Lessons from a year running my own business as a career coach

Hi Fabulous!!

Today marks a year since I began my business as a career coach to women in IT, Science and Engineering.

Its been an awesome experience so far and I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.  The learnings have been huge.  The sense of satisfaction with my life have been even huger.

If you’re wondering about whether you should go for it – I say GO FOR IT!!!

Just start now.  

There have been big learnings and even bigger growth.  Developing the communications skills necessary to just be with, sit with and be 100% present with a client is a constant work in progress.  To do this means also being able to 100% present with myself.  Its led to some big personal revelations that led me back to counselling and to create a close-out letter for my divorce.  This was a frustrating time because the divorce is 4 years ago and I thought I was ‘over it’.  Found out I wasn’t.   The old me would have denied the pain and got busy suppressing it (busy working, shopping, going out, going to yoga, travelling) but the new me welcomed the gift of truth.  It was scary to confront that I wasn’t ‘over it’, its an ego thing.  Instead I went back to counselling, creating a close-out letter to myself and read it out loud to my counsellor.  It was a very long letter – it was epic.  It was liberating.

The sense of release and energy was invigorating.  Pursuing your truth, your purpose and going for it doesn’t just open the doors you think you want it also helps you move forward with your life in ways you never knew you needed.  Living a whole year in my truth has given me this gift and it is what I hope to help my clients discover too.

The remainder of this blog post is dedicated to some of the bigger learnings I’ve had with clients. Learnings about working in IT, the pressure we place on ourselves and how ambition can drive and control us.  I’m sharing them today to help you with your own self-reflection.  If you like these learnings, please join the Facebook page  where I share prompts 2-3 days per week (mostly) on career, ambition, purpose and faith.

 

Lesson #1 

Smart, intelligent, driven people still need a cheer leader! 

It is easy to overlook the quiet achiever, the loud ambitious performer thinking they need little in the way of support and encouragement. They may even push back on receiving it.  Lessons from coaching is that working with strong, independent women is that we all still need that motivational support, an encouraging word and a review of achievements.  I know for myself I keep moving the goal posts and when I achieve something I already have a schedule of next achievements to focus on.  For some clients just repeating their achievements, booking in a celebration or breaking down how much has shifted through the coaching series can be their biggest take-away. No one is an island and we all need a hi-5 to know that we are on track and most importantly valued.

 

 

Lesson #2

Being heard is powerful

Some people need to speak at length through their ideas and goals, thinking through needs/wants and desires isn’t a quick 5-minute bullet list creation exercise.  Sometimes there are a lot of mindset and energy blocks that get in the way.  There are reasons why a determined ambitious person hasn’t shifted/changed or broken into something new.  These often appear in themes of commitment, loyalty, old stories, beliefs and judgement.  Financial commitments, not wanting to disappoint someone,  getting comfortable with their ambition, focusing on being a provider for their family, not wanting to let themselves down.  These themes can constrain thinking and switching into ‘what do you most want?’ mode isn’t always so easy.  There are a lot of BUTs that get in the way.  Sometimes I will ask: I give you permission to have everything you want – what does that look like?  Another approach is to shift into a a focus on the ‘WHY’ for change.   Both of these approaches allows a client to watch and observe their wants with less or no judgement, so they can safely begin an exploration that isn’t about blowing up their life and family and more of a shift into achieving their needs while maintaining their need to meet existing commitments.

 

 

Lesson #3

Emotions are hard work.

Actions are easy but sitting in an emotion and seeing/feeling can be really confronting. When these emotions overwhelm you remember:

You are blessed, you are important, your needs are valuable, be open to receive, be present and be kind to yourself.

 

Lesson #4

Understanding what we truly want is a skill.

Goals and actions can be set but the client may not truly get to understand  what they most want until session 3-4 – their need/want sometimes needs extra exploration and sometimes their first goal is masking a much deeper goal.  Letting goals evolve and refine through the series has enabled clients to achieve big wins and big shifts in mindset and career.

 

Lessons #5

Perfectionism can make us afraid. 

