I love being a coach, but there was never a point in my life where I said, "when I grow up, I want to be a coach!" This is the story of what was going on in my life prior to coaching.
On to UBC
I started out on my career journey by going to University, because that is what I believed that smart kids did. In grade 7 I decided to go to UBC after highschool. After optimistically taking advanced calculus during first year Sciences I decided I didn't want to ever take another calculus course again. I had always pictured myself in an office, so I asked my Totem Park dorm neighbour about the Faculty of Commerce, which was the business school at UBC. I decided to take the plunge, and entered a world of greed and camraderie. I chose my major by process of elimination. My choice was Human Resources, or Industrial Relations Management, as it was called at the time. I loved the courses on Career Counselling and Organizational Development. I ran a snack bar with donuts, soup and sandwiches, which was very popular for the evening classes.
Chance Leads to a Job
A friend of mine was having trouble filling work experience spots for the program she was coordinating. She asked me if I would take one and I said yes. I thought she said CIBC (the bank), not ICBC (the insurance company everyone loved to hate in 1990). I worked a few hours in the Human Resources Department and met two people there that I liked and respected. When I graduated they offered me a position. Unfortunately that was a temp job that ended in 6 months. It was not a good year to be looking for Human Resources jobs because they were downsizing in 1990 and I was competing against people with several years experience. I had rent to pay so I took a job as a clerk in a claim centre. I didn't like it, but it paid the bills.
After awhile a few of the injury adjusters began to ask me why I wasn't a claims adjuster rather than a clerk. I told them it seemed like a high stress job and had lots of turnover. One suggested I try it out while I was figuring out what to do. I considered it and realized it would be a job that would give me better communication skills. I started as an adjuster in 1992. I loved the variety and challenge. When I was promoted to an injury adjuster, I learned to read people and negotiate well. I tried to give all the services and money I could to the honest people, and tried to minimize payments to the people who were using the system. I learned to listen carefully for lies and exageration.
Here are my ingredients for high stress:
- an intelligent, strong-willed, active, independent 3 year old
- a full-time job
- a mortgage and expenses that aren't quite covered by income earned
- a workplace where the customers don't want to be there and sometimes see you as the enemy
- cynical co-workers who have heard too much lying from customers
- upper management who don't understand the front lines
- increased workload due to downsizing
- an acting supervisor who needs to prove himself suitable for a permanent job
- feeling trapped by lack of transferable skills to a similarly paid position in another company
Buying a chocolate bar at the corner store and going for walks after work was not enough to decrease my stress level. I considered going on stress leave, but didn't. I tried to transfer to a different job in the same company, but all hiring was "frozen". It was time to make a change.
This Isn't Where I Belong
I remembered that I had taken the adjuster job to learn new skills, and realized I had already learned those skills. I wasn't learning much that was new anymore. It was time to move on. It was time to move to a job that was a better match for my strengths and personality. As I was considering this decision, my co-workers and I were offered a severance package. After talking it over with my husband I decided to grab the opportunity.
Remembering How to Laugh
As soon as I decided to leave, my stress level started to decrease. I stayed for three more months and left my files in a state I was happy with. It was three months after that before I started to laugh the way I used to. I laughed with joy, rather than cynicism, which I hadn't done for years. The less-serious side to my personality returned. It was wonderful.
Learning to be Self-Employed
I went for an interview (on September 11, 2001), but didn't get the job. I enrolled my older daughter in preschool and loved being able to spend more time with her. I didn't want my brain to turn to mush, so I grabbed an opportunity to sell Usborne Books part-time in February, 2002. That was my introduction to being self-employed, and allowed me to use my creativity and improve my selling skills. I learned about tax deductions, newsletters, draw boxes, and more. I took a break from that for a few months after my younger daughter was born. When she was about three months old I took her with me in a baby sling while I sold books at home parties. She loved sitting in her car seat looking at customers coming in to book fairs at schools. When I visited my old workplace, they told me how happy and relaxed I looked.
