Archives for the Month of February, 2011

Love Lures Life On

Poetry in Motion

I met an old friend on the tube the other day. Thomas and I first met in my English class all those years ago when we not only dreamed our dreams but dared to believe they were possible.

By the time I met Thomas, he was already a great English novelist and poet. I went on to read many of his novels so dumstruck was I by their freshness and their fineness in spite the two of us having been born more than a century apart.

Ode to Love

A curious and lesser known fact was Thomas’s own love story. Thomas met the love of his life, a certain Emma Lavinia Gifford, when he was thirty years old. He married her four years later. They eventually become “estranged”. Emma ended up living the rest of her life in the attic while Thomas went on to lead the life of a successful and great writer.

It wasn’t until his wife passed away that, at the age of 72, Thomas went on to write more than 80 poems (1912 – 1913) to reflect on their life together and apart. Many critics consider the poems to be some of his greatest work filled with fairness, fullness and freeness, the stuff that great poetry is made of.

As I recall this love story, I feel certain there’s a crucial lesson to be (re-)learned and remembered on this special day.

It’s Hard to Say Goodbye

Go! Green Team! Go!

One of the toughest moments for me as a coach is when it’s time to say “Goodbye” to my team. After months of intense moments, where we’ve collectively reverberated between Anticipation, Fear, Disbelief, Hope and Self-Belief then back again for the next challenge, it feels like a lifetime worth of experiences. No wonder it’s hard to say goodbye.

Opportunity Knocks

In many ways, the relationship between team and coach has the intensity of growing a friendship for a lifetime. It’s a time when each of us are put to the test because there’s nowhere to hide when the going gets tough. It’s also a great opportunity to learn from each other and, more importantly, help each other grow.

Goodbye is the New Beginning

To achieve, we have to “begin with the end in mind” (Stephen Covey reasons). That’s why the “Goodbye” moment is, in fact, my starting point for team coaching. From my first few days to the rest of my time with the team, I strive to get to know the team members as individuals. Why? So that I can work out what’s needed to equip them with what lies ahead. Why? So that the team will have the tools they need to continue to achieve long after the coach is gone.

Criteria of a Good Coach

According to Sally Gunnell (former Olympic British Champion in the 400m hurdles), a good coach has the following attributes:

  1. Treat people as individuals
  2. Use feedback as an opportunity to improve
  3. Always listen
  4. Always learning new techniques.

Being a good coach sounds simple, but isn’t easy. The ultimate test of how effective a coach is how well the positive outcomes of the coaching endures. My ultimate goal is to keep the team yearning for learning and to keep improving long after the coach is gone.

What’s the smallest step you can take today to help yourself and others learn again?

Celebration drinks!