Perfectionism can be a big challenge amongst those of us who are senior, technical and scientific – fear of failure, letting ourselves down, not exploring our worth, not making a difference, not being valued. Together with my clients we explore what value is, what a true expression of their talent really means to them… this often leads to openness in finding satisfaction in different job roles and looking for opportunities not dependent on a single employer or role.  Often we explore their need for connection to their industry and hunger for knowledge and expertise (this can transmute into a variety of expressions from community work, finding the right meet up and experts to share stories with, to starting an MBA, to reading more broadly.)

 

I love to work with women who are wanting to get their next career move right.  Maybe you’ve got a boss that’s wearing your down, maybe you’ve reached the seniority you wanted to and  want to work out what’s next?

Would you love to work with me?   Find out more here

 

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Just Believe In Yourself

Annick Inna Interview – Book Doula

“Just believe in yourself.” Annick Ina is a Book Doula, Business Strategist and Project Catalyst. We met via Marie Forleo‘s B-School community and Annick gave me some amazing advice when I was in the early stages of writing my book ‘I’m Ready Now – A Guide To Getting a Promotion‘.

Annick is always generous with her time and I offer this interview to you as an insight into career flexibility, creativity, living a purposeful life and just going for it!

Just Believe in Yourself – I'm Ready Now! Interview with Beatrice Crocker and Annick Ina

"Just believe in yourself." Annick Ina is a Book Doula, Business Strategist and Project Catalyst. We met via Marie Forleo's B-School community and Annick gave me some amazing advice when I was in the early stages of writing my book 'I'm Ready Now – A Guide To Getting a Promotion'. Annick is always generous with her time and I offer this interview to you as an insight into career flexibility, creativity, living a purposeful life and just going for it!

Posted by I'm Ready Now Coaching on Friday, August 3, 2018

Now, I would love to hear from you by leaving a comment right here on this page.

What is you biggest takeaway from this interview?  

What would happen if you chose to believe in yourself everyday?

 

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Leading when you don’t have the direct status or power to lead

Being an influencer sounds cool but in a big organisation its easy to get lost and feel like you’re a nobody.

To thrive you will need to adopt a customer focus centred on relationships, build trust and credibility through small wins, practice patience and perseverance

I work in a role where I need to lead change, coach people in agile testing strategies and get agreement from very senior manager across business and technology teams. I have no direct power, no direct reports yet I’ve been successful by focussing on small wins, persistence and always being visible.  Its definitely tricky and not always good for the ego (especially when I’m used to running large team when that explicit power in just therein the role.)  I think its made me a better advocate for change though because I always need to be humble and demonstrate that I’ve heard what my stakeholders want, not just put my opinion over the top.  Its a style I hope to use whether I’m in an influencing role or manager role in future.

If you are in an influencer role, then this learning note is for you!  It will provide you with some great tips for helping you overcome the power dynamic and build indirect power through your relationships.

Key Learning Points

  • Accept that you don’t have direct power
  • Understand that your style will have to change to adapt to this
  • Relationships are now a focus
  • Be easy to deal with
  • Focus on being a positive and fun force for driving change
  • Build credibility
  • Patience is the key, along with being a consistent presence and contributor
  • Focus on goals not expectations
  • Ask, don’t tell

Be visible, approachable and easy to work with.

 

Prompts

Use the prompts to help ask great questions and find out more information when meeting with your team:

  • What relationships are key to getting decisions made?
  • Who are my key influencers?
  • What type of communication works best with my stakeholders?
  • Who are the best influencers in the organisation? What works for them? Can I pick up their style ?
  • What areas do I need to change in my style?
  • How quickly can I work on my projects when it is just me?
  • What will build credibility the easiest?
  • What is the the path of least resistance?
  • What small wins can I get quickly that will help build my credibility?
  • Who can best mentor and advise me?
  • What assumptions do I have?  How can I test these?
  • What can help me be more patient?

 

Where can you be more patient? What will you do today to create great relationships?

I’d love to hear from you, what will you do today to create great relationships? 

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Tap into your super powers #4 – Introducing innovation into a creative desert

Is your organisation culture great at saying no to EVERYTHING?

Is your creativity and innovation being blocked, stifled or left to stagnate?

If yes, then this learning note is for you!  It will provide you with some great tips for tapping into that innovative spirit to inspire those around you and give you an outlet for those awesome ideas you keep having.

The key learning point here is to : Be the role model innovation leader.  Be what you want most at work.
Lead, inspire, lead some more. Give it everything you have. 

