Originally from Islamabad, Pakistan, and now living in Tokyo, Humaira Syed has developed a coaching practice that combines a number of modalities and applies a holistic approach to clients’ development. In this interview, Humaira recounts her personal journey as she grew out of her timidness and discovered her calling as a life coach, and she gives advice to others who are on the path to establishing their coaching practice.
Coaching Focus: Humaira specializes in Purpose Driven Mindset Coaching, helping self-conscious, hesitant doers step out of their comfort zones and learn to trust their competence, and explore their power to grow holistically. Humaira’s practice consists of a unique blend of Transformational Systems Coaching, Hypnotherapy, NLP, and Zen Meditation.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Connect: You can find Humaira online at her website as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Her book 55 Habits of Mindset Mastery is a bestseller among self-help books.
Tell us about your journey as a coach.
Today I confidently help self-conscious people to grow stronger, but growing up, I faced many setbacks; I was shy, introverted, self-critical, and a big imposter. I used to hide behind the doors to avoid seeing any guests in my house. I was just not willing to “Be Seen” at all.
I studied Clinical Psychology, but I did not find myself inclined to work with psychiatric patients. I started my first job as a Life-Skills trainer, training big groups of people, when I was anxious about talking to even my classmates. That was a big challenge that surprised me with my skills and potential. The necessary courage was already in there, but I was not aware of it. And once I tapped into this power, I never looked back.
I have about 12+ years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in different capacities, particularly in Life-Skills Training. I have facilitated workshops for all professions and fields, from education to the military, and I’ve worked with all varieties of people, from orphans and the homeless to the elderly.
Excited to explore more about the personal development industry, I read books, watched TED Talks, and followed world-famous speakers. In this journey, I came to know about Life Coaching.
In hopes of healing my own life, I sought training in psychology, coaching, leadership, mind-mapping, hypnotherapy, fitness, and ZEN (Japanese ZaZen) mindfulness.
That was a huge shift in my life. I realized this is what I exactly want to do: “To help people grow; but with personalized attention and focus.” No more thinking about mental illness, but about “Growth Mindset.” So my major coaching practice is rooted in 1:1 coaching and small group coaching.
As I think of the positive changes and improvements in my life, I feel compelled to share this gift with others who are seeking assistance in navigating difficult times in their lives and balancing life challenges. I take a holistic approach to coaching, examining any mental blocks in the mindset, in our bodies, and in how we lead. My enthusiasm and dedication play a crucial role in inspiring my clients to take the initiative and transform their lives in extraordinary ways.
One segment of my Coaching business is still dedicated to people from less-resourced backgrounds who cannot afford coaching due to their circumstances. I consider myself a bridge, transferring the skills and knowledge I’ve gained to the grass-root level.
What courses, programs, or certifications have you done? Would you recommend them, and for whom?
- I am certified as a Master Coach for Transformational Change (MCTC) from Paradigm-21-Leadership Coaching Institute, Hong Kong.
- I’m a graduate of “Leadership and Societal Innovation” from Shizenkan University, Tokyo, and have the pride of being selected for the best Leadership & Entrepreneurial Project of a “Self Development Institute.”
- I am a certified Mind-Mapping Practitioner from Tony Buzan International Academy.
- I got my NLP Coach Training from The First Institute of Dynamic Learning, USA.
- I hold a Professional Coaching Certificate (PCC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
- I received Hypnotherapy Certification from Dr. Steve Jones’s American Alliance of Hypnotists.
- I am professionally trained as a ZEN practitioner (Japanese ZaZen meditation) from Zenshoan Temple Tokyo, Japan.
I’m involved in constant learning and growth. I truly believe that Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. The moment one believes they know enough, they start to descend the ladder of success and personal development. With this mindset, I am motivated to learn whatever new knowledge and perspective call to me. Unless I keep growing myself I can’t be worthy of facilitating others’ growth.
What advice or perspective might you give to a new coach trying to get their first clients? Any advice they should ignore?
Before any advice, let me share a moment of empathy. Beginning a coaching business is always stressful. It will take a little more effort to get your first paying client, but trust me, once it begins, it will keep your calendar busy. So my advice is to stay resilient. Don’t give up trying.
And if you haven’t started because you aren’t ready yet, let me tell you, coaching only gets refined with practice. If you have a growth mindset, you will grow along with your clients. Get started with your practice, writing your book, or creating packages. Just start!! As they say, “An incomplete something is always better than a complete Nothing!!”
Don’t copy others or chase after numbers. If you keep the quality, quantity will follow, but if you lose quality, you will lose everything. When you give free coaching sessions, don’t think of it as a free session, make it an investment (of your time and in your future). Perspectives matter a lot. Keep adding value to people’s lives as you never know which client will become your good luck charm.
What are your thoughts on “choosing a niche” as a coach?
Defining the niche was a huge challenge for me in the beginning. I remember changing my Instagram and LinkedIn bio frequently with new titles, always unsatisfied with them. My passion was so huge that I thought I had something to offer to everyone. The key is “not something for everyone, but most of the things for some of them.”
