership teams. She is has an interest in group theory and context, and works a lot with families and teams where the emphasis is not only on the individual but on the dynamics of the whole group or the effect of the culture within which they are operating.

You can find Lorraine at her website, or via Linked In.