Embark on a journey of self-discovery and transformation as we delve deep into the world of Dan Underwood, a Career & Business Coach like no other! In this exclusive MG interview, Dan shares his unique approach to helping clients uncover their passions and purpose, ultimately empowering them to take bold steps toward their dreams! Plus, he also shows his creative side and his hidden talents…
Hi Dan! Firstly, how do you help your clients discover and effectively pursue their passions?
I help them by blending the disciplines of counselling (Discovering), coaching (Empowering) and mentoring (Inspiring), combined with my visual facilitation skills, to capture my clients essence with clarity. I use an informal interview method (coffee shop chat scenario) whilst being a reflective listener that focuses on highlighting the key elements they share and encourages them to delve deeper into the ‘WHY’ behind what they have shared.
I then create 1 pager with a set of post-it notes and begin to lay out what they have said into a story or pattern. From this I work with my client to SEE themselves and mark the true passions that come from their own voice!
Finally, I ask them to share some stories or emotional experiences they have in regards to their passions, focusing on them to observe the feelings they have. This is then used to complete the 1 pager that the client can use to reference and as a guide to follow their passions with clarity and authenticity.
Could you share a memorable success story of a client who transformed their career journey trajectory with your guidance?
During the Covid lockdown I had the privilege to coach an unemployed client remotely in a small town in Scotland. She was a middle aged Russian mum of two, who worked for her husband’s plumbing company, and suffered from low self confidence. She also struggled with seeing herself being of any value outside her family.
I used her most recent CV to conduct an interview with her to fill in all the gaps and structure the professional journey through live editing during the interview.
At the end I used the edited CV to reflect back to her some of the key achievements, experiences and hidden talents she had. This was the first time that she was able to SEE her own professional journey objectively.
Then I got her to take a personality test and answer a few questions before the next session around Talent, Passions, Purpose and Future. Advising that she ask these questions to her family and listen to the answers.
From this we reviewed the personality test results, which created a massive self awareness shift for her and brought this together with the answers for the questions I gave her. This became the basis of the creation of her ‘Personal Statement’.
We then embarked on creating a professional work ‘Portfolio’ of evidence to support the new CV. This was worked on for a few weeks and led to a comprehensive document showcasing the WHO, WHAT, HOW and WHY.
All this concluded in a session to reflect and celebrate her coaching journey; which had been able to help her overcome self doubt.
Still to this day, whenever In have self doubt, I remember her and the courage she had!
It was a real privilege to help her.
What strategies do you recommend for delivering such messages effectively and empathetically?
Finding and connecting with your own inner voice! This is done through positive self reflection and focusing on scenarios where the person is their most authentic self and in a space of flow. From this I help them feel the feelings in that moment and become aware of the confidence they feel.
Then explore the best method for them to communicate in their own voice (word, pictures, sounds, metaphors, stories or feelings).
Then assess the delivery environment and WHO they are talking to and the message/feeling they want the audiences to take away from the communication.
What advice would you give to someone embarking on a significant career change?
I would advise them to invest in a period of self reflection, away from external influences and distractions. Then suggest to focus on creating an ‘honest’ list of talents, passions and experiences that they have as a professional without comparing or looking at anyone else.
On a separate page create 4 parts and label them: WHAT, WHO, HOW and WHY.
Then begin to write down the business idea/career change in those areas without overthinking or self judgement.
Afterwards, put them aside and go for some personal time without sharing anything with people. Then after a few days go to a coffee shop and review what you have written. This is when you can objectively view yourself and the business idea/career change from a healthy perspective.
With a different coloured pen conduct a quick SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat). Highlighting the key areas and writing down any solutions/ideas that come to mind or people who you can talk to for finding out the solutions.
The final step would be something I call the ‘Gut Check’. This is when you lay out the pages in front of you and review it all as a whole. Then go into a period of silence and listen to what your ‘Gut Feeling’ is. If the feeling is a positive one, then take a deep breath and begin the next stage of looking at what actions you would need to consider and to act on.
If the feeling is a negative one, then listen to where it is coming from. Your head, heart or gut? If it is your head, then you probably don’t have enough answers yet.
If it is your heart, then it could be self doubt.
If it is your gut, then maybe you don’t know enough or you’re unsure where you should go next!
At this point you can begin to share what you have done with trusted people to see if they have any answers and get some positive encouragement on what direction you may need to take (or not take).
Inspiring others is a powerful skill. How do you assist clients in not only unlocking their potential but also inspiring and motivating themselves to take action?
Reflective listening combined with a combination of questions with genuine interest and storytelling! This taps into the inner person and the experiences they have lived. I then use visual facilitation to capture what comes out when they are in flow and gently begin to find the conscientious patterns and threads that hold their true potential, motivations and how they are inspired and inspire themselves.
Let’s explore your creative side. Do you have any hidden talents or artistic pursuits that you enjoy?
Few people know that I have been a landscape photographer since my teenage years, mostly specialising in panoramic landscapes. Also that I had a feature in a national newspaper which showcased some of my selected works leading to a public exhibition of my works back in 2016 which featured 55 canvases! Some of which are now exhibiting in a local business centre and others in the public areas of the building I live in!
I sometimes post my recent works up on my Instagram account for a few fans and followers of my work.
Can you share a personal achievement or moment in your life that you’re particularly proud of?
For me it is being an Uncle to my brother’s son (Jay, 10) and best friend’s daughter (Ellie, 2). I grew up without any uncles or aunties and it is a privilege to be part of their lives as they grow up.
It’s a great grounding and nurturing experience, as I am connecting back to the purity of life in flow and the WHY of living. Plus the joy of just being a big kid with them and having fun without being so serious all the time.
We often talk about work-life balance, but what does ‘life’ mean to you outside of your career? How do you ensure you live a fulfilling life beyond coaching?
Life outside work for me means BEING present! To truly enjoy and be grateful for those who are in – and who come into my life – as it happens.
To live a fulfilling life away from coaching means managing a healthy detachment from the work I do.
To be free, just ‘Dan’ without critical self judgements and being so serious. I use meditation to help me achieve this.
I focus on appreciating the here and now; laughing and loving as much as I can. This also means enjoying the simple things in life, like family time (without judgments), nature (especially coastlines and beaches), walks in the sunshine, etc.
Finally, if you were to write a personal letter to your younger self, what advice would you offer?
You are enough!
Love yourself as you are and where you are, even if you don’t know.
It’s ok and you are ok. The external influences are just that, external.
No matter how loud, heavy or persistent they are. You always have a choice, so choose you.
If in doubt, be silent and protect your own peace as you try to protect the peace of others.
What you do and how you do it doesn’t need explaining to everyone.
Enjoy the journey of discovery and living by your own values. The rest of the world doesn’t care as much as you think they do, so just let that go and be you without looking for validation or assurances.
Your journey won’t be like others and that is ok. Embrace that difference and not feel the need to apologise or explain this to everyone. It is what it is.
Your value isn’t determined by things or other people’s opinion of you.
Your value doesn’t diminish because someone doesn’t see or recognise it.
Accept this as a lesson in resilience and stay true to your own vision and conviction of believing in yourself!
In the end you are capable of great things, but these things don’t define you. Let them go once they are done and keep moving forward, even if it is simply surviving at times.
You are enough!
P.S. Head here to visit Dan’s website. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn here. Finally, want to ‘MG Meet’ our industry experts? From CEOs to business consultants & career advisors, we’ve got you covered!