Alison O'Leary is a Business, Career & Life Coach from London, United Kingdom.
Alison specialises in helping bright, spirited people find a way to a career that is meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling. Her coach work covers career change, second careers and specific challenges like people management and presenting.
She is a certified Martha Beck life coach, specialising in career coaching.
Alison has spent the last 17 years training, coaching and mentoring teams and individuals. She's fascinated by what makes individuals tick, what causes them to make the choices they do and what triggers their reactions to different situations, people and places.
1. What advice would you give to prospective coaches wishing to start their career?
Coach as much as you can. Don’t be afraid to coach a lot for free to build up experience, get clear on the type of coaching you love best and to build a network of people who will be happy to refer you to others. It’s a win-win and if coaching really is for you it will only ever reinforce that you are on your right path!
2. What is the most rewarding aspect following your work as a professional coach?
Watching my clients do amazing things when they truly listen to themselves, get clear on what they want and take active steps to turn it into a reality. It reinforces my gut belief that people are truly phenomenal and that we can achieve anything if we are honest with ourselves, are willing to challenge the mental blocks that stand in our way and are prepared to keep at it until we realise what we dream of.
3. Out of your personal habits, what are the most important for your own professional success?
Tenacity, a willingness to fail and practicing mindfulness have been the most important for me. As much as you can read about other coaches and their recipes for success, much of my own personal success has come down to simple trial and error, continuously trying out new things without being overly concerned about what works and what doesn’t. Everything is a learning regardless so nothing is lost! Practicing regular mindfulness has also been key, helping me to see beyond unhelpful thought patterns and gain a laser-like clarity on the right next steps.
4. What advice would you give people who struggle to keep momentum as they progress toward their goals?
Two words: baby steps. And I mean seriously baby steps. If you want to create a habit that sticks, try breaking down your goal into the smallest possible pieces. Then choose the easiest one to start with and allow yourself some time. This approach prevents your mind from fighting you on forming new habits because it takes the ‘big deal’ out of the activity.
5. What is the one most important thing that you would like prospective coaching clients to know about you?
I am my own case study. I’ve been through a career transition myself, working with a coach to identify what I really wanted to do, before working to make it a reality. I understand what goes with the territory, including all the ups and downs and fear-based thinking, because I’ve been there myself!
6. What distinguishes you from the other coaches?
I specialise in helping bright, spirited people find a way to a career that is meaningful, purposeful and fulfilling. Whether clients want to change course completely or find a way to make their existing career choice more inspiring, interesting, fun and successful, I help them determine what they want and how to achieve it, putting their true selves in the decision-making driving seat.
7. How can coaching clients get the most out of a coaching session with you?
Come with an open and playful mind and be prepared to challenge your own mind’s thinking! While the work is simple, it isn’t easy and requires willingness to be vulnerable and a real wish to break though old patterns of thinking that don’t serve you so that you can achieve what you really dream of.
8. Can you share with our readers your best tip for living an exceptional life?
Living true to yourself is the only way to truly live an exceptional life – whatever that means for you. All too often we compromise who we are and what we want in order to fit in with the unwritten rules created by our society, culture, creed, family, friends, education system, and so on. We make decisions based on certain ‘rules’ that don’t serve us or allow us to be the best version of ourselves. By stripping this away and understanding what is truly right for us, we are able to claim our right life and live it.
9. What would be the structure of one of your typical coaching sessions?
Typically, a career coaching session with me might include identifying, articulating and prioritising client’s core values. Values are the fundamental ways in which a client has to live their lives in order to be happy. Values act as a solid foundation for decision making as any career decision that ticks a number of core values for a client is likely to be a good one for them, while any decisions that compromise their core values are highly likely to be bad ones.
10. What key life experience has shaped who you are and the number one value you live by when coaching?
I spent 15 years working in a way that made me physically ill because the decisions I made were based on what I thought I should be doing rather than what was actually right for me. I blanked out what I really felt and the disconnect resulted in very physical symptoms that left me exhausted, run down and unable to digest food. The number one value I live by when coaching is living true to yourself. The mind can argue all sorts of things to rationalise why you are making decisions that don’t feel good to you, but if you learn to really listen to your true self and make decisions based on who you really are it can only ever take you in the right direction – one that feels unutterably good and free.