My Story (so far)

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Get to know me a little more…

If you have clicked through to this page you want some more information about how my life has evolved so far (or you just want some dirt on me!). I am an open book (although I haven’t always been!)  so here is a little information about me from my earliest experiences with people and business and a few lessons that have shaped me along the way….

My Early Years

Early YearsLet’s get past the embarrassing stuff so that we can get on to the interesting stuff!  We were all chubby and cute at some point so here I am at the age of 4 posing as if I were auditioning for the next Victoria Secret catalogue!  But seriously, I strongly believe that our early years have a huge influence on who we become and I was very fortunate to have a great childhood and supportive upbringing.  Born and raised in Wales, UK, I emigrated out to Australia with my parents at the tender age of 8.  Coming from a non-English school to the outback of South Australia was a big culture shock and I have great empathy for those who have to learn English after being raised in a foreign household – English is not an easy language to learn.  I went to 4 different primary schools and two different high schools before we settled in Adelaide. This taught me how to ‘fit in’ very quickly (Adaptability was my middle name!) and while this had many advantages, it did lead to the development some unhelpful traits which I have found hard to change.  Being authentically ‘me’ was difficult when I spent so much time being everything to everyone so that I could just ‘fit in’.  One of the benefits of being an only child was my ability to keep myself occupied and also how to converse with adults since I was around them most of the time!  Both of these abilities have always served me well.

1986 – 1989  The StudentStudent

I am not a genius by any stretch of the imagination and I wasn’t a great student!  After muddling through high school with as little study as possible I managed to get into a Bachelor’s Degree majoring in Psychology.  My sole objective throughout my university years was to finish as quickly as possible and ‘get out into the real world’ so I cut as many corners as would allow me to still complete the degree while still soaking up what I thought was necessary learning.  My university experience cemented a behavioural trait which I carry with me even today “what do I need to know (or do) to get the result I want’ anything else is superfluous (in my opinion!).  This approach still serves me (and my clients) well – after all, why do the unnecessary when it isn’t necessary?

My student years also afforded me to enter the ‘fast food’ business arena to earn some much needed cash and I also gained valuable experience in this type of business.  I went from serving fried chicken at KFC to ice cream at Wendy’s (my favourite food group) and learned two very important lessons: #1 – Make sure your managers and customers are deliriously happy and #2 – don’t take a tray of KFC hotcakes out of the oven without oven gloves!  My first and only work injury!

1990 – 1994 The Bureaucrat

BureaucratWhat does student do when they have a degree and no idea what to do with it? Join a government department…. Yep that was me…. In the late 1980’s the workers compensation industry was booming in South Australia and work was easily available so at the tender age of 19 I jumped into the deep dark waters of the business world dealing with the tragic aspects of work injury and the difficulties of returning people to work. If this wasn’t going to toughen me up nothing would. Angry and hurt people, frustrated business owners, complicated legislation and lots of negotiating set me up with a range of skills I will carry to the end.  With all the challenges, what I did relish was the privilege of entering the very private worlds of the people I worked with and the opportunity to explore a wide variety of businesses most of which were small to medium in size with owners all facing similar issues.

Without realising it, this was my first coaching ‘gig’ with most of my time spent listening, encouraging people to open up to me and supporting them to take the next step.  When I realised how much I enjoyed dealing with business owners I knew I was ready to make the leap from Government to the corporate world.

Oh and during this time I tied the knot to my awesome hubby Dave…

1994 – 2003 The Corporate Climber Corporate Climber

I am not using the ‘corporate climber’ term here in a derogatory way but merely to reflect how things tend to operate in this world.  I have to say that I loved my time in the corporate world – I have definitely outgrown it and it doesn’t suit me now but I learned something every single day and anyone who knows me knows that I like to be continually learning and growing.  Working for Australia’s leading food manufacturing group, I worked my way up through the ranks over the 9 years I was there to become one of only 5 female managers in the top 100 managers within a 5000 employee business.  I can’t even begin to capture what I learned about business, people and most importantly myself during that time.  Things that I will always know and do moving forward and things that I will NEVER do again!  One of the highlights for me was being recognised by my colleagues for outstanding performance in driving and creating the Equal Employment Opportunity program within the business. The key lesson for me from this experience was to focus on that which I was most passionate about and to work with relentless determination to achieve what I wanted with no expectation other than to do the best I could with what I had.  The results were beyond my expectations.

