19 years in recovery from addictions, stepping away from an unhappy marriage, shifting her career from banking to coaching, Harriet Waley-Cohen has transformed her career and life, coaching others to achieve their fullest potential. Helping women leave behind negative and sabotaging thought patterns and choose a new way of thinking, Harriet has been invited on numerous stages from Microsoft to Sky, to share her knowledge on countless topics from inner mindset to imposter syndrome.
Experiencing a deep sense of inadequacy has fuelled me to want to show others how to turn their self-doubt into self-belief…
What was the catalyst behind your leap from the financial world to entrepreneurship?
I left my career in the financial world after I had my children. It simply wasn’t compatible to be able to be the kind of mother I wanted to be and to continue with that career. I also didn’t feel that the financial world was ethically aligned with my values, nor that I could make the kind of positive difference I wanted to make in the world in that industry. I don’t think burnout featured, although, there were times when I was working long hours and felt exhausted, it never got to the point of burnout.
You have overcome numerous challenges, from an unhappy marriage to defeating breast cancer. What kept you motivated and your spirits high during these low moments?
During the difficult times in my life, I’ve always found having a strong support network around me to be a huge help. We all need people to lean on, who will listen to us in our troubled times, and offer wisdom, experience and advice. I’ve also found that focusing on what I can change and letting go of what is outside my circle of control is extremely helpful. No matter how challenging a situation is, focusing on things that are out of your control is self-defeating, energy-sapping and counterproductive.
How have your life experiences helped you to create a career empowering and coaching others?
It’s definitely the case that women find it reassuring and inspiring to know that I have come through various challenging situations; it helps them to know that they aren’t alone in their own struggles and that I really do get how difficult it can be. It’s definitely the case that women look for someone who has successfully got through what they are struggling with when they seek out someone to help them, and in that way, my life experience is positive for them.
I also think that the things we have managed to get through give us so much experience, wisdom and insight that we can use to help others. Experiencing a deep sense of inadequacy and learning how to turn that around, has fuelled me to want to show others how to turn their self-doubt into self-belief. I don’t want any other woman to go through what I went through. I want them to know that there is a solution, you can change, and you can feel amazing about yourself, be happy and successful.
You take an intersectional feminist approach to speaking and coaching, tying it in with diversity, equity and inclusion. What does intersectional feminism mean to you?
Intersectionality is about being aware of how different issues overlap, interplay and come together. Race, sexuality, neurodiversity, being able-bodied or disabled, body shape, age. For me, it means to be aware that while being a woman comes with a whole host of disadvantages, there are extra layers of disadvantages that can layer on top of that to create extra disadvantages. Being an older, Asian, disabled, lesbian, neurodiversity woman with a larger body will bring far greater disadvantages than an able-bodied, young, thin white woman. To ignore these extra factors is dangerous and unhelpful.
Why is coaching so important for success?
Coaching accelerates success, firstly by helping you to tap into the inner resources that you might not have previously considered valuable for your current challenges or situation. With clients, I often find that the powerful questions I ask them help them to gain confidence in themselves, their previous experience and resources, and move forward decisively. Coaching will also support you with creating concrete action plans to bring your goals to fruition, accountability around taking action, and troubleshooting along the way. Finally, a good coach will share their own experience, and amend tools and processes along the way which will also accelerate transformation and success.
Coaching leads to transformation, and the initial step for any change is mindset. What is the biggest way someone can change their mindset and outlook for the better?
Coaching helps you to see things from a different perspective, as well as providing a space for your thoughts, beliefs and biases to be challenged. Because coaching is a safe and confidential space, it provides the opportunity to shift your mindset and move beyond existing patterns that are holding you back.
The first step is to notice that you have a mindset, a set of beliefs, and then start to question whether they are true and whether they are serving you. Choosing a set of beliefs that serve your future, and defining your way of operating in the world that is congruent with your values and goals, will have a powerfully positive impact on your psychological wellbeing, self-belief and whole future.
Mindset is not just for business or a career. Having a growth mindset and a supportive set of beliefs about yourself, the world and what’s possible, will positively impact every area of your life. Your relationships will be healthier, your wellbeing will improve, you will have more fun, be more creative and make a greater impact overall on the world.
Our mindset defines how we see ourselves and how we see the world around us. When our beliefs about all three of these are limiting, sabotaging, untrue or unhelpful, our whole lives will be impacted for the worse. However, getting the mindset right is a game-changer in terms of confidence, wellbeing, success, fulfilment and happiness. How you deal with mistakes, how you deal with other people, how you spend your time and money, and so much more, will be positively impacted by a supportive mindset.