Starting a new year can often bring about new and exciting goals. Your intentions are well placed, but if you’re someone that easily loses sight of their goals because the reality of life sits heavily on your shoulders and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel; slipping back into old habits of procrastination can often feel like a comfy pair of slippers.
I don’t know about you, but I love the changing seasons and although we may be experiencing the Winter months right now; it’s only a matter of weeks before Spring is upon us so what better time to prepare for the blossoming season by focusing on improving our healthstyle – mind, body and soul.
One of the ways we can prepare ourselves for a better now, and being the best that we can be, is getting someone to help us. This month, I meet a woman that helps people ‘be their best self’ for a living. She shared her journey to becoming a Life Coach and gave me some tips on how to work towards being your best self… Meet Jackee Holder
Tell us who you are and what you do as a profession?
I work as an Executive Coach delivering one to one coaching in the further education sectors to mangers and senior leaders, as well as delivering an accredited coach training programme to them too.
Another part of my job is to work across the different sectors and the creative industries, in which I deliver different types of leadership and management training. In this profession, I get to speak at conferences, lead retreats and all kinds of other interesting things, such as teaching creative writing. I run a practice that allows me to nurture inspiring writers and creatives. I am particularly passionate about this side of my work because this source of inspiration and creatively keeps me well resourced and energized for my corporate work, which can be demanding and stretching at times depending on the kind of organization I am working with.
I’m the author of three books, ‘Soul Purpose’, ‘Be Your Own Best Life Coach’ and ’49 ways To Write Yourself Well’. In addition, I have authored numerous workbooks and e-books, which are slowly getting birthed in new formats on my website.
Because I have gained so much encouragement and vitality from other people’s writing, blogs, personal experiences that just simply make my heart sing, I felt I wanted to create a community of my own, so I am establishing an online community where individuals can be creatively watered and fed.
For those of us who are unclear of what your job entails, can you elaborate on what a ‘Life Coach’ does?
Well, I am less of a Life Coach than I used to be and that is because the majority of my coaching takes place in corporate environments.
Life Coaching is where I began coaching. A Life Coach works on general life areas with an individual, helping them to shift behaviours, attitudes or beliefs so that a specific goal or objective can be achieved. So, as a Life Coach I could work with an individual on relationships, time management, career, writing or creativity and their well-being. The areas can be quite vast. But generally I found that people contacted me when they were either emotionally feeling stuck, had experienced a life crisis, experiencing a challenging relationship or they wanted to write or do something similar to what I was doing.
Over the years I have worked with some challenging situations, some very public and some very private but always I watched as no matter how difficult the situation the individual was experiencing, they would begin to make sense of what they were going through.
Typically I would work with an individual for an agreed number of sessions say 6 x 1 hour sessions. We would agree from the start the areas they wish to focus on and what their expected outcomes would be. Sometimes it would soon become apparent that these weren’t the real issues and we would find ourselves diverting towards the real underlying issues.
My clients tell me I am a good listener. I’m not so good a listener with my family and friends, however, when I am coaching it’s like I access a different deeper part of myself that shifts the quality of my presence and ability to just be. I would like this to be more congruent in all areas of my life but I realize that I won’t reach that ideal of perfection and I am more willing to give myself permission to be human.
I’ve received a lot of coaching myself and had some amazing experiences and shifts too so I know intuitively what works best for me. It’s not all the fancy techniques and tools very often for me it’s real conversations where I feel heard and seen that allows real transformation and learning to take place.
What, if any, put you on the path that you are on today?
Where would you like me to start? Some of my early childhood experiences forced me to confront some difficult life experiences that I knew once I had gotten into my teens that I needed to make sense of. I grew up in a family of six children and we were not all without our faults or our challenges. But I knew from an early age that I had a wise head on me. I was genuinely interested in people and I was keen to learn. When I finished university I became a youth worker and it was like the heavens had opened and I found my calling.
In this one profession I could write, I could train people, I could facilitate and run groups, I could be creative, I could talk and be with people. I could think and share my opinions plus go on really great training courses. I felt I was in a sweet shop with so many goodies. It was one of the best times of my life. An opportunity to receive coaching as part of my development back in the 80’s put me on track although it took years for me to fully embrace to become a coach but the foundations were laid back in those early days of working in Hackney.
I also had a lot of people input into my life who made a difference and I guess I modelled myself on many of my mentors who helped to shape and mould me. I had a lot of hang ups due to my upbringing so even though I was a fighter and someone who achieved a lot I had a lot of stuff to work through and needed the input of others. I guess much of that valuable input made a lasting impact and I wanted to contribute to others in a similar way.
Would you say that your work only caters for a minority of people?
