In November 2018 I was incredibly honoured to be awarded Business Coach of the Year at the International Coaching Awards, which was the perfect way for me to celebrate 10 years as a Professional Coach.
There are many lessons I have learnt along the way, not just from my own experience but from the experience of my clients in the business and sports world.
5 of my most pertinent lessons are below;
Be Bold and Back Yourself
I can recall vividly the very first experience I had on a weekend coaching course. It was back in 2007 and I was in a room with about 80 people who were all interested in being a coach in some shape or form. I was so impressed by the trainers, their ability to hold the attention of a room, their knowledge and the stories they shared about the clients they had helped. I decided there and then that I was going to become a coach too. This was something I felt I could achieve and I was going to do whatever it took to make it happen.
At the end of the weekend, I looked around the room and wondered to myself how many people in the room would do similar and how many people would let life get in the way of their goals and desires. I figured if I were to make it happen then I would be in the minority, because this wasn’t going to be easy (even though, looking back, I was still naive to what it would actually take) and backing myself was what I would have to do.
I knew I had to seize the momentum I felt and take massive action, because if I allowed this feeling to fade then I would probably find a reason not to follow through. So I put my money where my mouth was and invested all my savings and took out a loan (I told the bank it was for a car) and invested over £12,000 in a range of courses. Such a commitment would make it harder for me to back out when the going got tough – it was my ‘burn your bridges’ moment.
I still believe it was the bravest decision I have made because every time I found myself wanting to quit, I thought about what I had already committed.
After I won the award on Saturday I was asked in an interview what was the one piece of advice I would give to fellow coaches who are starting out on this journey. I said without doubt that it would be to develop the quality of persistence – the continuing of a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
As I explained above, my ‘burn the bridges’ moment really helped to anchor this quality within me but I was not prepared for how many setbacks and difficulties I would face! Anyway who has started a business (especially following the financial crash of 2008) will know of those challenges and the sacrifices you have to make and I made many.
There were countless times I questioned what I was doing and family and friends around me also questioned it too. It seemed to make more sense to do something different, to come up with a different plan, to make life easier and in many of those times it was nothing but sheer persistence that kept me going. The refusal to quit and keep going was all I had.
Never underestimate the power of persistence. The following quote was one I read often and included in my first book Optimize Yourself :
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human
Courage over confidence
There is so much written about confidence when it comes to achieving your goals and of course confidence is an important quality. But there is much less written about courage and I believe that courage (taking action in spite of fear) is the much more powerful quality and one that will take you much further in life than confidence ever will.
No matter how great you are at something, there will always come a time when you have to do something you have never done before and when that time comes you may not be feeling confident. Confidence often comes with competence, not always but more often than not.
Courage will do more for you. A lack of confidence is a barrier for a lot of people and something I have witnessed in many clients, some who are incredibly talented and capable people. But if they have the courage to take action regardless, then confidence will build as a result. The braver you are, the more confident you become.
There have been countless times when I have not felt confident in situations but have took action anyway. In doing so I have learnt that I do not need to be confident to make progress, I can rely on courage to get me through.
Public speaking was a prime example of this, I was terrified! But my goal was to share my ideas with groups of people just like the trainers I had observed on that weekend in 2007. Over time, with more and more practice my confidence grew.
Confidence is great but it isn’t as reliable as courage.
Run your own race
Have you ever seen what happens when an athlete looks over into the lane next to them? They lose focus and often lose the race. I have worked with a few athletes who have had this same problem – more concerned about what their opponents are doing than being focused on their own game.
I am not saying don’t be aware of what others are doing but spend more time focused on your own game. Understand what makes you tick, make your own mind up, consult your intuition rather than the actions of others for guidance.
I have got caught up in this myself, following the advice or guidance of others in situations when it would be better to follow my own intuition. There is a difference between learning from others and being too concerned with what others are doing.
Be selective about who you work with
I am fortunate enough now to only work with great people. I have standards for my clients and will only work with people who I enjoy working with.
Working with people you like allows you to do your best work.
This is not always the case in the beginning as you are finding out the right fit for you, but you quickly learn what you do and do not like. I have worked with several clients who talk about those clients that cause them nothing but headaches and it’s no good for anybody.
Have high standards about who you are willing to work with. You get what you settle for and this certainly applies for the quality of people you surround yourself with.