My client was highly stressed, losing sleep and hair.  When I first met her, she was pale, had tired grey rings around her eyes and looked visibly hunched. I heard she was really struggling with her workload, working long hours, finding it difficult to be visible, to speak up and have courage in her own worth and opinions. At our intake session, she opened up in a way that she told me she had never experienced before.  Her focus for coaching was very clear – work/life balance, if it was one thing that she wanted to achieve in her programme, that was it. Other areas for growth were secondary.

Right from the word go, she took every single resource offered, books, articles, websites, videos and ran with them.  She found her own resources – podcasts and websites that spoke to her agenda. She invested her own personal time and energy to working through her coaching assignments, resources available and reflecting on them, gleaning her own insights that she brought to each session. She reflected and wrote about her insights regularly.

Work life balance was sorted very early on – she set better boundaries, was leaving work on time, doing regular exercise, eating better and had better sleep hygiene.  Simple things that created a foundation of resilience needed to also grow in terms of visibility and courage.

As the programme progressed, she had reached a view that she had many possibilities open to her, she didn’t need to be stuck at all. It became clear the type of work that aligned most with her values, interests and strengths. She had worked through financial scenarios that could bring her closer to what she really wanted at work and in other parts of her life. She had gotten to know all of who she was and started to revive parts of herself that previously had been lost that were more positive, open and outgoing.

At the end of the programme she was positively radiating energy, standing tall with a noticeably striking presence. Her whole way of experiencing the world and relating to others had changed.  Her hair loss had stopped, she was sleeping better and had a plan to sustain the changes in the future.

I’m pleased to say that others around her calibrated these changes, receiving great feedback from colleagues, direct reports and managers, she had received a spot bonus for her performance at work and arranged her life and future plans to ensure that she was living in harmony with her values.

Now at this stage, I’d love to bathe in the reflected glory of her progress. But the truth is a good coach is a vessel for personal and professional growth.  The real reasons that this programme was successful was because this client, despite a heavy workload:

  • Grasped the opportunity to be coached with both hands – like the gift from the heavens
  • Took clear ownership for her growth
  • Was ready for and open to change, she was prepared to be vulnerable
  • Prepared well for sessions and reflected after them
  • Invested time outside of sessions to work on assignments, absorb resources, reflect and find insights and new perspectives
  • Invested time to reflect on her journey and wrote about it regularly
  • Developed her own authentic strategies to succeed

Coaching is an input:output equation, you get back what you put in. So if you are thinking about coaching, or just starting a programme and want to get the best from it. Ask yourself one question – what can I do to get the most from it?

Gayl Long is an Executive and Career Coach with over 20 years’ experience of coaching, facilitation, consulting and Human Resources with major blue chip corporations.