A couple of weeks before Christmas 2015, I was in a senior fundraising role and found myself sat in my annual appraisal meeting receiving lots of encouraging and positive feedback. And promptly burst into tears. Not someone who readily displays emotion at work, it took both me and my manager by surprise.
I was near burnout. I was always told I was doing an excellent job for my charity and felt I was giving everything I could to my team. And yet everything else was falling away. I no longer exercised, did any of my interests, I regularly cancelled any plans I had with friends. I felt constantly tired and was short-tempered with my family. And, despite all these sacrifices, I didn’t even believe I was doing a good job at work. The praise fell on deaf ears.
I share this with you as I was recently inspired by my friend and fellow coach, Mary Ely, who shared her story about how she came to be a Business and Personal Change specialist. I realised that my experiences as a fundraiser and fundraising leader have directly led me to be where I am today – a coach and trainer helping charity colleagues to thrive at work, no matter how demanding their job.
Back in 2015, I was lucky to have a line manager who responded to my emotional outburst by listening and then leaping into action. She offered me the opportunity to work with a coach to see if I could find a way to continue to perform well at work, but not at the detriment to everything else in my life.
My coaching experience was transformational. And I don’t use that word lightly!
I had six sessions working with my coach to understand why I put such immense pressures on myself and yet still didn’t believe I was good enough. Why I found it difficult to say ‘no’. Why I was prone to self-criticism. And many other deep insights. My self-awareness and self-acceptance grew exponentially, as did my inner confidence.
These insights gave me the chance to shine a light on my strengths and to use these more often, increasing my effectiveness and boosting my energy levels. I started to say ‘no’ more often in a way that was authentic to me. I started doing more of what brought me joy – swimming, being in the countryside and drinking wine with friends. I went on to have the most fulfilling and happy time that I’d had in my career to date.
Realising that I wasn’t alone in my experience – a high-performing charity leader who was on the edge of burnout – I decided I wanted to work with and help other people who were going through something similar. I qualified as a coach with Barefoot Coaching in 2016 and went on to start my own business working with non-profit sector leaders and their teams.
I came across my coaching notebook the other day and was reminded why I called my business ‘Vivid Leadership’. When my coaching came to an end I was asked to write my reflections. I’d written:
‘The fog has lifted. I have clarity and am loving life! Even work feels much easier and enjoyable. I see the world in brighter, more vivid colours.’
Now, in 2020, I have almost 5 years under my belt of coaching and training non-profit sector leaders, fundraisers and teams.
I have gone on to work with some of the leading charities in the UK and have really enjoyed the process of enabling positive change in teams’ wellbeing and effectiveness. The feedback on my work with these clients has been incredibly rewarding, and I have consistently seen a really tangible turnaround in non-profit leaders, whose experience working with me has allowed them to think differently, take impactful action and increase their influence and leadership qualities.
If you’ve experienced something like what I’ve described here and want to prevent going there again – or if you’re experiencing it right now through this challenging new COVID-19 reality – then get in touch. Let’s have a chat about how I can help you find your vivid new way forward. I’ve been there.
I am also running a webinar this October with the brilliant Lucy Gower, founder and director at Lucidity. She is an accomplished consultant, bestselling author of The Innovation Workout, founder of the Lucidity Network and a global speaker on creativity and innovation. Together, we will be guiding you through many of the developmental areas I have written about in this blog. This exclusive one-day online training will help you go from living in a fog and feeling near burnout to being focused and uplifted, thinking creatively and overcoming challenges at work; from feeling under-confident and ‘stuck’ to courageously trying new things and being creative. Tickets are available here.
Drop me a line and we can set up an exploratory chat (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here’s me, about 3 months after my coaching, doing more of what I love: