My Coaching Journey
Shona Floate in coaching
8th May 2024 -  4 mins read

Let me introduce myself. My name is Shona, and I am one of SUMAC’s social media and content writing interns. While I have been working for this excellent company, I have also been seeking funding for a PhD in English Literature and consequently embarking on my own coaching journey. Read on to find out a bit more about my coaching experience and how it has helped me in my pursuit to reach my academic and professional goals.

The first step in my coaching partnership was what is often called a ‘chemistry session’ in which a coach and coaching recipient will meet in an informal setting to see if they ‘click’. Me and my coach Maria met in a café, and I immediately felt at ease. She gave me a brief explanation about her style of coaching and ask about why I was looking for a coach. By the end of our meeting, we both had a good sense of our coaching compatibility and decided we would like to work together. Getting to know each other in a relaxed, informal setting can give coaching partners a great chance to see if they will make a compatible pairing.

In our first session Maria helped me to work out what my goals are and where my priorities really lie with a mind mapping technique. By doing this exercise she helped me to realise that at the time the most important things to me were, of course, securing a funded PhD but also to increase my general sense of wellbeing and confidence. Once she had helped me to figure out what it was that I really wanted, it was time to have a look at what was holding me back!

My goals were interconnected with this second stage of my coaching journey. Maria helped me to realise that my heightened stress at the time was holding me back from managing my time and completing my applications to the best of my abilities. In addition, a lack of self-confidence meant that I was reluctant to reach out to friends, family and professionals in my field who may be able to help. I found it to be hugely beneficial to articulate both my goals and the challenges I was facing; it made the whole process feel so much more manageable. However, it was the next step that we undertook together that really started to work magic.

After this we turned to putting change into action. Maria took me through a mixture of general changes that I could make in my life to push me towards my goal and also helped me to address specific real-life situations that I was experiencing.  

For example, one of our sessions happened to coincide with a minor application related crisis. I had misunderstood the deadline for the reference part of one of my applications. It turns out it was due in a matter of days, and I was panicking. Maria talked through the situation with me and helped me to see through the fog of fear to the logical solution in front of me. She suggested that I email my referee and ask if she could submit my reference before the deadline. It sounds simple, I know. But, as Maria had aptly identified, I was struggling to ask for help due to a level of self-doubt and lack of confidence in myself. With Maria’s support I was able to reach out and ask for assistance when I needed it. Not only did I get the application in on time, but this intervention exemplified to me the difference that small change could make, in a way that simply talking about it would never have been able to drive home.

The months went by, a new year took the place of the old and as February approached my deadlines dwindled. As my confidence grew and I began to regularly implement Maria’s advice my sessions grew more and more congenial and less about the work. While I treasured the time I had to talk things through with Maria, we came to the decision that my sessions were heading towards their natural conclusion.

Coaching partnerships can be contained, like ours was, but many are more open ended. A coaching partnership within an organisation can often span years of the participant’s careers, aiding them through the many seasons of their journey. And while Maria provided me with support for one intense period of applications, I would jump at the opportunity to work with her again. My experience with coaching went beyond my short-term goals, allowing me to develop in a multitude of ways that I will carry forward with me into the next stage of my life.