I’ve always given advice. I can’t recall a time when I haven’t given advice. Now it may not have been the best advice when I was 15 or 16; but I was already in the coaching business 35 years ago, unbeknownst to me. As a little girl growing up in Jamaica, I was always a part of student leadership. I’ve held leadership roles since I was 12 years old. There are lessons that your peers teach you that never leave you. As a teen, you learn that the leadership which is entrusted to you is one you are to value, because if you don’t and you abuse it, it will mean the loss of friendships. Later in life that translates to loss of trust from leadership, your peers and subordinates. So at the tender age of 12, I learned that leadership is something which is earned, not something you can take or appoint yourself to.
In College, I would again join organizations and take on leadership roles. What I first thought of as resume builders became a way of life for me. By the time I graduated with a Master’s degree and took on my first full time role, it was supervising the Registrar’s office at a University where I was managing some 15 team members. I would need to remember all those lessons learned in high school and college in order to be worthy of the title leader. Understanding that my youth did not aid my role in leadership, I endeavored to take any and every leadership course I could. I would then take all those lessons and put them into practice whenever I could. And while developing myself professionally, I was still doling out advice to friends and family. Dr Sue Speaks was in development: I was taking all those lessons learned and creating a brand of coaching unique to me.
Twelve years ago, I’d made an offhanded remark to a friend of mine that my next career would be that of a Life Coach. I had no time frame for when this would occur and no plan for the training I would need to undergo in order to achieve this goal. In the meantime, I completed a doctoral degree, got a promotion and began taking on a variety of leadership roles and tasks. I was promoted to being a Vice President and in so doing, I was given a massive mentorship platform with many people whom I could lead and influence. Again I took all those lessons learned and put them into place for the benefit of the organization; still thinking that some day in the distant future, I would become a coach.
So then one day while at at a vision and manifestation workshop, I like many of the participants contributed to the conversation. At the end of the day, I’m approached by a few women asking me if I was a life coach. That was a seminal lightbulb moment for me. I realized that the day I was waiting for in the future had come and gone. I’d apparently been life and business coaching for years. So that night I began researching, found a few courses and embarked upon the training to become certified. While I understood that I had over 30 years of life experience, the certification would lend credibility to this. It was gratifying that as I went through the program, all the things I was studying were things I already knew. There were, of course, a few gems because there is always something new to learn. Again, I folded those gems into my repertoire.
I often see commercials for people to become life coaches, to learn the ins and outs of the trade in order to build a clientele and launch a 6 figure empire. And this worries me. Because I’d hate for anyone to take on such an important role simply to make money. Coaching is teaching. It is a long process of helping people to get to a place where they can help themselves. There seems to be an approach today that ANYONE can be a successful coach if you only have the right mix of ingredients. There are some personality traits that help and nothing beats experience. I am a much better coach today as I approach my half century mark, than I was as a newly minted 27 year old manager. Dr Sue today has had 23 years more experience. Those years have honed my intuition and skill rounded out with a solid education to create someone who has something of value to say that can help you and/or your business achieve a solid result. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m all about earning money and being paid for helping someone live a better life or enhance their business performance. But choosing to be a coach should be because you FIRST want to help, SECOND have the expertise to help and then THIRD wish to be paid for the value you are adding.
It’s been an interesting 35 year journey to get to Dr Sue Speaks and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.