How to Decide Which Career is for me?
Before I left my job I connected with a friend from my University days and she recommended a couple of books: Do What You Are and the Artist's Way at Work. I did many of the exercises and researched the internet for what other INTP's were doing for work. After some reflection on the results, I came up with a list of four jobs. I believe they were career counsellor, mediator, guidance counsellor and one other. I didn't know what to do next - I couldn't decide which one was right for me. Then I paid $1000 for career counselling, which was mostly a series of personality, interest and aptitude tests. I had one session with a person, and she gave me a list of jobs which included the ones I had chosen for myself, and more. I was no closer to knowing what kind of work I should do next. I felt I had wasted my time and money. The only benefit was that she told me I scored high on the IQ test, which was something I needed to hear at that time. She also suggested informational interviews. I interviewed someone in three different careers and they didn't seem to be the right fit for me. I was getting frustrated.
Changing my Diet
I decided to put my focus on losing weight since I didn't know what I should do for work. The healthy diet books conflicted in their recommendations. I wanted someone to tell me what was right for me as an individual. My friend recommended someone who used a pendulum (dowsing) to determine which foods were healthiest for the individual, and which ones they were allergic or intolerant to. I was skeptical but decided to go see him. He was a retired osteopath, and seemed to know what was going on with my body. I decided that I would follow his food recommendations as an experiment. I started paying a lot of attention to how my body felt after eating in this new way. I got to know how I felt after I ate something good for me and something that wasn't good for me. It was hard to give up dairy, wheat, white sugar, oats and more. I replaced them with food I didn't know existed. I was motivated by the way I felt and the weight loss. My energy increased and I didn't need as much sleep.
Not Ready Yet
In 2003 I acted as a pro bono career counsellor for a few people to try it out. I enjoyed it but didn't like the idea of doing it the way many traditional career counsellors do it. I need a job so I returned to the insurance industry. I got a one year contract as a Special Investigator with CDI. I enjoyed it at first, but realized after a few months that I needed to do something different.
Ready to Follow my Path
During this time I started going to a monthly guided drumming meditation. I was used to getting a few images and words from wherever it came from - perhaps my subconscious, perhaps another source. I decided to declare that I was ready to follow my path and asked to be shown where I should learn in order to do what I came here to do. During my meditation I saw an image of rolling hills and yellow grass. My impression was that it was near 60 Mile House. At home I went on the internet and searched. The only thing near there that seemed to fit was the conference in 100 Mile House I had been considering going to. When I looked at it again that night, my gut said, "yes!" Then I surfed on the internet for awhile and drifted over to the Coach U site that I had been on a few times before. I had been exploring the idea of being a career coach in Spring of 2004, but was concerned about how I'd be able to earn enough. I liked Coach U because it had been around a long time, was established by the creator of life coaching, and seemed well organized. When I looked at the website again that night, my gut said, "yes!" to that too.
Following my Intuition
In August 2004 I signed up for the conference in 100 Mile House and in-person coach training in San Diego. It started at the end of September, one month after my contract job ended. I found it an interesting challenge that the two were back to back - the coach training started the day after the conference ended. Some of my friends said I was crazy to go to try to go away for 11 days when I had young kids, but they said they'd support me. I knew that since my intuition had told me to go to both, it would all work out. Luckily I had the support of my husband, sister, friends, and our babysitter. My husband had shifts that ranged from 6am to midnight and someone had to be with my kids during that time. Everything was taken care of without any problems and I enjoyed myself immensely.
As soon as I got to the conference I noticed coincidences. There were about 100 people there and yet the person to sit in my row just happened to be a life coach. The people sitting beside me on the four planes to and from San Diego were all either alternative healers or had an interest in quantum physics. When I was near the information desk at the airport, a woman who was also going to the same training arrived at the desk to ask how to get to the hotel.
I'm a Coach!
I've been coaching ever since, and love it.