After suffering the pain of her own divorce, Claire Black bounced back stronger and now helps men and women to navigate the end of a marriage. Claire talks to us about how she created a successful business out of a personal crisis and why she loves her work.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
When my marriage ended very suddenly in 2008, it felt like the end of the world. I was shocked, confused, overwhelmed, and afraid. I struggled to find clear guidance on what to do next and how to cope. The first three months are still a blur, even now.
What I did know was that I didn't want my divorce to define me; I wanted to create a new life I could be proud of. I remember thinking I didn't want to sink; I wanted to swim.
Ironically now, my divorce does define me - in the best way possible!
What kind of work does your role involve?
People often think divorce is simply a legal journey. It really isn't - and the emotional journey can easily derail the legal process, increasing costs massively as well as causing high levels of stress and anxiety.
I work with both men and women to empower them to manage their emotions and take back control of their lives. I share strategies to enable my clients to respond rather than react, and I support them to feel calm, get clarity and see options and choices. I use NLP to show them different ways to look at their situation and make informed decisions. When they are ready, we look at what really matters and create a blueprint for a new life - often, we even design their ideal new partner!
What gets you excited about your industry?
I love working with people facing what can be one of the most traumatic periods of their lives and helping them turn it around.
I am often asked if my work is depressing - it isn't! The work I do is forward-looking, solution-focused, and so rewarding. Working alongside someone through a really challenging time, watching them grow stronger, and creating a new life they are excited about is a real privilege. Although a divorce is a time of uncertainty and change, it is also a time of opportunity and creation, and I love that part of my work!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
I have a few! In the early days of my divorce, a friend advised me to work out what I could control and what I couldn't - and to let go of what I couldn't control. That philosophy is fundamental to the work I do now.
Another friend advised me to plaster on a smile, even when I didn't want to. I didn't realise at the time that smiling releases endorphins, and it does actually make you feel better!
The other great piece of advice I will never forget is that you always have a choice. Whatever happens to you, your reactions are within your power to choose.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders in your field?
Setting up a business from scratch is a real challenge, and there is so much to think about - it can be overwhelming. I worked with a coach to help me set up my website, copy, and processes, and it was absolutely worth the investment I made.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I have a really wide network of lawyers, financial advisers and other professionals within the divorce field, and I'm an active member of Resolution, the industry body for Family Law professionals.
I keep my eyes on the press, too, as divorce is a regular source of comment. Many celebrities going through divorce could benefit from some time with a Divorce Coach!
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
The early days of my separation were some of the most challenging I've ever experienced. I had two children under 4 and found myself a single parent overnight. I learned to take each day an hour at a time, and I always looked for the silver lining in every situation. I focused on what I COULD do rather than what I couldn't. I learnt I had wonderful friends, and I know now that I can overcome any obstacle life might throw at me.
It isn't what happens to you that makes the difference; it's what you do with what happens to you that has become a firm mantra for me!
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
Oooh. What a question! I'm tempted to say I'd go on an amazing holiday and buy a beautiful house on a cliff overlooking the sea. However, I'm way too honest to do that, so I'd hand it in at a police station or to the lottery company and hope that no one claimed it so that I could have it!
How do you switch off after a day at work?
I walk my dog, Indy, with my husband or a friend. I love the sea, and we're lucky to live right on the coast, so we're often on the beach with a frisbee. Sometimes I go for a run, chill by reading a good novel, or watch a drama on TV - I love a good series. I also love to explore new places in Matilda, my motorhome!
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
That the stigma and shame associated with divorce be eradicated, and that everyone contemplating or going through a divorce accessed coaching support alongside legal advice. I would love to see more peaceful, kind divorces.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
Can I put in a blatant plug here? My book! Break-up: From Crisis to Confidence - how to recover from a sudden divorce and create your vibrant new life. For anyone, you may know who is facing a divorce.
Also, "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl had a lasting impact on me. He was a survivor of the holocaust, and his message is one of hope - if you have a purpose in your life, you have hope and the will to survive. He also said, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." I love that.
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