How I went from being a singer, to one of the UK’s leading life coaches.
If you had told me in my twenties that I was going to become one of the leading life coaches and experts in human behavior in the UK, I actually would have laughed. It was so far away from where I was that the thought wasn’t even imaginable.
At 21 years old, my dreams finally came true. No longer was I an aspiring singer, chasing my childhood dream; now I was officially a professional recording artist. Within a year, my first single ‘Your Lovin’’ went out on white label and flew into the unofficial pre-release charts at numbers 9 and 23 (in two different charts). We were getting radio plays and being offered incredible reviews by some of the biggest music magazines at the time.
In my mind, I had made it.
Little did I know that just a year later I would be in a hospital hearing the words “You may never sing again,” and would find myself without a record deal, without a singing voice, and forced to reevaluate my whole life.
I was devastated. It was like my whole life came crashing down. Not only was I now having an identity crisis, but life had also unexpectedly thrown me into a career transition without my own consent. I was angry, overwhelmed, and really scared.
What would I do now?
My mind was telling me there was nothing else I was good at. That I was literally going to drown in my own misery. I was being bombarded with thoughts of giving up, running away, or (worse still) running back to my parents, but in my heart I knew that none of those were really an option. Reality was, I could sink or swim, and I had to swim because I knew that sinking in this world isn’t really an option (and also not in my makeup).
What became clear to me in this time was how unhappy I’d let myself become over the years. I became so focused on the “significant title,” the “fame” and “success,” that I hadn’t even noticed that I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I’d sacrificed my own happiness. I recognized that many people do that. Stay with something just for the idea they have of what it brings them—maybe status, money, or fame. Thinking that these are the things that make us happy, we stay without really realizing that somewhere along the line we forfeited our heart. We forget to listen to that tiny little inner voice and instead get caught up in the noisy voices of the mind that think they know what’s best for us.
For a while, I let myself feel how I felt. I lazed around in my pyjamas, eating a lot of chocolate and letting myself feel how miserable and lonely I really felt. It wasn’t a new feeling, but it took everything falling away from me for me to really admit to myself that it’s how I’d really always felt.
After the surgery on my throat, I couldn’t speak, so in total desperation to get out of my own depression and negativity, I started reading self-development books and learning about my own unhealthy behaviours. I really enjoyed it, but at the time I had no idea that it would lead to anything. Certainly not my full time profession!
Time worked its magic, I felt a little stronger, and on recognition of my funds going down, I put the word out to friends and family that I needed a job, any job, just to get back on my feet. I realized that thinking about my “perfect job,” or my “passion” or “purpose” at this stage would have been totally overwhelming. What I needed was to simply get back on my feet, to get back into the working world, and to put myself into anything new that would stretch my comfort zone and help to re-build what had become shattered confidence levels.
My friend suggested that I join a job agency and on realization that I really had nothing to lose, I bit the bullet, made a list of the practical/natural things I could do, and applied for some jobs. I used my “gift of the gab” to win over a group of directors at a media company who gave me the chance to prove myself as the office manager of their independent media agency. I jumped at the chance, and immediately loved it. Despite not having a clue what I was doing, I found my courage to show up and pulled on my people skills, my ability to delegate, my courage to ask questions, and I navigated my way. Although this wasn’t my idea of the dream job, I LOVED it. I felt valued and appreciated, and I realized that my heart could really go into anything I chose. I decided what had value to me.
A year later, and fully established with more confidence and self-belief, I decided it was time to spread my wings again. I could really see the value that I had added in just one year of being at the company. Not only did I come to realise I had SO many skills, (fast learning, resourcefulness, good management and delegation skills, an ability to build good relationships, etc.) but that the thing I was MOST valued for was the way that I related to other people and the way they opened up to me. It was clear that so many of my co-workers had become my friends. They confided in me, and I had supported them in resolving their conflicts at work and at home. I was basically their personal and professional go-to. More than this, I loved it. Through my own investigations of my mind and emotions, I had come to understand humans better, and, therefore, I could be there for people in ways I hadn’t been before.
This was my main takeaway from this experience.
So, I was transitioning again, not knowing what I wanted or what I would transition to, just a little trust in life and a lot more awareness of my skills and abilities. I should say at this point that I had discovered I could sing again, probably with more clarity that in previous years, but there was nothing in me that wanted to divert from this new passion-filled road of self discovery.
I put the word out again for a job. This time, a friend needed a temp to reception for a few weeks at a property development agency. I took it. Nervous on my first day and no idea of what the future would hold, I got stuck in. Never one for half measures, I started asking questions about the company. Made friends and got curious about land buying. I stayed after work and started researching land without planning permission. Impressed by my initiative, my employer at the time started to watch the way I worked and moved around the office. Within weeks of my temp work, he’d got me a job working for his extended family in a similar industry. I did it. Without thinking, I had transitioned. It was easy! I wasn’t thinking about the perfect job or something I could do for the rest of my days, I just focused on what was right for now and what was being presented by life. What could I learn? How could I grow?
