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ICF Malaysia Coaching Blog

Embrace your imperfections – Reflections of a coachee

Part 2 – Overcoming my inner critique

When I went into coaching, I thought Jeff will provide me with all the solutions I needed. It soon became clear to me that he was not going to spoon feed me. Instead of providing me the fish, he taught me to fish!

Jeff asked challenging questions that got me thinking and had me explore possibilities.

Even as a Conference Director, I struggled with self-confidence. In one of our meetings, the Deputy Director came prepared with the full presentation slides. My inner critique started whispering – no – shouting down at me: “my deputy was not happy with me”, “he was better, more experienced than me – he deserved my position of Conference Director”, “he was close to the Conference Advisors, they would have liked him better if he had been in my role”, “Perhaps I should just resign”.

Amidst all this noise in my head I sat quietly and listened as he took charge of the meeting and handled queries from other members. I felt like a total failure in my role.

I brought this incident to my coach, Jeff. He was practical about it. He asked if I had personally approached my deputy and when I responded in the negative, he encouraged me to have open discussions with him. I guess I had always tried to escape the situation.

Talking to Jeff helped me look at the situation objectively. Was I looking at it from my own perspective, my own story of the world? Was my reaction a result of my inner thoughts and not the actual event itself?

At the end of that session with Jeff I had an “aha” moment. I realized leadership is NOT about handling everything on my own. Leadership is about getting everyone in the team to play to their strength – to let the right person handle the right job for the overall success of the event!

Another situation that impacted me as conference director was the conflict between a member of the conference management team and his team leader which impacted the whole event management.

Jeff coached me on how to handle the situation and taking on from that I got the two of them to communicate with each other. During the open communication between the two of them, it turned out that although the team leader was not happy with the member’s performance, the member continued in a blissful state thinking he was performing well…quite unaware of any shortcomings. That is when I really experienced first-hand how important communication is.

People tended to have different perspectives and different views. With open communication, challenges could be handled effectively.

I used this new-found awareness on the effectiveness of communication not just in my professional capacity but also in my personal capacity. It led me to reflect more when it came to disagreements. It occurred to me that all those times when we disagree, the other party may not be completely wrong- no more than I was.

There are two sides to every coin and it was all a matter of perspective. Today, I am able to discuss things over and yes, I still do argue, but not as much as before!

Then I took another plunge! I did a maiden speech for my conference opening ceremony. It may not be a big deal for many but public speaking was not my strength.

Growing up, I was a timid, awkward and introverted child who hated socialising and stayed away from people. So that inner critique of mine started whispering again.

I sat down with Jeff for some more coaching to overcome my fear and prepare myself for the big day. Jeff asked me questions such as what I thought good public speaking was and then got me to identify the steps I needed to take in order to get there.

He also helped me overcome my fear by getting me to face it. When I finally gave the speech, people came over to congratulate me. They assured me my nervousness did not come through at all. I realized then that preparation is the key to a good speech.

What great coaching I received on leadership, communications and public speaking!

Read Part 3 – Accepting my imperfections

ICF Malaysia Coach Shantamala

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