Interview with health coach Sally Harding

Find out how Sally Harding’s own family’s health journey inspired the former HR Director to launch her health coaching business.

What’s your career background?

Before having a family, I’d spent twelve years in people development and change within retail and banking sectors, and as HR Director for a London based non-profit organisation.

While nurturing our children through their infant years, I was self-employed delivering the people aspects of organisational change for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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Leading people into results has always been a passion of mine, right back to my trainee days as a Marks+Spencer Graduate. In my experience, coaching is one of the most effective “how to” tools, to powerfully unlock individual potential and encourage growth.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The purpose of Sally Harding Health Coaching is to help people to live a better story, filled with healthfulness, results and success.

In formulating the vision, I considered three things:

  1. First, the bewildering fact that our culture here in the UK is rich in information yet interestingly, levels of health transformation remain low.
  2. Second, I reflected on my experience and my belief in coaching as a methodology that delivers lasting results.
  3. And finally, I couldn’t ignore who I had become through my own family’s health journey and what this had ignited in me. It had been a game changer for us, and I was being drawn to take it beyond our tribe.

Interestingly, as I connect with prospective clients, time and again I hear the same word, ‘survival’. In a nutshell, I help my clients to thrive; together we transform the whole picture – physical, emotional and mental health.

Why? One powerful way to be who you want to be in this life is first to address what is going on inside, and from that place, all manner of exciting opportunities open up. Of that I am sure. That’s why I start with health.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

Health Coaching is a new concept in the UK, and so I trained with the Health Coach Institute, based in the US. The qualification is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). From the off, I was coaching with other students and then practise clients, and so in that sense, the transition into business was relatively straightforward.

Who are your target audience?

I typically coach busy women who are surviving life, tired and wired, to have all the energy and health they need to be the person they truly want to be, so to get on with doing what they are called to do. Some of my clients additionally suffer from chronic illness or have a story of weight loss resistance.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

My website launched late in 2017; this has been a fantastic point of connection. That said, a lot of business still comes from word of mouth referrals and networking. I increase awareness of my work and vision on Instagram @thecoachdiary.

Who inspires you?

People inspire me. In particular those with outstanding levels of courage and determination. I enjoy reading autobiographies, and the opportunity to connect with the thinking and heart of the author as they reflect.

Recently I read Unbroken, Martine Wright’s extraordinary story as the last survivor to be pulled from the wreckage of the 7/7 terror attack at Aldgate and her remarkable and courageous journey to GB Paralympian success and beyond.

My amazing clients, they inspire me more than they know. Coaching energises me; I draw so much inspiration from the dynamic of coaching, in particular when leading a client to a vital breakthrough.

And our three children, as they pursue their different interests and passions and show resilience to grow in the moments when it doesn’t go so well. They inspire me!

How do you balance your business with your family?

Ah ha, that question! I tend to take time to map out our annual schedule, to be sure all the big rocks are in the bucket – term times, family holidays, weekend retreats with the husband, clubs for the children, known work trips, childcare, special celebrations etc.

Week to week, I then tweak the schedule as needs arise. With three children aged 5, 7 and 9 and a husband who has periods of time away from home I need to keep nimble and be responsive.

Developing various high-performance habits has helped. Getting up early and having an hour of intentional time to myself energises me, as does prioritising sleep. Equally life-giving is protecting some time together each week for the five of us to do whatever we feel like doing in the moment.

Often when I can appear the most organised with my daily schedule, I’m actually floundering inside, and I’ve kicked into micro-management and have overscheduled myself. The vision to consistently coach with excellence requires me to have clarity of mind and thought, to trust my intuition and to be free to engage creatively.

What tips do you have for aspiring coaches?

1) Do your research

Research your preferred coaching modality (life, health, business, transformation, executive) so you can invest in quality training with a reputable provider.

Look out for providers that include a decent business and marketing module in their offering – a good sign that they are postured to see you fly in practice rather than merely increase your skill set.

And as every great coach knows, you can only take clients where you have been yourself so get yourself a coach and be sure to have the required supervision in place.

2) Be comfortable with discomfort

Acknowledge that being uncomfortable is usually an indicator of your growth as a coach. Expect setbacks; it’s what you do next that says a lot about who you are. Take time to explore a starter niche for your business and go after it, keep clarifying your message!

3) Everyday is a school day

Each work day I take time to do the following four activities:

  1. Study.
  2. Write.
  3. Coach.
  4. Connect.

This approach keeps me growing as a coach and giving of my absolute best as I serve my clients.

You can find out more about Sally on her website