Finding the courage to be

I believe that your full potential is in reach, but it takes courageous action-taking and steadfast commitment to get there. Commitment to finding clarity. Commitment to self-reflection and introspection. Commitment to asking difficult questions, and sitting with the answers – even when it feels uncomfortable. How do I know? Because I’ve walked that path myself.

I’m Sinéad, and I’ve spent many years in the corporate world, helping brands and businesses succeed commercially in Europe and the US – and I got results. Today, as a UK coach, I help my clients with strategies to live more ‘successfully’ – whether that’s bridging the gap between their ‘work’ self and their ‘true’ self or helping career-driven people reconnect with their inner values. The results are far more rewarding, but my path to this line of work wasn’t an overnight journey.

Early on in my career, I was super driven and focused on external rewards. I’d quickly worked out what to do, and how to be, to do well. I was relentless in my pursuit of approval and recognition, prioritising work over all other aspects of life so I could reach the next goal. After a decade working in consumer goods marketing for the likes of Nurofen, Gaviscon and Dettol, I found myself at the top of my career game.

But my all-or-nothing approach to my career began to take its toll. I started feeling exhausted, disconnected and frustrated at sacrificing everything for work. Even more disconcertingly, my hunger for the job I’d once loved evaporated and I felt unfulfilled. Along with physical signs, manifesting as terrible neck and back pain, everything was telling me I needed to make a change. But I had no clue what to do about it.

I had essentially fallen into the achievement trap. Having chased corporate success for so many years, I found myself wondering, “What’s the point?

I have sat with so many clients asking themselves the same thing. But so often the tendency is to dismiss it and move on, choosing distraction tactics over action.

I tried several distraction tactics! I moved departments internally. I resigned, but just before my notice period ended, I was convinced to stay. My sense of self was so heavily tied to my career that it didn’t take much to lure me back. However, I did realise I needed to make a change, so I looked to the US office for a transfer.

Once there, I tried a gentler, more conscious approach to work. Those first six months were tough, but I made a concerted effort to shake up my working habits, focusing on my relationships as well as just getting the job done. I no longer spent my weekends working. I was filling my cup with everything I needed and it was making me far more connected to my values than ever before. And those values I uncovered just didn’t fit with the corporate world anymore.

When I left corporate, I took some time to explore what my next move would be. I travelled to Costa Rica to train as a yoga teacher, before teaching in New York and the UK. My passion for working with people, rather than brands, grew, and I leaned into exploring, learning and playing with possibility. Instead of asking, “how do I rise to the top?” I started to ask: “Am I reaching my potential?” When I became a mother, my priorities shifted again and I had my first ever experience with a coach. The immediate impact and clarity blew me away. It wasn’t just the self-knowledge I gained from that deep introspection. It was the momentum and action-taking it inspired in me that was life-changing.

Most importantly, I knew I wanted to do this for others. I sought out new teachers to continue my self-development journey. And, feeling 100% clear on my new path, I completed my Post Graduate Certificate in Personal and Business Coaching with Barefoot Coaching, working to the professional standards of the International Coaching Federation.

sinead millard portrait

There’s a great quote from leadership coach Nancy Kline: “The brain that contains the problem probably also contains the solution.” When we find ourselves with a professional problem, we need the space to ask deep questions, challenge assumptions and move forward with confidence and clarity. But often we can’t do it alone. I look back on my own experience and think how different it could have been with the right coach in my life sooner. 

Through The Courage to Be coaching, I’m on a mission to help other ambitious, career-driven individuals experience what’s possible when they find the courage to shake off the expectations of others. There is so much within our reach once we start not just asking the right questions, but also acting on the answers – no matter how uncomfortable they may be.

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