A question that I sometimes get asked is, “Why did you decide to become a coach?”
If I’m to be 100% transparent, I didn’t decide to become a coach. It almost feels like coaching has chosen me in some way. My team knows that it’s a title that I really resist because I don’t see myself as a coach.
My perception of a coach was someone who has it all together and they’re now in this position to impart all of this valuable information. I don’t have it all together, I don’t. But what I share with you on this platform is what I’m learning — the lessons that I’m learning as I’m going through life, as I’m aspiring to be my most extraordinary self.
So how did I end up in coaching? Well, here’s what happened. I was a management consultant for many years. I was certified as a business analyst. I did project management. And then my husband and I started our own company which became successful very quickly. We built another company after that. I was really in the business and IT world. I really had nothing to do with personal development.
My very first experience of personal development was actually a friend of mine. This friend who actually worked with me for our company was someone I admired. He worked with my team and was reporting to me. He was the calmest, gentlest, just most amazing person I’d had the opportunity to interact with. As I would hang out with him after projects, he told me about how every day he meditated. Every day, he would read these books like Robin Sharma, and all of these other greats in personal development. And so that was my introduction to personal development. I was like, wow, I want a little bit of what he has.
Once I started down that path, I started to explore different teachers, different mentors, and I joined different mastermind groups. One of the things that was so apparent to me everywhere that I went — whether it was a mastermind group, coaching, or events — was one thing. I would go to these events and I would very often be the only person of color in the room. And it struck me. Why was that the case? Why was it that there were no people of color? Were they not invited? Were they not welcome? Was this not of interest to them?
One of the things that I realized as well is that we were very siloed, that while there weren’t many, there were some women who were out there in the personal development space. But we were so siloed that they were having their events that appeal to people of color. There were these other events hosted by different ethnicities that were just very siloed.
That bothered me a lot. It bothered me enough that I decided that I wanted to do something different. I wanted to be the change that I wanted to see in the world. So I started work on a live event. And one of the things that I was so adamant about as I was working with my incredible creative team, was that I wanted the speaker panel to be diverse. I wanted all kinds of people represented on that panel, because I felt that sometimes the reason people wouldn’t go to the same events that I went to was that they didn’t see anybody in the speaker list who looked like them.
We started to plan this event, which was called the ‘Woman On Fire Summit’. You can still find us on social media, and we had an amazing roster of speakers planned. Unfortunately, as we all know, the world happened in 2020. Two weeks before our event, we had to make the decision to cancel.
I had to think about what I could do. What could I do to continue that momentum? I remember seeing the cover of Success Magazine. I sometimes pick up a copy when I’m in the bookstore and see it on the shelves. I’m not a subscriber, but they had an edition that had the new thought leaders on the cover. I remember looking at that cover, and there was not a single woman who was black, indigenous, or of color. They had two black men who were on that list, and they did have a man who was of color as well. But it struck me that here was the list from Success Magazine, of all of what they considered the leading thought leaders in the personal development space, and there was no woman — not a single woman who was black, indigenous, or of color.
That was a turning point for me because up until that point, I really hadn’t even considered coaching in the sense of what I do now. I was happy to host events, I was happy to be part of various communities. I was happy to have my Ndini platform. And on the Ndini podcast, I was sharing information that was inspiring, uplifting and really focused on helping women step into their most extraordinary life, but it was very focused on African women — the main reason I had created that platform. Because as African women, we never really saw ourselves represented in a positive light in the media.
What I also realized then, was, as I continued to put content out on Ndini platform, was that the very thing that I did not like in all of these events that I went to where I was the only person of color. It was exactly what I was doing with Ndini — I was effectively creating another silo.
I decided at that point that I would do something different. I thought, how could I extend that thinking that I’d had for the Woman On Fire Summit to a platform that can be inclusive, that could embrace anybody, and everybody? And that’s where the idea for WORTHY came from.
Now, I have to be transparent with you and say that my self doubt kicked in at that point, because I started to question myself: “Who do you think you are to step into this role as a coach? What do you know, you don’t have your life together?”
These were all the questions that circulated in my head. I decided so that no one can challenge me, let me get certified. I then went down this whole route of getting certified first as a life coach, then a business coach, then a productivity coach, then a habits coach, a meditation coach, and most recently, a certified hypnotherapy coach. And all of this was really because I wanted to be in a position where I could say, “Oh, look, I have a piece of paper that says, I’m qualified to talk about this.”
So often, that’s where we stop ourselves. We fail to trust ourselves. I fail to trust that my life experience, my experiences as a woman, as a woman of color, as an entrepreneur, as a mom — all of the labels that I wear qualified me to be a coach. I didn’t need an extra piece of paper that proved nothing. No one has ever come to me and said, “Hey, you’re a life coach? Show me your certificate.” No one has. These were all just stories that I built up in my own head about why I wasn’t qualified enough to call myself a coach. To be honest, maybe it’s the reason that I still hesitate with that title. I actually still shy away from using that title because I feel like, who am I to say that I am a coach? That is how I ended up here.
As I have mentioned, there seemed to be so little representation of different viewpoints, different colors, different ethnicities, and different backgrounds in this space. And so even though I was resistant to it, I felt like, “If not you, then who? If you’re not going to do it, then who is going to step up and do it? Who is it that your nieces and nephews will be able to see who looks like them, who will tell them that they have everything that they need within themselves to create an extraordinary life.”
And that has really been my journey — a journey of fear, a journey of self doubt — that has brought me to this moment. What I know for sure is that I am going to do the best that I know how, with what I have, and that I don’t need to show up perfectly. I just need to show up. I am learning, I am growing, and as I learn as I grow, I’ll be sharing that with you.
Thank you so much for being part of my journey. Thank you so much for supporting me. I truly am so grateful that you are making me a part of your journey to being your most extraordinary self.
Sandra has a podcast episode on this topic in the WORTHY Podcast:
You can also watch it on YouTube: