I'm fortunate to have many acquaintances from all walks of life, who inspire and feed me with thought-provoking ideas, and my good friend Harriet Minter is no exception.

Best known for her outspoken appearances on Sky News and Good Morning Britain, defending women's rights and gender equality, (that often involves putting Piers Morgan in his place!), Harriet is a journalist (formerly for the Guardian) and careers coach for women.

Harriet lives her life according to her own powerful mantra: 'proceed until apprehended' and this is her core message to her coaching clients. 'Proceed until apprehended' not only empowers you to take risks and dare to fulfil your dreams, but it also alerts you to the barriers that are hindering you and compels you to question, somewhat defiantly, what exactly it is that is standing in your way.

Harriet became a coach for women in the workplace because she was fascinated by the way your gender can often propel (if you're male) or depress (if you're female) your success, and she really wanted to make a difference in challenging what society expects of women.

She believes that the passive role of women is evolutionary, in that historically, the women who spoke back to their husbands risked death and therefore learned to remain passive. Those women who stepped out of line, were cast out, removed themselves to the margins or at worst killed and therefore did not reproduce.

The women who survived chose neither of the common fight or flight options when it comes to danger or threat from men, but chose a third reponse: freeze; be still, be quiet, don't be seen. If you hide yourself away, nothing bad can happen. Harriet believes this is all too common in the workplace, where women have been allowed in but most can only make it so far because they don't dare to push themselves forward.

So, Harriet wants to challenge this and encourage women to feel that it is ok to push their boundaries and know that they have the right to want something more.

Interestingly, when Harriet coaches women about their careers, she finds it is never just about this area, but she learns more about the person holistically. This is something I can relate to in my experience. While on the surface the client thinks one thing is the problem, after careful exploration, a separate and deeper issue is often hiding that is the root cause. By coaching on broader issues that contribute to success in the workplace, Harriet has helped women to lead happier, more fulfilled and complete lives.

I wanted to know about the challenges that Harriet faced as a coach. Immediately she said that it was the perception of herself as a coach; overcoming the feeling that it is a bit of a fluffy job and that she felt like a charlatan. But now with some valuable experience she has total faith in it and has seen the amazing results clients can achieve through coaching, on one occasion helping a client increase their salary four-fold (!).

Another challenge she notices, is that coaches are humans also and sometimes clients can say things that trigger a negative or counter-productive response in the coach. It is important for a coach to acknowledge this reaction and address it by taking the time to examine it and understand it. Good supervision can help a coach raise their consciousness to mitigate the risks of personal biases getting in the way quality coaching.

But challenges aside, Harriet is proud to have made her coaching business successful and sustainable. She runs an annual workshop called 'Purpose and Abundance' for women in small groups, that brings her so much satisfaction that her 'heart wants to burst with love' and she says she always feels privileged when women, who she sees as beautiful in their own right, want to work with her.

Harriet is driven by another core belief that in an abundant world, there is enough for everybody, and therefore we must all proceed (un-apprehended!). Life is an adventure. Sometimes things don't work out, but the most important thing is to feel that you have the right to try, because sometimes they do.

So, why do you need a coach to help you to proceed? Harriet has a great answer comparing coaching to becoming a good runner. If you only want to run 5km on a routinely basis, you might simply purchase an app to help you, but if you want to run in the Olympics then you get a coach. It is the same with life. There are plenty of self-help books you can pick up easily, but they will only get you so far. If you want to win that gold medal to your own unique and fulfilling life, then Life Coaching is the answer, and if you want it fast, then two heads are better than one.

I use the word 'unique' quite intentionally, because as Harriet reminds me, coaches do not tell you how to live your life to make it better, but they will hold a space for you to help you decide the unique life that you, and only you, truly aspire to. But importantly, coaches hold you to account for that vision or goal and we get you there.

So go on. Proceed! Go for gold! I will not apprehend you.

For further information about Harriet Minter, check out her website here. You can also see her inspirational Ted talk here.

And of course you can get touch with me at Coaching Earth for a free chat on how coaching can really change your life.

Take care everybody.


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