For the past six years, the 56-year-old mum of one has been helping her clients get the clarity, strength and confidence to live a happier life. She does this by drawing on her own life experiences which included taking the necessary risks to change her life and career.
By Rhonda Chapman
Ever felt stuck in life but no matter how hard you tried on your own nothing changed? This can be depressing for many women and can affect our morale and self-confidence. But as accredited life coach and hypnotherapy practitioner Lucy Dogley-Darani explains, with the right kind of support, you can turn your life around and bounce back stronger and wiser.
Lucy made the shift from journalism with the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation to working as an information officer at the Red Cross Society of Seychelles and then to the UK where she now leads a team at the National Health Service (the NHS), as well as founded Waves for Change through which she delivers life coaching services to her own clients.
Now she talks about her work as a life coach and shares some tips, which couldn’t be any more timely now with so much happening in Seychelles affecting many Seychellois women and those closest to them.
What motivated you to leave Seychelles and make a career change? I left Seychelles at a time when I felt was right for a personal change. My marriage ended in divorce and I lost my job in the Red Cross. At that time, I thought all these events were happening to me. However, now I understand that they were happening for me. I did not feel sorry for myself, I felt that I could rise above these misfortunes. But for that to happen, I needed to have a change of environment. I felt that Seychelles had become a little claustrophobic for me, I needed more space to expand. It was the most major decision I have ever made. My son Dane was 12 and as you know coming on to teenage years is a very difficult time for children. With this in mind, I needed to strike a balance, weighing up the pros and cons of my decision.
I looked at several countries where I could work and study, and it was a lot easier for a Seychellois citizen to do that in the UK. I also had two of my siblings living here, so there was a support network for me. With all the necessary arrangements in place, I arrived in the UK in 2003. With the help of friends and family, I enrolled in a course in computing and eventually I got a job as an evening receptionist with the NHS. Dane joined me a year later. I met my husband Lawrence, and we were married in 2005 (he passed away in 2014). Over the years, I got promoted in my job and reached management level [as Head of Reception and Patient Experience].
What kind of work do you do at the NHS? I work in a General Practice Surgery in East London four days a week. I support a team of twelve Patient Care Coordinators. Some practices still call them receptionists, but we decided to adopt a title that was more reflective of what my team does. They are multi skilled and innovative in their roles, so we decided to upgrade them. Apart from leading the team, I’m also the first point of contact for feedback from service users, including complaints. My role is to resolve patients’ concerns before they become full-blown complaints.
They say, “People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses”. Why is it important that people have a great and supportive manager? One hundred percent true! Staff turnover in my workplace is next to zero. When people leave my team, it’s usually because they are moving away or for reasons involving family. I prefer to use the word “leader” rather than “manager” in my role. Having a good leader creates direction, increases productivity, allows staff retention and reduces absences in the workplace. It also helps with the health and well-being of the team and this element is often disregarded in many workplaces.
What changes have you noticed in your workplace and how does this benefit the community? Members of my team have told me many times that they feel guided, that they feel they are treated with respect and that they are pleased to have someone who listens to them. There is an element of calm within our team, despite the fact that the role can be very challenging at times. There is a sense of community and camaraderie, but also a level of discipline that does not have to be forceful. What I like the most is seeing how everyone helps each other out and look out for one another.
It sounds like a great place to work. It has not always been this easy. Not all my experiences have been pleasant but some of your challenges often come to move you in the right direction.
So, you’re also a life coach at Waves for Change. What’s life coaching? Every human being who breathes and lives, comes to crossroads in life when they face a form of challenge. Maybe they have lost confidence or self-esteem, become stuck and don’t know how to get out of a certain situation. They could be anxious, depressed, unable to come to terms with past traumatic events, have issues with relationships, career, parenting or any other challenge that stops them from moving forward in life. With the help of a Life coach, the individual can clear their blocks, set goals for themselves and work towards achieving them.
How is life coaching different from therapy? Life coaching is goal orientated. It’s about guiding the client to manage the problem effectively, by using tools and techniques that have been tested and proven to work. It is not about giving advice. A life coach is trained to ask powerful questions to get the client to think for themselves and work towards solutions. It is more like a journey together, step by step, to get the client to achieve their goals.
Therapy is more like counselling, exploring the client’s past and present life and how to change it. However, during life coaching there is sometimes a need to do some therapy as well as mentoring, which is also a form of guidance.
How did you get started in life coaching? I had the opportunity in 2014 to enrol in a group coaching weekend, at a time when I had a block in career advancement. Although I knew that I had great leadership skills, I couldn’t figure out what was stopping me from applying for jobs that reflected who I really was. So, when I found out about a forum that provided coaching, I decided to invest in it. There were over 200 people who attended the seminar, and this made me realise that I was not alone in my quest for growth and personal development.
That weekend, I experienced a consciousness shift that would change my life forever. I invested a substantial amount of money to attend this event and it was the best investment I had ever made. I had a breakthrough that made me realise that I had been holding on to beliefs about myself which I acquired in my childhood that had made me believe that I was not good enough. When I was 12, one of my teachers had humiliated me in front of my class. Despite the fact that I was an A student, I had unconsciously endorsed what I had been told, because it come from my teacher, someone I respected and who I believed was right to make a judgement about me.
More than 30 years later, after being coached, I discovered that what I had come to believe was true about me when I was growing up was actually false and that this limiting belief had held me back from advancing in my career path. From that point on, I had a transformation and started to make incredible progress in my career. The experience propelled me to help others, and so I decided to train to become a life coach alongside my day job.
