Today I bring you an interview with happiness coach Nicola Arnold. Nicola has overcome her own insecurities and vulnerabilities to enhance her wellbeing. She now helps others to do the same in her work, her business and her community work.
Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years.
I had a very happy childhood in terms of being supported to chase my dreams, try out hobbies and explore what career I wanted. However I never really felt I fitted in at school. I was bullied at secondary school and despite having a small group of friends couldn’t bring myself to confide in them, often finding it easier to conform to the fashion and music choices of others even though it didn’t sit comfortably with me.
What was your first job/career?
I knew from an early age that I wanted to work within the pharmacy field and was passionate about helping others. I started training as a pharmacy technician when I was 17 and still remain within this profession for my day job now.
I am the Pharmacy Education and Development Manager for an NHS Trust. I am responsible for the strategic planning and governance of education and training of all pharmacy staff, and have implemented an internal coaching programme.
I pride myself on the holistic approach I apply, to harness and empower individuals to strive for excellence, maximizing their potential and supporting the wider values of the organisation.
I am also a registered coach with the NHS Kent, Surrey and Sussex Leadership Collaborative supporting the growth of managers and leaders within the NHS.
What led you to doing what you do now? What is that and what does it entail?
I have always had a keen passion in developing the potential in individuals. Four years ago I embarked on learning more about coaching so I could use it at work. I enjoyed the initial course so much that I personally financed further training to certification level and again last November achieved my Professional Certified Coach Status (PCC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
Achieving credentials through ICF signifies a coach’s commitment to integrity, understanding and mastery of coaching skills and dedication to clients. Reaching PCC status is a fantastic milestone which demonstrates I have completed over 500 coaching hours.
In order to finance my qualifications I started my own coaching business ‘Enkindle’ which means to ‘make luminous and glowing’ and captures the essence of what I believe. It’s about putting yourself first, discovering your true potential and self-purpose and enabling you to stand tall. As a coach I illuminate the path of possibilities for individuals ready to overcome self-doubt and connect with their real values. I nurture and champion them to connect with their inner confidence and stand in their own spotlight to feel happy in their own skin. I’m a huge gratitude champion and I regularly write for Thrive Global on self worth, wellbeing, gratitude and positive mindsets.
In 2016 I launched the Happy to be ME hub, an online community where people can share what’s made them smile and how they have connected with gratitude. It has fostered a culture where everyone supports and champions each other to be their authentic selves and be happy to be in their own skin. At the end of last year I was shortlisted for an ‘exceptional service award’ for my work in creating the hub.
Have you experienced self-doubt yourself?
My own coaching journey is marked with a sense of achievement as I realized how much I had grown as a person. I uncovered insecurities and vulnerability lifting them to the surface so I could face the demons I had carried along with me for such a long time. We’ve all been there right? Overcome by feelings of self doubt, a lack of confidence to believe in ourselves and what we’re really capable of. I know – that sounds so easy doesn’t it? Just ‘let it go’ and move on. If only life was that simple – or is it? You see everything we do in life is about ‘choice’. Choice to feel fulfilled, living our lives on purpose.
What I’ve learnt is that self-doubt is also a choice – we can either choose to wallow in these feelings or let them go. My friends commenting how much I had blossomed, even wearing colour – a big thing for me. Black had always been my colour, I felt safe in it and blended into the background. I found myself starting to connect more with people and I could walk down the corridor looking around rather than with my eyes focused on the ground. I felt confident. It was quite a transition. I’ve realised that for a long time I was holding back doing the things I wanted to do for fear of them not being enough – when I let go of the comparison gremlin in my head I realised that I was an individual – I could run my business my way, create my own brand and not worry about following what others were doing or the milestones they had reached. When I let go of this I started to enjoy and embrace my own journey – it felt quite empowering.
What first baby step would you advise for a woman who is wracked with lack of self-worth?
