January 18, 2022

Here’s how to coach yourself to success

Logging back on after the festive season can cause many people to question their work and wonder: Do I really want to spend another year in this job?

For this week’s blog, we spoke to future of work experts and bestselling authors Sarah Ellis and Helen Tupper who were happy to share some useful career advice from Olympians, creative pioneers, campaigners and the people who looked after us during the pandemic – all of whom have contributed to their new book You Coach You.

We hope their thought-provoking and inspiring words will help you get ‘unstuck’ and see the possibilities.

Just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it
“I was given this piece of advice when I was running tech companies and I was really getting to the point of thinking ‘I don’t know how much longer I can do this’ and everybody kept saying ‘But Margaret you’re so good at it’ and that one sentence set me free. If you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else and if you’re good at something but don’t enjoy it, find something else.”
Margaret Heffernan, entrepreneur, CEO, writer and keynote speaker

Collaborate to accelerate
I’m often saying collaborate to accelerate, we don’t have to work alone, and alone can be very isolating, but if you have the right supportive networks that change lives. And ABC – Always Be Curious.”
Kanya King, CBE, founder of Music of Black Origin (MOBO) Awards

Train yourself to trust yourself
“It’s a skill, you have to train yourself to trust yourself. It’s easy to default to someone else in the room or to follow someone else’s lead. It’s something I still work on and have to remind myself of, because with live television there is always a producer in your ear or on the floor, so it can become easy to just go along with things and ignore how you really feel. Not everything has to be instant, so even taking a few seconds to just allow yourself to feel and figure out what your instincts are telling you is worthwhile.”
Ian Wright MBE, former professional footballer and television and radio personality

The perfect job is hard to find: figure out what matters most right now
“I have been successful in my life so far when I have followed my heart and listened to my intuition. On a more practical note, if the perfect job is hard to find, try breaking down what you are looking for into function, industry and location. If you can start by ticking one or two of the boxes, that will move you in the right direction. It might take a couple of career leaps to tick all three.”
Laura Rudoe, founder, Evolve Beauty

You drive you
“Decide what you want from your career. We spend a lot of time at work, so think about what’s really important to you and what drives you. Be honest with yourself. It might be reaching the top job. It could be being in a great team – but at what? Supporting one another, innovating, winning…? Maybe your drive is to provide an excellent service to each and every customer. Being clear about what you want and what particularly drives you, will help you make the right choices and decide where you will and won’t compromise.”
Dr Paula Franklin, chief medical officer, Bupa Group

Just because you haven’t, doesn’t mean you can’t
“There’s a first time for everything. So say yes to new learning opportunities and make sure that five years’ experience is not actually one year but repeated five times. And PS: when the going gets rough, remember you can’t cry and whistle at the same time. So pucker up and blow!”
Stevie Spring, CBE, chairman of the British Council and Mind

Go make some projects
“The career of 2020 and beyond is not a series of jobs with painful unemployment in between, it’s a series of projects. And if you can do a series of projects with one boss for the rest of your life, fine. If you can do projects with never having a boss, fine. But you make projects. The arc of your life can be defined by the scale and impact and quality of your projects, so go make some projects.”
Seth Godwin, author and entrepreneur

Don’t dream big
“Don’t dream big. Not always, anyway. Ambition is great for getting started on the career ladder but it can also give you tunnel vision. Taking time to reflect at every stage of your career is more important. If you just keep climbing, you’ll end up miserable. Successful, probably, rich, maybe, but still miserable.”
Matt Rudd, Sunday Times writer and author

Be ok with beans on toast for dinner again
“Something I see, particularly in women, is starting a business but trying to maintain everything as it was. Having a business, and especially getting one started, takes some serious graft and sacrifice, and you can’t do everything you did before and simply have a business on top. [...] It took being ok with beans on toast for dinner again, my social life took a backseat, some serious conversations were had with my husband about better splitting everything that needed doing at home, and then I needed some serious conversations with myself that it was ok to love my work and the guilt was just a waste of energy that I didn’t have. Most men who start businesses do not have to contend with these things.”
Steph Douglas, CEO and founder, Don’t Buy Her Flowers

Make memories
The most beautiful thing about your career is that it is YOURS. Yours to shape, yours to enjoy and yours to celebrate. And seeing a career as part of your purpose and as a reflection of your essence also makes it yours to protect. So, as much as possible, fill it with happy, kind, varied, vibrant, creative and rewarding activities (and memories).”
Yewande Akinola, MBE, chartered engineer and TV presenter

Have some career advice that you’d like to share with Optimal readers? Let us know by posting a comment below. Sharing what you know not only helps other people to succeed but also helps you learn more. There are no ‘secrets’ to success: we all have ideas and knowledge to give and gain from each other’s experience. The more generous we are, the more good we can all do. 

*Image courtesy of Unsplash

You Coach You: How To Overcome Challenges And Take Control Of Your Career is out now