The wrong shoes - Susanna Way

'I recognised the need for me to get some support to help balance the various aspects of my life, establish coping mechanisms and finally recognise what ‘potential’ meant in my life and how I was going to achieve it.'

It was eight o’clock on a cold dark grey morning as I arrived at my childminder’s home in order to deposit my precious daughter into her care for the next 10 hours. We had followed the same pattern as every morning since my return to work.

We had a routine: I had to be well organised and that included having a clear delineation between work, school and leisure clothes – and of course, footwear. You might imagine my shock therefore as I stood on the doorstep to look down and find that I was wearing one blue shoe and one black shoe. (They were exactly the same style, I would add in my defence!).

Of course I had to return home to swap the errant shoe, but I remember now that sense of pressure because 15 minutes was likely to make the difference between arriving at a nine o’clock meeting in a calm and prepared fashion and launching myself through the door looking flustered and feeling already exhausted.

On another occasion I recall being asked by my darling daughter to suddenly produce, out of thin air, a Roman warriors outfit, when we were due to leave the house in less than half an hour, but let’s not go there…

I know now that at the time I was putting myself under tremendous pressure – I wanted to be the perfect mother, wife, daughter, housekeeper and friend alongside pursuing my career and proving to myself and others that I had the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to do well both for me and for the organisation that employed me.

So why am I sharing this with you? It is because it was around this time that I recognised the need for me to get some support to help balance the various aspects of my life, establish coping mechanisms and finally recognise what ‘potential’ meant in my life and how I was going to achieve it.

Coaching was in its infancy – it was becoming established but there were certainly no professional development coaches available to me. We tended to rely on our managers, some of whom were excellent and some who, although they meant well, were less so. It was for this reason that I set out on a personal and professional development journey to learn how I could more effectively manage all areas of my life. Five years of therapeutic training was followed by many years of building and practicing coaching techniques as part of managing people, projects and programmes.

Throughout my training and the years that followed, I was supported by many people who acted as coaches to me; I found joy in what I did and established parameters about how I would balance my work and home life. I identified the areas that worked for me and either changed or stopped others while, most importantly, receiving support and guidance throughout the change periods.

My journey continues as I learn and incorporate new skills and techniques into my coaching, mentoring and consulting toolkit. I have enjoyed veering off from the norm into areas such as storytelling and poetry, as well as playing a significant role in improving the professionalism of coaching and supervision. I continue to grow as a person and make informed choices about how I want to ‘be’ in this world. This is what coaching has done for me… I wonder if it could do something similar for you?

(Oh and by the way, both shoes now match – and so the metaphor continues).

Susanna Way is a partner in Coaching Insurance Professionals, an alliance of coaches who have extensive experience of working in the financial services world, which means they speak your language and understand your challenges.