It occured to me recently that I only usually tell people what I do, and how I can help them, but rarely share the story of why I chose to become a life coach in the first place. So, I started to share that story, and it’s interesting how many people have told me how much it resonated with them.
A few years ago I was seperated from my husband after 20 years, and on my own with two young teenage sons. I’d been successfully self-employed for several years but as our marriage reached it’s end, we became reckless with our money and ended up bankrupt. I was also deeply involved in a very toxic friendship. It had taken me a long time to realise just how toxic it had become, and I couldn’t yet see a way out. Looking for financial security, I took a full time job.
I started working with adults who had learning disabilities and it was a great privilige that people who were incredibly vulnerable welcomed us into their lives, trusted us and allowed us to help them and empower them to have control of their lives and their choices. When you work with people who’s needs and desires can seem very basic at times, and who overcome challenges everyday, yet remain positive, it’s a humbling experience and puts things into perspective.
The other strong positive influence in my life at the time was Scouting. I had been a leader for a few years and had been pushed out of my comfort zone so many times, climbing, camping in foul weather, and hiking through the night. But as with my job, the young people in scouting inspired me to push myself further. How can you say ‘no’ to trying abseiling when there’s a six year old doing it?
My friendship group grew through my scouting family and my new work colleagues, and I eventually found the strength to leave the toxic friendship. Around the same time I met the man I have since married, and after a really difficult time I now had a loving and supportive network around me, and a job that made a difference to people’s lives. I’ve had an interest in psychology for a long time and a friend introduced me to personal development, so I spent a long time studying, learning and growing. Life was good.
For us, 2012 was the year of weddings, six of them including our own, so our friends and relationships were the focus that year. In the summer we found we were expecting a baby, but sadly the pregancy ended when we discovered at the three month scan that our baby had died. This was when the bottom fell out of my world. Of course we were devastated, but something else happened too. Something had happened that was beyond my control and I didn’t cope at all. I went from being lively and sociable to being unable to leave the house or speak on the telephone. I communicated mostly by text message, and eventually began to leave the house with my partner, but the panic attacks I experienced sent me straight back home.
This is when I learned the experience of having the right support network. My friends and partner were patient and supportive, and it was scouting that eventually brought me back. We had booked a weekend sleepover on the HMS Belfast on the River Thames in London. Can you imagine the fear of going into London at a time when I could barely leave the house? But I knew I had to do something, our wedding was coming up soon, so I decided I would go on the trip knowing my scouting family would support me. My partner walked me to the station which is in our local shopping centre. We opened the door and there were about thirty cubs and scouts, their parents, the other leaders and all the Saturday shoppers. My worst nightmare. I froze on the spot and thought about turning back, but I had to do it. It took all my strength to wait at the station and conversation was difficult as I was so focused on trying not to cry, but the strange thing was, as soon as I got on the train, it was okay. It was like I’d pushed past the barrier and started to feel like myself again. I had a great weekend and laughed a lot. I was back.
Our wedding was the perfect way to come back from a tough few months, and it was so good to have all the people we loved there with us. The bliss was short lived though, as the following summer, just over three months into another pregancy, and after two healthly scans, we lost another baby. We couldn’t believe we could be so unfortunate as to have this happen again, and of course we were heartbroken, but this time it was different. I knew I couldn’t lose myself like I did the time before, I had learned to be stronger and although of course I grieved, I made the choice not to feel like I’d lost control again. I couldn’t control what had happened, but I was able to control what I did next.
I knew that that self-development had really helped me, as well as my amazing friends and husband, and I’m grateful to have them. I wanted to help other people feel more in control of their lives, and not give away their power to other people or tough circumstances. I looked into counselling but it didn’t quite fit, and that’s when I trained as a Life Coach. It was important to me to be properly accredited, so a year later I took my training to the next level with the very intensive Personal Transformation Coaching Diploma. It’s a very psychology based course, and I was surprised when working with my fellow students just how much was still coming up for me, and it was good to work through it all and come out the other side.
So although a lot of the work I do is mentoring new coaches and wellbeing practitioners, because I understand their journey, one of the most satisfying things I do is support people through their own personal transformation. Seeing a client going through a whole range of emotions in just one session, then leaving the session feeling lighter and with more clarity, feeling in control, that’s why I became a Life Coach.
Ruth Randall is a Life and Leadership Coach, and Team Development Specialist. Ruth works with teams to help them to build trust, develop strong working relationships, manage stress, and increase productivity and job satisfaction. She also coaches individual clients who want to make changes in their lives, careers and relationships.