Spotlight on Julie Mullins

The serious stuff

Why did you decide to become a coach / mentor?

All my life I have been searching round for work that truly expresses my values. I started in social work, then counselling, then training, then management and then stress management. All valuable and rewarding experiences but none of them quite hitting the mark. My mother then sent me a newspaper cutting about an executive coach, as she thought I would be interested. When I found out more about coaching it suddenly felt like I had come home. This was it! This is what I had been preparing for all my life! This was how I could design my life to combine all my previous experience and training, work with extraordinary and admirable people, be creative and independent and still enable me to enjoy a rich and wonderful family life.

How did you get into coaching / mentoring?

Although many people told me at the time that I was already well qualified to start up as a coach, I felt the need for some more specific and in depth training (I always do, but that is another story). I signed up for a two year Coach Training Programme with Coach University based in the USA. This has been an exciting time, which has not only developed my coaching skills and helped me build my business but also resulted in establishing an international network of support and resources.

What is your greatest coaching / mentoring achievement (or should we ask what's the greatest achievement of one of your clients?)

I would not want to talk about the achievements of one particular client as all my clients are still in a coaching relationship with me and may be concerned about being identified. Generally though, my clients are often amazed to find that by simplifying their lives and really focusing on one aspect, that the other areas of their lives develop simultaneously. People who have come to me to look at developing their career prospects have also reported an improved family life or better physical health, people who wanted to get organised have said their communication skills have improved no end. People who wanted to consider a management issue have suddenly got in touch with their early childhood ambitions and decided to pursue an entirely different and totally fulfilling career! The coaching relationship leads to far greater creativity, which opens up many new doors for clients. It has a built in accountability that gets people past the place they would normally stop and it raises awareness so that the clients goals are always at the forefront of their mind and therefore being worked towards.

How would your clients describe you?

Clients have described me as approachable, honest, insightful, caring and committed. One client after an initial interview said, "your style is intriguing!" When I explored this with him, he said I was much more direct and challenging than he had expected. However he still chose me as his coach as he said he felt he would get much more achieved. He is still with me and achieving great things. Clients and I often have fun in the sessions, they feel able to open up to me early on in the relationship, and ensure I coach them in the way that is most effective for them.

What are your core values and principles?

That life feels good when it has direction, when you are heading straight for what you love. If you doubt this, just look into the faces of people who are following their hearts desire, you can see the intensity written there. I believe everyone has the skills, knowledge and resources within themselves to identify something they love and to pursue it but they sometimes just need help to access them. You don't see babies deciding not to try and stand up and walk in case they fall, or look silly or are seen as too ambitious. They have the confidence to try something over and over until they get it right. They don't take it personally if they fail at first and they don't worry about what others think. However, as children we soon learn that we have to find out what others want from us and this often overrides what we want for ourselves. To make matters worse what others want from us often contradict each other so it gets even harder to please people by fulfilling their expectations. Our own dreams and desires can get buried deeper and deeper until we can no longer remember what they were. A large part of what I do is help clients access those original dreams and look at how they can be used to instil a sense of passion and purpose into their lives now.

How has coaching/mentoring assisted your career / life development?

All the issues my clients are working on, I am working on myself. I strongly believe that coaches are models for clients and must "walk their talk". I therefore have my own coach and I am constantly working on strengthening my own personal foundation, which includes my boundaries, standards, needs, values and relationships. Although I have been working hard to develop my business, coaching has helped me stay focused on why I am doing it. That is, doing something I love, whilst having a good quality of life and plenty of family time. This ensures that I don't become totally absorbed by my business and that I retain a separate identity and life.

The lighter side of life

What do you do when you're not working - hobbies, interests, clubs etc?

I really enjoy time with my husband, (who works away during the week) and our two sons Jack 4yrs and Ben 7mths. We live in the Yorkshire Dales so we make the most of that and also go away in the caravan as much as possible. I read a great deal although I have to stop myself reading books entirely on coaching, self development or business building and read some fiction which I really enjoy as well. Horse riding is a passion that I stopped pursuing while I was pregnant and which I will be taking up again shortly. I can't wait.

Who / what makes you laugh?

