Coaching Alana taught me a lot, as a coach and as a parent. I was reminded of my younger 20 something year old self. I could have benefited from having some direction and clarity, and also wise counsel and guidance where my career was concerned. The ambition and drive took me so far, I am grateful for my journey, regardless. I felt honoured to guide Alana at this stage of her life. Everything that was learned throughout her coaching programme, is still relevant and applicable today. And I will take on board my role as a coach but also as a parent.
So here's a little background information about Alana. She is of Fijian and Rotuman ethnicity, hence, her strikingly beautiful features! She was born in Fiji, raised in Germany and the UK and is a daughter of a serving soldier in the British Army. To describe her personality, I would say she is - a bit of both, sassy and shy in a calm self assured sort of way. She is a quiet achiever, and takes a lot of professional pride in her creative work. A bit of a perfectionist, which speaks about her passion and a reminder to set realistic expectations. She is a film studies graduate and won highly acclaimed national TV awards for her short film project in university. She has high aspirations, with the hope that her experience, talents and skills will take her there.
It would be fair to say that I knew Alana, before I met her. Thanks to her mum! I had seen her work and met her in person on a few occasions. She is a growing influencer on social media, and is a foodie at heart. And has been developing this hobby of hers through social media and gaining some good traction, which has a lot of potential to succeed. However, she was stuck, in need of some help to land a job in her industry which is highly competitive and demanding. And also capitalise on her hobby at some point. But first things first.
A big thank you to Mita Koroikata whose coaching program sponsorship was a lifeline and wonderful opportunity for Alana, who seized it when it came through.
If I ever wondered why I was coaching Alana? It would be simply because I was challenging myself to coach outside my comfort zone. I had grown accustomed to coaching clients who were wives and/or mums’ navigating the workplace space with similar shared experiences, being an army wife or migrant woman. And if I am completely honest, I was not only in a position to help, but also because, if I were in her situation, I would want the help too. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Being close friends with her mum, was a bonus!
Here’s some of what I discovered in this experience.
Timing is everything. Time is a resource we cannot buy or get back. For Alana, the conditions and timing for coaching was just right. She might have lost her confidence but she hadn’t given up on her career goals. And she was still passionate about her creative talent. More than enough to work with!
I tried something different with her. I scheduled our coaching sessions for 8am each week. I wanted to help put some structure and routine into her day. Early starts are important and require self-discipline. She didn’t complain and she showed up each time. Even if she had just woken up! It worked out because she achieved just that, structure and routine. A good habit. The mindset was that she would find a job and needed to get into that routine, sooner rather than later.
To gain her trust required patience and perspective. I adapted our sessions to shorter ones bearing in mind that attention spans and age needed to be accommodated. I wanted to keep sessions short and sharp, brief and effective. I knew she could keep up and more importantly; she would look forward to coming to her sessions. It worked enormously, eventually she opened up and we were able to get down to business.
With time management comes planning. In an earlier social media post, I mentioned that youth often think they have all the time to figure things out and often leave it to the last minute to organise themselves. Or they bank on their laurels or accolades to get them there. Or perhaps, there is an element of entitlement whereby the mentality is that hard work and sacrifice isn’t required. That it is as easy as it looks until you try it! This might be for everyone. And for me, if I am not careful, lack of planning can allow complacency to take root. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. Proverbs 13:4
Her job hunting required a strategic plan. We reviewed her job search experiences, developed a targeted and intentional approach. Tapping into resources like LinkedIn and reaching out to her network enabled her to step out of her comfort zone. She updated her CV and cover letters to reflect the job she was applying for. She also sought feedback from myself, which was a positive sign for me. Being able to share some insights from a recruitment perspective was handy. Within a couple of months, compared to 3 years, she landed 3 consecutive interviews, got 2 job offers and chose the perfect role that gave her so much freedom and autonomy for creative development.
Our coaching continued for a few months into her new role, to help her transition into it smoothly and maintain consistency. To put into practice new habits developed along the way. She quit her part time store assistant job at Sainsbury’s to focus on building her career, which was a huge breakthrough for her. It was the realisation and self-belief that she could do more with her time by stepping in the right direction of her career goals and being fully devoted to it. In order to remain consistent, it often requires downsizing or re-prioritising, to gain more time, clarity and consistency to do the things that lead us toward our goals. And more often, improve confidence as our focus is realigned. Do less to do more. Consistency creates awareness and leads to a deeper appreciation of your journey.
“Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally, it comes from what you do consistently.” Maria Forleo
A coach is really an accountability partner. Alana recognised that there is no one to blame and it takes humility to accept what’s happened. It was time to take responsibility and action to change her situation. She showed up with honesty and courage, did the homework and participated in the sessions. She could easily see the progress she was making each week. She could also see where she was failing to make progress, when the work was not done. She didn’t make any excuses; instead was more determined to do better and I encouraged her to do better. The support and accountability provided can lead to empowerment.
I held myself accountable too. I had to deliver an exceptional service and also create a safe and comfortable learning experience for her. Iron sharpens iron!
Going forward & feedback
My advice to her was to get a mentor, someone who inspires her, and willing to share their knowledge and experience gained from working in the industry with her and supports her aspirations too. She is in a great position to get the exposure and experience for her career to soar. And to keep building on what she has learned. No turning back now!
The feedback from her mum regarding Alana, has really cemented our culminated efforts!
"She is more organised, positive, happier and confident."
It has been a huge learning curve for me also. I have really enjoyed coaching Alana, it was refreshing to do something new for a change. To see her confidence grow and come out of this with a new outlook, has been hugely rewarding and reassuring. The past is definitely behind her, she has experienced setbacks and adversity, and that builds character. It is my prayer that she will inspire her peers, to use her influence / position for good, and to work hard, stay humble and teachable.
As a parent, my takeaway, is not to make assumptions about career development, good grades and degrees, and knowing your child. It’s not enough. Take that extra step and remain vigilant and active in their life. They will thank you for it!
And for the likes of the Alanas out there, i.e. children, don't make assumptions too. Parents had a life before you came along. They might be the 'boomers' of this generation, but their wisdom and advice is invaluable and available to you, all the time. Speaking to my child here!
Last but not least, I want to thank Mita and Lita (coincidentally their names rhyme) for the opportunity to support this beautiful young woman at a pivotal moment in her life. As always, I thank God for the wisdom, strength and courage to steward my coaching for His glory.
Thank you for reading, I hope this post was of encouragement to you. On a final note, please leave me some feedback or drop me an email about coaching, info@leonorasinclaircareercoach.
God bless x