We believe that being a life coach is really similar to being a superhero.
Each life coach is unique, like a superhero. They all dedicate their whole life helping people. Each with their own personal origin story and a special “superpower” they use to help others.
Most often, their superpower is first their greatest obstacle, and once they go through their own personal metamorphosis, they develop a skills to help others do the same. They uncover a truth that was within them all along. They transmute their flaws into their greatest strength.
Whatever it is, it’s a transformational process extremely similar like that of a Superhero.
And just like with the Avengers, we went on a mission to find all the unique life coaches with huge potential from all around the world and bring them together as the Earth’s Mightiest Supercoaches.
Deidrè Akaloo is one of the coaches we found and we did a little interview with her. She impressed us with her expertise. Here is what she said.
Name: Deidrè Akaloo
Pillar: The Mind
Who is this coach for: For executives, teams but also individuals that want to get more clarity in their life and make a plan that leads them forward.
How they can help: By being present with each individual, using various tools like personality profiling, action plan document, journaling and mind mapping.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these Pandemic times?
Thank you. We are doing well, considering the entire world was thrown off axis and we are slowly returning to normal life again.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your clients? Did it affect you at all?
Much of my professional world was already virtual, so not much changed with my client in terms of accessing or connecting with me for their sessions.
However, with that being said, the emotional impact was significant.
Many of my clients were anxious, had to deal with loss and grief in various forms, and had to adjust to different working conditions, bringing a measure of uncertainty.
Our sessions dealt with the virus and the impact it was having on work from various aspects like family demands, loss, navigating technology, respect for time and space and the anxieties caused by the uncertainty on a wider scale.
The biggest concerns were health of the staff, their own safety and keeping their doors open.
We worked through much of the uncertainty and the lack of control that we felt, we drew on resilience techniques, change management techniques and responses to circumstances that were in, or out of, my clients’ immediate control.
I generally have an open mind and a change ready mindset.. but the pandemic threw me off balance.
I did not sleep well, I was worried, consuming negative news exacerbated my anxiety. Admittedly, my own anxieties levels, caused by the Corona virus, were high.
No time to panic!
Being open to changes and understanding that some major adjustments are required, we quickly pulled together as a family to figure out what we needed to do to stay safe, keep healthy, live together in the same space every day, and maintain our sanity.
As a family we had more meals together, we played board games and often had family meetings to remind the kids that the pandemic is real, and we were required to remain indoors and function together as a unit in an enclosed space. Luckily, we are all home bodies and can find ways to entertain ourselves: I studied, learnt new art resin techniques, walked every day, cooked interesting dishes, and maintained my spiritual practices.
Once we had an idea of what we were dealing with, we knew how to manage our behaviors in terms of masking, social conduct and sanitizing. We started feeling more comfortable.
We trusted the scientist to manage an issue that fell squarely into their professional ambit, I felt less anxious, afraid, and overwhelmed.
What are the biggest lessons that you learned in this pandemic?
The major lesson through the pandemic that being with yourself is a great opportunity for reflection, regrouping, and redefining life.
As human beings we are incredibly resilient and if or when we are forced to change, we can and we will.
We are resourceful and can make any situation work out positively.
We must reach within ourselves to cope, change, support and love each other during tough times.
I learnt that there is so much to be grateful for.
Often, we neglect appreciating the people and the aspects of ourselves that show up to support us through the difficult times.
Despite the loss, confusion, sadness, anxiety we still made efforts to stay connected with friends, celebrate birthdays, find ways of to survive and in some cases even thrive, and carved out a life that was different yet fulfilling and sufficient to get us through the pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you started with your coaching career?
I started my career in Human Resources after attaining my B.Social Science degree, with majors in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Industrial Sociology from the University of Cape Town.
My job after graduating focused exclusively on Diversity and Inclusion, just as South Africa became a democratic country.
It was a privilege to be involved in this transformation journey, to support moving an organization from a mindset, steeped in Apartheid, to one that was inclusive and offered equal opportunities for previously disadvantaged employees
People and Change Management have since underpinned my work as an HR practitioner over the last 25 years.
I enjoyed being in HR in a generalist role, gaining exposure to all aspects of human resources. I however found my greater joy in seeing people in jobs that truly satisfied their souls.
Individuals in the right jobs, excelled. They seem to thrive, love the work they do, make the job look easy, and continue to move their careers forward in the direction they plotted.
