It can be a shock and can leave people feeling useless, hopeless and isolated.
If you’re over fifty it can feel even worse. But there is a big opportunity for those who want to grasp it.
Coaching is one of the few industries still growing. Now, more than ever, there is a need for developing quality and capacity in people retained by organisations, and coaching is helping to do this.
Outside of organisations, there’s also a growing demand for coaching in all aspects of life. People are faced with more choice, more troubles, more aspirations and more confusion than ever before. Coaching is helping people achieve change and happiness and the word is spreading.
So what’s that got to do with being fifty plus?
There are a number of things that can help a coach become successful and they are usually possessed in abundance by people who have passed their fifties.
1) Your collection of influential contacts. Coaching is often a contacts game at first. Being the greatest coach in the world is no good if you have no clients. And for many coaches this will come from looking at who you already have relationships with and building a springboard to future clients and opportunities.
2) Your experience. Coaching is about everything you bring to the table. Experience brings with it understanding of the challenges being faced, the specialist vocabulary to discuss it, an ability to connect with people at their organisational or emotional level, a framework for where the solutions lie and much more.
3) Credibility. Experience and achievement add huge credibility to your status as a coach and help clients gain confidence that you understand their issues and that you can help them achieve their outcomes. And with credibility comes hugely increased potential to secure clients and contracts.
4) You’ve lived life. This is a much overlooked aspect of coming into coaching later in your career. You’ve learned life’s lessons and have a richer sense of life. Experience brings expertise but it also brings humility. Oscar Wilde said, “I’m too old to know everything” and these wise word reverberate down the century to coaching. Age brings wisdom but also acceptance that we don’t have all the answers.
In other words, people who enter coaching later in life often have the very qualities that make coaching so successful and coaches so sought after.
At the Smart School of Coaching, we’re seeing this at first hand. There’s an increasing number of people joining the Smart School who have taken early retirement or voluntary redundancy and are now seeking to start a new life in an area they are passionate about.
Jeremy is a great example of this. A senior civil servant who had worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for over thirty years, he joined the Smart School earlier this year with the aim of becoming a business coach.
Very soon after finishing his career in Japan, Jeremy suffered a stroke. Not to be beaten he regained his motor movement and married his Japanese wife. It was Jeremy’s passion for Japan mixed with his determination to build a new career as a coach that led him to his business idea.
Jeremy realised that he was fascinated by the idea of coaching and supporting UK entrepreneurs to enter the Japanese market.
Building a business presented some initial challenges around skills that had not been necessary in his previous career, such as marketing and selling. But for Jeremy this was also a fun, exciting part of the challenge.
With encouragement from his peer group of coaches, Jeremy is now writing a book in which he is interviewing leading UK entrepreneurs in Japan and has his eyes set on his first major client. And all within six months.
Interviewed recently, Jeremy was asked what advice he would have for anyone recently made redundant or retiring who wanted to start again. His words were simple but profound, “It’s not over”.
And he is right. The market is opening up for people with experience, credibility, people skills and contacts to enter the market. And the market itself is changing. The days of training to be strictly a coach and nothing else are over and coaches who want to start their own business in a field which they are passionate about are looking for more ways to attract and work with their clients.
What’s really clear when working with these coaches is the sheer excitement and exuberance they feel because they are finally in control of their destiny.
Starting a coaching business is not easy – but then what business is? The journey to create one though is filled with experiences that many of these coaches have never had before. And they are rediscovering the fun and buzz of learning new skills which are directly relevant to the progress they want to make.
There’s no doubt about it. For a person with determination and the will to learn, coaching presents an exciting new opportunity to build a business as unique as the coach themselves. And for someone over fifty, recently made redundant and wondering what’s next, it presents new possibilities and a new, exciting, autonomous life.
The author is Nick Bolton founder of the Smart School of Coaching and the web link is www.thesmartschool.co.uk