Don’t Call It A Comeback

Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Some sports stars earn a place on the winners’ podium.  A handful make a fortune from commercial endorsements.  A few transition into politics, or the media, after hanging up their boots.

What happens to the others when the achievements, adulation, and kudos, disappear?

Unsurprisingly, according to a recent BBC article, sports professionals without a post-retirement plan can come to grief.


The article focuses on boxers, but other stars like football players George Best and Paul Gascoigne have had a tough time of it too.


Reading the article I am struck by the physical dependency on success Sugar Ray Leonard describes.  He says:


“There is nothing in life that can compare to becoming a world champion, having your hand raised in that moment of glory, with thousands, millions of people cheering you on”


It must have felt like a yawning chasm had opened up after he left the ring ‘for good’, as he imagined.  No wonder he needed to stage a comeback.


Like Ricky Hatton it might not have been about completing some unfinished business in the ring, more an absence of a concrete idea of what else to do outside of it.


The absence in the sports professionals’ plan A of a plan B strategy must make them extra vulnerable to post career blues.


I wonder how many of them know what benefit they get from their sporting performance (beyond the obvious)?  If they had an answer to that question they might be better able to find a new all-consuming career to follow.


Perhaps the classic coaching question should be part of their future planning approach: you know what you want from your current career, well one day that career will end.  You know how you benefit currently, so ask yourself the hardest thing of all – what else do you want to do with your life?

Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea

As this is the season of gifts and thoughtful reflection I wondered what is the ideal gift you would give yourself in 12 months’ time?

Coaching present
Could your gift to yourself involve switching jobs?

Perhaps you were thinking of finding an occupation which reflects your values & beliefs more closely?

Maybe it relates to having a satisfying balance between time spent with supportive colleagues, trading in ethical products and enjoying a good quality of life?

Does achieving a fraction of that change sound like hard work?

Well, apparently a step or two along the road toward those outcomes is possible.  BBC Business coverage of Henrietta Lovell’s Rare Tea Company records such a journey.

Henrietta realised that there was scope to meet the needs of rare tea enthusiasts and became a kind trader into the bargain.

I love the positive energy she brings to the enterprise she founded.  Instead of constantly eyeing the bottom-line, in a competitive scramble, she asked:

“Why can’t businesses be run with a generosity of spirit and a lot of goodwill”?

She is making generosity and goodwill part of her business offer.  She is also making the business work.

According to the article, that is an approach which other, less nichey traders are adopting too.  The article is well worth a few minutes of your time.

I wonder how many business leaders are inclined to think about working with a coach to improve their performance outcomes in terms of their ethical reputation, or social impact?

Perhaps that was part of Google’s initial philosophy when their informal motto was ‘don’t be evil’.

Either way it would be incredibly positive to coach organisations who were professional about the goods / services they provided but also mindful of their stake in society.

As far as I can see those organisations, their staff, customers and stakeholders would all benefit from sharing an ethically- based value system.

That thinking has to be good for business.  Even though, obviously, it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

It Is Good To Meet You, Mr President

Luckily the Mayans were wrong.  Or maybe our interpretation of their calendar was wrong.  Either way the world didn’t end today.  This is a good thing, as I have plans for Christmas.


#christmas (Photo credit: Isselmuden)


Fortunately this year there isn’t a nerve wracking social event to get past before Christmas arrives.  You perhaps know the sort of situation, social drinks with the head of department / director / chief executive.


Yes, socialising might just be a relaxed time-out from work.  Maybe though the senior colleague’s company makes you sweaty palmed.  If so, what can you do about it?


There’s an interesting parallel discussed on the BBC’s website today.  What do you say at a social gathering with the chief executive when he is also the commander-in-chief, Barack Obama?


I suppose it depends on a number of factors:

–       how much preparation do you want to put in, beforehand?

–       How do you want to benefit from the situation?

–       Will you remember the thing you want to say when the moment of truth arrives?


The article is an interesting read, so I have attached it below.  Perhaps it is a useful think- piece for anyone trying to make the most of a major opportunity to make a good, first, impression – or to win friends and influence people.

So This Is Christmas?

English: Coaching process model (GROW model) P...

English: Coaching process model (GROW model) Polski: Model procesu coachingowego (GROW model) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although it is the week before Christmas, seasonal goodwill seems thin on the ground.

Obvious tragedy and strife aside, it is the personal stresses which can make the world seem especially grim.

For instance, the Guardian’s ‘Work’ section features the case study of a senior manager whose skills and successes cut no ice with his senior colleague.

Top management are blaming the woes of the larger business on the senior manager.  His previous good leadership of his business unit goes unrecognised.

Above the line, the article describes the chilling effect of the blame game.  The senior manager is left feeling his confidence ebbing away.  He feels trapped, and is facing a six month count-down to termination (he is suddenly performing ‘unacceptably’ in the larger organisational context).

That is a bleak way to end 2012.

