Why I Needed Coaching
Sometimes, when you are at a loss, all you want is for somebody to just lend you a listening ear and give you useful advice. Often, those around you may not be the best to do so, as they might subconsciously tell you what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear. Personally, I was lucky enough to come across not just one, but two people who pulled me out of my slump with their great advice.
My first mentor listened to me and helped me up when I was in what seemed like a hopeless situation. I was young and suddenly jobless, all I could do was to send in endless resumes (over a hundred) for almost a year and await replies before finally landing a job only to be forced to resign in barely over half a year.
It was in this slump, this dark period of my life when my first mentor, whom I fondly refer to as ‘Shifu’, helped me get back up on my feet. He listened to my woes, gave me advice I didn’t know I needed. His patience and advice helped mould me into the better person I am today.
My Second Mentor
Now, I only met the second mentor quite recently. While it’s partially luck to meet someone who can advise and listen to your woes, it is also possible to boost your chances of meeting such a compatible person.
Even while in a job, managing a team of 19, I felt dissatisfied. I knew that I needed to further refine and boost my leadership skills as well as my people management skills. Make no mistake, interpersonal interactions and relationships are my forte. However, interpersonal skills and leadership skills, I’ve come to realise over the years, are vastly different.
It was at a job fair, manning a booth for my company, that I came across a program aimed at arming PMEs (professionals, managers and executives) with soft skills such as leadership qualities. After a short discussion with a career coach about PMEs finding it tough to find jobs in the current volatile and ever changing job market, her insights opened my eyes to this situation I once struggled with. I decided to enroll in the program to boost my leadership qualities, to better prepare me for if I were faced with a similar situation in the future.
My Career Strategist assigned to me was Naidu, whom I came to highly respect. He gave me practical advice and pushed me to act on my career goals. He asked if I knew what my USP (Unique Selling Point) was when he went through my job history.
I was momentarily stunned.
I had never thought of that before. All the while I was focused on my portfolio and my experience, but I had never considered what was unique to me.
With a trained eye that could only have developed through years of experience, he picked out my USP (Unique Selling Point) in a second.
My key strength was the ability to transform and reform teams that were previously condemned as poorly performing. It was clear that I should prioritize this skill over other strengths while developing my career path. It was an epiphany.
The first few sessions I saw Naidu as my Career Strategist, but along the way, we had moved beyond just “coach” and “coach-ee”, I started to confide in him as I would a friend.
With career coaching, it’s not about the duration spent together, it is about the advice, the prompts he could give to me during these sessions.
Coaches are more than just adults’ version of teachers. They’re people who are willing to go out of their way to gift you advice based on their own experience. With your interests at heart, they don’t attempt to sugar-coat their opinions. Instead, they give you advice based on what they feel you need to know. Finding a good coach may be difficult, but the things they can bring to you are precious and valuable.