Sarah with her hand on her chin looking thoughtful.

Performance coaches, ADHD coaches, executive coaches, in fact all coaches, spend a lot of time exploring the self-limiting beliefs of our coachees. We look at how they can change their perspective and change their beliefs to promote success. But how many of us do it for ourselves?

Recently during a birthday text exchange with someone I have known for twenty plus years, I expressed concern that my new business venture will be a disaster and that I am completely out of my depth. Her reply was this – ‘Everything you do is successful Sezza. I can’t wait to see it grow.’ I must point out that this message is from my daughter’s best friend who she met in year 1 (hence the silly nickname Sezza). I read that message, smiled, and thought no more about it… until today.

I officially launched on 19th September and I am already frustrated that, despite lots of interest, I do not have a diary overflowing with clients. I feel like I have failed at the first hurdle.

All my life I have had this recurring image of myself as a ‘failure’, but I think that I am beginning to realise that this is my perception of myself and not what other people see.

Big Time Failure Number 1:

I failed school! More specifically I failed a lot of exams and was constantly in trouble at secondary school.

At primary school I was keen, interested and loved to learn – nothing was too much of a challenge. During my secondary education things took a turn for the worse. The harder the learning was the less willing I was to have a go – I did not know how to fail and learn from it. I could not focus, I was easily distracted and became more and more disruptive in class. My maths teacher made me sit in her cupboard during lessons so I could not be a distraction for everyone else. I quickly adopted the persona of the class clown and my peers realised that if they dared me to do something then I would always accept the challenge. Hence, lighting a cigarette over a Bunsen burner and setting my hair alight!

When I was 11, I remember a teacher telling my parents I was Oxbridge material, yet by sixth form my history teacher wrote on my report that he couldn’t say anything about me as I was yet to turn up to any of his lessons.

So, there you go, clear evidence of my failings!

I am now 53 years old, and I have a degree, a teaching postgraduate certificate, the NPQH (head teacher certification), diplomas in Psychology and Performance Coaching with Neurolinguistic Programming. As well as many other certificates for training over the 25 years that I have successfully worked in education.

Does this not make me a success?

Big Time Failure Number 2:

I fail at important relationships. More specifically I broke up with the father of my two daughters.

This ‘failure’ haunted me for many years – I felt guilty that I had spoiled the chances of the girls growing up in a home where both ‘loving’ parents lived and had an equal role in parenting. After all, as it was publicly known at the time, it was me who left after 13 years together. Their reality of course was very different, this was an extremely toxic relationship with an older man who controlled every part of my life – the first control was getting me to leave university after just a term. I had the girls when I was 23 and 26. I did not know how to be a parent. During this time, my parents insisted that I study, and I had completed an Open University degree by the time my second daughter started school. Whilst I was studying, I worked in several schools in a support role. My first job was a mid-day supervisor. Any money I earnt paid for childcare, and I had nothing left after that was paid. In 2000, I became a teacher after a hard PGCE year and I left that relationship shortly after, with a car full of children, kittens and clothes!

In 2003 I began a new relationship, which is now in its 20th year, and he has been everything the girls and I needed and deserved.

So, does this make me successful at relationships?

Big Time Failure Number 3:

I failed at headship. More specifically I have given up headship due to my health.

Several months ago, I wrote my blog – How Headship Broke My Heart and it was published on by Dr Emma Kell.
In a nutshell, I suffered a string of cardiac events which left me very unwell for a long time. After I had accepted that a return to headship was not really a sensible option, my mental health took a nosedive too. I had lost my purpose and really didn’t know who I was anymore. After 12 years of headship and 25 years in total in education, I could no longer do the job as I could not cope with the stress and pressure and my body and mind had failed me.

I now have a diagnosis of Microvascular Cardiac Disease; this is not a very widely known syndrome as it is a cardiac disease that really only affects women and is linked to stress and the hormonal changes in perimenopause (ladies look it up). I have spent the last few months training to be a performance coach with neurolinguistic programming and have launched my own small business. I have created, marketed and networked hard over the past few months. I have had a business launch and have started up a support group for women with ADHD on the Isle of Wight where I live. The business is ready to take off and I love the freedom I have now. For the first time in my life I do have a worklife balance. The passion I have for supporting others has been reignited and I feel as though professionally I have reinvented myself. Whether the business succeeds or not, I have realised, has a lot to do with my self-belief and how I can sell the services that I offer.

So, am I a failure?

Absolutely not! I am resilient, strong and adaptable. I have had (like all of us) a life of highs and lows – but when I am knocked down I will at some point get up and be even more brilliant!

We must stop limiting ourselves with our perception of our failures and change our perspective on ourselves!

This blog was originally published and is available from