I coach professional communicators – those people who have Communications in their job title – and move them from feeling not good enough, overwhelmed and not being able to see the wood for the trees, through to a life where they have clear choices, a plan of action and are confident in their decisions.
These are people who are in new roles and not quite sure how they’ve got there, those heading for burn out and constantly feel unwell or whose confidence has been dented by their work environment. The effects of their lack of confidence, stress and anxiety may not be clear to them but they know they need help.
Having spent over 20 years as a professional communicator myself I speak their language, have felt their pain and am still here and that’s why I want to work with them – to show them what’s possible.
Born British to modern Indian parents has meant for as long as I can remember I’ve either done things because I’ve had to out of a sense of duty, because of culture and out of the expected respect or and this is a big OR I’ve rebelled by being angry and demanding my independence and freedom.
We were a regular family, my mum and aunts always in the kitchen cooking and then shopping. My dad and uncles into cars, vinyl records and electronic gadgetry and all of us watching TV together as one big family.
One of my fondest memories as a child was when my youngest uncle took me the join the local library in the Midlands – to this day I credit him for my love of books (and what feels like my very own home library).
Fast forward to my teens, this is when my parents followed their calling and turned our family home into a Spiritual Meditation Centre, which it still is to this day.
My rebellious years played out in full during that time and I realised that their life wasn’t for me, so I escaped to London to live with my aunt and her family.
London was full of life, adventure, colour, individuality and expression – I loved it and so my working life began. Slowly I found my independence, moved out, shared a house with some girls and found a man and married him (it wasn’t as easy as I’ve made it sound – he wasn’t from our culture).
And then in 1998 my dad died, a sudden heart attack whilst he was on his annual spiritual pilgrimage in India. I was the last person to see him off at the airport and the first person to formally identify his body.
Being a daddy’s girl, his death stopped me in my tracks and I think that was the first time I started looking at my life and assessing what I wanted in it and what I didn’t. I definitely had this overwhelming feeling that life was short and that things needed to change.
I got professional help from a bereavement counsellor. A month after my dad died I became an Internal Communications Manager for the first time. Married at the time, I remember clearly not wanting that life anymore – I felt I was in my marriage because I felt like I had no other choice and felt responsible for taking care of my husband and now I sensed I needed to be responsible for me and me alone.
I felt trapped and I had created this life where I felt trapped – so it was all down to me. It made me look at the choices I had made and why I had made them.
I needed the courage to speak up and speak my truth and have the courage to leave and live alone – up until this point I had never lived alone, totally alone and the thought of sleeping in a home at night terrified me – think I watched too much Crimewatch in my younger years.
I started hatching an escape plan and I knew deep down inside that I would be OK – it was an inner knowing and that was the first time I set some goals for myself and what I wanted. In 2000 I finally left my marriage (two years after hatching my escape plan – fear of the unknown kept shouting louder than my inner knowing).
I’d had a successful Internal Communications career and I’d been freelancing since 2004, working for some of the world’s biggest brands and best communicators. One of my roles took me to Denver, Colorado where I lived for a year. In 2011 I had just come back, feeling like I’d failed and wasn’t good enough. I was broken.
I’d had coaching for the first time in 2004 and watched with curiosity as some of my friends trained to become coaches. I felt it was my time. I wanted some new tools, skills and more self-awareness – I’d had some tough conversations and made some big decisions in my life and now I needed help and I wanted to support others – to help people to make tough, big choices and also build themselves back up as I was.
My biggest challenge has always been to ‘feel good enough’. It’s a childhood pattern which has travelled with me through adulthood – the feeling of being a disappointment to everyone in my life, I can never seem to live up to their expectations of me. I’ve done a lot of work on this, counselling, coaching, courses, workshops and soul-searching.
Now I remind myself I am good enough for ME and that’s what matters the most. It’s taken me a long time to get here, a lot of tears and hurt and ups and downs. I’ve also had to face up to the fact that what I THINK is what causes me the pain – my interpretation of what things mean, what people say.
What lessons did I learn? This is a big question, especially as I feel like I am a work in progress, moving through the ebb and flow of life. What have I mastered? I feel like I have mastered seeing the simplicity in things – ‘a cutting through the crap’ kind of simplicity. I need to make things easy – because if it’s easy it’s do-able. I’m a fan of doing things in ‘baby steps’. In being me and doing it my way – I feel the pain when people feel like they can’t be themselves – because of the confines of ‘corporate work’ and rules.
I feel a burning inside of me to challenge what has become the norm – working long hours for starters. How many times have you had a conversation with your manager at your annual review and they say “you’ve exceeded your objectives, you’ve consistently gone that extra mile, well done” for me the translation of this is “you’ve worked really long hours, put the job before everyone and everything else and got it done”.
I recently worked with a client with a salary of £55k per year, we added up the extra hours they did over the year and worked out, in reality, their salary was £37.5k – if their job was advertised at that salary they would never even apply and yet they are doing it. Why are the extra hours expected as a sign of commitment? My challenge to organisations I work with is ‘it’s ok for employees, managers and leaders to come in, do a good job and leave when their hours are done’. I hear organisations talking about mental health but not doing anything about the workloads that lead to stress and anxiety.
Don’t get me started on having to work 9-5ish in a digital age and with cultures of presentism. And then there’s my NEED to create great managers who care about their people, who have their teams’ back – because when they do, anything is possible for that team.
Questioning is key to how I help others. Making things real, easy and simple in a world that is overloaded. I get them to see what’s possible and to start somewhere because often starting is the beginning of something new and incredible.
Reflection is a big part of the work I do with communicators as awareness is the first step to changing anything if you’re not aware of it how can you change it? We create, we use pens, paper and I encourage each client to physically write down their realisations and feelings – handwriting makes it real in our brains.
Meditation plays a big part in managing our stress levels, so I recommend a few practices depending on where the client is in their experience of meditation. Escaping the routine of life is something I advocate – do the thing that helps them to recharge their batteries, switching off.
The object I’d like to introduce you to is a natural slate heart I found it on a beach in Fiji. Its significance is I found it at the end of a big adventure – I did some travelling by myself in New Zealand – it was a big thing for me to do, it was the first time I was away from my family at Christmas time, it was the furthest I’d travelled and I did it alone!
The slate heart anchors in me all those things that I love – the sea, sandy beaches, adventure, travel, freedom and signals and signs from the universe. This was me, living my values in real life.
If you’ve come to me, you know that something is not right in your life.
Working with me means we start with awareness, find your values and work out what emotions are keeping you where you are and what you want to do to change that.
We explore what motivates you.
Our sessions are not just talking about taking action, they are about taking action. About living your life deliberately, as you mapped it out. If you make commitments, I expect you to follow through – otherwise, nothing changes. You can be as brave as you want because as I will be right there with you.
I want you to know that everything is possible – nothing is off limits unless you set the limits. Don’t live the life that someone else has mapped out for you.
Be you, show up as you-you are enough.
If you’d like to discover more about Anita and how she could help you, get in touch by clicking this link: www.thecommunicatorscoach.com