“I needed help getting stuff off the page and putting it into practice”

The New Year always sees me in a reflected frame of mind. It’s obviously to do with the turn of the year but probably more to do with the fact that it’s a time that is a tad slower than normal life so it offers precious time to reflect.

I had an email last week from a lovely lady asking if I would or could possibly offer a recommendation for her on LinkedIn.

To be honest, I’ve been asked in the past but never felt compelled to do it. On this occasion, I made an exception.

I first met Linda when I left the Royal Navy. I had been serving for nearly 8 years and for anyone leaving the forces, it can be a daunting prospect and be quite overwhelming. This may sound crazy but spending time in the Armed Forces, no matter which one, or what you did, is a little like being in prison! I know that’s a weird thing to say but it was true for me.

You spend many years being told where to go, what time to be there, what to eat, when to eat, where to sleep etc. On top of that they ensure that you feel you are the elite, above everyone else, brave, courageous, willing to die for your country. All of a sudden you are on your own.

I’ve said before there isn’t much call for a Weapon Engineer that can fire a 5-inch shell to within 5 feet of the target from 30 miles, while bobbing up and down on the sea in civvy street. I had to retrain and I had to learn fast. That’s where Linda came in. I sat in front of her and she gave me a chance, she said she saw something in me.

Fast forward nearly twenty years and I’m sat behind a desk, running my own business, an entrepreneur (she got me to believe that one!), a Director, employing 12 staff across two offices, in two different countries. I was looking for someone who could help me make sense of what was in my head, but more importantly help me transcend to the next level.

There she is again – Linda.

Linda came into my business and spent nearly 12 months coaching and mentoring me. I was going through a transition myself. I’ve always been into self-development but I knew that I needed help to get the stuff I was reading off the page and put it into practice.

It was my first mentor and coach. Could I afford it? No. Could I afford not to engage? Absolutely No.

You see there’s a big difference between coaching and mentoring.

We have a misconception because we see “coaches” on the TV in a sporting environment and assume that’s what it’s all about. In truth, these highly skilled, people aren’t really coaches. Most of the time they employ back room staff to train and nurture skills but what they really do is mentor. I’ll explain why.

Mentoring is helping people learn from what has gone on before or what the mentor has adopted or did in the past. For example, Jose Mourinho recalls his experiences of working with Barcelona, Porto, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter Milan when he is motivating players and selecting players and tactics to win the next game.

A coach lives by the maxim “The answers are always within the individual”. They don’t tell you what to do, how to feel, or this is how it worked before, or this is what I would do. By spending time and asking questions the coach enables the client to understand the issues and work out the answers for themselves. Sometimes the questions are hard and require a lot of deep thinking to come up with the answers. But in my experience, they are there, somewhere. A coach and a good one will just help you dig deeper than you ever have before to get them out. In effect, a coach will hold up the mirror to you.

A great, confident, coach will be comfortable with silences as the client looks deep inside to gain the answer. In addition, it’s not the coach that decides the content of the session it’s the client. After all, they know what they need to discuss or help on.

Perhaps most importantly, a coach will hold you accountable. I remember Linda handing me a phone and saying, “book it” when I told her of a goal to take my family to Dubai and holiday there. She said that if I didn’t it would never become reality, simply a dream if I didn’t take steps, make a plan to deliver and get on with doing it – being accountable.

Linda, came in and helped me get the stuff out of my head. She helped me see and write down my vision and then we worked on the goals, both short term and long term that were aligned with my values and my vision. Those sessions were the start of my journey.

An added bonus was the realisation that I wanted to give back. I realised that I was driven by a desire to help other business owners through the dark spaces of business. To help other entrepreneurs on that lonely walk. I also realised that if I became a Coach and Mentor myself I could help the amazing staff I have within my business.

It was because of my first encounters with Linda and some of the self-development stuff that I was doing, I saw my passion was also not only in business but being a coach and mentor. I took the plunge, invested in becoming accredited as a coach with the John Maxwell Team. That time spent with Linda led me to my first Mastermind Group, meeting Dave Dean and my desire to make Renegades a place where everyone can achieve their vision and goals and be the best they can be.

So, when I reflected on Linda’s request – why wouldn’t I give that fantastic lady a heartfelt recommendation.