One particular day I decided to go for a swim at the Forty Foot – a local outdoor bathing place (traditionally for men to swim in the nude – no longer a requirement!). I’d never been there on my own because although I’m a confident swimmer, I’m not very comfortable in very deep water (having an overly active imagination about what might lurk beneath!).
My life at the time was pretty good. I was in my mid-forties, had a husband I loved dearly, two great kids, really good friends, time for my hobbies and was living in a place I loved close to the sea and the mountains.
In terms of career, I'd run a thriving leadership development and executive coaching business for 17 years - working with fabulous clients like Dropbox, LinkedIn, YPO, Coca Cola, the European Central Bank and Google and was teaching on the MBA programme at Trinity College Dublin.
My work was all about helping people to grow and develop and I loved it. It paid me really well and also allowed me to work a four-day week and take at least ten weeks off a year to spend time with my kids, travel and learn.
But deep down I began to realise that although the coaching I had been doing for the last 14 years made a big difference in people’s lives – I knew I was spread too thin with the other parts of my business to help people in the way I knew I could. I wanted to put all my time and focus into coaching people in the best way possible.
I knew the only way was to make radical changes to to my business and my life. I felt a massive, jittery rush of excitement at the idea, as well as feeling slightly sick at the thought of what I was potentially giving up - the voices in my head saying “Are you mad?!” You have a great life. What if it doesn't work out?".
I stood high on the rocks, lifted my arms up to the sky, took a deep breath and said out loud “I’m all in”. And dived off the rocks into the deep water.
No going back. No playing it safe.
Fast forward three months and I had sold my entire leadership development business so I could focus purely on one-to-one, powerful, transformative executive coaching with individuals - both corporate and private.
If I was going to work with people to help them live their best lives I knew I had to live MY best life. Walk the talk. Fully. Doing the work I love - that makes a difference, that helps people be true to who they are. And having the space and time to do it properly. Plus having the space for all the other important things in my life - health, exercise, my kids, my relationship with my husband, my friends, to read, learn and grow and of course for fun!
I can't say it's all been easy - I've worried, I've doubted myself, I've put myself under pressure and I've fallen back into being too busy at times (old habits die hard). But I can honestly say I am making a difference in the work I do, changing lives for the better and living my best life most of the time and am incredibly grateful every day for this.
So I really do understand the clarity AND conviction it takes and what you will go through when you take steps to live the life you REALLY want to live. And I also know how to help you get there.
I am driven by what I really believe in -
powerful coaching. The kind of coaching where magic happens. The kind that changes lives. The kind that can change yours"
Although this was the moment when I truly committed to what I believe in and took a stand for the type of coaching that has the power to make a real difference to people's lives, the reality is this is who I have always been.
What's most important to me has always been living my best life, challenging myself and growing as a person and a willingness to live a life true to myself even when that isn't easy and helping others do the same .
The drive to challenge and develop myself rather than take the easy or safe option started over 30 years ago when I gave up my place in Trinity College Dublin, got on a boat aged 17 and left Ireland to study psychology in the UK.
It has since led me to jump out of planes, take two months off every summer (before having kids!) to backpack by myself round the world, sing out loud on my own on a busy street in London despite a lifelong fear of singing in front of other people, do a fire walk and take part in a Guinness Book of Records world’s largest skinny dip.
More importantly, it's led me on my own inner journey to soften my inner critic and to evolve from a hard working "good girl" to someone who is living an authentic life, doing meaningful work and who prioritises fun and joy in my life as much as possible.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
If you'd like the 'official stuff' on my background, experience and qualifications, please check out my LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/drjillwalker/ , go to the 'Why Work With Me' page or just email me and ask me anything you'd like to know at email@example.com