Meet the Coach: Andrew Waddell
What attracted you to become a coach?
I never expected to become a coach. It wasn’t the lifelong dream that it is for other coaches. Instead I think it found me.
Up until the age of 40 I was focused on a career in advertising. Chasing the promotions and the pay. Enjoying the camaraderie and the adrenaline. But underneath it all I was deeply unfulfilled and worse than that, I was living a life in conflict with my values. As many men do, in the face of anxiety and self-doubt, I sunk further into my work, spending less time with my wife and young family, trying to prove to myself that I had worth. When my father died, I again buried my emotions and clung to the only thing I knew, and worked even harder.
Of course, I couldn’t keep hiding; it all caught up with me and I had a major emotional breakdown. But this was the turning point as I refound myself through psychotherapy – focused back on my values and started the process of accepting myself.
This is when coaching found me. As I looked around at my friends and colleagues, I started to the see the same look of apathy, disillusionment and lack of direction in their faces that I had experienced. I started talking to them about the benefits of engaging with these feelings before they culminated in depression or worse and discovered a real purpose in taking on this role through training as a life coach.
Now as a midlife coach, I work with men at all stages of their midlife transition, from the deeply dissatisfied to those already passionate about self-exploration and growth. Coaching allows me to help others not only avoid the stereotypical path that I slid down but to see them rediscover a life of passion and purpose.
Where did you train?
I trained at the Animas Centre for Coaching. This is an ICF-accredited coaching course that provides a rigorous education in transformational coaching, as well as ongoing peer support and personal development. I’m now in the process of achieving my Associate Certified Coach (ACC) Credentials.
In addition, I recently finished a Masters in Psychodynamic and Systemic Approaches to Consulting and Leading in Organisations from the Tavistock and Portman – quite a mouthful! This course studies the psychological and structural impacts on human behaviour within groups and organisations. This is particularly helpful when coaching clients through career challenges and career change.
What kind of coaching do you offer?
I would describe myself as a directional coach, supporting my client’s progress with thought-provoking exercises and questions that might challenge their assumptions. Whilst the MidLife Coaching Programme has key elements, it is also entirely bespoke to the challenges and goals of the individual client.
The programme is a combination of transformational, career and purpose coaching. Through it, I support my clients in the key areas of self-exploration and future planning. The self-exploration element focuses on identifying the core values, beliefs and behaviours which create a foundation on which to base the second element of future planning.
Many of my clients are stuck in a pattern of behaviour or unfulfilling career roles, and feel unable to find a way out. The future planning element focuses on creating a space for them to play with different future possibilities, overcoming any presumptions and identifying where and how they might find fulfilment.
How does coaching help?
Coaching has the power to help people overcome their challenges and also to realise their ability to change.
For those who feel they are holding themselves back, it provides clarity on why a pattern of behaviour has become established, and therefore how to break it and establish a new, positive pattern.
For those who feel stuck and unsure of the future, it provides the space and tools to explore different potential futures, and the support in making the many small steps that make up a big change.
For those who are already thriving, such as my many entrepreneur clients, it provides the values and purpose framework required to remain true to themselves and their goals as they build their business.
What sort of coaching clients do you usually see?
Most often professional men who are between 35 and 55 – from across the mental health scale of depressed to thriving – with the desire to make fundamental changes to how they feel about themselves and where they place their time and energy.
Whilst I specifically focus on men in midlife, as I feel there is great need there, probably 20% of my client base are actually women in midlife. Many of my clients are totally new to coaching but recognise that they need support to make the changes they need in their lives.
What do you like about being a coach?
In coaching I have found a real purpose in supporting people to find their true selves and their true purpose. It’s incredibly rewarding!
What is less pleasant?
After 20 years in advertising, there is literally nothing unpleasant about being a full-time coach!
What is the one life lesson you try to live by?
It’s never too late to be what you might have been (Thank you, George Eliot).
What do you wish people knew about coaching?
There is still a significant stigma around life coaching, for men especially. So my wish, and personal mission, is for more men to give themselves permission to engage openly and actively with their mental health, whether that be through coaching or psychoanalysis.
Do you have a favourite client testimonial or particular success story?
I’ve been blessed to support many clients make significant changes to their lives, from changing careers, to setting up new businesses, to fully taking up fatherhood. But sometimes the real satisfaction comes from helping someone who is down on themselves and full of their ‘inabilities’, become unstuck and positive about their future. Fraser was one such chap, full of self-doubt after redundancy, focused on what he couldn’t do and hating that it was impacting on his wife and kids:
“I really do feel that my attitude and outlook to life in general, not just work, has changed radically for the better and the MidLife Coaching Programme has been the key reason for that. I know I’ve now got the tools I need to tackle the future with confidence and optimism.
As such I need to say again how truly thankful I am for all your help. The content of a course is one thing, but it’s the quality of the coach that determines whether it’s going to be successful or not, and I feel I was very lucky to have you to guide me.”