Pay it forward...
Updated: Sep 21
Over the last two years, I have benefitted enormously from the generosity of people's time, honesty, openness, empathy and advice - often from people that I barely knew.
Those conversations were not always easy for either of us, but they were always worth having and I find myself in a position now where I can begin to pay forward some of that which I have received.
A bit of backstory first:
Between 2003 and 2019 I was a high performing sales person then Sales Manager then one of the companies' most successful Sales Directors.
Everything was going really well and I was the most resilient person in the room, right up until I wasn't. A fuller telling of my story of breakdown to breakthrough is here: https://www.significantinsightsmedia.com/how-did-you-get-there-james-pickles/
I'm now a trained and qualified Performance Coach whose previous track record includes consistently reaching and exceeding sales targets, account management for growth, growing a successful team, pitching for business, delivering impactful presentations, objection handling, stakeholder management and all the other things that a high performing target driven person needs to succeed.
More recently, I have been helping a wide variety of clients increase and sometimes regain professional confidence, decide which route they should take having arrived at a cross roads, re-negotiate their biggest client contract, discover what's really important to them now, navigate a tricky team management problem, get clarity on where they should be leading their newly pivoted business and more.
Despite their differences, they all had something in common. They had all been trying to fix it by themselves, had been de-prioritising their own needs along the way and needed some time space and empathy to figure it out.
It's not cheating to ask for help.
I have lived experience in what happens if you ignore your own needs and what should be prioritised to maintain that level of high performance sustainably. I have experienced what happened when I lost sight of that and the resulting breakdown.
One of my dear friends listened to my story in spring 2019 and sent me a book in the post the next day. The author was Richard Martin, the book was This Too Will Pass - Anxiety in a professional world. His story helped me start to make sense of my own situation and through reading his words, I began to find some of my own. I'd heartily recommend it: https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Too-Will-Pass-Professional/dp/1911246410
Once I'd found some words of my own, I began to tell more people how I was feeling and what had happened. Lots of people have since received a far more fulsome answer to their question of 'how are you?' than they expected and lots of them ended up telling me very similar stories of their own; often it was the first time they'd they'd ever had a conversation like that.
The name of Geoff McDonald came up repeatedly as I told my story more broadly and to my surprise, he not only accepted my request to connect and have chat for some advice, but he gave very freely of his valuable time and experience. Check him out if you've not come across him: https://geoffmcdonald.co.uk/
There have been dozens of others that have freely given their time and advice - too many to mention in one blog, but I can at least pay forward a little to Richard and Geoff to start with.
I can and do use things that I learned from Richard and Geoff on top of my experiences from before, during and after my breakdown to help others navigate their own challenges. For some, it's about sharing their stories to help search for clarity, for others it's a specific work related challenge.
What everyone that I've helped so far has in common though, is that there are things in their lives that they'd like to be going better and that it's far more difficult to do things by yourself. In professional sport, you rarely see a top performing athlete competing without a support team and a Coach. They don't surround themselves with help because they are failing, but because they want to improve. Why should it be any different for everyone else?
I believe Coaching is and should be for everyone regardless of career stage and that it works best when you seek it before you really need it. Alas, for some, Coaching is out of their financial grasp so I've built my business with Pay It Forward in mind.
For every client that pays full price for one of my coaching packages, I take 10% of that value and keep it aside to subsidise someone that wants some help, but can't afford the full rate. I ask them to pay what they can afford instead and top it up from the fund.
Of course I don't really know what they can and can't afford and I'm certainly not going to ask for any proof. I'm sure there's a risk that someone will try to game the system, but I'm more sure that most people will play fair - it's a risk I'm happy with.
Two of my clients so far have benefitted so greatly from working with me that they've added a voluntary donation to the pot on top of what they've already paid.
For those that are subsidised by these kind donors, all I ask is that they look out for someone in the future to pay forward a kindness of their own. It might be a simple as telling their own story or it could be offering a service.
So if you're ready to have someone give you a hand, know someone else that would like some help or if you'd like to help me Pay It Forward and subsidise someone else, give me a ring...