Graham Lavender, OCULA President, introduces himself.
What is so important that if you don’t have it, your whole life feels off? What’s stopping you from having that important thing in your life? What would the wisest, most compassionate, and courageous part of yourself tell you to do about it?
These types of questions are what drew me to coaching. At the time, I was in my first “real” managerial position as the Director of Sales, Canada for YBP Library Services. I had people who I had hired working for me, counting on me to support them and create an environment in which they could use their skills and be fulfilled and successful in their jobs. That’s some serious responsibility, folks!
I’ve always been interested in leadership, and now I felt I had the opportunity to lead in a different way- as a manager. I became intrigued by the thought of using coaching as a key competency for managing, and so I signed up for a course offered by the Coaches Training Institute. I got so much out of that first course that I signed up for the remaining courses. My professional and personal lives were greatly impacted by what I was learning and the coaching that I was receiving. I began seeing my blind spots and recognizing blind spots in others. I worked to bring awareness to self-limiting beliefs and to move beyond them by creating new sets of beliefs to better serve me. I found out that we always have choices, and that getting away from feeling stuck requires a perspective shift.
This all seemed too good to be true, like it was too magical to apply in real life. And then I realized that that’s exactly what I had to do in the world — bring this magic into people’s lives and into our workplaces. Shifting away from working as a librarian (and yes, when I was working for vendors, I always considered myself a librarian first), was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. I had to face my fear of failure and trust myself completely. I had to lean into my skills as a coach and my business acumen so that I could become an entrepreneur. Scary stuff!
Hundreds of coach-training hours, hundreds of hours spent coaching clients, and a year-long leadership development program have made me feel like I can really do this. One of the most important pieces, the bit of awareness that changed everything for me, was learning to get in touch with my heart and my intuition. I, like most people, have lived from the neck up. Decision time? Great! Bring on the SWOT, the pros/cons, the 360, the strategy, and whatever else cerebral I can throw at the problem. While those tools are important, we end up cutting ourselves off from the other data input sources: the brains in our hearts and bellies. Spending the past year learning to access my emotional and intuitive sides has been transformative. It has taught me how to replace judgement with curiosity and gratitude. I have learned how to create harmony from discord. I absolutely know what it means to show up in 100 per cent partnership.
Here’s the deal folks, there is absolutely, without a doubt, a better way to interact with ourselves and with others. My clients know this because that’s what we talk about. They are women and men at all levels who are committed to writing their own life stories and to attaining the highest levels of personal and professional fulfillment. It is a privilege and an honour to walk beside them on their journeys.
As for my own journey, the excitement continues. Recently, I led a workshop for women in Dallas where nudity is required in the women’s-only water circuit. We used that setting to talk about body image, self-love, what we struggle with, and what gets in the way of self-acceptance. All of the women chose to experience the freedom of letting go of their self-limiting beliefs and to step into loving the skin they’re in. Huzzah! I’m also cooking up another workshop about what stops us from taking “The Big Risk” in our lives, whether that be having an uncomfortable conversation, leaving a job, and everything in between.
Leadership coaching is another area in which I’m eager to expand. I’m looking forward to partnering with organizations and doing work that empowers every person to be a leader, because we all have the capacity to lead from wherever we are and from whatever job we’re doing. Living from a place of empowerment is what gets our feet dirty, our hair messy, and our eyes sparkling!
If I’ve sparked some interest, let’s connect: Sophia Apostol Coaching.
Sophia Apostol is a Personal and Professional Development Coach. She is also the 2015 OCULA Past-President.