Very often as business owners we neglect our own personal development as the endless ‘to do‘ list takes priority. However, for some of us the last year has provided unexpected opportunities for reflection and personal growth by giving us time to really think beyond the day to day and providing the space to try out new things. I’ve been able to continue developing my coaching skills through webinars, tried my hand at drawing, and attended online workshops where I’ve learnt new skills and techniques that will help me continue to grow my business.
However, one of my biggest opportunities for personal growth came in 2014 when I was made redundant, and also found myself dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis. These events acted as my catalyst for change and I made the big decision to set up my own business.
While I was going through treatment I started a coaching qualification and spent some time thinking about why I wanted to set up my own business and who I wanted to support. My business was ‘born’ in October 2014 and my purpose then, as it still is today, was to help people grow and develop, overcome obstacles, accomplish goals and enjoy success in their business or chosen career. Being really clear on my purpose has helped guide me in the right direction, although I have taken some wrong turns along the way. As a business owner, rather than an employee, I’ve had to learn lots of new skills – some of them very quickly!
One of the most useful tools for discovering your potential and building confidence is coaching. Until I experienced the benefits of being coached at first hand, I hadn’t realised what a powerful tool it could be and it made me want to train as a coach. In my previous corporate roles I managed teams to deliver projects and had always been a problem solver. Looking back I realized that whereas I had thought I was coaching my team members I was in fact giving advice in disguise! It can be difficult to understand how coaching works and how effective it can be until you’ve tried it.
A coaches’ role is to ask questions and facilitate conversations that lead to the coachee coming up with their own answers, which is very empowering. The coaching relationship can last a lifetime, or a few months and it gets richer and deeper with time and as trust builds. When you coach someone you help raise their self awareness and open up new lines of thinking. When we are given space and silence we can really listen to ourselves, start to untangle our thoughts and make some progress.
Here are some areas where coaching could help you discover your potential:
- Defining your purpose and what success looks like
As a first step to discovering your potential, it’s important to define your purpose and what does success mean in your life? Ask yourself: What do you want you and your business to be known for? Who do you really want to work with and what difference can you make? Also how will you know when you’ve been successful? Success is defined by who you are and the person you aspire to be. It is not a one-off thing to be ticked off a list, more like a constant journey with ever-changing scenery. It could be financial, career or goal-related, to do with learning something new, persevering through hard times, or based on improving your knowledge and benefiting from different business or life experiences.
- Understanding what makes you tick
Another tool I’ve found invaluable for personal development, both personally and for clients, is understanding your personality and communications style. I use the DISC model but there are lots of other similar tools available. A profile helps you understand the strengths and limitations of your own natural behaviour and communications style and that of others. You can learn when you might need to adapt your style to improve your relationships with others and also where your blind spots might be. Aristotle summed it up beautifully when he said. “Knowing yourself is the beginning of wisdom.”
- Investigate learning opportunities
Consider your skills and strengths, what do you enjoy doing and what do you find more difficult or takes more effort? Where are the possible gaps in your learning or knowledge and what can you do to plug these whether that’s a training course, finding a mentor or taking advantage of the free workshops and webinars that might be available. Volunteering can also provide worthwhile opportunities to develop your skills and give back at the same time. It’s important to engage in activities that appeal to your true strengths, so you can explore and build on them. Plus, if extra qualifications mean you can go further, or develop a new business direction then take the leap, because as the famous L’Oréal tagline says, ‘you’re worth it.’ And if you are spending too much time doing tasks you don’t enjoy then maybe it’s time to outsource them.
- Be your own cheerleader
When you work for yourself it can sometimes be hard to maintain your motivation and the drive to move forward. We rely on our own energy to keep us going and I know mine certainly fluctuates! Having a trusted support network, or coach, on hand can help you over the dips and remind you that you are doing a great job.
So don’t wait for another pandemic to think about personal development and discovering your potential – make time for it now. And even coaches need coaches!