Why the Smartest People are Self: Coaching, Directing and Leading Themselves Into a New Role 

In a New Industry or a New Way of Working – Freelance or Setting up in Business

Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash 

Part 1 of this story focuses on the ‘Why’. Part 2 of this story focuses on the ‘How’.Come back tomorrow to read: How the Smartest People are Self: Coaching, Directing and Leading Themselves into a New Role.

Millie had been working as a Marketing and PR Assistant at a leading London hotel for three years when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. As soon as the first lockdown began, she had been furloughed. Initially, this caused her anxiety because, from the outset, people were saying it would take the hospitality industry a long time to come back from what would be continuing negative fallout brought about by people not being able to travel freely.

Wanting to somehow take control of an uncertain future caused Millie to rethink her WorkLife beyond the hospitality industry.

Millie wanted to Self: Coach, Direct and Lead herself to what she wanted and needed to do:

She took the following two steps to work through this:

Step 1: Millie began from a place of thinking about the aspects of her role that she enjoyed and the aspects that she didn’t enjoy. She did this by evaluating the original job description to remind herself of why she had applied for the role and which aspects had lived up to her expectations and which aspects hadn’t.

Entry Requirements:

Exceptional organisational skills — Millie excels at and enjoys organising.

Excellent copywriting, editing and presentation skills — Millie has enjoyed all aspects of this work.

Sociable and outgoing yet professional in speaking with clients, guests, press and business contacts — Millie enjoys this aspect of the work and is good at it. However, at her last performance review, she was told the way she dressed wasn’t ‘immaculate’, and it needed to be, or else she wouldn’t get to ‘mingle’ with people. She wasn’t told exactly what was wrong with how she dressed, and when she tried to ask, she was told she should be able to figure that out for herself.

An ability to work under pressure and on multiple tasks — Millie is good at this. However, she now knows that should have come with a warning bell and a red flashing light. Because she believes the company abuses people’s willingness to do what is needed in challenging situations. That’s because they are constantly understaffed — they can’t retain people and are always slow to recruit, which results in constant pressure for everyone having to multitask.

Main Duties:

Assist the Head of Marketing with all marketing and PR campaigns — Millie enjoys this work, but the level of her involvement varies immensely. It had stagnated at low-level involvement, causing her day-to-day work to become very mundane.

Assist in maintaining and monitoring all social media campaigns — Millie enjoys this work, but again, her involvement has stagnated. She feels she is only given the work her manager doesn’t enjoy or when she’s not available. Once again, this had caused her day-to-day work to become very mundane.

Ensure that data from all sources is captured correctly onto the database — Millie enjoys this — which is just as well because she gets to do a lot of it.

Coordinate invite lists and RSVPs for special events — Millie enjoys this — which again is just as well, as she gets to do a lot of it.

Assist with photoshoots and filming for marketing and PR purposes — Millie really enjoys this, but unfortunately, she doesn’t get to do it much — because her manager enjoys it too!

What we offer:

Development and training prospects — This was the most crucial part of the offer for Millie, but unfortunately, this is the aspect that has least lived up to her expectations. She feels her learning, development and growth has stagnated, really, since she had joined the company. The fact that this had happened in a hotel that had become renowned for providing exceptional service to its guests caused Mille to question if her WorkLife learning, development and growth, could, in fact, progress in this industry if she were to join a less prestigious hotel. (Though that was prestige that had grown from the outside looking in, rather than from the inside looking out — or from a focus of establishing a relatively new hotel to earn a much-coveted badge of prestige, at whatever cost, and with little regard to its workforce)

Step 2: Millie began to consider how her skills, attributes, experience and potential, could help her to navigate her WorkLife into a new role, a role that would allow her to achieve her learning, development, and growth wants and needs.

Because of the pandemic, there wasn’t a lot of jobs being advertised. So, Millie started her considerations from old job descriptions that piqued her interest.

One was a Job in Marketing and PR for a travel magazine associated with an airline company. Millie was fully aware that this industry would also experience continuing negative fallout brought about by people not being able to travel freely. But for now, she wanted to focus on how she could apply to jobs that met with her criteria in navigating her WorkLife when jobs were once again being advertised.

Once again, she did this by evaluating the job description, from the aspects of the role that she enjoyed, that she was good at, and that she wanted to improve upon.

There was no Entry Requirements heading. Instead, it was phrased in a way that appealed much more to Millie because it didn’t give the sense of ‘staidness’ that her current job description had given — a sense that she had come to question and distrust. This heading replaced that sense of ‘staidness with a sense of ‘enjoyment’. Millie focused on the elements that interested her, that were different, i.e. not the ‘x amount of years of experience — she was able to quickly move beyond those more ‘traditional’ or ‘expected’ requirements to the following elements:

What we want in a Marketing and PR Professional

People who love to be measured — At first, this made Millie feel anxious, but then she reasoned if she was serious about learning, developing and growing in her WorkLife (and she was), she needed to be open to this.

People who are humble to ask for coaching — There were times in her current role when she wanted to ask for help by way of coaching or mentoring. It wasn’t that she was too humble to ask that had stopped her from reaching out for the help she needed. Rather that asking for help within her current company, Millie believed was perceived as a weakness. So, Millie liked the message that this company demonstrated in this brief description — a message that conveyed to Millie that it’s OK to ask for help.

