I have always believed in personal freedom and everyone’s right to be given the space and time to become the best version of themselves. At the age of 15, I was already on a mission to become a psychotherapist. Way before my classmates had figured out what they really wanted to do, I had taken the decision to study psychology. I wanted to understand how people think and behave, in order to help them.
When I embarked on my clinical psychology studies, it was like a home coming. I felt that I had already found my mission in life. But nothing could be further from the truth. While I became well versed in the science of psychology, its methodology, research methods and theories, I burned myself out in the process. My dream of becoming a therapist shattered right in front of my eyes. Once I had started to study and understand therapeutic practice, it all seemed too laborious, long and focused in the past to me. I didn’t have the attention span, nor the patience to follow through a therapeutic intervention all the way until the end. I was looking for a leaner, practical, more present-focused holistic process, and I couldn’t find that in the therapy approaches I was introduced to.
However, my mission of helping people didn’t die with my dream of becoming a therapist; I continued doing what I wanted to do: helping people improve their lives and find happiness and satisfaction. I started working as Research Assistant on a project focused on increasing the wellbeing of stressed and burned out teachers, before my personal circumstances changed and I moved from Belgium to the United Kingdom.
What do you do when you move into another country where you don’t have any work contacts yet? You volunteer! Volunteering is powerful and inspiring. It’s a great gift to be able to put your skills into practice in order to help people in need and transform their lives. Being a volunteer also led to my first job in the United Kingdom, as street crime caseworker for the victim’s services. There I had the privilege of witnessing the miracle of transformation and change unfolding in front of my eyes. People who had been stuck for years in a detrimental mindset and destructive behaviours, transformed their lives within moments just by taking the decision that they wanted something different than what they had been experiencing thus far. Once the decision was taken, change occurred an accelerated quickly.
Along with my career path, a personal transformation was also taking place. As an introvert, I had to overcome many personal barriers in order to help others: my own limiting beliefs about my own abilities, my impostor syndrome (classic issue for most coaches and therapists, as I discovered later) , shyness. But never once did I question people’s ability to change and transform into anything they chose to.
I soon discovered as a senior manager and team leader working with teams, that individual performance increased when staff members were coached to find answers and solutions with me in a supportive role, rather than me taking the lead and telling them what to do. This gave them control and helped them own up to their roles, tasks and processes. Coaching was key, and I finally discovered my preferred method of helping people achieve their goals. I then went on to become a Life and Business Coach and NLP Practitioner.
At the same time, I gained appreciation for the power of team work and collaboration and found out that it leads to better results. It’s always preferable to get people on board rather than getting into conflict with them. The same applies to working as a musician and composer. In my musical work, I exercise creativity and personal freedom and seek absolute control about the creative process. However, collaborations almost always yield better results. The whole is more than the sum of its parts, when working together towards a bigger goal, such as recording an album or organising a tour.
With the years, I have been drawn more and more into working with small and ethical businesses as they make the world a more diverse and unique place. I understand the struggle of solopreneurs and small business owners as it’s similar to the struggle of creatives: they are people who are very skilled at their craft and niche, but when it comes to it, they often don’t know how to market their products and services!
Witnessing this struggle with the people I worked with, I went on to study digital marketing in order to be able to help them market their products and services more effectively. The principles of marketing are universal and can be applied equally to music, coaching, and small business.
But I felt I was still lacking something, despite my fresh marketing knowledge and understanding. I was lacking business experience. Naively, upon my move from England to Wales, I decided to buy and run a beauty business. I did this for over a year. Sadly, the business failed due to the pandemic. Some hard lessons were learned; first of all, make sure your business is always aligned with your values and beliefs. In my case, the business I took over was set up by the previous owner on very different values than mine, and the clash of values often caused cognitive dissonance. I wanted to help people to be happier and more confident about themselves, but not in this way. You need to find the right intersection of doing what you love, while remaining aligned to your values and at the same time, making the profit you decided your deserve. This includes working with the clients you love to work with. And whilst you are at it, ensure these are also the clients that are able to pay for what you decide your services are worth. Pricing is a big thing in retail, and if you don’t set it up correctly, you set yourself up for failure.
Business failure gave me personal understanding of hardship and the low point of being in the midst of adversity: guilt, feeling inadequate, stress, desperation, the crashing of a dream of having financial and personal independence.
It also taught me that everyone can bounce back from it. This might not seem likely whilst you are in the midst of failure and adversity. But it’s important to keep believing that there is a way out, because there always is. There is help out there and your failure already contains the seeds of your future success. All you need is a mindset shift, just like the people that inspired me in my previous work for the victim’s services, and an action plan.
As a trained coach I learned to focus on solutions and in developing a practical mindset to tackle obstacles. As an NLP practitioner, I learned to trust in the unlimited resources of my unconscious. I am now guiding people to do the same.
Even in the midst of the greatest adversity, it’s possible to shift your mindset quickly and focus on positive outcomes with the help of a coach. Once your mind has decided on the change, the new found sense of control helps you to accelerate this process. The river becomes a funnel and flows quickly into the sea of unlimited potential. I’m just there to guide you and feel privileged to be part of the process. People always underestimate what they can achieve in a short period of time. But once the mindset has shifted, there is no way back. You have been transformed and you are a different person with all new found knowledge, skills and confidence.
I love witnessing this process of transformation, and helping people to go through it. It’s now crystal clear to me that this is my mission in life.
Kostas The Coach is a Psychologist, Life and Small Business Coach and NLP Practitioner based in Llantwit Major, Wales. I help solopreneurs, therapists and coaches find the ideal intersection between profit, joy and values in their lives, amplify the voice of creative people and assist businesses to grow sustainably while remaining aligned to their why.
If any of the topics discussed here has intrigued you, I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me on Kostasthecoach@gmail.com or contact me via telephone or SMS on 07725653870.