As well as being an expat teacher, I also run a side business transforming teachers’ CVs and cover letters to get them their ideal teaching job abroad. In January 2021, I started an internationally recognised ILM Level 7 Coaching and Mentoring course because I want to add career coaching, interview coaching and career transition coaching to my services. I’m really enjoying this course and I love attending the live online workshops every two to three weeks. I am learning so much and I’ve connected with a really great group of like-minded future coaches. However, this week something happened that made me feel that I wanted to quit... 

As part of this week’s workshop, we were put into Zoom rooms into groups of two and three to do a short 15-minute peer coaching session on each other. I did my session with my group and when we returned to the main Zoom workshop, we were asked to give feedback about our experiences- as the coach, the coachee (client) and the observer. A few of my classmates used words like powerful,” insightful and “amazing to describe their sessions and the coach, which is really fantastic and I was really happy for those classmates in question. But I didn’t feel that the session I had given my classmate had been insightful or powerful and as a result, I immediately felt disappointed in myself and started doubting myself and my ability as a coach. Panicked that I was never going to achieve these kind of results within these practice sessions, I mentally started composing an email in my head to the director of the course, explaining that I felt this course wasn’t for me and wondered if I could perhaps get a partial refund on the full course fee I’d already paid. I wanted to quit there and then. I felt like that was the only option/ solution for me.

Later on, when I spoke to another classmate about my reaction to the situation, he asked me some powerful questions that made me realise even though I am a confident and successful person in most areas of my life, I tend to be only when it’s within my comfort zone. I thought back to secondary school and university where I chose subjects that I was good at, rather than studying subjects that I found a little bit challenging. If I wasn’t brilliant at a subject/ lecture or if I didn’t immediately succeed at the start, then I quit it, if I could. This stems from not having a growth mindset, i.e. not accepting that it’s completely normal and expected to feel uncomfortable when I don’t master something straightaway. Instead, my initial reaction to what I perceive as failure is to quit and stop those feelings of discomfort. 

The most shocking part of this is that I would NEVER EVER apply that logic to a friend or client in the same situation! I would ask questions and listen actively as they’d describe their situation/ issue, explore what contributes to this situation/ issue and elicit their options/ solutions. I would never believe that giving up and not confronting the root issue is the solution for a friend or client, yet here I was deciding that that was the only solution available to me! (Side note: How we speak to ourselves is so important and I know I need to reframe how I speak to myself sometimes.)

Upon reflection, the first step in my plan of action is that I have to start coaching myself before I can begin coaching others. This course is perfect because it encourages so much self-reflection, self-exploration and self-coaching (through extensive reading, reflective journals, live online workshops, peer-to-peer coaching sessions, and supervision) in order to be fully qualified. 

I’ve decided that this is a perfect opportunity to apply the coaching techniques I’ve learned to myself and my own situation. I’m going to walk the walk so I can talk the talk!

Two weeks ago I bought 3 books, including “Tuesday Morning Coaching: Eight Simple Truths to Boost Your Career and Your Life” by David Cottrell- click here to check it out on Amazon. This morning when I woke up I decided to make a cup of coffee and go straight out to my balcony with “Tuesday Morning Coaching: Eight Simple Truths to Boost Your Career and Your Life” and start it. I finished it in about an hour and a half but I’m actually rereading it and making note of the wonderful tips and advice that I have learned from this book today. The background to the book is a story of a man called Ryan Harris who is successful but feels burned out and stagnant, so he reaches out to a man called Jeff Walter, who agrees to coach him. It’s full of insightful yet simple philosophies that create success in people’s lives and can result in amazing personal and professional accomplishments. Despite the title, I have discovered a lot more than eight truths- all of them as equally valuable and powerful. 

These are some of my top takeaways from the book that I will implement to address my own situation.

In the book, David Cottrell describes the problem solving process that can be used for virtually any problem: 

  1.  Write down the problem as you perceive it.
  2. Note the impact it has on you or others.
  3. Write down what you want to accomplish- what is my desired end state?
  4. Note your answer to “Why do you think the problem exists?”
  5. List the potential solutions. In a different chapter, Cottrell advises readers to find at least 10 solutions or alternatives and he recommends that we force ourselves to think outside the box. He states that many times we will find that the best solution is the tenth one we wrote down because you really had to think hard to come up with it. 

I highly recommend “Tuesday Morning Coaching: Eight Simple Truths to Boost Your Career and Your Life” because I feel it is a book that you can go back to again and again when you feel that you are procrastinating or “stuck” or that you need some inspirational guidance to reignite your motivation. When I researched the author, I found out that he also has published a number of coaching and mentoring books, including “Monday Morning Mentoring” and “Monday Morning Choices: 12 Powerful Ways to Go from Everyday to Extraordinary“, which I’ve added to my book bucket list! 

So let me know do you have any coaching or mentoring books that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

My name is Sorcha Coyle and I’ve been teaching in the Gulf (Qatar and Dubai) for the past 9 years. I also run Empowering Expat Teachers, whose mission is to empower future and current expat teachers to lead personally, professionally, and financially rewarding lives. If you haven’t already, join the supportive EET FB group here and follow me on IG @sorchacoyle_eet for lots of research, CV, and cover letter tips! Last but not least, I also provide CV and cover letter support to future and current expat teachers with my Teach Abroad Transformation service, which has three different packages (Essential, Extra, and Elite) to suit all needs and budgets. Great to have you with us!