As a senior manager in corporate organizations, I served as a coach and mentor to many people. Again, the people who excelled already knew where they were going and would rely on me to support their careers from an advice and consult perspective,, they did not need me to manage their careers.
Their success coupled with my coaching sparked the “pull” towards coaching.
I wanted to develop and formalize my capabilities in this space and continued learning through part time studies and in 2010 obtained my formal Business Executive Coaching certification from the Wits Business School.
I kickstarted my coaching practice on a part time basis with family and friends but the final “push” that finally made me realize that coaching was really my calling, and required my full time focus came through my last corporate assignment in Change Management and Organizational development.
At the time my company was restructuring, and those changes would ultimately lead to job losses. I recognized that we had a structured approach to invest and develop people in careers within the company and support their transition into to new roles.. however, failed to do the same for affected, retrenched employees who required this support as a much higher need as they transitioned their entire lives and livelihoods into a world of unexpected uncertainty.
People attach a huge amount of value to their jobs, not only the associated income, but also status, self worth and emotion is attached to work.
It was therefore necessary to develop a framework or coaching program that would support their transition out of the organization, to help them accept, adjust and reconnect with their purpose and lifestyle changes that were triggered through these unplanned circumstances.
The company’s brand reputation and how they treat employees through these termination processes must be recognized and appreciated.
Our company recruitment strategy at the time was that we might want to hire those skills back into the organization in the future, maintaining positive relationships with people holding corporate knowledge as future rehires therefore, parting on amicable terms was important.
Alongside my change role, I coached to placate a group of people who believed they were being “discarded” or treated unfairly.
As we equipped our managers with the tools to consult, we also needed to coach people to the realization that the job market and the company offers opportunities beyond the current job that is becoming obsolete, that being “stuck” means denying the reality, and ultimately delays accessing future opportunities.
Coaching means transition because we are helping people dislodge from a place where they are feeling stuck.
I have and continue to provide coaching to my clients who are in between careers, jobs, into or out of organizations, taking on different responsibilities, into or out of the job market, between high school and college or stuck with making life decisions.
I enjoyed my corporate jobs, and every role was necessary for my career growth and getting to the place that I need to be.
The corporate experience was necessary for me to build empathy and appreciation for the kinds of challenges my clients face in their successful careers every day.
My final resignation conversation with my boss, for whom I have the greatest respect was that: “I need to leave, go out, take the risk and do work that feeds my soul.”
What was your biggest obstacle that you had to overcome in your life that made you who you are today?
The two life events that stand out as awakening moments are: divorce and leaving my corporate job.
Both “relationships” one in marriage and the other in work has made me realize that to be whole and fully functional we must spread our energies across our BODY, MIND, HEART, SOUL.
Seeing life, from a narrow perspective, as only a wife or a working woman consumed so much of who I was. I neglected giving focus to my health, other important relationships, and my soul.
My MIND was consumed by work, and my HEART was consumed by the role of wife.
It was only when both roles started causing me an immense amount of pain and discomfort, that I realized there are other, more interesting aspects of myself being neglected.
These roles are important, but we must guard against being consumed by them.
My biggest obstacle was, blinkered vision, being too focused on an “idea” of a reality that I created and thinking that I was in complete and absolute control in making that “idea” my absolute truth.
Despite my pain, tears, discomfort, and aching heart, reality was not going to change for me, just because I denied it.
Amid this discomfort, I immersed myself into mindset work, self awareness, soul work, understanding pain and working with it, and adjusting my course.
I came to the realization that living in the past or in the future, stuck on an idea is not reality and does not bring progress.
Planning is important, but we cannot spend our lives “there”, reflecting is important, but we cannot spend our lives “there” either.. living in the reality of the present is how we maximize both our plans and reflections and where we make the dream real through our actions.
It was through this pain and then awakening process that I found peace in my true essence and true purpose.
The Coaching Style:
How do you innovate with coaching your clients?
Every client is unique and comes with a unique approach to life, each navigating to their point of awareness and clarity for the answers they seek.
Immersing myself completely into each session invokes innovation, something new, and unexpected is bound to happen that changes me or the client.
Clients seek answers, to get to an answer a question is required. Listening to the client, their objective for the session, issues they present, are unique opportunities for framing questions.
Since I cannot predict what the client wants to address, questions cannot be prepared beforehand, and emerges through dialogue and listening.