Learning Prompts

Innovation and getting new ideas accepted and introduced into any organisation is always tough.  Often people will perceive that you are asking them to take a risk, make a courageous decision or even put their own job on the line.   Some cultures are more stifling than others. Even innovative organisations can have a ‘their way’ of doing innovation.   At some point in an organisation’s maturing face certain ways of behaving, acting and agreeing new ways of work become expected ways of work OR even acceptable vs non-acceptable ways of working.

Ask yourself:

  • What idea can be tested without sponsorship, resources or funding?
  • Do you say yes to new ideas?
  • Are you setting the example for change or fitting in and supporting the status quo?
  • Can you start yes whenever you can? (start by having a YES day)
  • Can you prove out your ideas and make them real in anyway you can?
  • How can you help you boss feel safe to say Yes?
  • Is YES really a safe thing for your team to say? If not, why not?
  • What behaviours need to shift to get a Yes?
  • What past war stories exist that you need to respond to?
  • Start leading saying YES to the new today!

What you do next is up to you…..
I’d love to hear from you, what you did do next? What did you say YES?  What did you ask for a YES to? What happened? How did you make someone feel safe to say YES?

Did you say YES to everything today?

Let me know here.

For extra reading, I recommend  Influence – They Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini. 

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Tap into you super powers #3: How to be creative when the box just doesn’t fit

Are you super creative and stuck in a super not-creative job?

Do you remember being creative when you were younger – writing scripts, painting, singing, playing the saxophone, making home movies, creating music but can’t remember the last time you got to do it?

Does your job feel like it is crushing your soul and your ‘creative’ outlet involves expletive ridden attempts to get visio arrows and lines to connect!!?

If yes, then this learning note is for you! It won’t help you with visio but it will provide you with some great tips for tapping into that creative energy again whether at work or in your non-work life. It’s time to start embracing creativity again.  Being an artist does not mean having to give up your day job.  This note includes learning prompts and a fun call to act.

The key learning point is to define what creative is for you.

Learning Prompts

Creativity is part of who we are. Don’t keep your creative self hidden, forgotten or pressed down.  Its an important part of  us.  The more I embrace my creativity, the more happy, fulfilled and fun I am.

Ask yourself:

  • Define what creative is for you
  • Write down all the assumptions you had about why it wasn’t a suitable job, outlet or pursuit for you
  • Put a line through them, burn the piece of paper (safely) – those assumptions are gone now
  • Write down all the feelings you can remember having when you expressed your creativity
  • Pick your favourite creative outlet
  • Start doing it today, as in right now!

Some more prompts and suggestions

If you like writing, open up evernote and write down 1 sentence that just comes to mind….. need a prompt:
– describe your first overseas travel tour
– describe the first day in your current job
– describe that time your saw your fave band for the first time ever!! LIVE!!
If you like art:
– book a time to go to the gallery (such as: Heide or NGV, if you’re in Melbourne)
– book a trip to visit MONA in Tasmania
– open up pintrest and create an art based vision board
– find your old paints and draw a circle.

If you like music:
– find your old instrument
– create a top 10 list of music you’d like to learn to play or sing
– book tickets to a local band, festival
– go down to your local to see up and coming bands
– write down 5 ideas for a song
– book into a musical
– sing in the shower – LOUDLY!!!

What you do next is up to you…..
I’d love to hear from you, what you did do next? Did you book something?  Write something? Play something?

Did you sing loudly in the shower?

Let me know by commenting on this post.

For extra reading, I recommend BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert – it’s a game changer!

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Tap into your super powers #2 – Turning frustration into your best work ever!

Are your best skills going to waste?

Are you a bit bored at work?

Are you under utilised and under appreciated?

If yes, then this learning note is for you! It will provide you with some great tips for turning that frustrated energy into a powerful tool to make you stand out at work, feel fulfilled and add more meaning to your job everyday, including: learning prompts, a case study example – going from frustrated to happy in exactly the same job and ideas on what steps to take next to get started.

The key learning point is to look at why and when you are frustrated and use that energy to design the role you want and started doing that role in your current job right now.  