I find that coaching has become very pigeon holed. It is pricing many people out and I am an advocate of making coaching accessible and not elitist as it is in many circles. So, by keeping coaching in pockets ensures that the elitism continues. I strongly believe that coaching should be a communication tool that is made available to everyone. It would not be devastating to me if coaches were done out of their profession as a result of the whole coaching process becoming more readily available to anyone needing it, that would be a good thing because I believe work places would be much better environments to work in with an embedded coaching culture and approach. In turn, relationships and communities could benefit too.
I find that I bring coaching into every area of my work whether I am running a coach training programme or a writer’s retreat. The skills are transferable in almost every area of life and work.
So, I come to you as a potential client with a need to unblock my creative mind, how would you help me with this?
We would explore and we would experiment by trying things out. This would take place in and outside of the session. One of the experiments would involve some writing, drawing and making a collage.
I would invite you to share about your childhood and times when you were creative and absorbed in doing things.
I would be on the lookout as I listened to any creative blocks and looking to find out about when they first developed.
There is no easy answer to this question. Each individual is unique and different. In one session with a Vice Principal of a big inner city college I shared my love of walking and that led me to finding out a big creative block he had for over ten years around being a painter. He had stopped painting when he entered academia. He had a painting studio in his home that had remained locked for ten years. Our work together explored his reconnection with his creativity and painting.
I am not a formulaic coach. I wish I could be more like that sometimes as some coaches are good at taking their experiences and packaging them into steps and e-course etc. but that is really not my strength.
Who Is Your Biggest Inspiration?
My daughter Aida is a huge inspiration to me. She’s 23 and living and working in Dubai, she is seeing the world. She is such a loving, joyous child that if she wasn’t my daughter I would love her as a God-daughter or a younger friend. I see a lot of myself in her but she seems to have got a lot more positives all round. We look a lot like each other and sound like each other and we can laugh and hangout with each other no problem.
The other inspiration to me is my 80 year old Mum. My Mum and I had a difficult relationship growing up. Neither of us really understood each other. I was always rebelling, resisting and being a bit of a pain. But getting older I have really come to appreciate my Mum as a person and learnt a great deal about what she has had to deal with, overcome and come through. Now I see and appreciate her so differently from the young Jackee growing up. Raising six children, having a nervous breakdown, recovering, her resilience is amazing. She was astute with money and still is and made ends meet always. Us kids were always dressed in the best clothing. She had a great eye for style another quality we have all inherited from her and my Dad. But most of all I woke up recently to realize just how humorous and funny my Mum is. Again another characteristic I had overlooked. Each of her children have inherited a bit of our mum’s humour and witty side of her.
Do you have any Seminars or Workshops coming up for anyone needing help to kick-start the New Year?
I’m doing a seminar tomorrow in Kent entitled Writing with the Senses. The next one is on Saturday March 16. See our website for further details: www.jackeeholder.com I’m also speaking at the conference for Black therapists on the 27 April 2013 on the theme of Self Care.
Would you say you have your work/life balance as you want it to be?
Right now, today, no way. The work is overwhelming at times. Running accredited coach training programmes take up a lot of time and requires a great deal of input. Some weeks I feel like it is full on everyday. But I am very good at taking chunks of time off. [To find my balance…]
- I retreat back to Barbados every August without fail with my family.
- I take time off on all the holidays and bank holidays and many weekends will begin to become a mini holiday.
- I travel quite a bit with my work so will build in downtime if I am staying over night in a different place other than London.
- I invest quite a bit in training, my own training and find those dates and times therapeutic and a time to refuel.
- I’m very social and we have lots of dinner and garden parties and celebrate birthdays by getting people round.
- I love getting out and being with nature to recharge my battery.
It’s the beginning of 2013 and someone wanting to reach their personal goals for this year, what tips do you have to share?
- Write them down in a notebook or a journal. Research has shown that most people achieve their goals when they’re written down than when they’re not.
- Connect with someone who is further along the road in achieving a goal similar to yours. Find out what got them there, get tips, make a connection.
- Join a Mastermind group with other like-minded people where you can have monthly check-in’s and talk about your progress. Think of positive, achieving people to invite into your circle. It needs be no more than three other people. Your Mastermind group can hold you accountable. Or if a Mastermind group doesn’t feel right consider finding yourself a mentor.
- If you have a goal just get on with working towards it. Sometimes talking about it dispels a lot of your energy. That’s the real ‘ying’ and ‘yang’ of goal setting. Sometimes it’s good to talk and sometimes you just need to get on and do it.
- Cultivate a spiritual or mindful practice. Some kind of practice where you still your mind and know that whatever the outcome of your goals, you’ll be okay.
For more information about Jackee Holder sign up to her newsletter at: www.jackeeholder.com
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