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Get Out of Your Way

‘Get out of your way’

How coaching helped me get out of ‘overwhelm’

It might have become a bit of a cliché, but coaches often talk about helping clients to ‘get out of their own way’. However, it was a real phenomenon for me, and it has led me to the passion I have for coaching leaders who are feeling overwhelmed, lonely or isolated in their role. Now, more than ever, it seems many leaders are experiencing these emotions.

I recently retrained as a coach after being a school leader for 17 years, including 2 headships. My leadership journey wasn’t an easy one. I’ve always been attracted to tough challenges. My first headship was in a single-form entry primary school in a deprived inner city area, which had never had a ‘good’ judgement from OFSTED and had been written off by many. I worked hard (too hard now I look back on it!) and built a team who I became really proud of, and who ultimately helped us to bring the school to a level where it was rightly judged to be ‘good’ by OFSTED.

There were many times during my school leadership career where I felt overwhelmed and isolated. At one point, I had so many plates spinning that I didn’t know where to turn first. I spent my time flitting from one thing to another, without seeming to be getting anywhere. Then came my first real coaching experience. I had received some excellent mentoring as a new head, but had never had ‘pure’ coaching. The coaching was paid for by my Trust, for which I am ever grateful. My coach was not an education specialist, but had a background in the business world, which puzzled me at first. I wondered how someone who was not involved in the education sector could help me. However, the coaching, conducted over 7 sessions, was transformational for me. Through his careful questioning and perceptive listening, he gave me the opportunity to step outside of my situation, and look back in and see what was really going on. It helped me to:

· see what I was missing

· see where I was going wrong

· see that I was getting in my own way

The experience of coaching changed my mindset as a leader, and led me to adopt more effective leadership behaviours. It helped me to recognise all the untapped resources that I had missed and how I could get much more value from my team.

In a state of overwhelm, I find this famous quote from Victor Frankl helpful, from his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’:

‘Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.’

Coaching gave me a perspective shift and helped me to see that I had choices.

Ultimately, my transformational experience of coaching has led me to become a coach myself, so that I can ‘pay it forwards’ and provide a safe space for other leaders to gain clarity and insight, and ‘get out of their own way’.

If you feel you would benefit from coaching at this point in time, then please get in touch. You can find out more about what I offer at my website or you can book yourself a complimentary consultation chat into my calendar at

The amazing coach I was referring to here was Anthony Nellis of Questline Coaching!

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