"Just as you wouldn't think it weakness to use a hammer instead of your own hand to bang a nail into a wall, so you shouldn't see yourself as inadequate if you use a coach to get you to your goal," Charly says to me, when I ask her about coaching. "Wouldn't it be a relief to say what you think more often, and not what you think other people want you to say?"
Her story has always fascinated me. She spent seven years of work in Africa - in addition to freelancing, she went on to found and grow her own communications company in Sierra Leone. After starting the company on $700, Charly grew it without outside investment to create an in-house multi-national team and a sizeable turnover, with clients including member agencies of the United Nations, Oxfam and British Airways.
She went on to train in coaching and now works in leadership development as a coach, trainer and speaker. I asked her for the advice that she would give those who might find themselves 'stuck'.
What are the most common reasons people come to see you?
People come to coaching because they yearn for something to change and feel like some help would get them there faster. At the root of everything is an emotional driver, and so I work with clients to help them to get clarity about what's driving them forward and what's holding them back.
Fundamentally it's about helping people to be more authentically themselves.
Why do you think some people are hesitant about coaching?
We are so conditioned to believe that we should be able to do everything by ourselves that hiring a coach may feel like admitting weakness or failure. I recently heard someone say that a coach is just a tool to get you where you want to be, and I love that idea.
What would you tell those who are feeling 'stuck'?
Everyone is different, so generic advice is tricky. Before we jump in though, for those who are suffering from actual depression the first route of support is their GP, who will refer them to clinical help. Coaches aren't clinicians and should refer anyone with mental health problems to a trained specialist.
For those who are feeling 'stuck' or fed up:
1. Stand back and give your head a break
I would strongly advise anyone to take some time out and stand back. Our heads are very noisy, complicated places, and we beat ourselves up a lot for 'not knowing' the answer.
Take a day off and go for a long walk, or sit in a coffee shop. Allow your natural creativity the chance to come out and play, and doodle in a notebook for no particular reason. Don't set any goals for the day, just fiddle about. And notice how you feel. Notice and jot it down.
Committing thoughts to paper seems to be a great way of setting a powerful intention, and so however scrappy your notes are, scribble!
2. Values underpin everything we love
Start with what your values are and what's really important to you. If you find it hard to know what they are, think of things you love, enjoy and find important and ask yourself, what's the essence of that?
If you liked your last holiday was it because you value freedom, or because contemplation is important to you, or because you value adventure? There are values seeping out of our everyday experiences.
Your values paint a powerful picture of what being in your element would look like. Write a list of your values and then choose 4 or 5 and create sub lists of what each value means to you.
What do you notice about your values? If you're stuck, chances are your values aren't really present in your current life. Many people are living in their values in their spare time and doing something far removed from them for a career. Align the two and find the job you love, that feels like you're not even working.
3. Ask for the right kind of ideas from others.
When you ask friends what they think you should do with your life they'll naturally go into 'solve it' mode, which won't help. It'll feel like you're a problem they're solving and you'll just feel crap.
Instead ask 5 people to tell you the 10 things they think you're really great at. Paint it loud and proud and don't brush it off. In there lies to the clue to what you'd be good at, and again, you might not be doing it in your day job.
There's a saying that we can do amazing things when we just get out of our own way, and I like to think I help clients to do that. We clear out all of the noise made by the little voices of fear that tell us why we can't, and we turn up the volume on the intuition they've been ignoring that tells them they know, deep down, that they can. And then we set goals and get cracking.