Coaching. Is it worth the investment?

Over the last few years I have explored coaching, writing programmes, and workshops.

I have spent a fair amount of money on it, bought expensive journal books, printed endless task sheets and finally have come to realise that ultimately there is a vast difference in what coaching can mean. Similar to how different counsellors & therapists can offer different services to treat you for specific problems that you might be experiencing. With the measure of your success finally coming down to you and you alone.

I have experienced amazing ones and not so good ones.

Here is what I found. Ask loads of questions before you commit, they might have a great reputation online and lots of rave reviews, yet if you don’t ask enough questions about the process involved, you might end up parting with a lot of cash and feeling frustrated that you didn’t move forward at all. We can only see so much from their online presence and the amazing clients they have worked with. Most do offer a free consultation to see if you fit together and I would take that opportunity to ask your questions. It is your hard earned money and it is an investment, so make sure they will guide you on the right path.

I hadn’t realised that some coaches, similar to some therapists will basically just sit and listen to you, get you to do a lot of homework filling out what your values, goals and dreams are and then sit and listen some more and not really commit to swaying you either way as to whether you are heading in the right direction, letting your writing and answering help you to discover your own answers, with a few prompts from them. Now I am not saying for one minute that they haven’t been qualified or professionally trained or built up valuable coaching experience because they do have to know how to steer you. However, this approach might work for some but it didn’t work for me. I prefer to be led and guided, with suggestions and ways to look at my approach differently. So do ask this, do you lead me and help guide me?, or do you prefer to just listen and give me lots of worksheets and links for me to find out my answers with limited prompts from yourself? Ultimately coaches have to get you to fill out a certain amount of worksheets to gauge who you are, what your aims are as they don’t know you, so they need this initially to get the best from you so they can do their job really well.

Mentoring probably was the better investment for me as opposed to coaching. I’m a visual and physical learner and being taught by an experienced peer can be hugely valuable as they will help identify weak areas on your social media presence and where to collaborate, what you need to practice more on and organisations to join etc. Mentoring is vastly different to coaching. Again, do a little research to see whether it is coaching you require or a mentor.

Ironically the huge investment coaching I experienced wasn’t the right fit for me. I got more out of two additional coaches who offered shorter face to face sessions and what I gained in those set me up far more quickly in the direction I wanted to go in. As did being mentored by a successful professional photographer.

Ultimately the hard work has to come down to you, and you alone. you know deep down where you should be at with your business, and if it isn’t working or as successful right now, that doesn’t mean it isn’t meant to be. It could be that where you are right now in your life journey it would put a strain on your family and health, if you became an overnight super popular sensation. What would you compromise to chase that dream goal.? Deep down we all know that where we are heading is what falls into place by sheer hardwork and determination, at the right time.

Approaching Summer

I love this time of year as we slowly fuse from late Spring into the heady, dust filled days of Summer. Often I will be found celebrating with a friend at the beautiful location of Avebury, Wiltshire. There is something incredibly tactile about walking on soil and land that has seen many an ancestor walk upon, usually in bare feet as opposed to my leather clad footwear. Walking amongst majestic stones, chalk lined paths, ending by the mystical tree with its incredible roots laid bare, twisting and curving, decorated with flowers, offerings and its branches suspended with ribbons and prayers.

Last year we celebrated the Summer Solstice by wearing Camomile flower crowns, to represent the fertility and abundance of the earth and to welcome in the new beginning of Summer. However this year my camomile plants appear to be struggling to rise skywards and sadly it might be the time of a Rose Crown, as this flower is doing far better in my garden. which leads me onto the fact that I am delighted with a new addition from a range produced by the late David Austin Rose Grower who passed away. It has the prettiest tight buds and circular layers of hot pink, but the finale is when you bend down in the late evening light to drink in the classic British aroma that evokes so many childhood memories of what a true English Rose smells like. All subtle perfume, wafting on a base layer of intoxicating deep rose florals, lightened by english rain as its top note, as for a middle layer it just oozes meadow florals. I am definitely exploring the possibility of creating my own perfume oil as an infused scent to wear on cooler autumn days, to remind me of the beauty and warmth, sunlight and rain drop weighted days that make up my summer.

Recently I find myself noticing plant and tree life more and more, and always reach out a hand to brush by a gentle budding leaf or feel its calm energy as I lean against rough bark, which feels warm even on a cold day.

