The very first detail I have noticed was the way she moves, so elegant and feminine. Then, the extraordinary color of her eyes, an angelic light blue, which gave me a sense of special warmth.
‘Yes – I told myself – I have chosen the perfect coach’. This is how I met Sarah (www.sarahstewartcoaching.co.uk). She was intriguing and inspiring, and I wanted to know more about her. Eventually, she accepted to be interviewed by me, I hope you will be inspired as much I am, by her story.
RTC: Who is Sarah?
S: I am different facets, different people in one person. I am still a curly-haired 2 year old who loved her grandparents, I’m a stroppy teenager, I am a hippy at heart, I am the one who worked in a bakery in her early twenties and I am also a corporate professional – she smiles while her blue eyes sparkle and dimples appear on her cheeks – I am somebody who loves holidays and travelling.
I am a coach, I see myself as someone who has been called to serve other people, to help them to be the best version of themselves. This is who I am the most.
RTC: When did you realise that being a coach was your call?
S: I got exposed to coaching in the 2004 when I was working in a company focused on coaching. I have experienced myself what it means to be coached and to feel confident, through coaching to step out from my comfort zone.
Ten years later, I was in a job and I was very unhappy. After being coached I knew was staying for the wrong reasons. I immediately called my boss and I told him I was quitting. When I said the words to him I felt it was the right thing to do. To me it was a huge leap of faith as I had to trust my heart rather than my head,which is not my natural style. I am so glad I did it.
RTC: The comfort zone is a psychological condition where people feel at ease and in control. To those who are frightened to take a leap of faith, would you say it was a good choice?
S: It is, if you feel immediately good and you see all the things that used to tied you down suddenly fall away you know it was right. After deciding to leave my job I started a coaching course and I was feeling so relieved, so happy and I knew it was where I was meant to be.
RTC: What do you think about those people who have never been coached but they would like to try?
S: I think being coached is invaluable, we all have families, friends and colleagues willing to give advice and telling us what to do – and there’s nothing worse than that telling someone what to do! The role of a coach is to hold the mirror up and ask the questions, really listen and to not tell. Asking “What is stopping you from doing this change in your life?” can help people to find their answer.
When you a have a coach you can talk freely in a safe environment where you are not judged. I believe everyone should have access to coaching for whatever issues they may have in the various parts of their lives. It can be transformative in the long run. My coaching is very much about people taking back control on their life, it’s empowering as many people don’t always realise that most of their fears are in their heads and when they do, it allows them to make decisions and move forward.
RTC: I am sure many readers can identify themselves with you working in a bakery. London is full of youngsters working in cafes and restaurants, hoping for a different occupation. How did you manage to change your career – from a bakery to corporate?
S: I worked in kitchen, I waitressed, I worked in a bakery, I had no plan except make money. I realised I wanted to go to university for my own development. Step by step, I started with evening classes until I went to university to study art. When I graduated I started office jobs before deciding on a career in HR, that led me to coaching today. If you want, you can change your life for real, starting one step at a time. Life is not a straight path, believe me!
I cannot stop thinking how motivating this woman is. I wonder who her biggest inspiration was.
S: When I was in Laos I ended up staying in a home run by a Dutch woman and her H’mong husband who work with the local H’Mong community, providing work experience /employment for them, through running a home-stay and a restaurant (www.daauwvillagelaos.com). This incredible woman, with her husband had a vision, they wanted to transform the lives of this community, and their children and year on year they are slowly making that happen. I am blown away by her passion and drive. Another big inspiration to me is a Hindu guy I met in India who rescued and adopted some abandoned kids, one Christian and one Muslim, both girls, with the aim of giving them a future. I admire him because he’s just a person like you or me. Those are the people that I look up to, thinking how humbling it is to see normal people doing extraordinary things.
Talking to Sarah is such a pleasure and I would like to stay longer and chat, but it is time for me to conclude with my typical closing question
RTC: What would you tell to your 20 year old self?
S: At 20 I struggled because I wanted to be perfect, so I would tell myself: “Sarah ease up and to don’t be so hard on yourself, because everything is going to be ok!”
I can’t resist and I bend the rules. I ask her one last question
RTC: Let’s step to the future. What the 70 year old Sarah would tell you now?
S: That is such a good coaching question – it’s probably my professional bias – I hope I will look back and I’ll say: “Oh yeah you did good…it turned out all good!”