The Catalyst

My mum died over three years ago now and despite the passage of time, I still miss her terribly.  I knew I would; we were very close.  Aged 52 my amazing mum donated her kidney to save me from a life on dialysis!  That alone, I imagine, gives you some idea of our relationship.

So why am I telling you this?  Well when I sat down to write this, I thought if I was going to tell you ‘about me’ then it should be the uncensored truth about who I am and what I value and believe in.  To understand that you need to understand my life; where I’ve been and where I’m going.

When The First Storm Hit

When I was fifteen I became ill; really ill. It took me several months and a medically negligent GP to get me there, but those few weeks changed the course of my life and from that moment on, I was destined to spend my life battling ill health.  I’m naturally a pretty resilient person, but I know I wouldn’t have made it without my mum. It was her gargantuan efforts alone that kept me alive, despite being dismissed as ‘hysterical’, patronised by a seemingly endless line of incompetent and misogynistic doctors; her stoic resolve finally paid off and she managed to get me seen by someone who could help. I was admitted to hospital and finally diagnosed. Once in the hands of these brilliant people, although by now I was near death, against the odds they saved my life.

I was lucky to survive Wegener’s granulomatosis (yes, I’d never heard of it either) but as a consequence, my schooling was cut short.  Aged seventeen,  I emerged from the worst effects of the disease with sod all in the way of qualifications and physically a total mess.  I’d lost all my hair; my face was bloated like a football from steroids and the Wegener’s had not only mashed my kidneys, but destroyed the cartilage in my nose so I looked like a prize fighter who’d taken on one too many fights.

When I went back to my school to say hello to fellow students and teachers, my form teacher, who’d known me for over five years, didn’t even recognise me.  That’s when it dawned on me the enormity of what had happened to me.

By nineteen,  I’d had an op to repair my face and my hair had regrown.  However, I freely admit my self-esteem was basically buggered.  But did I mention resilience?

Over the next 15 years, in between hospital visits and taking enough meds to start my own pharmacy, I dug in, studied my backside off and eventually got some basic qualifications;.  I eventually gained an honours degree in English Language with the Open University, one of the most challenging exercises in self discipline I have ever faced.  It took me 4 years but I did it.  By the age of thirty I was doing pretty well working as a CIPD qualified learning and development professional.

I weathered a couple of redundancies and eventually started my own business.  By then MOS certified and also delivering soft skills workshops, I found work relatively easily, the only drawback was that it was almost entirely through 3rd party training providers.

Any good trainer offers a wealth of knowledge and skill always striving to give people the best learning experience they can.  We work long hours either training, self-educating or researching material that will enrich and inspire our clients.  But if you do that as an ‘associate’ trainer you basically watch someone else take a percentage of your fee so large, that it’s difficult to make a living.  Why would anyone put up with that you might ask?!  Good question. Because I was just crap at marketing myself in order to get my clients directly.  Zero self-belief; no experience of doing it and no idea how to get it.  Because of this unreasoned fear about pretty much everything to do with selling my ‘brand’, I literally paid the price.

You know I’m thinking whilst writing this; I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here?  It sucks doesn’t it?  Maybe you’re slogging away at a job that frankly doesn’t reflect the future you saw for yourself or as in my case, are suffering the indignity of constantly being undervalued by people with usually half your ability or talent, but who don’t let fear get in their way.

Of course nobody has a trouble free life, so before long I was facing yet another challenge.  Having just survived an extremely difficult divorce, I was thirty-five when my first transplant began to fail.  The next decade was spent on renal dialysis.  Determined not to be beaten by this setback, I found a way to dialyse over-night, so I could still continue to work, but I won’t lie, it was hard, both physically and mentally.  From that point on I never got a good foothold on my career.  My earnings were heavily curtailed and eventually I had to sell my house and return to my parents.  Thank G-d for them right?