With all the experiences I had in the various roles across Safety, Human Resources and Organisational Development two things became very clear to me, firstly, people need to have someone to trust and confide in and secondly, people trusted me. From the shop floor to the managing director I was privileged to be trusted as a sounding board, advisor, coach and mentor – I just didn’t see it at the time.  I do wish I had appreciated this more.

As with some good things – this ‘good thing’ came to a dramatic end thanks to a hostile takeover and I was retrenched (along with many of my colleagues) with a little bit of cash and a whole lot of pain and I learned that no amount of money can take away pain and loss.

2003 – 2007 The Consultant

ConsultantAfter a period of reflection – or perhaps a massive identity crisis, I set out to work out what the heck I was going to do with my life now that I was no longer a ‘successful’ career woman in my own eyes.  It would be inappropriate for me not to stop here and do a little self-coaching.  I have to say that this was a really difficult time for me, being ‘made redundant’ was a huge shock to me and a severe blow to my ego.  As a Human Resources professional I knew that it was just business and not personal (I have used that line on people I was making redundant!) but it IS PERSONAL, IT WAS PERSONAL because it was happening to ME!  I was angry and sad and scared all rolled into one but I couldn’t cry, get angry or tell anyone about it and quite frankly it sucked!  If you have experienced this I hope you can say ‘YES! ME TOO! – I get it – it’s tough!’

I ‘told’ myself that if I got straight back into work everything would be ok – I found the perfect job training people in leadership – I lasted 6 weeks and resigned because I wasn’t OK.  I ‘told’ myself I just needed a three month break and everything would be fine – so I took a break and it wasn’t fine.  So I did something that I was sure would work – I took a short term consulting contract overseas working for an old colleague (in other words I ran away!)  I thought getting away from home and Australia was sure to work because I wouldn’t be confronted by what had happened every day.

I spent 2 months in an oil rig camp on the Caspian Sea in Kazakhstan (that was before the days of Borat by the way) so no-one knew where Kazakhstan was and I went anyway with my husband’s blessing to distract myself and see if it would help.  I spent 58 hours travelling to the middle of no-where by plane only to be taken by the arm through airport security by a smiling well-dressed man who didn’t speak English but was holding a photo of me in his pocket.  He paid the airport security guards, grabbed my suitcase, opened a mini-van door and ushered me inside. Not expecting any of this I did wonder whether I had just been sold to the Kazakh underworld and whether I would ever see the free world again.  My only saving grace was that he kept nodding and smiling so I was hopeful he was at least going to treat me well.  Seriously, have you ever been in a situation where you thought you were doing something amazing for yourself and then you realise how potentially dangerous and stupid it might end up being?

After a few minutes of driving he deposited me at the gate of a train terminal, put me on a cattle train and then a filthy bus to a ‘compound’ that was surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by 8 foot tall and 5 foot wide Russian guards with guns – I have never been so scared in my entire life.  I got to my barrack, closed the door and cried like I had never cried in my life – it was the best thing I could have done.

My time in Kazakhstan was ridiculous and amazing all at the same time – I went from a 5 star corporate life travelling every week and being treated like a princess to a no-star lifestyle and drinking out of cups that had cockroaches breeding in them… I came back to reality with a great big thud – and boy did I need it!  I turns out that my ‘captor’ was named Alex (pictured above) and he was an ex-KGB agent hired to protect me during my stay in Atyrau and we became great friends over the following 2 months – neither of us speaking the others language but we developed our own sign language and did lots of smiling and head nodding! To this day, this is still the best ‘work’ experience of my life simply because I gained so much from it personally. The people I worked with were from all over the globe and embraced me with open armsI soon learned that the people you are with can make any situation heaven or hell! So chose your ‘people’ wisely!

On returning to home I moved into consulting and then took a position as an HR Director with Adelaide’s leading law firm which was a great experience professionally and personally.  I left to have a family and sadly, we lost our first baby at 18 weeks which you can read more about on my publications page but happily we had our son, Evan,  in early 2007 and needless to say, my life has been very different ever since (in a wonderful way!).

