Welcome to the first inspirational story of my blog!
I am very excited to introduce you to Tina Smith, certified professional coach, who moved from Australia five years ago with her three boys: her husband and her two little (… not so little anymore) sons. She is a parent and relocation coach, who has chosen to support parents because she struggled herself while staying at home with her boys, having given up her career.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your personal story
Where do I start? I shall start from the very beginning …
I am Australian, and I grew up on a farm for the first eighteen years of my life before going to university. My mum was a farmer and my dad owned a car dealership.
I am the third of four children. I remember my childhood being very fun and healthy, with animals and rivers and spending a lot of time outside collecting mushrooms and looking after animals. However, it was intense at the same time: life consisted of homework for me and then helping with things around the home and farm.
My first transition happened at the age of eighteen when I went to university in Melbourne. There I got my degree in Science and also met my other half, Vaughan.
I had always been curious to discover the world and, after Vaughan and I had saved up for three years, we decided to head off! I will never forget my dad’s reaction – “Why would you resign from perfectly good jobs to go gallivanting around the world?”
Little did he know how far the ‘gallivanting’ would take us!
Tell us a little bit more about this trip and what influence it had on your life
We travelled for ten months between Asia, Europe and Africa, and that was the most amazing educational experience of my life. It really changed me as a person, particularly when it came to my views on religion.
I hadn’t realised until that point how important religion was for people. I am not religious myself but I am fascinated by it. I want to be open-minded, as I think everyone should be allowed to believe what they want, as long as it doesn’t adversely affect others.
One of the biggest things I learned during those ten months was that there are good and bad people everywhere, and how important it is to take each person as an individual and not to assume. Each person has a story and we don’t know what their story is when we first meet them.
What happened after that?
In 1997, I went back to Australia and joined a programme to teach farming families strategic planning skills, which was life changing for me as I discovered facilitation.
I absolutely loved it! What I loved most about it was that it wasn’t me telling people what to do. My role was guiding them by giving them space and a few structured exercises so that they could come to their own conclusions about the things that they truly wanted for themselves, their families and their businesses.
This was definitely the first taste of what it feels like to help someone by giving them the time and space to tap into their own wisdom.
“And that’s why I love coaching … I want to be in some sort of helping role.”
How did you come to coaching? (the Searching)
In 2000, my innate curiosity (… and my crazy husband!) led me to the UK. We lived in Kent for three years, where I worked for Kent County Council and wrote their first Environmental Strategy.
Following our bigger plan of starting a family, we decided to move back to Australia in 2003 to have our first son. I loved that time spent in Kent, but Australia was for me the place to be a mum because my mum and all my family were there and it just felt natural.
While I loved spending my early years as a mum with my family, at the same time it was hard. I went through phases. I felt down as I was not contributing financially and, after being financially independent for years, it was really frustrating for me professionally because I wasn’t using my skills and I felt I needed to do something.
The first answer to that ‘something’ was teaching. Teaching had the flexibility I had always searched for in a job and it would have allowed me to stay in contact with kids (which I love) and build a relationship with them.
In the meantime, my husband got a job in Brazil and we all moved over there.
“It was a couple of months of very intense stress …”
How did you come to coaching? (the Discovery)
Being in Brazil, it turned out I could not do the Masters of Teaching course I was enrolled onto … I had to admit to myself that teaching was not right for my future direction.
At that point, I discovered coaching.
I read and heard about coaching when I was in the UK and I remember I had this idea in my head of a coach being a person who thought they had life sorted and told you what to do!
But again (and fortunately, I’d say!) my innate curiosity led me to investigate what coaching really was and, in that process, I slowly comprehended that I was on the right path.
“Oh, I remember the relief when I realised so. I remember that feeling … that warm fuzzy feeling … wow!”
I could finally have something for me no matter where my family wanted to move. Something to be myself that I could carry anywhere in the world because I could do it on the phone, by Skype, etc.
And that was huge, because I realised that up till that point, I was waiting. Waiting for us to settle down so I could have a ‘proper job’.
How did you turn coaching into a business?
After living in Brazil for two years, we moved back to Australia and then to the UK again because of my husband’s work. And it was just then that I finished my coaching certification.
That was a huge milestone for me. I felt that it gave me some validity to put myself out there into the world.
I feel like I am a good coach now, but the business side of it is not taught to you in any training course. How to turn my coaching into a business and be self-employed has been my struggle in recent years. I think it is always a work in progress.
I guess I was too naive in thinking that I could start a business from scratch in a reasonable timeframe when I had no network at all when we arrived in the UK.
My first starting point was the primary school that my boys were attending at that time as it was my only connection. I created a group coaching experience combining facilitation with coaching. And that’s how the Revitalise Programme was born!
The Revitalise Programme is an eight-week course for mums who are looking for the next step. As kids grow up and don’t need the same attention they did before, many mums feel they come to a crossroads and start searching for new direction.
I had a group of nine women who applied for it and I was really scared as I had never done anything like that before. I had to expose myself, be vulnerable and step into the arena! I still give credit to Brené Brown (and her Ted Talks, w
“Francesca, it was amazing! Women were outstanding – they were just so ready for this. They were waiting for this – waiting for someone to tell them that they were enough.”
It was such a rewarding experience.
What is your biggest challenge as a businesswoman?
The biggest challenge for me as a business owner and as a coach is that you offer something but there is no guarantee that someone is going to meet you and understand what you offer. It is matching up what people need with what I can provide.
The benefit of coaching is somewhat intangible. You need to almost sugar-coat it to attract people as people don’t know what they are going to get until they’ve experienced it. I know coaching works and can create profound change, but you have to be ready for it and want the change. It can be confronting for some people, so they have to be really brave and open-minded (or desperate, as I was when I was searching for it).
There are so many directions you can choose to go, even about what I call myself. I work with mums and to some extent, it’s a really bad targeted audience because mums are the last people who spend money on themselves. They spend money on their children, family holidays and maybe a little occasional treat like a manicure or massage. The last thing they spend money on is themselves. It takes exceptional and self-aware women to choose to spend money on themselves, to decide this is what they need, to realise that this will nurture their family, and to move them into a space where they are happy with their life.
What’s the secret ingredient of your business?
I remember doing a value exercise years ago that made me realise that my core value is RESPECT … respect for others, for the planet, for myself and for everything really. It’s so important to me that people treat each other respectfully and that we respect our planet.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a coach?
Go for it! Even if you don’t end up being a coach you will learn a lot about yourself on the journey, so it’s never a bad thing. Coaching training for me is very much a journey of self-awareness and in learning the skills of being a coach you actually learn an enormous amount about yourself.
Knowing yourself is challenging, and to give yourself the space and the chance to look deeply into yourself is super scary.
“I love this analogy that someone told me a while ago that if we all put our troubles in the middle of the room then we are going to choose to pick up our own rather than pick up someone else’s troubles because the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.”
Would you say that you have found the job of your dreams?
Yes, absolutely. I learn something new from every client. Every session I come away having learned something different. It’s intriguing, and it’s really gratifying to watch other people overcome their challenges and change their lives for the better.
I love my job!
If you want to find out more about Tina’s coaching, you can connect with her here:
Website Your New Wings
Tina is also the co-founder of Enhanced Relocation. They offer coaching, training and community support to national and international families relocating to the heart of England … but that’s another story!
I would like to say a special THANK YOU to Tina for taking the time and the courage to tell us her story. She is an inspirational woman who is proof that you can change the pattern of your life and choose to live the life you want.
She is a wonderful coach, and I can say it loudly as she has been my personal coach and has helped me to bring clarity to my mind so that I can follow my own dreams.