I trained to be a Co-Active coach four and a half years ago. Before that I worked with women who had survived domestic abuse. I worked in that capacity for four years, hearing stories, supporting and advocating as best I could. Until I burnt out and stopped being able to do my job. Luckily, as the universe would have it, I got made redundant at the same time as I realized my health was on the decline. The stress of the job was manifesting as lower back pain – no emotion leading into intense emotion with no obvious source. My lack of passion about the world manifested as feelings of depression and lethargy.
I came across CTI when I was coming to the end of my work in the charity sector. I certainly wanted to move away and gain some new perspectives by building a coaching practice and managing my own time. I have a fierce internal drive for getting stuff done so I built a coaching practice, which was at times, thriving. But one day whilst I was visiting a friend in the beautiful location of Manly, Australia, I started to notice a shift in what I was doing. I loved the coaching, but there was a bigger drive in the back of my mind asking for some attention.
I realized the purpose of my struggle and then my coaching was to bring this work back into the charity sector, in order to ignite individuals’ inner leader by directing them to think about their self-care and self-compassion.
I decided to create something that resembled more of a movement. I imagined increasing the conversation about self-care and resilience within the charity sector. I imagined individuals moving away from the martyrdom perspective so prevalent in non profit organizations. I imagined individuals realizing that when they helped, supported and loved themselves, the work became easier and they became more productive.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in trying to get this discussion off the ground, and I’ve offended more than a handful of people. But I think if you are creating a movement it is inevitable that you share a few truths that others don’t want to hear.
But from what I know of leadership, and more specifically the CTI approach to leadership, when you find your purpose, and put your stake in the ground for what you believe in then the right people to help will come along, and the right conversations will happen.
I’ve started having great conversations with key people in the charity sector, and the conversation around self-care is building.
Coaching is a tool through which I am bringing more self-compassion and self-care into the charity world. The charity sector tends to attract people who are empathic, compassionate and have a sense of common humanity. Through the culture that most charitable organizations work these beautiful strengths are lost by too much work, vicarious trauma and internal politics. But many forward thinking charities are starting to realize that their people are their greatest asset and they are starting to invest in their wellbeing.
The coaching work, alongside training work I deliver through my organization Bird, is a cog in the shifting wheel of the third sector. We work with individuals and groups to identify their stress and to recognize if they are teetering on the edge of burn out. We share and encourage strategies and processes to counteract the impact both have.
Slowly but surely mindful leadership, self-care and self-compassion build resilience in individuals. And when individuals are resilient, organizations become resilient, and when charities are the organizations that are becoming resilient they send ripples out to the rest of the world.