Adele Testa is a quality improvement coach in the NHS (National Health System) and runs her own coaching business in change enabling and transformation. On her path, she transitioned from a career in the banking world to the healthcare landscape, aiming at helping her coaching clients improve who they are and reach their goals. In our conversation, she talks about how life experiences have shaped her vision and how she uses flexibility and iterative learning to push her business to the next level.
Adele, what is coaching about?
Coaching is a way of embracing experiences: approaching life with a non-judgmental mindset, applying curiosity and self-reflection. You challenge yourself to unlock the dynamics that make you stuck and undermine you. It’s a mindset of willingness to learn and do new things.
In the last few years, there seems to be an invasion of coaches – every second person you meet seems to be some sort of coach. What's your take on this?
Everyone can wake up tomorrow and say, “I’m a coach”, because the market is not regulated. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams in the industry and a lot of false promises. Integrity and honesty are essential parts of this work. A decent coach empowers their clients and, most importantly, holds them accountable to take action. If you want to have sustainable changes, be prepared to invest time and energy. If a coach promises incredible results in 30 days, it is a scam! Also, there is a raising misconception between being a coach and being a motivational speaker. A motivational speaker uses words and frameworks to make you feel better and tap into your intention and desires. However, intentions and desires, without actions, don’t change your life! If a coach presents themselves as perfect, always on top of things, this is your alarm bells ringing. Only those who work on themselves can help others do the same.
Who are the people who want to get coached by you?
The people who come to me really want to make a change in their lives. They are trying to launch or push their business, for example. They are paving the way toward the life they want but get stuck by a set back or end up in a rollercoaster of negative experiences. Some of my clients understand that something doesn’t feel right, and they want to explore how to change directions in their lives.
You had some bad experiences, too, and you are pretty open about them on your social media or your website. How do you feel about doing this?
I feel blessed for the life challenges that I had in my youth. Twenty years ago, I had an eating disorder because I didn’t have the tools to understand how to manage my challenges. The problems felt bigger and stronger than me. It’s a tremendous gift to share with others what I wish I had known then. I have an enormous debt of gratitude towards life. I’m giving back to others for what I have right now. Social media is a challenging game and can really kick someone’s self-esteem. I could test myself and my growth journey by reading some negative comments. I have developed such a strong internal locus of control that I am no longer touched by others’ opinions. I am free! I wish everyone achieved the same, in particular, my clients, of course.
Another thing you share is that you moved from Italy to London for love…
Yes, I did. After six months of dating, I packed everything and left my country. Eight years later, we are still together. However, I was strategic and intentional about my transition by prioritising my independence and developing my social circles as much as possible from day one. I support many people living abroad. Some of them moved to pursue a relationship. One advice I would give is this: you are doing this for yourself and for the love you feel inside you. You’re not doing this for the other person. You must fall in love with the new city, build your habits and friendships and ‘rebuild’ your identity in cultural settings different from what you are used to. I didn’t want to live with my partner straightaway when I moved to London. I first tried to ‘get to know London’ and explore whether I could see my life bloom in this city. I have never said, “I came here for someone else”- that would be a massive lack of respect for me as a woman and create unbearable pressure on the other person. Yes, it is true: I moved abroad for love toward someone, but I used my courage and creativity to restart a new life and took full responsibility for my decision, regardless of the relationship outcomes.
Why did you become a coach?
My dad’s illness and death were the most significant drivers for my decision to quit my banking career and move to healthcare. I had studied finance, and at 24 years old, I was working in a bank. In Italy, that’s a big deal! My dad’s sickness helped me to find a mission in life. A suggestion: don’t wait for an illness or a loss to question your life. Are you sure of what you are doing? Our lives pass too quickly, and we must treasure our days by using the time aligned with our values. Today, I spend my days impacting others’ health and well-being. I work in healthcare at a senior level in my corporate job, and I encourage others to unlock their potential in my coaching practice. I hope everyone can change their lives before being forced by traumatic experiences.
While having your coaching business you also work as a healthcare manager for the NHS. How do you invest in your business without feeling overwhelmed?
I focus on the cause rather than the effect. My actions are the cause. I’ve always thought of a business as a seasonal plant. There is a time when you plant the seed with zero results. You water the seed every day,yet nothing is there. It is a long-term game where discipline, alongside hope and integrity play a big part. If you fall in love with the process rather than the outcome, you will enjoy the journey and receive incredible benefits eventually. “I’m doing my very best every day, investing extra hours towards this business and setting up the foundation to make it sustainable. At some point, I will see the results”. The real challenge is that people have expectations and a self-imposed timeline. They feel like a failure if they do not see results in the timeline they set up. Did they really fail or miscalculate the reality? Running a business means accepting that many factors are outside of your control. However, the one thing in your control is the effort you make daily. To not feel overwhelmed, I kept asking myself: What would I say to myself in three years? What would I be proud of?
How do you “water” your business? What`s your marketing strategy?
Be generous, share content to share knowledge, raise awareness in others, and be genuinely interested in helping others. Trust is built over time. Some of my clients followed my content for a year or longer before approaching me. This could be annoying for others but not for me. I do know my value, what I’m offering and the difference I want to make in others’ lives. Therefore, I don’t feel the pressure to close a sale quickly. I am sure in the value of my water. Blossoming will happen at some point.