FREE YOUR MIND
live the life
you dream about
I have always loved working with people in a helping capacity, but as a child I was painfully shy. I grew up in Kenya and my family moved to Britain in the aftermath of a violent attempted military coup. The account of this won me the Penguin Decibel Literary Prize, with 15 other writers. I will not forget the launch evening for that anthology, overlooking the Thames from Penguin's nth floor balcony on the Strand. It felt like the high life. But there is always hard work behind success. Sometimes it is hard graft at the art, and sometimes it is the commitment of change within oneself, that can allow in opportunities. That was a secret I hadn't entirely appreciated.
My academic life started with consistent prizes every year at school, for most subjects. Like I said, I was painfully shy, so my academic abilities strengthened faster. Even in the sixth form, I did integration problems in Pure Maths for fun! They were like puzzles for me - like sudoku and crosswords. I did my BSc in Computing in Business, and completed three software development placements and one in process audting before being selected for the Reuters Technical Graduate scheme. I remember being extremely proud when I heard the news; I had been told by someone I looked up to that I would never get a place, because he hadn't. This was before I had even considered applying! That was a lesson.
So, I spent several rewarding years in Global IT Management. But I felt I should be doing something else too. Having reached the position of Global Head of Projects for Reuters InterTrade Direct, and after working with cross-cultural teams across 30 countries, I decided to follow an instinct to write and do more work in the people arena. What I hadn't seen was that pretty much everywhere is people arena. I simply needed to upskill in those areas. After spending some time travelling, I completed a Masters in Creative Writing (Distinction) under the mentorship of Fay Weldon. As a result of that, I started a novel, Lifewalla, which helped raise funds for victim of a gas disaster. During the writing of that book, life became extremely challenging and I had to confront some difficult decisions. I put my family first. There are some things one can never regret.
As a result, I practiced meditation, starting with a silent retreat for ten days. I also trained in coaching, emotion transformation and stress management. This was as much to help myself as those around me. I realised I was facing challenges that I needed the extra skills for. We are not perfect, all-knowing beings, and that realisation really helped me and those I cared for. When I did my Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology (Masters Level), I focussed my research project on stress management. This became a fascinating area of interest for me as I had seen so much of unmanaged, exhausting stress in highly professional backgrounds from trading floors to hospitals, and even general everyday life. The PgDip conferred MBPsS membership status with the British Psychology Society, which opened up a vast network of professionals. We are always learning from each other, and this gave me a whole new group of people to tap. My eyes are always being opened.
Now, I work as a Coach, Author, and Trainer, also delivering workshops to schoolchildren on recognising stress and managing it. That evolutionary blueprint is important to master as a life skill for all of us. Why not start at school? I also volunteer as a co-mediator for CALM. I am a listener with the Samaritans Helpline and a mentor, trustee and prisons trainer - training adult male prisoners to become confidential, non-judgemental listeners for other prisoners.
When not coaching, I write, travel and am refamiliarising myself with coding. Building my own coaching app would be wonderful. I am currently also commisioned on a private biography for a successful individual, which has been a fascinating and humbling experience. I am workshoping a play with a theatre company and if it is developed further, I will post something here. Being true to myself has come with a huge learning curve, but it is possible.
The secret of getting ahead is
getting started - Sally Berger
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