British-Jamaican, Marlene McNally, is a London-based, International Life Coach who has coached over 4,000 people. She works with high-achieving women and people of colour to achieve their ambitions by breaking through the blocks that keep them stuck in their personal and work lives. Marlene combines cognitive psychology, trauma-informed healing modalities, and her intuitive coaching approach to create deep transformation and results for her clients. The result is clients who stop apologizing, develop the courage to confidently take up space and actually enjoy their lives.
What’s your connection to Jamaica and where do you live currently?
Both my parents are from St. Catherine, Jamaica. My dad: Guys Hills, Mum: Seafield. They emigrated to England in 1960 and I was born in 1966 and grew up in London. I left the UK in my early 20s, spent three years back-packing around the world. Later I ended up working in Japan, Australia, Russia until my mid-40s. Returning to London, in 2011, where I’m currently based.
How did you get started as a life coach?
I gave up my career working for the European Commission in 2013 and spent five years trying to figure out what to do next. My mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2012 and ensuring she got the right level of care and support became a full-on project. When she passed at the end of 2017, a friend introduced me to the work of The Life Coach School. I experienced the power of coaching first hand: it revolutionised the way I showed up in relationships and showed me how many limits I’d put on my own growth and happiness.
I completed a 6-month certification programme with The Life Coach School, USA in Oct 2018. The LCS intensive training changed me as a person, as I did my own deeper work which informs how I show up as a coach. I’ve built a successful private coaching practice where I support high achieving women and people of colour to challenge the limitations preventing them from moving into self-trust, so they can live joyful lives that have impact.
In addition, since January 2020, I also contract part-time with LCS as a coach and instructor for their Scholars program, as well as an instructor on their signature Certified Coaching Program (coaching training).
What has been your proudest moment so far as a life coach?
Only one moment?? Seriously, I finish each day with pride when I’ve shown clients how they can reclaim their personal power and make the changes they want, by reframing what they believe.
If I have to choose, then it has to be coaching people of colour in North America and Europe following George Floyd’s death in 2020. The level of racial-trauma that it uncovered was palpable. It was such an honour to provide clients with a much needed safe-space to process their feelings around buried incidents, micro-aggressions and their own internalised-racism. As black people we have had to suppress a lot of anger linked to injustices, in order to ‘get on’. It’s courageous work, where the reward is a greater sense of self-acceptance, self-confidence and willingness to take up more space in the world.
What are some of the opportunities for people to address their personal life during the pandemic ?
The pandemic has given people a unique opportunity to slow down and take stock of what’s working and not working in their relationships, careers, health, mental and spiritual wellbeing. They can then decide consciously what they want and why. It had been so easy to just go with the flow, even if it had been taking you in a direction you don’t want to be going. We only have one life and all the small and large decisions we make or don’t make on a daily basis, determines the quality of our life now and in the future.
Working privately or in a group setting with a life coach can assist people to set stretch goals for themselves and work out what mind-drama is getting in the way of making them real. A lot of people have changed careers, moved countries, revived or ended romantic relationships and generally come into a more honest self-relationship and understanding of themselves.
What would be a life coach tip for the new year?
There’s the pain we experience from not growing vs the pain we get from setting big goals and leaning into the discomfort. Choose the pain from growth, as it’s helping you evolve into a better version of yourself.
It’s a no-brainer.
Did your Jamaican upbringing influence your life coaching style?
I reckon so. I see coaching as a healing modality and I come from an ancestral line of wise, female healers. Life coaching is my contribution to that legacy. I can also be pretty direct, I’m funny and use story-telling as a way to connect and simplify complicated concepts.
Which life coaches do you love right now?
I have some fabulous colleagues who I’m in love with right now. Namely, Brig Johnson who has an insightful podcast called Breakthrough with Brig, specially for Black Women. Dr. Sonya Wright, The Mid-life Sex Coach for Women. AND if you don’t know my Mentor, Brooke Castillo, you just have to check out The Life Coach School Podcast (life wisdom for everyone)
A phrase you use far too often?
You are responsible for your own happiness, don’t give that job to anyone else: if you can’t do it, they sure as hell can’t. In a nutshell, your philosophy is? I take pride in continually changing, not because I’m insincere, but because I’m committed to growth and transformation.
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