October 1, 2015

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: The Coaching Fellowship by Jane Finette

What are you working on—on the side?

Two years ago, I created The Coaching Fellowship. What started as my personal goal to give back and coach a handful of young women leaders in the impact space, is now a tri-annual non-profit program which receives thousands of applications from 40+ countries and has awarded fellowships to more than 250 women. I have enabled and created a network of scores of coaches around the world, who—just like me, donate hours of their time each month to empower some of the brightest young female minds and souls of our generation.

My original idea to give back, took on a complete life of its own when my initial personal blog post, offering 3 pro-bono coaching places to young women leaders, snowballed, and I received dozens of applications. The overwhelming response demonstrated to me the strong desire for young women globally to excel in all areas of their lives. They knew about the great benefits of coaching, and yet at this early stage in their career, coaching wasn’t a luxury most could afford. In those first few weeks, I was able to find coaches for all 41 applicants. Within three months, I was planning our first formal program offering 50 coaching fellowships to extraordinary young women leaders.

Our fellows are social impact entrepreneurs, scientists, non-­profit leaders, activists and more—all united by the impact they want to create in the world.

I wholeheartedly believe coaching helps young women at a crucial point in their career. And through The Coaching Fellowship, we are bringing forward a new generation of global women leaders intent on transforming our planet.

How do you manage to work on your side project(s)?

I’m a firm believer in investing your time wisely. Time, as we all know, is a precious commodity, and what we spend it on drives our impact, and ultimately what we bring to this world. I do not see The Coaching Fellowship as a side project so much as ‘part’ of my work. I feel compelled to do this meaningful work—it’s almost like it chose me!

That being said, on a daily basis, it can be hard to juggle working, family, staying fit and work on The Coaching Fellowship. I do something every day, there are always emails to answer, I connect online with our fellowship community, and, of course, my mind is always thinking about what’s next! The work for the Fellowship will ebb and flow with the application-and-program timing. As we now receive thousands of applications a year, that requires a lot of attention from myself and our selection committee. And the onboarding process of new fellows is hours of early morning calls around the world! Furthermore, I’m constantly talking to new coaches who want to come and coach with us. Would I change a thing? Absolutely not! I’m able to do this work, because I love it so much! I make time, I prioritize. That does mean I have to say ‘No’ to things, but for now, the Fellowship is incredibly important to me and many others—I’m happy to do it!

Why have a side project?

As described, The Coaching Fellowship pretty much happened by accident, it grew out of a necessity. And to be honest, I fought it for some time, until it got so big and so popular, I simply could not ignore the opportunity to create this significant impact in the world.

The Fellowship, at its core, gives me energy. Sure, I work on it in the early mornings, late evenings, weekends—but it fills me with a sense of contribution and giving that’s hard to find anywhere else. I’m proud to be the person who brings together a group of the most excellent coaches and extraordinary young women change-makers around the world.

I’m a believer in following your passion. I hope that can be aligned in our days jobs too, but we do have more than one passion. Someone once said “our spirits are too big for our jobs” and I would have to agree! We are more than our ‘paid’ work, even if we love that paid work! I think we are wired to give and create, and my greatest wish is that more people would start their side passion project—who knows where it will lead!

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Diptych and image courtesy of Jane Finette.

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Read more about the joy of side projects.

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