Learning Prompts

To channel that frustration into something positive for yourself try to understand why you are frustrated, what triggers you and what type of work would ease that frustration.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the biggest problem facing your team, project or business?
  • What skills do you most want to use that could help solve this problem? And, how? 
  • What would this solution mean to your boss, customer, business?
  • Can you start working on this solution as part of your current role?
  • How can you get support for this idea?
  • Who could support to get this idea off the ground?
  • What would it take to make happen?
  • Do you need extra support or can you do this alone?
  • What would it mean to you to use these skill in this way?
  • How would you feel if you to used these skills everyday? 
  • What skills do you love using?
  • Could you integrate them in to HOW you do your job?

Case Study

As you know I love coaching but in my current role as a consultant I have very little opportunity for coaching as I don’t have direct reports.  This doesn’t stop me from taking on this role unofficially and people who are aware of my business regularly come to me for advice, coaching or to bounce ideas around.  One way I have incorporated my coaching skills into work is to use them to create really positive outcomes in workshops and meetings that I lead.  If you  have watched some of my facebook lives on managing meetings you will know that there have certainly been some ‘trials and tribulations’ with some ‘interesting’ behaviours in meetings.  This might sound a bit lateral and it is.  Using powerful listening techniques and skills to stay present and in the moment just makes meetings, workshops and how groups of humans functions so much better.

Some of the tools I use are questions (just like the prompts above).  Thoughtful and empathetic questions can be asked in 1:1 discussions or even to groups.  And, just sitting still with someone and really hearing them and not interrupting or making a judgement, really taking the time to respond to allow more silence in discussion creates a beautifully safe space for honesty, trust and empathy to build and grow.

Using these techniques has allowed me to create greater connection and also to be open to surprising compliments, advice or observations that I would have not been open to recieve otherwise.

What is the impact to me?

Work feels more meaningful.

I have a smile on my face as I head out of the station.

I come home feeling satisfied.

I sleep better.

Of course, I’d love to work full time as a coach and I’m building my business towards that goal (eventually.)  But I’m not in a rush and I love working in IT (what other profession could I spend my day talking Star Wars, Tesla, colonising Mars and robots, oh and strategising the adoption of the latest leading edge tech?).  By combining both passions and thinking laterally on how I can incorporate this skill set, I get the best of both worlds without feeling I have a passion and ‘real work’ in two different silos of my life.

Take Action

Next time you get super frustrated and think ‘If I only I could’….

Write down your thoughts!

And then?

Get planning, start testing out what you could do until you find something that just clicks day to day in your job. 

And then?

GO FOR IT!

Would you like to work more on developing this skill set?

Do you have career goals to work on that you would like support and coaching in?

Have you thought of getting your own career coach to help you take the next step in your career?

If yes, then find out more about the Tap into Your Power coaching series. 

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Goal Setting Secret #1 – Know What You Want

My name is Beatrice Crocker, and I help women to stand in their power and get ahead of a pack. And I work with women in male dominated professions to get the career that they want. You can find out more about me at beatricecrocker.com

Today’s post is the first in a series of three, which is three secrets to always getting what you want. And today I’m sharing secret number one. 

Watch the video and read more below

 

 

Secret #1 How to know what you want. 

How often do you say this “I know exactly what I want in my life” ?

hmmmm, like never right? 

I know this is something I’ve really struggled with.  Although for a long time I didn’t realise it.  But I was definitely living life according to what I had been told what to do vs what I most wanted.  It wasn’t a conscious thing.  I’d had goals for career and relationships and I achieved them.  I just didn’t have bigger goals or appreciated what I really wanted in my life.  And it didn’t click for me until a great friend and mentor told me ‘You have to have a plan Beatrice, you have to know where you’re heading and WHY you’re pursuing it’.  

It sounds like an easy thing to say but let’s face its not an easy thing to do.  

For a long time I led a life according to shoulds instead of examining what I really wanted. I should have a high paying job, I should have a house, I should get married etc. And although these things are great, I never asked myself what do I really want? And when I did it it was really hard work, because for a long time I had overlaid other people’s wants onto what I thought I wanted. 

I hadn’t done the work.

So I ended up marrying the wrong person, buying the wrong house, and staying in the right job, but for too long until it became the wrong job. And to be quite honest I didn’t even realise I was leading a life of shoulds, but I look back now and I can see I was doing just that. Of course that’s the beauty of hindsight. However, during this period I got sick a lot, I had colds, sinus infections, migraines, nearly lost the eyesight in one eye, and a breast cancer scare (thankfully only a scare). So my body was screaming at me to stop, but I just kept going anyway. 

