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My current identity crisis

I mean, truthfully, I’m not feeling as dramatic as the title suggests…

But I am having an identity crisis of sorts.

First of all, I’m a mother now, so there are changes in how I think of myself and my purpose in the world. If I’m honest, there’s no crisis there – it all feels really right to me, which is amazing and a relief.

It’s the professional identity that is going through a shift.

I started my business over 5 years ago, back in 2014, and my identity then was a 26-year-old, with very specific experience working at Notonthehighstreet, and a very specific offering to a very specific audience. Which was great – I can honestly say that being specific allowed me to hit the ground running.

In the years since, I’ve tried different things, expanded my business, trained in broader areas, and grown as a human and as a businesswoman. One of the things I changed a couple of years ago was referring to myself as a coach and my work as coaching, rather than as a mentor/mentoring.

Now that I’m returning from the biggest break I’ve had (nearly 8 months!), I’m wondering about this change. I chose to call myself a coach because I got some training and practice as a coach. The majority of the methods I use in one-to-one and group work are coaching. The ethos of coaching appeals: that I’m here to create a positive space for you to discover more about yourself and your way forward – not to dictate it based on my own (limited) experience.

With a broader view of things, I’m looking at my business and seeing that “mentoring” is a word with a more business-focused edge to it. While there aren’t industry-approved definitions, it somehow seems to say “I’ll help you with your business, to help you be the best you can be,” in a way that “coach” doesn’t. Perhaps there are so many coaches around. Perhaps this is just my view right now.

It’s funny: whichever word I choose to use doesn’t actually impact the work I do.

My ability to share experiences and expertise, to encourage, to ask pertinent questions, to share my ethos of business and life – they are all definites. Unchangeable.

I suppose really it’s about marketing: how can I explain what I do in the most effective way?

Perhaps you’ve had similar struggles or thoughts or ideas yourself.

I’m not quite ready to make a decision either way yet. I am ready to experiment with both “coach” and “mentor” in the things I write and share for a little while.

And, of course, I’d love to hear your opinion, too!

What about you? How do you describe your work and role and business? Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram.

1 thought on “My current identity crisis”

  1. I’ve had a similar experience with designer and illustrator. When I was going through a period of transition, and asked what I did, I started saying ‘I’m an illustrator’, 99% of responses were ‘Oh children books?’. I spent the whole time explaining illustration doesn’t mean children books, and the conversation was lost. Now I say I run a design business. I’ll always look at you as my mentor, I guess that’s how you began, to me mentor feels more life changing. However, mentor or coach, you’re still awesome and you’re still empowering small business’ on their journey.

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