2007 – Infinity and Beyond  – The ‘Mum-preneur’Mumpreneur

The next part of my story starts while I am sitting in the car and staring at my son in his baby seat through the rear view mirror.  I was still doing some consulting at this point but knew that I needed to make a step-change if we were going to have the financial security to set up our family for the future and enable me to be at home more with Evan. The problem was, I didn’t know what to do so I set about finding a ‘wealth creation’ guru to teach me what I needed to know.  There were plenty around at that time and most of them had little substance – the problem was, I didn’t work this out until after they had received a lot of our money!  As with all of my experiences, this was jam-packed with learning for me on a personal level.

I was someone who always tried to do too much at once – am I the only person in the world who does this or am I in good company?  Instead of trying share trading or internet marketing or investing or buying a business I figured I would get better results if I did them all at the same time – what the heck was I thinking – and I guess the point was I wasn’t thinking at all.  I spent hours learning about shares, trading options, FOREX trading, affiliate marketing, the internet traffic trading, buying and selling websites, property investment and didn’t do any of them well – in fact it was a disaster and after finally having the courage to invest heavily in the US market – the stock market crashed in September 2008 and took a chunk of our money with it.  I was devastated and disillusioned.

It was an expensive lesson but one that has led me to become very clear about what I will and won’t do – you see, I didn’t actually like doing any of what I was trying, nor was I particularly good at it (obviously!) and I was only doing it for the money – and that is never a good enough reason for me, in fact any time  I  do anything ‘for the money’ it ends up biting me in the ‘you know where’ – EVERY TIME without fail Another lesson from this experience was around knowing myself and my habits and matching my opportunities with my strengths not my weaknesses. As an example, the share trading was done on the US market which didn’t open until 11pm our time and I am NOT an evening person.  What this meant was that after being up from 5:30am each morning being ‘mum’ and tending to my other work I would then stay up until midnight live trading and fall into bed at around 1pm. After doing this for 3 months I was completely exhausted.  Had I considered whether this type of trading was going to fit with my lifestyle and my life habits before I commenced I wouldn’t have even tried it in the first place!

Fortunately all of this struggle led me to realise what I not only love but am very good at – coaching, and in 2009 I decided to invest my time and energy into cementing my experience with a coaching qualification and start my own coaching business. You can read more about my coaching approach here.

2009 – 2050 – The Professional Coach and Writer

coachThe last 8 years have been filled with great experiences for me, I have a growing coaching business, I have been a Director for an Entrepreneurial Education Program requiring me to present to and teach 100 + people, and supported dozens of people to achieve result in their businesses and personal lives.  I work with individuals and businesses as an in-house coach and providing strategic direction to management and I choose my own hours to fit with my preferred lifestyle.

I have a passion for writing and I have written two books, the first Beyond Pregnancy Loss: From Heartbreak to Healing is a book that takes you on a coaching journey through the experience of pregnancy loss and supports your healing.  This book was an opportunity for me to explore my own tragic loss and write a resource that may help others with their own.  The book is available through all digital book stores and online.

My second book is based around my passion for manifesting.  Intend, Align, Manifest: Creating Your Ideal Life in 10 Easy to Follow Steps shows you how to identify what you want and how to get it.  The accompanying workbook is a valuable resource for those who are struggling to know what they want and the book is available through Kindle.

My drive for excellence has led me to focus on my continued growth and recognition as a coach.  I am accredited with the Australia and New Zealand Coaching Institute and recently achieved the internationally recognised ‘Professional Coach’ Accreditation with the Association for Coaching in the UK.

In 2016 I will also complete my certification as a ‘Daring Way’ Facilitator with Dr Brené Brown who’s work has made a profound difference in many lives including mine and those of my clients.

I love being a mum and I am about to celebrate 25 years of marriage which is a pretty big achievement these days.

I am still learning, still growing, still making mistakes and happy to share them with my clients! I am a long way from perfect and don’t plan to be any time soon.

Thanks for reading all the way to the end!  As you can see, I have experienced a lot – not all fun but all incredibly worthwhile.  My sincere hope is that my story can inspire you to take stock of your life story and allow it to shape you for the better in the same way that mine has for me.

If you feel that I am the right person to support you throughout your life please get in touch.  I would love to hear from you and see whether working together is the right thing for us both.

Oh and don’t forget to download my book by leaving your email in the box below – my gift to you.

Take care

Helen

Copyright @2016