And so when I found myself single again, no hubby, no baby, no house. That was really when I took the time to self examine and really have a look at what I really wanted in life. And I guess my biggest realisation was that I wasn’t very good at doggedly pursuing what I truly wanted, and I wasn’t very good at knowing what that was either. 

So I’m sharing the secrets that I’ve learnt in terms of getting what you want because now that I have done the work, and I understand my WHY (helping women progress) and WHAT I want to achieve.  I have had the happiest, most satisfying 2 years of my life.  

I really want this for you as well.   

So if you’ve gone for a long time without being clear on what you want, this series will help you get crystal clear. 

What do you really want? 

1. Let instinct be your best friend.

It’s time to practice letting instinct guide you. The best way to tap into instinct is to focus on your emotional and physical reactions. 

  • How do certain events make you feel ? 
  • How do people make you feel physically and emotionally? 
  • Do you feel relaxed, energised, happy, at ease?
  • Do you feel tight, contracting, anxious, uncomfortable? 
  • When you feel most relaxed? 
  • When do you feel most energised ? 
  • When do you feel super healthy? 
  • When do you feel on edge? 
  • What gives you an instant headache? 
  • When does that injury play up again? 

All these reactions are giving you clues to what you want and love and what you don’t.  

Action: 

1. Take notes on how people, events, ideas, make you feel and act. 

2. Take note of any recurring themes. 

2.  Embrace variety

Try lots of new and different things in your life. 

Say YES more. 

So if you’ve sort of dropped some hobbies, go back to old hobbies, find some new hobbies and activities. 

Action:

  1. Write down what makes you happy, sad, passive, excited, joyful, tired. 
  2. Is something draining your life force? Then, stop doing it. 
  3. Invest more time in the activity that boost your energy and make you feel good.   

3. Turn a negative into a postiive

 

Write down a list of things that you don’t like, at work, in terms of a partner, in terms of your home. They don’t have to be current things, they could just be things you know you don’t love, 

Action:  

Reverse it. 

So if you’re like look I don’t like being in roles that require high detail and little human interaction, then the  reverse of that is I like being in strategic creative roles with lots of time spent face to face with people. And so if you haven’t really had a lot of time recently where you’ve really been happy doing something, write down all the things like are really bugging you, and then reverse it. And it will give you the keys to what will make you really happy. 

4. Feel it out

Don’t expect too much too quickly. If you’re out of practice with knowing and feeling what you want then it will take time. So start off small and build up. And if you’re working on big life changes focus on changing one thing at a time not everything. If that’s a choice. 

After getting divorced I lived in three different houses, made three different job changes – all in 18 months. It was way too much change!!! Some of this was definitely avoidable and it happened because I just didn’t take the time to listen to myself and give myself some breathing room to feel it all out. 

Action: 

1. Take all the time you need. 

                    

Getting instinct back into your life takes practice. 

Good luck!  

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“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together”

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together”

When things are difficult, I often find it is because I am heading in the wrong direction.

Maybe I am pushing too hard to make a relationship something more than it can be, maybe my expectations are not realistic for the work I have asked to be performed, maybe I just thought one way of doing things was better than another and I was wrong.

Being able to pivot, change course and accept that there are better paths available to us, can make us into a better boss, friend, colleague, partner and neighbour.

What have you needed to pivot on lately to find a better path?
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Kindness is Free

Always assume some one is trying their best.   

This post is inspired by Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability – I love all of her books!!

Would love to hear your thoughts….

How would your perception of your boss, direct reports and colleagues change if you assumed they were trying their best ?

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One bad chapter does not mean your story is over

Don’t let a bad boss, a bad role or bad employer make you give up on your ambition!
Go for it anyway!
PS – and move on as quickly as possible, don’t linger in a bad role so long you lose your ambition or will to live.
PPS –  and if you have a bully for a boss, colleague or your direct reports are ganging up on you, just get the hell out of there and don’t look back!!
Now, I’d love to hear from you!
Have you ever had a ‘bad’ work experience and how did you overcome this?
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