You Just Have To Keep Going

I hadn’t been idle during this time though and continued to invest in my education, studying coaching with a Level 5 Diploma in Performance Coaching with NLP, accredited by the National Council of Psychotherapists. And may I say, it was inspirational; exciting and turned me into an NLP nut.  Just loved it!  But whilst it dovetailed beautifully into all my communication skills training, I still felt trapped by my own inadequacy when it came to self-promotion.

My coaching and training skills give me plenty of opportunity to support and help other people, something that brings me untold reward and fulfilment.  I coach and train all kinds of behavioural related things, be it finding greater confidence in public speaking to positively managing your emotions.  Apparently however, when it comes to helping myself I don’t always follow my own advice.

Eventually my number finally came up (in a good way) and I was lucky enough to get a second transplant.  I won’t bore you with the details, but it worked well enough for 8 years or so.  The truth of it is however, they don’t last a lifetime I’m afraid. 

Anyway, during the last few of years of my parents’ lives, they became increasingly dependent on me for help with the normal day to day stuff and my working life became even more precarious, to the point where they were more or less supporting me, so I could be around to take care of them.

When S**t Got Real

Less than two years after my dad died, mum developed terminal lung cancer.  Diagnosed that February, she died 2 months later and I found myself adrift and alone.  No one to care for.  No one needed me.  I was without direction and very little income.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it occurred to me that if I didn’t start taking my life back, I’d be facing a very uncertain financial future.  No parents to fall back on and limited choices with regards to earning a living.  I won’t lie to you, I was pretty panicked.  I had visions of ending up in social care, totally reliant on the state, not something I ever envisaged would figure in my future.

I thought, right Lesley, you’d better get your sh*t together here.  You’ve got to get a handle on marketing yourself online.  I’d already gone to the expense, and frankly at the time torture, of designing my own website for my business www.pdtraininguk.com a couple of years before and then sat like a numpty waiting for the phone to start ringing.  Guess what; didn’t happen!

Getting Educated

It was time yet again to take action.  Desperate to improve my ability to self promote, I decided I needed to learn about digital marketing and starting a YouTube channel. I was fortunate to find the right teacher and now have the immense pleasure of a thriving coaching business and the daily fulfilment of helping people to achieve their personal goals.

Looking To The Future

Whatever is holding you back from realising your dreams or potential, be it fear of failure, lack of knowledge or not enough self belief and motivation, I know from experience any of those things can be overcome. Sometimes you just need someone to give you a little push.

There is nothing better than waking up looking forward to your day. Even on days when I am pretty shattered from dialysis, even on those days I can’t wait to get moving; just takes me a little longer.

COVID 19 – Getting Plugged In And Online More Important Than Ever

I now combine my time working as a life coach and soft skills trainer.  I’ve been lucky too, since much of my life coaching is done online, I haven’t had such a tough time as so many others. The world has shifted since the COVID 19 pandemic hit and makes getting plugged in and online more important than ever.  For someone like me who’s working life was already dogged by restrictions, taking action, in my case learning a new skill, has literally saved my professional life.  It’s allowed me to be able to take care of myself and live my best life possible, no matter what!

Goal / Plan / Action

So there you have it. My life laid bare. And yes, I have ended up back on dialysis…hoping some day to be lucky enough to have another transplant. But in the meantime life goes on.

You know, whatever you’re looking for in your own life, if I’ve learned anything on my own journey it’s this:

You need to set some goals and make a plan. Then most importantly, take action! Maybe you’re one of the lucky few who can overcome life’s obstacles unaided, but if not, why not take the first step and get in touch. The support and help you need is right here. Isn’t it your turn to get what you want from life. Whether that’s it about needing help with confidence, self esteem, overcoming limiting beliefs or you just want to make a change, I’m here to help you make that happen.

About the Author

I’m certified in life coaching with NLP, as well as a CIPD qualified learning and development professional, running my own personal development business. I enjoy sharing tips and advice with people to enhance their own life experience and learn new ways to positively navigate their lives.