Ever Thought About Life Coaching?

It has been a whole year since I decided to take a risk and pack in my day job in order to pursue a career in what my heart is in – writing.  It has been scary, and to be extremely honest, that big opportunity hasn’t completely presented itself yet, but giving up is not yet an option, and I do not regret my decision for a second.

One thing that helped me find the courage to put my words into action was Life Coaching.  At the time I was feeling extremely frustrated with my life, and there were things I wanted to do, but was either too scared or didn’t know where to start.  That’s where Serina Julien came in.  Serina is an accredited life coach who I met through a friend, and she has helped me to narrow down and focus on the things I want to achieve.  She has recently set up Attainment Health & Wellbeing Coaching, and because I love you all so much, I’ve decided not to keep her to myself, but to share her with you.

Tell us something about the concept of life coaching and how it differs to counselling/therapy.

My favourite definition is from a Harvard educationalist named Timothy Gallwey, he described coaching as “the unlocking of a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn, rather than teaching them.” I feel it sums up life coaching as a whole!  A common misconception is that coaching has just come on the scene, when in fact coaching has been gathering recognition and momentum as a powerful development tool for the past 15 years. Coaching is not like counselling as although a client may touch on their past, it’s not necessary to dwell in the past. It is all about focusing on the here and now, and seeing where the client wants to be and how they can get there. It’s all about aiding hem to achieve a goal they have set themselves.  Many of my clients have found it therapeutic, as coaching can relieve tension and enhance positivity.  It is not mentoring, as a mentors are seen experts, who guide and teach by drawing on their own experiences.  Coaching is solely focused on the client and the client’s goals.  A coach should always remain non-judgemental with no other agenda other than their client’s.  I have found coaching to be a really powerful tool, where else can you enter into a relationship where everything is focused around you and your need to improve your life?

What is your background and what fuelled your interest in coaching?

My academic background has always been around the area of Health & Social Care, I have a degree in Social Sciences and worked for HM Prison Service, the Immigration Service and a number of London Boroughs.  My working life to this point was satisfying, but I always felt that I wanted to do more. I have always been the person that people came to, to discuss issues they were facing. I soon realised that for me to be happy and content in my work I wanted to find work which fuelled my passion, where I could use my people skills and at the same time make a difference.  A very good friend of mine spoke about a life coach she had met, and as soon as she mentioned those words ‘life coach’ I had a Light bulb moment.  I had finally found a way that my passion and skills could work together!  I knew this was the career for me and now it had a title.  I soon went on to become an accredited life coach and have now set up Attainment Coaching, a company that specialises in Health & Well Being.

What sort of people have you found to be most in need of coaching?

We are all in need of coaching! 😉 I don’t think there is a particular sort of person that needs coaching.  I have coached people that have been millionaires to people that struggle every day financially.  I have coached people in all walks of life, ages, races, religion and gender.  People come because they need clarity or want to improve some aspect of their lives.  So at some time maybe we all need a little coaching if we have an end goal or dream in sight.

Are there any situations that you feel you wouldn’t be able to help with?
I don’t believe so, as I think my clients have all the resources needed to achieve what it is that they want.  However there are times when as a coach I may be unable to work with a client, this is usually when a client has severe mental health issues or needs a course of therapy, such as a counsellor or a mentor.

I have heard that life coaching is just a case of common sense, and if you want to do something in your life – just do it.  What would you say to that?

First of all, what one person deems as common sense is not what another might.  However, I would say coaching has nothing to do with common sense, it is about the client and what it is they want to achieve.  Many of my clients firstly come to coaching, because they wanted clarity around an issue.  Once they find it, they are then able to see what it is that may be holding them back, and from then on they can focus on a plan to get to their goal/dream.  A coach enables the client to really focus on their own resources & skills needed to attain their goal.  I really do believe that we all have the necessary skills or tools to get us through any given situation, however I have found that many people have limiting beliefs of themselves.  This then becomes a barrier and stops people from achieving what they want.  These barriers can take the shape of that voice in the back of your mind saying you will fail if you do this, you can’t do that, so and so is much better at that, etc.  These thought barriers are limitless.  That’s why a coach is so useful, as they aid their client into focusing on the reality of any given situation and also what is needed to get a job done.  Common sense does not play a part in coaching.

Is it a quick-fix method?