The years that followed were pretty amazing. I became an expert at selling, started my own company with my newfound skills, and then was taken down again by the recession. Life had other plans again! With my newfound entrepreneurial skills, adaptability, and great contacts (alongside my enjoyment of trying new things), I set up a new company to save businesses money in the recession! I had found my niche :)
Before I knew it, I was acting as a consultant for businesses wanting to be more efficient, primarily working with the element of the workplace that often fail in this department, people. Noticing that people were the key influencing factor for most businesses, it kind of made sense to address that. Where were people not being efficient and why? Where were they wasting time and resources through feeling unhappy at work? THIS is where I went, and I loved it. I took on two interns to work on the PR side of the business and before I knew it one of my interns spotted a position for a life coach for a well-known magazine. She asked me if I’d consider going for it. In her eyes, this is what I did anyway, so it made sense. I was full of both excitement and terror. I’d spent months training these amazing girls and wasn’t about to lose face. If she thought I could do it, despite being totally under qualified (at the time and on paper), I would give it my best shot.
You could say that this was the beginning of the end. Despite going up against numerous other well-qualified professionals, my heart and passion obviously came through in my application and I got it. I was officially the life coach for Look Magazine and my first thought was “I guess I’d better get a website online!”
After this, people just kept finding me. Within a couple of years, I had written for Women’s Fitness, Glamour, Women’s Own, and numerous other publications, was regularly asked to support PR campaigns for well known brands such as Hugo Boss, Cloud Nine and Go Ahead (amongst others), and worked with big corporations like Fremantle Media and GSK. I also featured on BBC Radio regularly. In addition to this, I had been asked to do a pilot for a TV show, and was in the throes of writing my first book. What a ride!
That was about 11 years ago and I’ve never looked back really. I can see now that each transition I had made became the training ground for what I was about to achieve, a piece of the puzzle. Most importantly, I believed in myself and I’d come to deeply understand people’s minds from being willing to look at my own under such a fine microscope for a number of years up until that point.
My official training happened after my practice was already up and running, and I was juggling a lot because it all went so fast and from strength to strength. In a way, my appearance in the media was stronger than the reality of the success of my practice, but I loved it and I loved my clients (I still do). I was finally happy in my job (which didn’t feel like a job at all). I was earning great money, had some of the world’s most successful people/businesses as my clients, and I realized that each one of my steppingstones had contributed to and was a necessary part of my journey. I also realized that each one was my purpose at THAT time.
I started breaking down so many beliefs about work, purpose, and all my conditioning around what I SHOULD have been doing and for how long. I just put it all aside and started listening to life and to the opportunities that were being presented to me. Most importantly, I stayed open.
It can feel so daunting transitioning from one career to another, but you just have to take one small step at a time. A friend of mine sent me this poem yesterday that really touched me, and pretty much summed up the very start of my journey right in the midst of my fear and overwhelm:
Start Close In – David Whyte
Start close in, Don’t take the second step, or the third, Start with the first thing close in, The step you don’t want to take,
Start with the ground you know, The pale ground beneath your feet, Your own way to begin the conversation.
Start with your own question, Give up on other peoples questions, Don’t let them smother something simple.
To hear anothers voice, Follow your own voice, Wait until that voice becomes and intimate private ear that can really listen to another.
Start right now. Take a small step you can call your own, don’t follow someone else’s heroics, be humble and focused. Start close in, Don’t mistake that other for your own.
Start close in, Don’t take the second step or third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.
So, I did it. I took the first step, and I know that whomever is reading this has the courage to do that, too. I’d say be wise with your transition as opposed to being impulsive. Be smart, be resourceful, and call in support.
As for where I am now, five years ago I scaled back my business to dive even deeper into my own mind, consciousness, and the human psyche, and a new, deeper work is unfolding with an even greater knowledge and understanding than I had before. I suppose I’m right back at the beginning in a way, taking my first steps all over again. In a way, every day is a new beginning, a new opportunity, and we should never be ashamed for taking that leap into the unknown. We are here to evolve, not to remain stagnant. Moving and changing are completely necessary for growth. It is my firm belief that we can be, do, and have anything that our heart most deeply desires, and this is the ONLY way that we ever really feel fulfilled—so, the key really is to start listening to and following your heart.
I have come to see over the years that life takes care when you are listening and taking the steps—both in my personal journey and the journey of coaching hundreds of clients all over the globe.
Finally, in the wise words of Joseph Campbell:
“Follow your bliss”