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East Anglia Future 50

'All people should have the opportunity to explore their true potential...' - Q&A with Wendy Smith, former Paralympian turned business coach

PUBLISHED: 11:27 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 20 February 2019

Wendy Smith is in demand for speaking and lecture events

Wendy Smith is in demand for speaking and lecture events

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Wendy Smith has faced adversity in her life, which she now uses to help people overcome a range of business challenges.

Wendy draws on her own experiences fighting adversity to help others with their business challengesWendy draws on her own experiences fighting adversity to help others with their business challenges

Born in Essex, and now living in Tiptree, Wendy suffered a high-speed motorbike accident in 1989 at the age of just 17 - it caused severe spinal injury, cardiac arrest would ultimately result in years of rehabilitation - the prognosis was that she would never walk again.

It was at this point that Wendy began her own journey into the power of the mind. She walked out of hospital eight months later.

And so, her unexpected career path began, she took up sport again and went on to represent Great Britain in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens as part of the wheelchair basketball team. This opened her eyes to the struggles and adversities many people face.

This led her into a new profession as a trainer and business coach, running workshops and NLP Practitioner courses based around human potential, including performance and emotional intelligence courses. She enjoys sharing knowledge that can help people reach that next level of performance.

Wendy SmithWendy Smith

Adversity

Wendy has spent over 20 years studying neurology, self-management and personal development/philosophy to physically help herself recover and to create the business she has now. She has the ability to share real experience with people to help them overcome daily adversity which allows them to become resilient in life.

She works in many different arena’s including banks, public service sector, education, sports and mental health services, and has received an Essex Achievement Award for achievements over adversity.

Wendy also works as a training provider in the pharmaceutical industry for companies that travel abroad and need hostile environment training and travel safe. Again, these trainings involve self-awareness, effective communication, ownership, team development, hostility awareness and planning.

Her work has led her to be sought after to lecture at events and headteacher conferences.

Limiting beliefs, a lack of resilience and negative emotional states are some of the things that can hold people back, says WendyLimiting beliefs, a lack of resilience and negative emotional states are some of the things that can hold people back, says Wendy

We caught up with Wendy to ask her about her career in coaching and why self-awareness and self-resilience is so important in today’s business culture.

Do you feel your personal battles have helped you in your work as well as your study? Is your personal story part of your USP as a coach?

Yes, on both counts.

Facing many challenges in my life has led me to become extremely resilient, with the ability to be non-judgmental in the space of others. This allows me to empathise and show compassion in my work.

Wendy represented Great Britain in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens as part of the wheelchair basketball teamWendy represented Great Britain in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens as part of the wheelchair basketball team

Through experience I have learnt to manage my own internal state and utilise my skills to generate business for myself and others. Problem solving is a speciality of mine and I believe the adversities I have faced allowed me to develop my ability to keep looking for solutions.

My personal story is definitely my USP as through all of my experiences I have developed a solid understanding of how people can overcome challenges whether in life or business, I have learnt over the years how to use many different techniques and skills to help others create success, without restricting their development. My personal journey has taught me that we are all different with unique talents and all people should have the opportunity to explore their true potential.

What stops people reaching their potential? Are there any common causes?

Limiting beliefs, a lack of resilience and negative emotional states are some of the things that can hold people back.

Wendy says she enjoys sharing knowledge that can help people reach that next level of performance.Wendy says she enjoys sharing knowledge that can help people reach that next level of performance.

All of the above can be quite debilitating for someone who is trying to achieve a goal, many people have deep set limitations that run at an unconscious level and they can be quite unaware of these, they may just continually find themselves stuck in the same loop.

Sometimes people unknowingly self-sabotage to validate their limitations, this is quite common, but there are techniques you can use to free someone from this space and assist them in moving forwards allowing them to experience different results in life.

Why is self-awareness and hostility awareness important in today’s workplace?

Over the past four years I have facilitated training in some of the top multi-million-pound financial institutions in London. These training events consisted of team development, self-awareness, hostility awareness, front of house service and effective communication.

Self-awareness is so important because if you don’t know about yourself, how you process information and create behaviours, how can you ever work with anyone else and a have a successful and cohesive relationship?

Knowing how other people function, what their values are and what their body language is saying can be an advantage when working towards creating a productive team. Hostility awareness is also important in certain types of workplace, to be aware of giveaways in other people when they are becoming agitated or discover the absence of the normal and the presence of the abnormal.

With regards to the hostile environment training you undertake, which places have these people been to and how has it helped?

These clients have to travel to India, Africa, Columbia, Brazil, Mexico, the Middle East, America and European countries.

Knowing cultural differences is so very important and can help in understanding someone’s motive or intention.

Body language and tone of voice have totally different interpretations depending on culture. It’s also good to know when your hand or feet gestures might be offending someone, which could lead to you losing business!

Not all cultures have the same way of doing business and understanding people’s expressions and movements can be a great benefit, leading to what should be a greater success.

n Wendy Smith will be speaking at the South Suffolk Expo business event on May 7 at Stoke By Nayland Hotel

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