Senior lecturer, Law, AU
I’d been feeling a bit stuck for a while but not quite sure what to do about it. I’d had some coaching before, on general workplace issues. But I felt I needed someone who understood what I am trying to do as an academic: combining research with teaching in a way that doesn’t short-change one or the other.
Janet is an absolutely perfect fit because she has the professional background and experience as an excellent, world-class researcher and she understands the academic environment and the minutiae of what we do. I’d had a little bit to do with her and I felt like I could completely trust her and she would have my best interests in heart.
The main obstacle that could have prevented me working with Janet was cost. Coaching is a professional service, so inevitably it costs a bit of money. When the opportunity came up, I approached my institution to see if I could use my staff development funding. And I could, so that was really good.
Now that I have experienced Janet’s coaching using my staff development fund, I’m about to do another series with her that I will cover myself, because it is so worthwhile. I think if people can manage to find a way to try it out, they will see the benefits. There’s no question that it’s really good value for money.
For me, the results of coaching have been utterly amazing. It’s like I’ve been dynamiting all these mental and emotional roadblocks, and just charging through. Before I began working with Janet, my main challenge was lack of confidence. That manifested in a tendency of leaving things to the last minute and then feeling a lot of anxiety when I missed a deadline.
The first time this deadline thing came up after we started coaching, it was a just a state of panic and paralysis. So Janet helped me to work out a plan. But then she was also pacing me the whole time. She’d send me encouraging little texts and emails: ‘How are you going? Hang in there!’ And it just made such a huge difference.
Now I have that memory, I don’t need it all the time. I know she is there in spirit. It’s great having other people who love you and support you unconditionally, but often they have no idea what is going on. You can give me a glass of wine at the end of the day, and I really appreciate that, but you are not feeling my pain. Janet is there in your corner the whole time and she really, truly feels your pain! It’s just amazing to know that someone is there on the sidelines cheering you along.
So Janet helped me change my relationship to deadlines. That may sound like a small shift, but it’s been astonishingly liberating and empowering. Also, I am someone who likes to do a lot of things, and actually I was frequently overwhelmed. So it’s been remarkably helpful, because now I think, ‘Yes, I have a lot on, but it’s not overwhelming – it’s not beyond what I can do.’
What I like most about working with Janet is she allows me to say, ‘This is what I need; this is where I’m going.’ One of the reservations I’ve always had about mentoring as distinct from coaching is that I am really resistant to being told to do things the way that has worked for someone else. Some people don’t mind being told what to do, but I am not one of them! Janet starts with you. What is it that you want to achieve, and how do we do that?
Another benefit is that through the coaching you become much more reflective – but not in a beating-yourself-up kind of way. You get a much greater awareness of your own work practices and habits.
And then there is also the ‘feel-good’ factor. Before starting the coaching I was really feeling like I was battling uphill and everybody else was so much more capable. Now I’m feeling really good about myself professionally, and that is just enormously worthwhile. I am just feeling so great, feeling so good and positive.
I think part of that shift is Janet hasn’t said, ‘Look, do you think you should be doing all this?’ She’s really there saying, ‘That’s your choice and let’s see if we can help you get there.’ It’s not that I don’t have bad days. It’s just that now I’ve also got the feelings and memories of when things are good, to be able to remember and tap into that strong good feeling. And that works really well.
I would have no hesitation recommending Janet’s coaching, but I would want to be a bit sneaky about it. I would only recommend Janet’s services to people I would want to see thrive and fulfil themselves. If I didn’t like somebody I wouldn’t recommend Janet. She’s my secret weapon! I will share her with friends and good people, and use her powers for good instead of evil. For the right person I’d probably say, ‘Psst, come into my office, I’ve got something to tell you.’ I wouldn’t discuss it where someone might eavesdrop!
Specifically I’d recommend Janet for writing and research – she writes so well, I would have no problem taking her advice in that area – and also organisation, self-management, professional development. All the stuff you hear academics wrestling with and fretting and worrying about, Janet has the credibility to help. She’s one of us.
Yes, this job is a challenge. But I haven’t felt as good about the challenge in a long time.