It is an eye-opener to read some of the reader feedback, offered to the senior manager, below the line.  Some of it seems defensive.  Some of it aggressive.  My take on what he could do next is, inevitably, coaching themed.

You can read the article and comments (mine are included as RogerAD) here

Basically, I am saying he should find himself a coach and allow himself to be supported through the GROW model:

Identifying a goal – determining what is the positive benefit he wants to head toward, in the time he has available?

Reflecting on his reality – questioning what does the relationship between his values and those of his organisation feel like?

Listing his options – working out what are the steps that take him forward, toward his ultimate goal?

Using his will – relying on the reserve of positive energy he holds – that his caused him to seek a solution to his dilemma – to identify the first step he can immediately take.  That is the step which will move him one step closer to what he wants.

It will be interesting to see what type of feedback he chooses to follow.  Whatever he decides to do, you have to hope his 2013 turns out better than 2012 has.

Space: The Final (Coaching) Frontier

English: The International Space Station is fe...

English: The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-134 crew member on the space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred at 11:55 p.m. (EDT) on May 29, 2011. Endeavour spent 11 days, 17 hours and 41 minutes attached to the orbiting laboratory. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even high flying organisations can reach their peak.


Case in point, perhaps, is the United States’ space administration, NASA.  In my lifetime their visionaries put a man on the moon and a fleet of space shuttles into service.


Those were the past glories.  At the moment manned space exploration is on hold (although the International Space Station is doing interesting work).  The shuttle fleet is on permanent museum display, having reached its expiry date.  The vision seems to have dimmed.


Sadly, according to a BBC report, NASA’s current mission statement is a clunky amalgam of five elements, which add up to a less than inspiring whole.


As Marcia Smith, president of Space and Technology Policy Group, observes ‘If it takes you [five] phrases to explain [your goal], then you do not have a crisp, clear strategic vision.”


Come to think of it, that’s a coaching point.  To get where you are going you need to be clear about where that is.  You, or your organisation, also need to be able to set out the small steps that get you there.


For instance, to safely accomplish a moon landing you need to have done many things, including surveying the landing site.  (As a footnote I didn’t realise that the late astronomer, Sir Patrick Moore, contributed lunar data which helped the Apollo space programme progress).


So, as they contemplate their organisation’s future, NASA’s leaderships needs to hire some new talent.  Perhaps in addition to the astronauts, engineers and project planners the administration needs a few coaches.  Equipped, of course, with the right stuff.

Brand Loyalty – Our Survey Says…

English: Johari-window for the character of Mi...

English: Johari-window for the character of Miles in the Woody Allen film ‘Sleeper.’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back on September 16 I posted a few thoughts about unique selling propositions, in the sense of personal marketing.

Basically I was asking – Who do you think you are?  But an equally important question might be, How do others see you?

I was delving into all four of the Johari windows, since these days the combination of self-knowledge and outer presentation can really help us achieve our goals in life.

Since then a good example of damaging ones brand has cropped in the media.

Step forward Angus T Jones, a young actor.  He might want to speak to his coach, assuming he has one, about re-imagining his brand.  It is difficult to row back your comments after calling the television show you work on ‘filth’.  Especially when it pays you a reported six figure salary, per episode, for your efforts.

His colleagues on Two and a Half Men may have a different view on his professionalism this week compared to seven days ago.

According to industry speculation his employer, CBS television, may be parting company with him in the near future too.

Speaking for myself, taking stock of the feedback I got from colleagues and customers recently has been positive and contentious.  Apparently I come across as: ‘supportive, empowering, creative and calm’.   Perhaps differing contexts are involved in the last two, which seem a bit contradictory to me.

My next coaching goal might focus on the attribute I display least often – creativity – so I take specific actions that allow me to display the attribute a practical number of times by Easter 2013.

Memo to self: However I pursue that goal I will do my best to ensure the only colourful thing on display is my creativity.

Time Is On Their Side (Yes It Is)

English: Trade ad for 1965 Rolling Stones' Nor...

English: Trade ad for 1965 Rolling Stones’ North American tour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When they started to work together 50 years ago I doubt the Rolling Stones knew how successful they would be decades later.

Their goal was to play the music they loved, in front of people who appreciated it.  That plan seems to have worked out quite well.

Now, according to BBC Business coverage of their sellout O2 concerts, their most recent tour – A Bigger Bang – earned £348 m. Which sounds like a decent contribution to their retirement fund.

Not that they look ready to put their feet up.

All of which contrasts to recent research, about life planning, published by the National Association of Pension Funds.

NAPF believes many over 50s are sleepwalking into their old age. Essentially they are not putting enough by for their non-working years. Risky given increasing life expectancy.  Making ends meet in years to come calls for effort now.

Perhaps a good first step  would be to visit the Money Advice Service website and see what information it contains, to help with long-term planning.

A reasonable second step would be to find a supportive coach, set a financial goal, and work steadily towards it.

Most of us won’t be multi-millionaires in our 50s and 60s but, I believe, many of us could be more secure financially: starting now with a bit of time devoted to planning our future.