Approaching Summer allows me to explore outdoor living more than indoor, and at any given chance, that is where I will be. Whether walking amongst my local neighbourhood, visiting a town, or just pottering in my own patch, pulling up weeds, planting a few seeds here and watching our garden flourish from pests. This year we have, courgettes, runner beans, butterhead lettuces and Lollo Rosso Red Italian lettuce, an abundance of sweet peas to fragrance our bedrooms, strawberries and soon a granite trough jam packed full of herbs to cook with, mint & lemon balm to make teas with and cool drinking waters with.

The light is something I am always drawn to as a photographer, the little nook of shade underneath a vast canopy of wisteria, or ornamental fig leaves reaching in near your legs as you sit outside sipping cool mint cucumber water. Light & shadow changes as the sun begins its ascent much higher into the sky. Casting beautiful long deep shadows across the agricultural landscape in early evening. The way the wind chases across grass fields like a sheet being flicked out onto the washing line, a rhythm so hypnotic it is hard not to notice this pattern wave and recede before your eyes as you drive by.

Currently the hedgerows and wayside banks are in a glorious bloom of poppies and wild white daisies, they are a beacon of hope in a concrete landscape, edging us and calling us to wander amongst their paths. Touching our hands onto the tall stems and watch as the sunlight filters flashes of red poppy leaves against the brilliance of white daisy heads. Purity & Passion.

The garden birds are singing with joy at the early morning light, a concerto of vocals, each one different and unique yet blended to create the most amazing song. I feel particularly blessed that we have a Song thrush who is often perched on a neighbouring tree, singing solo of an early evening with such volume and sweet sounds.

Insects begin to buzz and take flight, hovering on the precious plants that offer nectar and pollen to keep the hidden ecology of what must seem at times a fragile and briefly lived life. We reared a Tiger Moth and Butterflies last year, so we know first hand how much of a miracle that evolution is to the moment of flight. Up, up and away until it all gives way for another chapter.

Approaching Summer is truly a gift.

Working to my own rhythm not the algorithm

Sometimes in a world where technology and digital platforms are constantly shifting. It can be hard to keep up. There is a vast wealth of experience out there on how best to achieve new followers, or how to convert sales through your social media channels. Our feeds filling up with reams of images, adverts, videos etc. All shouting and at times heckling for our immediate attention, click here, swipe up, like me, comment, message. It goes on.

It can feel like standing in a small crowded room with the door locked and everyone is pushing and jostling. Reaching up hands, and all shouting at the same time that it becomes deafening, claustrophobic and an unbearable place to be in. You literally scream in silence for someone to get you out of there, and quickly. Once outside in the corridor where the sunlight filters through and the windows are flung open letting in a gentle breeze and with no-one in sight, you can finally breathe, feel your heart rate drop and a sense of peace and calm wash over you. Suddenly you have room inside your mind to think, to focus, to have an idea. What a difference.

This is how social media is for me.

I often take sabbaticals from it, or have a digital detox as some prefer. It allows me to see where I am heading, how much has my work been influenced by the accounts I follow or those who intrude through sponsorship. Does it add value to my work? Or does it take away?

Working at my own rhythm frees up brain space, thinking space, mind space so that I don’t lose sight of what is valuable and important to me and to my potential clients. Whilst balancing my own life with its varying demands. It allows me to sit and contemplate my language, my images, my direction. Where do I see myself heading? Is this a goal or direction that aligns with my values and morals? Am I just flinging stuff about aimlessly or have I got heart and true intent behind my work.

We all take a holiday at least once a year, to break free from the chains and rhythm of work life, side hustles, to be with family and be connected under less stressful conditions. We need it to help keep our health & wellbeing in balance, to experience more than just targets or chasing money all the time. Yet we don’t often take a holiday from social media to reflect and sit and re-align ourselves. Why not?

Do we have a fear that when we come back online we might have lost a 100 followers,? or, that we aren’t going to gain new clients because they don’t see us everyday,? Yes, we might find a drop in followers, doesn’t that say something about them, were they ever genuine in the first place? Equally there is a lot of robot’s at work and fake accounts too?

Clients who genuinely connect with you will find a way to message or reach out? Regardless of whether you are online every day, every second, sometimes twice a day. Those who want to work, collaborate or buy from you, will and still can. It is all about growing the right community for you, who understand you, through your dialogue and your presence, who stick around long enough to know your quirks and your sabbaticals and are still there to welcome you back when you are ready to share again with a new rhythm and selection of work.

“Working to my own rhythm, not the algorithm’ Melita