Standing behind the counter of the retail unit I managed, I had just served another happy customer.
I particularly liked interacting with the customers and the staff and was pretty good at sales too. I loved the products, and the location was central to the city I lived in.
What I didn’t like was the obsessive focus on all kinds of KPIs and the lack of people management from HQ. Every time we beat a target, the next target would be higher. And the odd time we didn’t reach the target, the Spanish Inquisition would start to find the reason. Well, I say the reason, I meant the culprit(s). Blame had to be apportioned.
Suddenly, I got blurred vision. Black dots in front of my eyes. I also got stabbed in the chest. Repeatedly. At least, that’s what it felt like. I felt dizzy.
I excused myself to the staff member on duty and walked out. I don’t know why, but I did and started walking. I ended up walking the short 7 minutes it takes to get to my GP’s office. The room was cleared and I was taken in immediately.
30 minutes later I was diagnosed with a severe stress attack and was ordered to stay at home for a week. To ensure I complied I was asked for the phone number of HQ. They were informed of the GP’s decision.
The day after I got the call from the head of training of the company. He was checking in with me. I told him what happened and opened up about the likes and dislikes I had in my job as a Store Manager.
He listened and asked several excellent questions that made me feel understood and listened to. As I had worked in Corporate Management before, I asked where he learned those skills. He said he got them from having studied Coaching. I had no idea what he meant. This was early 2006 and I had only heard of coaching in a sports context. He said he would send me a book if that was OK with me.
At the end of my enforced week off, I had finished it. ‘The Seven Habits OF Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey.
Some things in it made sense to me, some of them I dismissed mockingly, and some I felt curious about. So I Googled Coaching. I did some research and started asking questions of my ex-colleagues in the corporate world. I was directed to the Irish Lifecoach Institute.
I applied to do their full Diploma course in Personal & Business Coaching. I got interviewed and accepted. 1 Full Academic Year. It promised to be busy with weekend classes, book assignments, dissertations, journaling, peer-to-peer coaching, Peer Coaching Groups, pro bono clients, assessments, etc…
The course started in October 2006 on a wet Saturday in the beautiful 4* Castletroy Park Hotel just outside Limerick City. By 5 pm that day. I knew. This was so for me. I felt it everywhere. I cried when I got home. I was ready to become a Coach.
(To be Continued)
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