Ask yourself ‘what’s the truth in the story you are telling yourself?’ So often we allow the negative committee inside our heads to take over and fuel our fears. What would it be like to give yourself permission to really explore what’s going on and consider the choices you really want to make? So I invite you to start 2018 with choice, self love and courage. (Oh and join my Happy to be ME hub along the way so you realise that there is a whole support network out there and you are certainly not alone in feeling this way).
If you could recommend one book to a woman what would it be and why?
Brene Brown’s – The gifts of imperfection – it changed my life! I know that sounds such a bold statement and yet for me it was the first time I gave myself permission to be really honest about who I was and what I really wanted in life.
What daily practice do you engage in that helps you?
Saying and connecting with a positive affirmation every morning. I set my intentions for the day and the mind set I want to be with.
Research suggests that even just 2 minutes a day spent in a positive state can make a difference to our longer term happiness – which supports our mental and physical wellbeing.
I’ve just started a 40 day positive affirmation challenge in my hub. For many people Lent is a time where people give something up for 40 days – I’d love to flip that around and consider what would it be like to ditch negative speak and encourage you all to say out loud a positive affirmation each day for 40 days. Each day a new affirmation will be posted in the hub for you to say out loud and write down – there is much to be said for connecting with what you want from the day.
Please tell us about any volunteering or charity work you do.
Volunteering and supporting charities is an important part of who I am. As a Brownie guider, having received my 20 year service award in 2016, I’m no stranger to hard work, dedication and putting in the hours. For me it’s about making a positive impact on other people’s lives and encouraging community spirit.
In 2016 I completed the Action for Happiness (AfH) ‘Explore what matters’ course and found it gave me new perspectives, time for myself and a new outlook on life. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I am currently running my fourth course as a volunteer course facilitator on behalf of AfH running a course in Farnborough, Hampshire.
In September 2016 along with some of the graduates from the course, we launched the Hampshire Happiness Hub to create a longer lasting impact on the community. It provides those that have attended the course an opportunity to continue their mind set work and meet up with likeminded people to support each other.
So far we have held four stand alone evenings to build up the Hampshire Hub community. These have focussed on channelling gratitude, introducing mindfulness, building resilience and building a kinder society. The community is growing by the month and other members are now contributing to the evenings which really strengthens the bond of the forty strong group.
Who has supported you to live positively?
I am very lucky to be supported by a very understanding husband who sees how happy my work makes me – especially with the long hours I can sometimes work. Alongside my family and friends they all champion and encourage me to strive to chase my dreams. Right from an early age my grandparents instilled a fantastic energising work ethic in me to be the best I could be – they have been a huge inspiration for me.
Who is your role model?
Brene Brown is a huge hero of mine. Her work on vulnerability and courage speaks to my heart and has helped shape the person I am today. It’s amazing how self doubt can have such a hold on us isn’t it? It makes us feel low or worthless, like we’re under achieving and just stuck. What I have learnt is that ultimately thoughts are not facts! I’ve learnt how to shrink and mute my self-doubt gremlins and channel my confidence. Now I listen to my inner champion instead. The stronger me who is capable of everything I want and more.
What are your plans for the future?
A key element of my face to face workshops and speaking events involves the promise box challenge. I invite participants to sign up to a one month promise to do something for them e.g. channel self care and compassion. To date over 450 people have signed up to the challenge. The promise box has travelled around the UK: The cities of London and Birmingham; The counties of Berkshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Surrey. I would love to extend this and take it on an extended tour up and down the country. My dream would be to speak at a TedX event about my promise box work too.
I would also love to be invited into schools to talk to children about self worth and resilience – the earlier we can learn these life skills, the sooner we will build communities who support each other rather than compare.
For me comparison breeds a society where material objects are still markers for success. If we don’t act now to counteract the isolation that the constant craving to compete with each other has manifested, we risk expanding the already increasing gap that is more and more apparent in communities. It’s time to take responsibility for our behaviours and model a culture of connection and compassion.