Helping Others to Help Themselves

Contributing Author: Waynne Meek 

One of the earliest Empower coaches and, in fact, one of its Board members is Jane Stephenson. Jane has been a career coach for ten years in the Amsterdam area, through her company Knowboundaries.

Why is coaching so important?

“At certain times in our lives we feel very alone, and need someone by our sides to help us through. Coming to a ‘crossroads’ in your life, like changing your career path - or needing to find a new one – is one of those times. Maybe the existing support structure a person has in their friends and family is not ideal. They need someone independent, and without predefined attitudes. Coaching helps to provide this support structure, and within this, coach and client work together to clarify thoughts and find the right direction, guiding the client to their future.

“Coaching cannot tell you what to do but does give you the space, confidence and drive to find your own way. I find that people generally have the answer inside them and would probably get to it in the end. Coaching really brings it out that much more quickly, allowing you to cut through the ‘baggage’ we all carry by concentrating on you.

“A coach allows the space in your head that you don’t allow yourself”

What got you into coaching?

“I spent 20 years in corporate finance and, in the beginning, I loved the interaction with people that my job involved. We would talk to people all over the world all the time, sometimes face to face. But as automation crept in, personal contact diminished. We were left with just emails and reports and I missed the human contact.

“So, I went on a different path, completing a BSc in Psychology and building a coaching career.  It’s great because I get to see my clients grow and thrive in periods of change. Some take longer than others to move on, but knowing I have helped them to do that gives me a tremendous buzz. I think I can safely say that it doesn’t feel like work, which I think is the best thing anyone can say about what they do.”

Can you give us an idea of what coaching involves?

“There are obviously many different methods and each client has different needs so I adjust accordingly. For people undergoing career transition, I have certain exercises to work through with them, designed to clarify what they want, what their strengths are and to explore different options for their own circumstances. I also try to tease out what is holding them back. All of this gives confidence and it’s great to see that building as the sessions progress.

“It’s important to say here that coaching is not necessarily about getting a new job. Although we encourage networking, and sometimes can make introductions, it’s really about empowering people to take the right path themselves.”

Do you specialise in any method of coaching?

“My love of horses led me to train in Equine Assisted Coaching. Horses are particularly sensitive to human emotions and being around them can tell you a lot about what kind of messages your body language is communicating.

For example, it can help to determine your leadership style. One of my clients was a very passionate project manager. When he was leading Ulo (my horse), she followed him without hesitation. A bit later she wandered off. Afterwards I asked him about what happened once he had launched a project, and it turns out that tended to lose interest once it was up and running, eager to get to the next project. Ulo had picked up on this through his body language. It highlighted for him that the other people working with him on the project needed more of his drive in the later stages of the project to help them to deliver it.”

What’s your favourite part of being involved with Empower?

“It’s amazing to be to see how all sorts of people come together to help us. As a registered charity now, we rely on volunteers to deliver everything from marketing to the coaching itself. And people have delivered. In droves.

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