I embraced change and learnt to feel comfortable with uncertainty
by Katharine Wright
What does it take to be successful in your professional life and personal life? As it turns out, a lot of things. Tamara Medina has built a business around helping people find their own answer to this question, but first she had to figure it out for herself. When she found her passion and her confidence, she began working with other people to do the same through her publications and coaching programme. “Doing something I love and feel so passionate about has been the main source of confidence.” Tamara shares with us her advice on getting onto the right path in your career and becoming ten times more productive.
What roadblocks did you encounter early on that inspired you to make a change in your own life?
In 1994 I left Mexico carrying only one suitcase and many dreams. I didn’t know at the time where this decision would lead me. I could feel the uncertainty of the unknown, but also the excitement and anxiety of the anticipation caused by these radical changes. I knew something important was changing in my life, but I had no idea at that time, what opportunities lay ahead of me. I would say my biggest road block was my own lack of confidence which is now my biggest inspiration, as I know how much it can hold you back from building that successful business, career or life.
What gave you the confidence you needed to switch your career direction?
I spent several years living in the United States and then I settled in England. In London, I worked for the Business Development Department at the BBC. After six and a half years, I was ready to move onto pastures new. In 2007 I came across coaching and my life went in a completely new direction. It was after attending a seminar that something clicked, it gave me pause for thought. I took stock of my life, thought of the things that really motivated me. I have always been fascinated by people, from what makes them tick to why do we do the things we do? We are all unique yet so similar. I get so much joy and satisfaction when my clients have a moment of realisation, it is palpable and you can see it in their eyes. Doing something I love and feel so passionate about has been the main source of confidence.
Doing something I love and feel so passionate about has been the main source of confidence.
How did your ideas about being a successful businessperson change when you left the BBC and started your own business?
Once I set up my coaching business, I very quickly realised that having passion and being good at what you do is not enough. To be successful, there are many other things that have to be considered. Many mistakes were made along the way but I prefer to think of them as “growing experiences”. Through my workshops and coaching, I share my experiences, of what I have learned and continue to learn and hopefully empower others to be successful in their business.
How did you juggle a major career change, getting your own business off the ground, while helping others sort through problems in their businesses and personal lives at the same time?
By taking care of myself first. You can’t give what you don’t have and taking care of one self is crucial for anyone but particularly when starting and running your own business. I make sure I have time to do things I enjoy and spend time with the people that are important to me. This is a topic that usually affects women to a greater extent. For example, with friends and clients I have reflected on how many women put their children first. Everything revolves around them and they shelve their own desires and needs. They leave behind careers they enjoyed, stay in broken marriages and decide to put their lives on hold for the sake of the children. Often the result is that when they want to push the “play” button again, half a lifetime has gone and with it many of their dreams.
I firmly believe that if you are not well, your children won’t be either. If they have a strong maternal and paternal figure, who are independent and living according to their values and passions, that’s the best example children can have. If you value and put yourself first, they will learn to respect you as an individual and they will learn to care about themselves. If you do not take care of yourself, nobody else will.
If you do not take care of yourself, nobody else will.
Most people want to be more productive and successful than they currently are. Would you say confidence is the number one thing standing in the way?
Everyone wants to know how to maximise efficiency/productivity in business, but almost no one asks how efficient they are as individuals. A person needs to have the right “tools” and techniques in order to transfer common every day ideas and experiences to the world of business, and make them work! I’m a great believer in working smart rather than harder. “Our dreams are the blueprint of what we are capable of achieving” If we dream of something, it is because we have the skills and ability to achieve. But the big question is, what will you do about it? Many people let their lives pass them by, just dreaming. They are too afraid to find out, they can realise their dreams.
You work with a lot of clients who aren’t quite sure of their goals. What are your goals, how have you achieved them, and what do you feel you have left to accomplish?
My immediate big goal after 10XProductive book and programme in English is to launch the Programme in Spanish, that will happen in April. I have several other projects that I’m working on in the UK and Mexico. One of the things I have learnt is that more important than achieving your goals is enjoying the process. It’s about living in the moment making everyday fun and not focusing so much only in achieving. I used to live in the future until I realised I was missing the only thing we truly have, the NOW. So I still have goals but I’m more focused on enjoying the unfolding of them. So every day I ask myself what was good about today, what great news, e-mails, meetings, phone calls I had that will take me closer to my goals and I make a point to appreciate all the great things I already have in my life.
Having travelled so much, how do you think that being in a new culture and environment affects a person’s confidence?
I think leaving your comfort zone is very important not only in business but also in life. It makes you feel vulnerable because you have to face uncertainty. But what if instead of fear you see it as an adventure? It is precisely this sense of adventure, excitement, which makes us feel alive. There is no adventure without risks. It is said that if something feels uncomfortable it is because we need it. At the same time, I know from experience that sometimes it can create new insecurities but it always comes down to the person to face their fears and build their confidence.
As you moved between Mexico, the United States, and Great Britain, what were the biggest adjustments you had to make in terms of your clients, and in terms of your own success?
I embraced change and learnt to feel comfortable with uncertainty. Regarding clients, when it comes down to it we are very similar so once you know the coaching technique the secret is to work with the connection you have with that particular client. It’s all about the mind set they need to develop and empowering them to achieve that in a way that would suit them. It’s about using your perception and intuition.
Where does your interest in technology stem from? How have you seen managing technology and adapting to rapid advancements help a person succeed, personally as well as professionally?
I think we are living a very exciting moment where technology has become so important not only on a business level but also in our personal lives.
Technology brings us closer but at the same time creates distance and can be quite overwhelming. It’s up to the individual to learn to use technology in a way that will help them. When I was about to publish my 10XProductive book I realised that it would be a good idea to use technology to make the programme available to more people and create a sharing platform where people could learn from their own experiences. Coaching has changed my life in ways I could never have anticipated or imagined. That is why I decided to use technology to share with others my knowledge and passion.
Who is Tamara?
Tamara Medina Sapovalova lived and worked in Mexico and the US and now resides in the UK. She worked for the BBC before founding Sapovalova Coaching to coach people in business confidence. Her book, “10 days, 10 actions, 10 times more productive” was recently published in English and Spanish and she regularly contributes to the Huffington Post and other publications internationally. In 2015 she launched her online coaching programme, 10XProdcutive, helping people achieve their personal and professional goals. www.sapovalovacoaching.com