The client is given time to think and process their thoughts, and herein lies the magic of coaching.
Once the client has come to a point of identifying what they want to address, we can then focus on solutions and actions aligned to what has emerged through the coaching dialogue, utilizing the resources the client has access to.
Transformation and innovation happen in the “aha” moments, when the client makes their own realization, and come to their own awareness.
What’s unique about your coaching approach?
Coaching works off the premise that the client already has what they need to be whole and successful individuals, they already have the solution to the problem they are battling with, they just haven’t found it yet.
As a coach, we work with the client to access the answers they seek through various methods, tools, and coaching techniques.
Coaching means being fully present and open to what the client brings into the session with absolutely no judgment or pre conceived ideas of what the potential solutions could be.
The client states upfront what they wish to achieve from their sessions, as the client engages with me, they may also rethink and redefine their coaching goal.
Through the process of dialogue and questioning, picking up on language cues, body language cues, various nuances and reflecting on what you as the coach see and hear, and then finding ways of reflecting it back to give the client the clarity they are seeking helps with the thinking and searching process.
Much of what is established in our sessions can only be brought out through absolute trust and feeling safe enough to put out what is going on with my client.
My coaching approach moves the client into exploring options and finding action focused solutions.
The coaching client wants a plan that they can execute and put into play to direct them in their journey to achieving their objectives and their life or career goals.
What benefits do your clients get after working with you?
Coaching clients benefit from the experience by:
1. Getting to a point of clarity that is within their reality sphere, articulating a clear and well-defined objective or vision for their life or their career.
2. A tangible execution plan and a set of actions that give my clients direction to achieve a set of goals.
3. Accountability partnering. Commitment to the goals and actions can sometimes be challenging, when we partner as client to coach in accountability coaching we work together towards execution and exploring the way forward to achieve the goals.
Do you use any specific tools to be efficient with your clients?
Yes, I have several tools that I draw into my coaching approach, I’ve listed them below:
Personality Profiling. In some instances personality profiling may be useful to help clients identify strengths development areas, communication styles, blindspots etc.
Models and conceptual tools. These help to clarify human behaviors and to create context around a particular topic. Some clients enjoy understanding the theory or seeing how it operates inside a model, it then sparks thinking, discussion and rationalizing the change or transition they are striving towards.
Action Plan Document. An actual action plan document, an extremely effective tool, a document the client populates with steps toward achieving the goal they wish to achieve, using SMART goal theory.
Journaling. This is a tool I encourage my clients to use. There are so many non traditional forms of journaling which we discuss and clients then opt into the reflection tool that meets their style.
Mind mapping and Visioning tools. This is a processes that help clients unpack their thinking in a structured manner.
Most important is listening and observing. So many clues are in the language used by the client, and on many occasions echoing and mirroring help bring awareness and clarity.
There are several coaching approaches and methodologies.. because clients are all so unique, I find myself drawing on several depending on where the client is and what they need from the session.
If you had a super megaphone that, when you speak into, the whole world will hear your message, what would you say?
Count your blessings.
Just having the ability to open our eyes, take a breath and start each new day is a blessing.
We need to learn to say “thank you” for all those things we take for granted.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your life?
The greatest lesson that I learned is that there is always enough.
Having a mindset of abundance has made me realize that there are enough resources in this world for everyone to live and be happy.
By this I don’t mean financial resources only, we have time, ideas, skills, and various other resources that we can share to make this world a better place.
We should look at opportunities to invest in making the world better for ourselves and for the next generation.
Pulling people out of poverty or a bad situation, providing education and support systems makes them resourceful and productive members of society.
This not idealism or socialism but people find themselves in bad situations temporarily and if we share the resources we have, we should, with little expectation but to future proof our world and make it a better place.
Your final thoughts?
Coaching has tremendous benefits…… and is enriching for both the client and the coach!
Coaching is fulfilling work for me. I feel privileged when my clients invite me into their life and on their journey.
The most gratifying feeling is when they call months later or even years later to talk about their achievements, and I must remind them that they’ve done the work and put in the efforts in making their success possible, coaching is merely the process they chose.
Where Can You Find Deidrè Akaloo?
If you liked what you read in this interview and you want to learn more about her coaching, please feel free to visit her website at https://www.boxingsmartly.com/.
If you have some burning questions that you want answered you can always shoot. her a message on her LinkedIn Profile. It was an honor having this interview with her.