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Su’s story

Su Smith

Strategic Solutions Director at Bedrock Healthcare Communications

“I’ve moved up in my career quite quickly, which has been great and I love what I do – but the fast pace of things meant that I hadn’t quite got the business maturity and resilience that I needed. Particularly I was struggling with the emotional impact of leading a team, as I tend towards being very empathetic and I was taking on so much of other people’s stresses and problems it was becoming hard to get perspective and manage the team well.

My company sponsored me to go on Clarity Leadership’s high-potential leadership programme, to help me develop some of the skills I was lacking, and Sarah was the personal coach assigned to me. Although we’re very different personalities I felt comfortable with her straight away, and our differences actually meant she was well placed to challenge me and help me grow. In fact after a few months of seeing how much I was benefitting from her input my manager suggested that I get further 1-1 coaching with her, outside of the programme, to really cement the positive changes he could see. So Sarah and I ended up working together over a whole year, and I now can’t imagine where I would be without her!

One of the biggest things she has helped me tackle has been around my emotional reactions to difficult situations. She’s taught me to recognise the unhealthy ‘child’ or ‘teenage’ mentalities I used to get stuck in (i.e. either having too much vulnerability and emotion and expressing it all, or getting stroppy and just shutting down and disengaging) and instead to develop a healthy, adult control of my emotion, learning how to harness it appropriately. It’s been a huge breakthrough for me. Previously I would often cry in meetings with my manager, as I just found it so overwhelming and difficult to talk about myself and address problem areas. But now I feel so much calmer and better able to process those discussions, which has meant I can learn from my challenges and constantly improve my work, which is brilliant.

Sarah’s also been helping me stop focusing so much on the negatives, as my manager and colleagues also have many good things to say about me but I wasn’t great at dealing with those either! Now I’m much better able to acknowledge positive feedback and to congratulate myself on a job well done. Sarah’s practical suggestions, like taking stock of things at the end of the day and listing five things I’ve done well, have been so helpful in giving me confidence and perspective, and it’s dramatically affected my whole outlook and approach to my work.

It’s not just my manager who has noticed the difference in me – so many people have commented on how much I’ve changed, which is really affirming. In fact I’m planning to get Sarah to come in and do some sessions on emotional resilience for the women in my team, as I know they would benefit hugely from her insights about how to control and use emotion positively in business.

What makes her so effective is that it never seems like just a job to her – she really cares about you and your progress and is very gentle and kind. She’s also immensely knowledgeable and powerful and can really control a room, but she never abuses that, and just has a very lovely way about her. Sarah’s also great at knowing when to talk and when to just listen, when to give you direction and when to let you find the answer for yourself. It’s an incredible skill.

I can honestly say that Sarah has transformed my business life. Our work together has been so empowering and enjoyable for me, I have loved it and will really miss her input and support as a coach!”

 

sarah@sarahperugia.com

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