Now this would all depend on the client and what it is they were coming to coaching for.  Some people get clarity and move on to what it is they want in their life in the space of 4 sessions, and others may need 8 sessions or more.  However I would say that I have found that for coaching to really take effect a client will need a series of sessions, so they can make real discoveries, gain clarity and then action the changes needed.   A coach is there to aid them to achieve their dreams or goals, and to do that the coach will use a number of tool and exercises that are completed by the client, and could be used for all other issues they may be facing.  Also, I have found that once a person has achieved one goal they almost always move on to something else.  I guess this is because we are always growing and changing which allows our goals and dreams to change.  So with that in mind, I would say coaching is a ‘life fix’ and not a quick fix.

Are there various styles of coaching and what is yours?
Life Coaches are just as diverse as life itself, there are coaches for everything – relationship, motivation, career, executive coaches –  the list is endless. When I originally started I was a general coach, I would coach on everything.  Then I found that my real passion was coaching in the area of health & wellbeing.  For me these two areas are interlinked in more ways that we know.  A person’s finances, home environment, work environment, friends and family all have an impact on that person’s health, be it what they put into their body or what they fill their minds with.  Sometimes we can be very unaware of this, which allows for us not to progress to where we want to be.  However, once we gain clarity on this, only then can we make the necessary changes to create a healthy lifestyle which will then impact the area of wellbeing. I believe that healthiness and a happy balanced well-being life allows for a person to take on any and everything their heart desires.  Due to my passion and experience in this area I have now tailored my business and my title to that of a health and wellbeing coach.

What sort of person would you have to be to become a coach, and what is the best way to go about it?

We all have different skills, so I would say anyone with a passion to aid people to build their dreams could be a coach.  To be a great coach you need to have a number of key skills; be non-judgemental, patient, professional, a good listener and a great communicator. There is no need to have any form of expertise, as coaching is always about the client you are with, though any expertise in any area you are working in can give you more knowledge and understanding around what your client is dealing with.

There are many schools that train people to become coaches, some are more reputable than others. You can get courses that run for a day, a weekend or up to 6 months.  The courses range in price so anyone choosing to gain any type of accreditation in coaching should do their research beforehand.

Is it wrong to assume that, as a coach, you personally have all the tools, so you’ll always ‘attain’ what you want in life?

I would say very wrong, because every day as human beings we learn and we grow.  Each day I learn something new about myself or I learn to deal with a situation in a different way, therefore my tool kit is forever changing.  Like everyone else I know where I want to be and where I want my business to be, but sometimes our life plan is slightly different.  I, along with every other person in this world, am faced with obstacles, but I guess I try not to focus on the obstacles but on the solutions.  It’s these solutions that able me to ‘attain’ my dreams.

In what way do you see Attainment Expanding?

Attainment Health & Wellbeing Coaching is just the start for me.  I really want to bring my area of coaching to all areas of life. Everything we do or not do has some impact on our health & well-being, however when a person is aware of what it is they want (or don’t want) they are then faced with choices.  I want to ensure my clients are aware of this.  I want to get health & well-being coaching into schools, into the unemployment services, into the NHS, into the human resources department, I want my clients to ‘attain’ the life they want!

If you are interested in ‘attaining’ the life you want, please feel free to contact Serina via the following:

http://www.attainment-coaching.co.uk (to go live by mid-December)

Twitter: @Attainment2

Tel: 07791953045 / 020 7143 8346

The Book That Changed My Life: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Bangs and a Bun (or Muireann Carey-Campbell to her loved ones) is a London-based blogger extraordinare, public speaker, brand consultant, successful marathon-runner, Wendi B Writes’ blog idol and all-round cool chick who has built up an impressive following through hard work and her hilarious Twitter feed.

How did you come across the book?

My brother had read it and told me about it, so I read it on his recommendation, when I was about 17.

Give us a brief synopsis.

Basically it’s about a high-powered businessman called Patrick Bateman.  Bateman also happens to be a serial killer, whose victims are almost exclusively women, and the way in which he kills them is particularly horrific and told in rather graphic detail.  It’s written in the first person too, which makes it all the more chilling.  You really feel as though you’re inside this guy’s head.

How did it affect you or change your life?