Do you work with clients from outside the UK? Yes, I have clients from other countries.
What are some common misconceptions about life coaching? There are a few. One of the common myths that I have come across is that there’s a belief that successful people do not need coaches. That’s not true. Everyone is at a different level of growth at different stages of their lives.
Another myth is that coaching is expensive. The benefits of investing in a life coach are for life. You will never be the same person again.
Another common misconception is that coaches provide solutions for their clients. In fact, coaching is a partnership between coach and client. The coach uses powerful questions creatively to inspire the client to tap into their potential to bring about desired change and achieve their goals.
What does your typical coaching clientele look like? I have worked with women who are stuck in their dead-end jobs and who, after coming to coaching, have changed their career path. One my clients is now running a thriving business. Some clients come to improve their romantic lives or their relationships with family members. I help women work on their relationships with themselves first, and to understand how men communicate, so that they can attract men who align with their own energies or to improve their existing relationships.
Some of my clients want to gain self-confidence to help them in their day-to-day lives. I also have clients who have been successful in managing stress and anxiety. It all varies, but my preference is working on relationships because when people improve their relationships other aspects of their lives also get better.
What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do for your clients? When I get a call from a client to say to that they have made a major decision that will change their life. For instance, a client who had low confidence and did not believe in her potential went on to write a book, something she never thought would ever happen to her. Another one was so stressed in her city job that when her best friend asked her to make a speech at her wedding, she freaked out. She came to coaching to manage her anxiety and a few months later she delivered a powerful speech in front of 200 guests. Such achievements for my clients make my heart sing. That’s why I believe coaching is the best job I have ever done. It’s about changing lives and creating greatness.
And the most challenging thing about what you do? I can’t think of anything at the top of my head, but I believe that every challenge is surmountable. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable for a little while, but nothing remains the same. Things do change. For that reason, I do not focus too much on challenges—I take them head on as they come.
How can someone tell that it’s probably time to see a life coach? Most people try to resolve their difficulty on their own as much as they can. However, there are some areas that we cannot seem to penetrate when we are trying to resolve an issue. These are our ‘blind spots’ and no matter what we do we cannot see through them. That’s when people become stuck. A life coach’s role is to explore the situation presented by the client and help them uncover those blind spots in order to allow the process of transformation to take place.
Say we’re ready to work with a life coach, what are the signs that we’re choosing the right coach? Rapport is the first important element. You and your coach need to connect and get on with each other. A coach cannot bring about changes for the client if they don’t like each other. It is the duty of the coach to establish rapport during the first encounter. Trust is also a major element. Sometimes, the client will provide information that they had never shared with anyone else. They must have the full assurance that the coach is the person they can trust to offload their biggest burden. The coach needs to be proven to be trustworthy in order to obtain effective results. The client should also establish that the person they are working with is willing to serve, to make the world a better place, because when the client changes, it will open an opportunity for the people in their lives to make changes too.
What kind of results should we expect when working with a life coach? If the client is committed, they will experience transformation. The majority of clients experience a shift at the first session. That’s how powerful life coaching is. Since we look at what the client wants to achieve, we then do the work together to create what they want. There are different techniques that work for the client’s needs. For instance, hypnotherapy eliminates stress, anxiety and phobias, boosts confidence and changes habits. Neuro Linguistic Programming or NLP, looks at our thinking process, the way we understand what is happening around us, how it is influenced by the language we use and how our behaviour and our interactions affect us and those around us.
How long does it take to see some changes? Most clients experience change and breakthroughs after at least six sessions.
Do you have any advice for women who come from a culture where they’re told all their lives to put up with life’s challenges, that “it is what it is”? First and foremost, they need to acknowledge that these events have happened in their lives. However, these events do not define who they really are and should not control their destiny. Accepting what happened is the first step to bringing about transformation, to change what is holding them back. No one needs to put up with unacceptable behaviour.
Women need to step in their power by taking ownership of their current circumstances and making a conscious decision to change it to what they most desire for themselves, not for anyone else. And finally, that you are never too old or too fed up to change your life.
Speaking about power, what skills do you think are essential for women to have in their toolboxes if they want life coaching to work for them? They need to be willing to make the change they want. Unless they are ready to change, it will not be worth their investment. They need to be committed to attend their sessions and to do any homework assigned by the coach. By this I don’t mean the type of homework given at school or at college. It could be asking the client to observe their relationship with family or friends while they are on their journey or maybe journaling their emotions, watch their habits if it’s about changing habits, catch their thoughts or notice the language they use to describe themselves or others.
While they are not in session with their coach, they will have to carry on life as normal and they will need to use the tools they learn in coaching to change their mindset and lifestyle. Most of my clients say that it is fun to do the exercises and that it helps them learn a lot about themselves.
What has it been like for you working as a life coach during COVID-19? I used to see most of my clients face to face at my practice at London Bridge. When we went into lockdown, I started coaching clients online more. We are trained to see clients face to face in a room, but with the world changing I have adapted with coaching clients online via video calls. Some clients prefer this as it saves travelling time. I still prefer the face-to-face encounter, but the online coaching has been going well.
What’s your life philosophy? I live by a well-known quote by Dave Ramsey: “If you keep doing the same things, you will get the same results.” It’s a very simple line but I find it so true and very poignant.
Final words? I owe an awesome gratitude to everyone who over the last twenty years have supported me in any way or form with the transition to a home from home. Thank you all.
Follow Lucy on Facebook for more on how to benefit from life coaching.