Spike Milligan who I believe is a genius, Billy Connelly especially when he is talking about being a child in Glasgow, Victoria Wood because she can laugh at herself and other women, and Leslie Neilson in those totally outrageous and silly films like Airplane and Naked Gun.

How would your friends and/or family describe you?

I asked my family and friends to contribute to this and they described me as: honest, loyal, creative, committed, loving, caring, meticulous, single-minded, forthright and compassionate. My husband also describes me as hopeless in all matters domestic which is true.

What else do want to achieve in your life or work?

Just more of the same. I love what I am doing professionally and just want to continue to develop and improve. I want to establish a great reputation as an effective coach, and build a really good track record. My vision is to help thousands of people to live more fulfilling lives by discovering their unique qualities and realising their full potential. The more people I can touch in this way the better. Personally, I want to continue to enjoy a really strong and satisfying family life and hope my children grow to become confident, generous people who establish great friendships and supportive networks.

Any claims to fame?

When I joined the Royal Navy I was filmed by the BBC who followed me through my training for a careers programme. There were lots of very glamorous volunteers for the position but they picked me (who didn't volunteer) as I had the "girl next door" looks! I was the first woman to be awarded the Top Academic Student award at Greenwich Royal Naval College and also the first female officer to serve in the Royal Marines Headquarters in Portsmouth.

What's the most challenging thing you've ever done?

Usually physical challenges such as volunteering to abseil 90ft down a cliff side when I am scared of heights, or sailing a Nicholson 55 yacht with 8 royal marines in gale force winds, at night, or doing leadership exercises in rain and fog for three days on Dartmoor and sleeping with my head in a puddle... the list goes on. I was tempted to say giving birth, especially the first time, as it was a particularly difficult labour, but once it starts you don't have a choice so I don't count it as a challenge. Perhaps the challenge was coming to terms with the experience.

What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you?

When I was 17 I walked from Newcastle to Carlisle along the route of Hadrian's Wall with the Ranger Guides. It was a great time, and beautiful weather, so we spent most of the time in shorts and T-shirts. I do remember however, being rather disconcerted when I was followed through a field by a horse who was after the sandwiches in my rucksack, and then through a field by a bull that was after the sandwiches in my rucksack and then through Carlisle by an elderly man, who might have been after the sandwiches in my rucksack! I was also injured regularly. I spilt hot cooking oil over my hand the first morning, walked for three of the days in my gym shoes as my walking boots were rubbing so badly, and I could not get over a style, fence or gate without scratching or cutting myself. In fact, the first time I managed it unscathed, I cheered and jumped in the air, slid down the grassy bank and grabbed a fence post covered in barbed wire. This was all in the space of four days, so I must have been working really hard at it. I might not describe these events as the funniest things that ever happened to me but those around me seemed to think it was a good laugh.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with - and why?

Someone very small who would require little oxygen.

What makes you who you are?

Obviously my family has been a huge influence on me and has always been very supportive, interested and encouraging. The relationship I have with my husband has enabled me to pursue my ambitions and to take necessary risks. However, two events in January this year have changed my outlook and values quite dramatically. Just after New Year I was taken into hospital suffering from serious breathing difficulties. The possible causes were discussed with me and the prognosis for some did not look good. I lay there feeling vulnerable and angry at my seeming lack of control; guilty and frustrated for not having taken care of myself properly; and sad when I thought of my husband and children. It really brought home to me the importance of taking care of myself and heeding any warnings. I knew then that given a second chance I was going to live my life differently.

On the professional side, I really found out that as a sole trader, if I was absent from the practice there was no practice! I was not looking after clients, I was not finding new clients and I had no systems in place that could continue in my absence. A week after I left hospital I heard a coach speaking on that very subject. He said if your business cannot continue in your absence, you don't have a business you have a job. He was right. He recommended we read Michael Gerber's "The E-Myth Revisited" which I did in its entirety the day it arrived and my whole vision of the business changed and consequently so did my practices and systems.

Fortunately, the illness did not prove to be as serious as first thought and after treatment I am feeling better than I have in a long time. I am truly grateful for the experience however, because of how it has helped me grow and who I have become as a result.

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