It’s the first book I read that actually had a real physical and emotional effect on me.  I remember having to stop reading a couple times for fear I would throw up (I’m not making this sound particularly great I know!).  When I wasn’t reading the book, I was constantly thinking about it.  It has stuck with me for years, and I’ve re-read it a couple of times.  As I’d always wanted to be a writer, I studied that book and the way it made me feel, because no other book had had that effect on me.  Bret Easton Ellis created such an epic character and told the story in such a hauntingly brilliant way, I just wish I could write half as well as him.

Describe the book in five words.

Chilling, horrifying, funny (believe it or not!), stylish, clever.

Have you recommended it to others?

All the time! For me it’s one of the classic American novels.  It’s not for everyone. I’m a fan of quite dark literature, and this is that genre at its very best.

Check out Bangs’ blog – www.bangsandabun.com 

The Book That Changed My Life: ‘My 2002/03 Diary’ by Stavros Williams


Stavros Williams is a writer of short stories and poems, currently working on his ‘Eloquently Saying Nothing’ podcast project (http://neo-nerd.com) as well as his debut novel, which he aims to have published by mid-2012.

How did you come across the book?

I found it somewhere while I was cleaning up.

Give us a brief synopsis of what it’s about.

Basically it shows a young man in love, but lost.  It showed a man with low self-esteem.  A man battered daily by verbal, physical and mental abuse in a relationship that he still didn’t want to leave.  It showed a shell of what I am now, emotionally and mentally.  It showed me that ignorance and innocence can be dangerous when placed in the wrong hands.

How did it affect you or change your life?

Affect is a better word than change.  It made me realise how much I had grown since writing it, and how small a person I was even though I was an adult, how I had made so many mistakes, and it made me appreciate where I am now.  I have the worst memory in the history of mankind, and I had forgotten most of the days and incidents in the book.  When I read it I felt sad while re-living and remembering the things I had gone through.  The lows of the recent loss of a brother, the highs of getting a dream job, the high of finding love for the first time, the low of finding love for the first time.  The domestic abuse in all its forms was the most prominent thing that hit me.  I had put a lot of those mini-sagas at the back of my mind, and it was hard to believe I could have let these things happen to me and at that time.  It was gut-wrenching to read the things I had done too.  But it was an extremely empowering experience to go through it all.  I know how far I have come in life, how much I have grown as a man – a real man.  As mad as it might sound, I don’t regret the experiences.  As much as they hurt, I learnt, I grew, and I wouldn’t be the man I am today without going through all that.  So I am saluting myself on documenting probably the toughest time of my life, but also the most liberating.

Describe the book in five words.

Powerful, sad, informative, enlightening, truth.

Have you recommended it to anyone?

No I haven’t, although I guess it wouldn’t kill me if someone read it, I’m not exactly gonna hand it out there.  Saying that though, I do plan on writing a book with sections of it included, so who knows!

The Book That Changed My Life: ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho

Ruki Garuba is an international celebrity stylist and fashion designer, who has worked with stars including Michael Bolton, Kelly Rowland, Keyshia Cole and The Jacksons.

How did you come across the book?

It was on the staff recommendations list at Borders (bookstore), so I bought it with about four other books, and it sat on my shelf  for about a year before I actually got round to reading it – which is very unlike me!

Give us a brief synopsis of what it’s about.

It is a simple story written about a boy who leaves his hometown and career as a sheep herder to find some pyramids with hidden treasure he dreamt about.  Along the way  he meets the love of his life and experiences different life lessons all in search of something he isn’t even sure exists.

How did it affect you or change your life?

The first time I read it I was going through a major personal and professional change, so the messages really touched home.  If you want something bad enough, the universe will conspire to help you achieve it.  It’s about following your dreams without fear.

Describe the book in five words.

Powerful, inspiring, encouraging, life-changing.

Have you recommended it to anyone?

Everyone I know!  It’s my favourite gift to give friends.

Check out Ruki’s work at www.rukigaruba.com

Who Remembers… MN8!

Of course I remember them!  I’m not embarrassed to say – I was an MN8 groupie!  Not the type who would sleep with the band of course, but more the type who would try and be everywhere they are if possible.  I was only about 17 at the time, so I won’t apologise for it dammit!

For those of you who may not remember, MN8 were a UK R&B group who burst on to the scene with their hit I’ve Got A Little Something For You which reached number two in the UK charts in 1995.  KG, G-Man, Dee-Tails and Kule T went on to have a further six Top 30 singles and two albums, and even supported Janet Jackson on her tour.

