CHAPTER 1: CRISIS
Mapping my Journey: I had lost my job in the Civil Service, after suffering from a heart condition (‘Arrhythmia”) which required surgery and was burnt-out after a few years in post taking my employers to the Court Tribunal. I felt rudderless and bereft of choice, although I had been able to attend counselling sessions through the National Health Service (NHS). I was close on 50 years and still single, living in East London, miles away from my preference of Kensington.
“Disaster comes only because of ignorance” – Judah the Prince
Hence one becalmed spring day, with the sun shining and the birds singing, I took a walk in the local park, to ponder my destiny [situation], “What to do?”. There were no sudden flashbacks, but the mist slowly passed away from my eyes to unravel the path traveled and I looked for a pattern.
This was surely a crisis point, but I realised it had been long in coming and averted only due to my previous stamina and aggression. I had always had a hard time being employed and this had replicated through my jobs in Lagos (Nigeria), Connecticut (USA) and now London (UK). The true constant being my behaviour and aversion to rules. “Something had to give”, before I finally cracked.
As the days followed I mulled my options, realizing my focus was to look onwards and forwards, without getting bogged down in an ephemeral search for resolving my complex character. It was obvious that the most successful sports people had coaches and the quote by Google Chairman & CEO, struck a chord.
“Everybody needs a Coach” – Eric Schmidt
So I fell back, on one good skill I had, Research! This included attending events on the benefits of coaching and how to find a coach. But, old habits die hard and I have always had a penchant for the extreme, hence found it hard to decide on the best suitable coach. Extreme logic took over, and my new rationale then was to actually train as a Life Coach in order to be able to rank the best one for myself! So, of course I had to check out syllabus at the various training Academies, draw up a budget and make payment to NMC, which I found to be suitable. The bonus was the charismatic founder told a good story and gave a good pitch on how this could also be a business.
The path to counselling: During and after the toxic events and well after my exit from my civil service job, I had been experiencing severe neck and back pain (myofascial pain syndrome) after my (non-invasive) heart procedure and was on a prescription of pain killers which gave me mood swings and depression. I was lucky to be referred to the NHS Counselling service, well before my coaching journey and the few sessions I attended with “Talking Therapy” gave me a sense of balance. The best of the sessions was that I did all the talking and the counsellor simply nodded, listened and only gave prods to lengthen my answers. This was my first experience of the instance of “Active Listening” as a tool in therapy, there was no judgement on my responses and no advice given, which allowed me the space to accept my guilt and shortcomings to override the suicidal thoughts I had built up. “Man is born free, but is everywhere found in chains” – St. Ramalingam
Behavioral Insights: Talk about closing the gates after the horse has bolted! After my retreat from the Civil Service, I took an in-depth questionnaire on “Discovery Transformational Leadership” by Insights™ and made a startling discovery. Apparently my style was unsuited to the Service. To quote snippets from the report.
▶ Leading – Rigid on code of conduct and needs to lighten up a bit.
▶ Team – May use a style that tends to be directive more than supportive.
▶ Communications – Can be over-sensitive to criticism and reacts with self-defence.
▶ Development – Enjoys the challenge of being coached by a competent and assertive coach.
▶ Vision – Needs to ask more “What if” questions and be innovative at start of solution process.
Road to Recovery: I also took part in a patient recovery programme run by Expert Patients Programme CIC and got a certificate for attending said course on “Chronic Disease Self-Management course” in Nov 2010. This helped with an Action Plan especially with managing my prescription. I embarked on an Acupuncture treatment but found that pain relief was only temporary, while I got fed up of having pins stuck down my back. I attended several rounds of Physiotherapy until the consultants explained they could not alleviate my condition any longer. However, the journey to wean myself off the pain-killers took another year, and this involved attending physiotherapy and mindful exercises. This all helped to put me on the first steps to embarking on my coaching journey.