People who see opportunity. To achieve things they didn’t think possible — Millie loved this was part of the role. She had put forward so many ideas at her current company about opportunities she believed would have served the hotel, its customers and workforce, but these hadn’t been positively received. Although the hotel was relatively new, it built its brand on a ‘sense of tradition’. That was what had enabled their success to the outside world and subsequent growth. But internally, it had disabled the success of the workforce, resulting in stumping their growth.

People who are curious and who can tell a story — Again, Millie also loved this was part of the role. Because, again, no matter how hard she had tried to act on this at the hotel, her curiosity and ability to tell a story had been crushed.

People who are not satisfied with mediocracy — Millie loved that this was part of the role too. And while it wasn’t that the hotel accepted mediocracy, it was more that the system it operated under (a controlled system) actually brought about mediocracy in its workforce — in that their ideas and motivated abilities were crushed, resulting in mediocracy, which was then rewarded.

People who can commit to our I/WE culture, values and expectations — Millie liked the sound of that, more than the bland description ‘team player’, on the job description for her current role because she had come to learn it stood for nothing. However, this description gave her a sense that individual, group, and company values and expectations were equally important in building and maintaining a culture that worked for everyone.

Main Duties — also had a different heading (which Millie preferred):

What will you be doing as a Marketing and PR Professional at ‘ABC’ company.

Writing stories that communicate the key messages of our organisation — That travel is vitally important to the world. Telling these stories on behalf of our clients to inspire people to visit new places and enjoy new experiences.

Researching and finding new customers and sectors which have commercial opportunities — Millie enjoys research.

Connecting with businesses to help them thrive by showing how brand partnership opportunities will benefit them and their business. — Millie enjoys building good relationships.

What we offer — had a different heading too (which Millie also preferred):

What’s in it for you, and why you should choose ‘ABC’ company:

Amazing rewards that will take you across the world, including visiting any of the other ‘ABC’ offices around the globe — That was very different from the ‘Employee discount scheme’ at her current company (an offering that hadn’t made it onto Millie’s list of elements that interested her, because, in reality, it hadn’t accounted for much). This offering did, however, interest Millie. It interested her very much.

The ability to be in control of your own income — This caused Millie to be a little anxious because it was based on a lower salary than what she was currently earning. But it had the potential to be a lot more, which was commission based on being recognised for achievements, and rewarded both financially and through other incentives — such as flights and hotel stay to places of interest to the recipient.

Continuous training and development programmes, including our Growing our own and next-generation leadership programme — This interested Millie and piqued her curiosity.

Millie loved how they summarised this:

It doesn’t matter how good you are. It matters how good you can be — It gave Millie a sense that if she was willing to put in the effort to reach her potential (and she was), that she would be supported in pursuing a WorkLife in which every day she would feel motivated, inspired and fulfilled. And that she would achieve this through continuous learning, development and growth opportunities.

A couple of the Benefits made Millie smile (or rather, laugh out loud!)

Casual dress — What! She could dress casually and still be considered professional!

Company events — And, and, she would also be ‘allowed’ or considered ‘professional enough’ to attend events and ‘mingle’ with people!


So, had Millie drawn on Self-CoachingSelf-Directing and Self-Leadership to work through what she wanted and needed to do to take control of navigating her WorkLife through a time of great uncertainty. She believes she had and shares why through what she considers are:

Words Of Wisdom

Self-Coaching: This is the process of guiding your learning, development and growth, particularly through periods of transition, in both the professional and personal realms.

Millie believed the two steps she had undertaken were the beginning of the self-coaching process because these steps informed her of where she was now and where she wanted to get to — i.e. away from a way of working that didn’t honour the aspects of the work she enjoyed and towards a way of working that did honour these.

Self-Directing: This is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. Individualism from an independent mind, without intervening factors or intermediaries.

Millie believed the two steps she had undertaken had drawn on her ability to self-direct because she had taken an objective approach in considering ‘What Is’ and ‘What Could Be’.

Self-Leadership: This is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going, coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviours on the way to getting there.

Millie believed the two steps had most definitely given her a developed sense of who she is, what she can do, and where she wants to go. She also believes that this gives her the ability to influence her communication, emotions and behaviours on the way to getting there.

This gave Millie the impetus to work on part two of the story she wanted to write for her continuing WorkLife chapters to help herself in knowing what she wants and needs to do. And to also help others who, too, want to take control of navigating their WorkLife in times of uncertainty by managing their learning, growth and development. Click here to read:

How the Smartest People are Self: Coaching, Directing and Leading Themselves into a New Role. 

Two Steps to Self: Coach, Direct and Lead Your WorkLife Through Times of Uncertainty Assignment:

Step 1: Begin from a place of thinking about the aspects of your role that you enjoy and the aspects that you don’t enjoy.

A good way to do this, is as Millie did, by working through the job description, to remind yourself of why you applied for the role and which aspects have lived up to your expectations, and which aspects haven’t.

Step 2: Begin to consider how your skills, attributes, experience and potential, could help you to navigate your WorkLife into a new role. A role that will allow you to achieve your learning, development, and growth wants and needs.

A good way to do this, is as Millie did, by working through a job description that piques your interest — evaluating it from the aspects of the role that you enjoy, that you are good at, and aspects that you want to improve upon.

I hope, as with Millie, this gives you the impetus to work on part two of the story you want to write for your continuing WorkLife chapters to help yourself in knowing what you want and need to do. Remember, you just need to click here to do that:

How the Smartest People are Self: Coaching, Directing and Leading Themselves into a New Role. 


As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.

How To Self Coach Direct and Lead Effectively is book 12 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of www.schoolofworklife.com My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.