My favourite member was KG – I seriously fancied him!  What I also liked about them was that they seemed to be easily accessible.  My friend and I were very proactive fans, so we would travel to the BBC studios every time we knew they would be appearing on Top of the Pops, and we managed to hang around long enough for KG to notice us and go and get us guest passes to the National Lottery Show where they were performing.  Our best achievement was when we found out they were recording their second album in London, so one evening we decided to call every single recording studio in the Yellow Pages, until we found them.  It sounds crazy but it worked!  The person who answered the phone at one studio passed us on to to G-Man who invited us to go and chill with them the next day, so we did, a number of times.  Oh to be young again…

Last year I read an online interview with KG on Digital Spy, which stated that he was now married (boo!) living in Sydney, Australia, and working on his own music.  Being my favourite MN8-er and all, it was only right that I kept up with tradition contact him myself for an update and a short walk down memory lane…

KG & Wendi B, circa. 1995/96 at a South London recording studio

What are you doing all the way in Australia??
After MN8 I just wanted to get away so I travelled a bit – NYC, Stockholm, and Tokyo, and I settled on Sydney.  Today I work and live between Sydney and London.

When your deal with the label ended, did you all try and find another deal, or were you fed up of MN8 by then?

The timing of our decision to move on and the end of our contract was purely coincidental. We felt we’d been viewed and had functioned as one entity for so long that we needed to be individuals for a while. There were no immediate plans to find a new home.

I noticed back then that in shows or photo shoots, all the guys would go topless at some point, except you… WHY??

If you notice – in the beginning only G-man would take his shirt off.  It was just his thing, his personality. G would often go shirtless in public long before MN8 – why not? He had abs for days. Me, I always felt that less is more and while I kept in okay shape and did one or two of shirtless shoots, I just didn’t make a habit of it.

How did people you all knew, before the group started, react to your success? Did you have haters?
Yes, haters come with any level of success. Saying that, for most part the people we knew before MN8 were quite supportive when we became successful. What was interesting was how the ‘new friends’ we met at the top fell off when we weren’t as hot – that was very interesting indeed.

L-R: G-Man, KG, Kule-T and Dee-Tails (front)

So you’re working on your solo stuff now, right? What type of sound are you going for?

The music I make today is contemporary – futuristic R&B + dance. I’ve changed a lot as an artist and a vocalist. In MN8 each of us would play a role, sing as instructed and pull back; the focus was to make edgy 90’s pop music. As a solo artist, and an experienced producer/ writer – I make sure my music has a little more swagger and the vocals are a little more dymamic, soulful and in line with my influences today.

Will you be releasing your material for the Aussie market, or will you come back to the UK?
I haven’t really got any plans to release directly in Australia. While some pockets of Australia have a sophisticated R&B ear and following, I come to Oz for the surf, sun, anonymity, space and not much else.

When I think about it MN8 and Damage were the only UK groups of their kind back in the 90s.  Have you been able to keep up with the current UK scene, e.g. have you seen JLS, and what do you think? They’re a bit like the sons of MN8…

Yeah I have kept up with the UK scene. It’s funny – I recall when Backstreet Boys came out, then *NSYNC. Execs and members of the press would tell us they were modelled on us – blue-eyed version of MN8 – with their swagger and ‘I’ve Got…’-esque sound. However, while we’d like to take credit for influencing them, these bands went on to develop their own sounds and inspire others.  So while JLS may smack of MN8 at the moment, they will go on to define themselves in much the same way.  In any case I hope they do really well and make a lot of money.

Are you still in touch with the other guys? What are they up to – also married family men?
Yeah, we keep in touch. I spoke to G-man recently for the first time in a while, and it was good to touch base. G is still making music, managing artists etc. Dee-Tails is acting and into filmmaking. T is still making music and is settled.

In this age of boyband reunions, have MN8 considered it?
Yes –  I’ve been speaking to G-man, Deetails and T and we are nutting something out –  we’ll see what happens…

Is there anything you look back on or think about that now makes you cringe?
Looking back, there are a lot more pluses than minuses. As time passes I feel MN8 was very cool for what it was (or should I say is…)

Anything you’d like to add?
Nothing other than it’s been a pleasure to assist.

Just so you all know, KG and I are now best friends.*

*That’s a lie