Case study

Life coach and managing director — Clare McGregor

After realising the value of coaching offenders to positively improve their lives Clare set up and now runs a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Discover what it took her to become a successful life coach

What made you want to be a life coach?

I was 30 when I realised that it's better to help people solve their own problems rather than giving well-meaning, but flawed advice. We know no one else's life better than they do.

I'm hoping that others are bright enough to realise this sooner than I did.

What did you need to do to become a life coach?

After a degree in classics at Cambridge University, I studied management at the Open University Business School.

Later, I gained a certificate and diploma in life coaching at Newcastle College of Distance Learning. 

I was coaching leaders of organisations when it dawned on me that the people who might benefit most from coaching were actually in our prisons. I rang the governor of HMP Styal, near Manchester Airport, and started coaching there.

I now truly believe that there is more potential in our prisons than in an Oxbridge college. 

What are your main work activities?

In 2010 I founded an NGO, Coaching Inside and Out (CIAO), with other coaches to use life coaching to challenge and support people convicted of offences or at risk of offending. The charity also encourages others to provide and commission coaching. I spend most of my time doing this as well as running the organisation itself.

CIAO's coaches work one-to-one with our clients for up to six hours a day in prisons and in our communities. Any more time than this and it becomes hard to dedicate your whole self to each client, and they deserve our full energy and attention. This also allows time for preparation, supervision and associated paperwork.

What are your career ambitions?

I now want to explore other ways that coaching can help people who are socially excluded and link up with others who are already doing this.

I also want to write more and build on the stories in my book, Coaching Behind Bars.

What do you enjoy about life coaching?

The power that clients have to change their own lives and the lives of others, without you giving any advice whatsoever, is truly inspirational. It's spine-tingling to see someone grow and realise their potential, whether they're in a boardroom or a prison cell.

What are the most challenging parts?

The world of coaching is crowded and can feel impenetrable, so to be a coach you have to be entrepreneurial. Find your market and demonstrate how coaching would benefit a particular group if you want others to fund your work.

Any words of advice for someone wanting to become a life coach?

You need to be brave and supportive to challenge people's assumptions that hold them back.

Be curious and make sure that you genuinely believe in people's potential. Want the best for your clients and don't think that you know better than they do. You can't be a really great coach if you feel superior in any way.

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