There are all kinds of coaches. Some help us train our bodies to winning form, while others help us mentally work toward the best version of ourselves. Coaches help us with skill development, relationships, and goals. They help us orient our mindset, accept ourselves, and define our personal mission.
Little wonder, then, that businesses need good coaches to upskill their teams.
However, coaches often do not set out with a coaching career in mind. Rather, they begin as one of the seemingly infinite cogs in a machine, slowly gaining experience and finding their calling later.
Sabine Schoellhorn is a prime example of this career journey. Originally from Germany, she has lived in Japan for over a decade, the last few years of which she came into her own as a life and business coach. However, in the early years of her career at Merck, IBM, and MISUMI, she followed a completely different path. How does a diverse background in supply chain management, marketing, and diversity and inclusion translate to coaching? We spoke with Schoellhorn to find out.
What does “coaching” actually mean?
There is a definition, according to the International Coach Federation: “Coaching [is] partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” In coaching, the clients explore their beliefs, values, and strengths, and what they discover supports their goals and dreams.
What approach do you take (or avoid) as a coach?
I am specializing in life and business coaching. I see a person holistically, meaning there is no difference how you show up in your private or professional life. As a coach, my priority is to provide a safe and open space for the client to open up and discover their personality. Most of us think we know who we are, but as we explore ourselves in greater depth, we come to understand ourselves better. We start having a clearer view of roadblocks or obstacles that hold us back. This is the first step to closing the gap between where we are right now and where we would like to be in the future. It is a truly transformative process.
As coaches, we need to be mindful of our role. We can share our impressions of what is being said, but we never tell the client what he or she needs to do.Sabine Schoellhorn
As coaches, we need to be mindful of our role. We can share our impressions of what is being said, but we never tell the client what he or she needs to do. By asking powerful questions, we support the client throughout their journey to gain more self-awareness. Your life is changing when you are coached. And I am speaking from experience!
When did you realize you wanted to be a coach?
From a young age, I’ve been enthusiastic about empowering people and supporting their wellbeing. When I started my career, I looked for an industry and company creating services and products that support better quality of life. It was important to me that my company made social contributions for the greater good.
I’d already been in Japan for eight years, and I was at a crossroads in my career. I had the opportunity to meet a leadership coach, and we worked towards a deeper understanding of who I am and what the next steps in my career should be. During this process, I decided to enroll at GLOBIS. My initial kokorozashi was to be a cultural bridge between Japan and the world. I wanted to foster a better understanding among cultures.
My kokorozashi led me to MISUMI, a traditional Japanese manufacturing company. I had worked for international companies before, but now I wanted to experience working in a Japanese company that was focusing on globalizing. It was exciting to think I could contribute to this business expansion. I realized right away that MISUMI has a strong company culture—unique strategy frameworks and internal language. Once I found the right balance between being respectful of the company culture and contributing my unique strengths, it was very rewarding. After four years, I still find myself frequently learning something new.
While working for MISUMI as a cultural bridge to foreign subsidiaries, my instincts told me it was time to learn more about coaching. I wanted to start supporting others in their own growth journey. I enrolled in an online coaching program, and that was when everything changed. Not because of the skills I was learning, but because my experience of being coached helped open my eyes to better understand myself.
With this experience, I developed a new kokorozashi to enhance people’s awareness, motivate them, and empower them to redesign their personal and professional lives. I want to guide others to become their best authentic selves.
What’s the biggest struggle you’ve faced in your own journey to become your authentic self?
It was finding what I am truly passionate about. I want to be excited when I wake up in the morning. When I first started my professional career, I decided to major in business simply to have a foundation of skills. I thought that, along the way, I’d find out what I am good at.
Working in business, I have had the opportunity to experience diverse roles, from supply chain management to marketing and HR. But I never felt the urge to specialize in any of those areas. I enjoyed the work variety, but something was always missing. That was my cue to go on a self-discovery journey to understand my strengths and purpose. My coach supported that, and that support was life changing. I’ve always encouraged people to be themselves—suddenly studying coaching just made sense.
This year, I’m starting my own coaching business, Sabine Coaching, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
What are your keys to coaching success?
Firstly, don’t compare yourself to others. I love the quote from William Ernest Henley: “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” I believe, we are the creators of our own lives, and we decide our direction. Each person’s journey is unique.
Secondly, listen to yourself. In my coaching sessions, I tap into my intuition to ask the “right” questions to let the client explore how they feel and think. I don’t tell the client the solution. Remember, a coach’s job is to enable the clients to listen to themselves. Be present to nurture the relationship—that is how you make the client feel heard and understood.
A coach’s job is to enable the clients to listen to themselves. Be present to nurture the relationship—that is how you make the client feel heard and understood.Sabine Schoellhorn
Thirdly, focus on your feelings. Don’t get caught up in too much thinking. This quote by Rebecca Rosen explains it very well: “Your feelings and emotions are your strongest indicator if your life is moving in a purposeful direction or not, so listen closely to how you feel.” As a licensed HeartMath Certified Mentor, I teach my clients effective tools that support their resilience on a daily basis. Resilience, as defined by HeartMath, is “the capacity to prepare for, recover from, and adapt in the face of stress, adversity, trauma, or tragedy.” This is especially important during times like these with a lot of uncertainties.
How does your GLOBIS MBA fit into your coaching calling?
I decided to pursue an MBA to strengthen my business skills, but I gained so much more. The concept of kokorozashi enabled me to look on a deeper level at what I am most passionate about and consider how that could factor into my future.
Before enrolling in the full-time program, I took a few pre-MBA classes at GLOBIS, and I really enjoyed the international network of people. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my life, it’s the importance of the people you surround yourself with. At GLOBIS, I was in the right place. I felt inspired by the diverse group of students, alumni, faculty, and staff. I could share and discuss not only my studies, but big dreams and progress towards my kokorozashi.
My kokorozashi is my compass throughout my journey.Sabine Schoellhorn
After obtaining my MBA, I realized I wanted to be a social entrepreneur who contributes to the wellbeing of others. Now I’m gradually shifting my career to focus on my coaching business. For me, life isn’t about the destination. It is a journey, and I know that in this next step, I’ll keep exploring, growing, and transitioning into a better version of myself. I am excited to coach others toward a more empowered and energetic life, as well.
My kokorozashi is my compass throughout my journey.
Sabine Schoellhorn studied at the International Coach Academy in Australia and was certified as a coach in September 2020. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation and is recognized as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC). Her company, Sabine Coaching, offers tailor-made business and life coaching for individuals and groups in English, German, and Japanese. For more, visit her website: www.sabineschoellhorn.com