The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of my career journey

8 March 2019

A little about me (Sheena Murphy) and my new blog

Thanks for stopping by, I'm Sheena Murphy a Kilkenny based coach. I've been working as a Career and Executive coach since 2011. My first blog post is to show readers that my journey into career coaching was a road with many twists and turns, and lots of highs and lows. I've made some career mistakes that didn't fit or sit well with me. There was a catalyst that propelled me into me becoming a Career Coach. As with many life events and in 2010 I re-evaluated my career and my values. After a couple of career upsets during my career, one was redundancy due to a company relocating their offices (alas there was no way of remotely working at the time for the company). I then set up a business during the banking collapse when my target clients were banks and financial services. Hindsight is great! We learn from our mistakes and in this case, I didn't pivot the business into another industry quickly enough. I took the decision after 12 months to dissolve the company rather than getting further into debt.

To re-cap

  1. Redundancy
  2. A failed business
  3. What next and where to start?

Evaluating Sheena Murphy

How did I launch a new career. I started with a blank page. A Career reflection of sorts and I looked at my:

  • Strengths
  • Values
  • Skills
  • Vision of the future
  • What I enjoyed and loved doing
  • What I disliked and avoided

I also reviewed and reflected on

  • The catalyst for changing career- this was going to hurt
  • What I could learn and use from wrong career choices I had made

Here comes the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

At my core, I'm a helper, which can have its own disadvantages. I knew I loved helping and coaching people to succeed. During my early career, when I worked for Oriflame and Virgin Cosmetics I had the experience of training people on running self-employed businesses. Helping people drive sales and coaching others, I thrived on seeing others succeeding and this is where my motivation to help others comes from. When I look back, I was career coaching without knowing it.

The Bad

One particular situation in my career had a hugely negative impact on my life and my self-confidence. This is the first time I've shared any of this publicly. This became the catalyst for me changing careers. During the first few months with the company I became a shell of the person I used to know and I didn't like what I had become. Everyone I worked with was "let go" within a few months when things began to take a turn for the worst. There were screaming matches and backbiting and it was impossible to avoid the toxic atmosphere.

One particular day a few of us were chatting before work over a cup of tea- the manager walked in and roared abuse at all the staff and then took it upon themselves to physically turn our desks away from each other and made us face the wall. We were told we were not to speak to each other. This is one small example, there were many more. The negativity and culture in the building took its toll on all of us and you really could cut the atmosphere with a knife. We felt like school children and were impacted by the power games. . There was no motivation and no support from HQ who were unaware of the seriousness of the situation. To explain the situation to any one outside the building we sounded like were were crazy. Personally, I was crippled with anxiety during this time, things escalated and I wasn't productive. It was debilitating and this was completely new to me. I couldn't face clients and I couldn't communicate effectively as my self-confidence had hit rock bottom. I can't go into more to protect the identities. I will add there is no person left in the company that was directly involved in the situation and the parent company were unaware of the "on the ground" facts.

The Ugly

After using the last of my strength to stand up for one colleague, I knew the "writing was on the wall for me". I was "let go" or "fired" and truth be told a weight lifted from me, I had crumbled. I went through the emotional roller-coaster, it took me years to deal with the awfulness of the situation and the internal monsters of why I had put up with the situation. I questioned everything I believed in, human nature, for me had been knocked to the core. I had let myself down in my reactions to this situation and the people involved, it was completely out of character. My mental-well being had been pushed to the precipice and I now found myself out of work having re-located for the job in question. To top it all off, I'm now on social welfare. I'm trying to make ends meet, facing debt and struggling. I didn't know where to start but I did know I wanted to to stop behaviours of others hurting people. If I could hold a mirror to the person in questions to demonstrate the impact they had on me and my colleagues. That wasn't going to happen in my situation with the individual but I knew there was a seed of a business. I wanted to improve how we treat people with respect and humility in the workplace and help develop, build and sustain peoples self-confidence and self-esteem. (idealistic I know)

