In English we have this saying ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’ – meaning that sometimes in life we get lost in the detail and can’t see the big picture anymore, can’t piece all the little bits together to see what they make up.
This interview is with Caren Zimmermann, a Frankfurt-based Barbara Sher trained coach who sees both the forest AND the trees: she specialises in career transitions, and helping her clients reconnect with the big picture. She also has a photography practice for her own personal enjoyment, that keeps her in touch with nature.
Hi Caren! Well it’s January now, so I guess I’ll wish you a Happy New Year and also ask you how the last month has been. How do you relax and restore ready for a new working year?
It might sound funny but I actually work between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It is a tradition for me. I use this quiet time to clean my desk, get rid of old stuff, do filing, make room for new projects. I also start a rough plan for the next months. What do I want to achieve in different fields of my life? Family, business, own develeopment, etc. Because chances are high that during this period nobody will disturb you, a lot of things can get done and you still have time for a coffee break or a little walk. I find it a very relaxing way of working and it sets me up to start the year feeling relaxed and organised.
Let’s talk a little bit about your work as a coach. What is the single biggest issue you find your coaching clients have – and how do you help them with it?
Loss of energy! I often hear from clients “something does not feel right”. Often my clients have been dragging this akward feeling with them for quite some time. It has become heavier and heavier, used up their energy and slowed them down. We figure out together what it is that “does not feel right”.
Is it the work load, particular activities, their boss, the evironment, something in their family?
Sometimes it is their own beliefs and expectations that make it so hard for them. Depending on the source of their discomfort we find different strategies and evaluate the steps it would take to follow that path. I often act as a kind of idea volcano throwing all different kinds of ideas their way.
That is a very creative and fun process. The client finds new ways to look at things and develops new solutions.
When we find the right solution and strategy SOMETHING always changes. It might be the clients gesture, positioning, facial expression or voice. Suddenly their energy begins to come back. It’s like the heavy feeling suddenly falls away. The client regains power to shape their life and act. I love that part of the coaching process.
What do you think is the most important first step to take for anyone to achieve their goals?
Doing…instead of dreaming, hoping, pondering, wondering about the perfect plan.
Get up and get some help: maybe a coach, or at least write down things that are important for you, do some research, get to know yourself better, be creative, make a rough plan and then get going. Find other people on your path to help you. As Barbara Sher says: ‘Isolation is a dream killer’. We need help, and sometimes a little push to make our wishes come true.
What inspires you in your work?
People. Individuals. They are all so different and finding a solution for their wish can be a challenge. I like that. I also love to learn from my clients. During our talks I get a little insight into their current work field or the work field they would like to enter. During the recent coaching sessions I learnt about kindergarden management, wine tasting and the real estate market!
I know you have an interest in art making for your own relaxation and expression. Can you tell us a little bit about what role art plays in your life? How does it make your life richer?
Art is always present in my life. For example I like to go to art exhibitions. Mostly art of the early 20th century. But I also the saw Jeff Koons and the Yoko Ono show here in Frankfurt.
From time to time I go to the opera house or the theatre. There is an English theatre here in Frankfurt that I regularly visit.
Art is not something I just consume. I am also active. I take photos, I paint and draw a little. In my home I have hung up some of my photos of “tree faces” and my drawings. The process of creating or discovering something new is magic. I don’t do much planning when I go out to take pictures or when I collect my drawing material. I try to be open for the opportunities that come up. There is often a good opportunity for a good picture if keep your heart and mind open.
Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you came to be working as a coach?
I was born in the north of Germany but moved around several times before I fell in love with the Rhine-Main-Area near Frankfurt. I have a degree in European Business Administration and held positions in several departments and businesses. Recruiting and personnel management were the two constant factors during my career. My education, the broad professional experience and my thirst for new knowledge helped me to quickly feel at home in nearly every business.
In 2015 I swapped roles and now I help other people finding their career path. The people who come to me want to find the next career step, change their line of work or escape from a toxic work environment. Together we find solutions that fit their values and needs.
I also support them in the application process with updating and formulating their CVs and cover letters. If they need it, I can also provide advice later during the important first weeks of the probation period in their new job. I mainly work with clients via SKYPE. I love that with SKYPE you are not bound to your local area. My clients can choose the coach they prefer the most. It is comfortable, time saving and discreet for them.
About the interviewee
Caren Zimmermann works as a coach focusing on career development and career change. Caren works with both English-language and German-language speaking clients. As well as career development and career change, she can help people who are planning to begin working in Germany for the first time, or Germans living abroad who are planning a return to the German workforce. She can be contacted via her website www.WunschundHindernis.de or E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the interviewer
Jade Herriman is a Barbara Sher coach and transpersonal art therapist. She works with clients to help bring more creativity into their lives, plan for their professional development, manage big life change and go after their dreams. She brings a playful, flexible and creative approach to serious issues, and draws on many years of experience working in organisation in project management, policy and research roles to bring practical solutions to her clients.