Of course my coaching is informed by who I am … but how to summarise that?
In brief, leaving school at 16 in pursuit of my windsurfing dreams, I experienced the worlds of international competition, retail, warehousing and distribution, sponsorship and outdoor instructing. Re-entering education at 20, I found myself finishing a PhD at Lancaster in 1999 and working as a contract researcher at the University of Salford from 2000-2004, before coming back to Lancaster University in 2004, still on research contracts, and then as a Lecturer in Human Geography from 2006, leaving in 2013 to concentrate on my coaching work. There, in addition to social science teaching, I gained an international track record of publications and have led high impact research with strong stakeholder involvement.
Along the way I’ve worked with a wide variety of people from different walks of life and from around the world: school children, young offenders, midwives, water company managers, health professionals, central government policy officers, local government, degree students, PhD students, researchers, voluntary sector workers, international academics and so on. My University experience has involved delivering research to a wide variety of bodies, including the European Commission, National Research Councils (ESRC and EPSRC), Private Sector Companies and Local Authorities. Through my teaching and research I’ve gained extensive experience of workshop facilitation with small and large groups, including academic and business leaders.
Of course throughout the above I experienced periods where I struggled to find meaning, was caught by the internal knots of self-doubt, and couldn’t get the balance right. I also experimented at different times with different versions of part-time working to find a better balance and allow more time with my young children. And part of that messy picture was getting it wrong! At it’s worst, I experienced overwhelm and ‘burn out’ and 6 months off work in early 2010. That taught me more than ever the costs of compromising my inner values (as well as what people meant by ‘mid life crisis’!)
Weaved into all that is my personal life. And, well, that is personal! Briefly though, I’m ‘Dad’ to three children, ‘Will’ to two step-daughters, have experienced the pains of separation, and am now enjoying commitment to my partner. I love to be outdoors – especially if on water – and enjoy regular meditation, yoga and cycling.
My interest in coaching traces back to my earlier windsurfing days. Through competition I became fascinated with the ‘inner game’ and the power of a shift in attitude. Through instructing windsurfing, I was constantly amazed by how much more people learnt through ‘playing’ than by trying to ‘do it right’. Some years later, ‘stuck’ in my PhD, my friend and now coaching colleague Jeff Gill offered me some coaching sessions that transformed my experience. As a Lecturer I became increasingly interested coaching and started training in 2008. Gaining several coaching qualifications, I became an Associate Certified Coach in 2013, and Professional Certified Coach in 2016 with the International Coaching Federation.