It took me a few transitions before I found my strength in helping my clients by defining and designing their life purpose and clarification. I did not design my niche, I discovered it. It came to me as my calling. And it happened only when I kept practicing different coaching frameworks.
So my best advice is don’t focus on the niche in the beginning. Focus on your coaching skills and the value that you will add to the client’s life. Your clients’ “aha” moments will tell you what you are good at, and that’s when you will be ready to define your niche.
Also, try not to look for fancy buzzwords in your desire to get attention. They will only pile you under many other buzzing competitors. Try to be simple yet unique.
Lastly, be mindful not to be strictly bound to one specific niche. Human beings evolve with learning and experience, and so do skills and expertise. Hence, be open to transformation. Just trust the process…and keep going!
What books have significantly influenced your life? What are your key takeaways from these books?
The personal development industry revolves around books. If you want to stay in the game, you need to continuously read and read and read!
There are many, many books that keep adding to my learning and inspiration.
Of course, there is the bible of personal development, Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. I cannot emphasise its importance enough.
Then there are a couple more which significantly transformed me as a coach, one of which is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol S. Dweck. This single book gave me immense knowledge and motivation to dig deeper into mindsets, specifically how to develop a Growth Mindset.
Being human, we are prone to change and evolution. Unless we are open to change, we cannot survive. This same principle is true with mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that life and aptitudes are unchangeable, while the growth mindset entails that everything is achievable with conscious efforts.
Our mindset defines our attitude toward failures, challenges, and success. Rather than resigning yourself to fate, decide to have a different attitude by putting in more effort to develop the skill.
Another important book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. I call it a miracle book for me. I have read it quite a few times, and every time it gives me unique and new learning about the universe and its conspiracies. I think it’s a book which always remains relevant in every situation.
What tools, software, or other resources have you found to be most helpful in running your coaching business?
I recently found Mighty Networks as a very active platform for networking and expanding online coaching.
If you received an extra $10,000 to spend on your business, how would you spend it and why?
I would partially invest in my own learning and growth. I believe there is so much more to experience in the world, and we can explore it by being open to it.
I’ve just published my second book Dare to Trust Yourself and would like to start an online course around it. Technology is expanding exponentially, and in order to stay relevant and even to “STAY,” we have to launch online programs.
What are some of your favorite affirmations, mantras, thoughts, and/or journal prompts currently? Why?
My all-time favourite affirmation is
“I can & I will”
“I did & and I would”
It keeps me motivated to keep trying.
Then, the “Power of YET” is another amazing tool. I practice it every time I feel demotivated or left behind in any of my schedules by simply reminding myself: “I am not there…YET!!”
When you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or have lost your focus or motivation, what do you do?
Stress, frustrations, and low motivation are natural phenomena that happen to every living being. It is only the reaction that defines how stress is going to affect us.
ZEN meditation is an amazing practice to revamp my energies and overcome all pressures and stressors to come back to the present moment. I combine ZEN meditation with hypnotic visual imagery, which adds more energy to my being, and I end up relaxed and energized for the rest of the routine.
I love the sound of running water, so even if there is no possibility of visiting a water source physically, I listen to the audio while doing meditation.
I love flowers, especially sunflowers, so I tend to buy more of them and keep them in my surroundings.
Another practice is aromatherapy with lavender essence which makes me feel refreshed.
This all adds up to a more refreshed and energetic presence of mind and body.
Do you have any examples of how a “failure” set you up for later success?
I would again say that it’s all about mindset, whether you take failure as a setback or a reminder for sharpening your ax. Failure is not a word for me.
I consider setbacks as a reminder to come back with more passion and energy. Every challenge I’ve faced so far has helped me to hit the success board harder.
Do you have any embarrassing (at the time) stories from your work as a coach? Or a time when putting yourself out there really paid off?
I am a “Go with the flow” kind of person. In my student years, I never memorized lessons, ever. I just read the topic with a deeper understanding and was good to go.
But I remember when I first appeared on a live TV show as a guest coach, and the whole night before, I kept memorizing fancy quotations and strong coaching codes—but the moment cameras turned on, I went blank. The host asked me to share about the coaching experience, and I gave a very simple and brief answer while trying to remember my script from the night before.
But the best part is, I gave this message to myself: “I can and I will,” and then I started in simple words. It was a huge success because I spoke about what people could understand and relate to instead of using industry-specific jargon.
My learning is this: embarrassing moments happen to everyone, but the learning and realizations happen to just a few of us. As soon as we openly accept the present moment, we become invincible.
If you could put a message on a huge billboard—getting a message out to millions—what would it say and why?
“By exploring your life’s purpose, you can turn your purpose into your unique story and then turn your story into a SUCCESS STORY!”
It took extra effort to define my life purpose, but once I did, I followed my unique path and designed my own success story. From shying to Shining, all it took was to follow my calling—my purpose!
Listening to success stories won’t earn you success. Instead, working on your own story will!
This article was written by the Life Coach Magazine staff. We cover everything from personal development, to coaching tips, to how to grow your coaching business. Follow us on Instagram or sign up for our emails!
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