Journey into Career Coaching and The Action

Suffice to say I was lonely even while surrounded by friends. I felt down and worthless as to how my career had taken a downward spiral. To this day, I am still working on my communication skills as this period of my life pushed me from someone who had a voice and stood up for myself and others, to someone who lost their voice and couldn't communicate. I disengaged from friends and socialising during that period, I retreated into myself. Thankfully, one thing that helped was, I was comfortable in my own company. There is also a downside with your own company when in a bad place. The niggling of self-doubt, lack of confidence and trying to stay positive as a front to others. These were all taking their toll on me and my mental health. I didn't want to burden people with my problems- I didn't share. During this period I worked hard on self-analysis and self-development. Fast forward to today, I have now gained my voice back from the crowd. Over the past number of years, I've built my confidence in my own opinion and my assertiveness. I will admit, there are still times when there is self-doubt- show me an entrepreneur who doesn't have dark or ponderous days. My way to deal with it is to reframe my mindset, I succeed when I focus and have the awareness of the dark side. I've also taken up photgraphy during the past year, I love ornithology so usually I'm photographing birds and bird spotting. Nature has always grounded me as it is where I relax and clear my head. People who know me will probably be a bit surprised to read about this period of my life (or perhaps not as I disappeared). We need clarity for things we can control, be grateful for what we have and be willing to take leap of faith even when we fear it.

During my research into the new me, serendipity struck and I came across a Diploma in Career Coaching course with DIT. The serendipitous moment I had was when I looked at the modules. The modules would help me personally develop and lead to potentially forging a career in the area. I signed up for the course and throughout that year made some valuable friendships. I entered a year of self-discovery where I learned a lot about myself, my values and interests and it began my career coaching practice. As part of the diploma we had to work with clients to hone our coaching and career planning skills. My first client (unpaid of course) came to me with their current CV - 18 pages of it, as part of the CV coaching and development session. This definitely tested my coaching skills. Their background was in contract work. Their CV was a documented history of every contract they had worked on rather than showcasing their expertise, skills and achievements. With hard work and many sessions we crafted a two-page CV that highlighted this person's unique skills, experiences and passion.

Following the Diploma I worked as an Associate Coach for five years doing individual coaching, corporate outplacement and career planning workshops in the corporate market. This was at the height of the recession, and funnily enough those banking clients that I didn't have luck with years earlier were the clients I worked with the majority of the time from 2011 to 2016. I delivered one to one coaching and workshops to every level of an organisation. From Career Planning, CV development, Interview skills and techniques we helped people transition from redundancy to new careers.

I gain a great sense of self-worth from seeing the light bulb moments with clients. When someone is held back by their own fears or even what other people might say it strikes a chord with me, I have gone through every emotion. I do my utmost to show the client alternative versions of themselves and their beliefs. There is still a lot of "keeping up with the Joneses" in society. It puts enormous pressure on people. I see this daily when I'm coaching clients and stress can be debilitating if not managed and dealt with effectively.

Success means different things to different people. My role as a coach is to uncover what success means to the individual that is in front of me and help them take action to achieve their plan. - Sheena Murphy 2019

Throughout my Career Coaching journey I have met incredibly supportive people. I'm working with one such incredible woman Geraldine Bracken (a positive force like no one I've come across). We clicked when we met while working as Associate Coaches. Our beliefs and values were aligned and we wanted to make a real impact on those we were coaching and bring something unique to the Irish marketplace in diagnostics and assessments. We set up a business - Elanova in 2015, more about that in a future post.

Coaching is all about timing, I have people who ring me on behalf of their son, daughter, husband, wife or partner. My first response is get them to give me a call for a chat, to determine if coaching is right for them. The timing for coaching needs to come from the person rather than other people.

I'm a pragmatist, whether it is

  • Helping people craft a CV (I help write content but the CV ownership and voice of the document lies with the owner)
  • Brainstorming interview questions and answers related to the role (we all need help with interviews, it's not like we interview for jobs every day) a coach helps you gain confidence in your strengths and abilities)
  • Developing your competency based interview answers (until the framework for interviews change, we will all need to prepare for these interviews)
  • As an Interview coach I help you create a summary statement and help you with the standard and competency based interview questions.
  • Career change and pivots - ( it might be creating a side business, changing completely or evaluating the company you are with)
  • I aim to get the best out of people by instilling confidence

I hope you have found something that interests you on my journey into career coaching. Thanks for reading and do stop by again (if you found it useful or interesting- go on hit the share button). Please take a look around the brand new website and for those that are interested you can now purchase coaching sessions through our secure site.