It all started when I was eighteen.  Euphoric at the completion of my A-Levels, I found myself compelled to go and live in the Himalayas and teach Buddhist monks English for six months.  What actually happened was that they ended up teaching me a lot about Buddhism!  I was forced to grow up fast.  When you've no electric to keep your food fresh, you quickly get dysentery(!)  Needless to say this wasn't the most enjoyable period and without Mum or Dad telling me what to do, or offering me comfort, I had to work hard at managing my mindset.  As you can imagine, it turned out to be a pretty pivotal few months in my life and from that moment on I became transfixed by the idea of the wise man in society.  Overnight, I became a student of the world.  Everyone or anything that had something to teach me about the sources of happiness was on my reading list. 

Trying Anything

But I wasn't just reading this stuff, I was trying it out.  Whether it was the ancient teachings of the Bhagavad Gita or the state management strategies of modern New-Age gurus, I would somehow find a way of incorporating it into a real life situation.  I remember once resigning from my job in front of the entire staff, giving only the reason that Wakantanka (a Native American god) had told me to do it!  While this isn't an example I'm particularly proud of, it showed a determination to take life by the horns and really live on my terms.  This sense that life is ultimately just a game, and something to be played with - as much as taken seriously - is something that remains a part of who I am today and a big part of how I coach.  Don't not do things because people will think you're weird.  Life will pass you by if you live on other people's terms, and you'll end up with boring stories to tell when you're old.  You'll tell yourself you have no regrets but actually you will.

My Training

At a certain point the exploring has to come to an end and you have to use what you've learned as a means of being useful to others.  That's when I came across coaching.  Coaching was great because it wasn't attached to any particular faith system and had a practical determination to reduce the amount of suffering going on in the world.  Its premise of helping people to grow on the inside as a means of helping them grow their world on the outside seemed to echo the words of all the wise women and men I'd come across in my discovery phase.  So I went for it.  It was a tough course, lasting 18 months, involving over 100 hours of real life practice, but it gave me all the new skills, techniques and strategies I needed. 

Facing My Weaknesses

Woo, I thought, course done, I'm there!  Not quite.  Being a coach, it turns out, doesn't just mean reading a load of books on wisdom, and then regurgitating them.  It makes you live out these truths.  It makes you live through many of the challenges that your clients are going to be facing.  It puts you in a hole and says, come on then, let's see how you climb out of this one.  More than anything it teaches you through your own rather painful growth process why having a coach is actually quite a good idea.  Like everyone in this world, I continue to have both my strengths and my weaknesses.  And like everyone, sooner of later, life forces me to confront the latter.  Facing weakness takes a lot of courage, which I don't claim to be any kind of a master of yet.  So, if you’re looking for a coach who claims to have conquered life and is now going to show you how they did it, I’m not your man.

Finding My Calling

I’m probably the happiest I’ve been in my life right now.  Not only because of the work I've been doing on myself, but also because I’m doing what I love.  It's been a very long journey to find my calling, but I now have a real passion to use everything I’ve learned (and continue to learn), and make the biggest possible difference in as many people’s lives as I can.  I know there’s something really corny - or even cheesy - about the idea of coaching.  Of course everyone’s first assumption is that a coach is someone who thinks they know everything there is about life.  Oh yeah, and now they want to tell me how to live mine too!  All I can say is, that isn't me.  I don't believe there's some specific or fixed truth about how life works.  That said, these last few years of coaching have shown me what an enormous difference this kind of support can make in people's lives.  So please, stay open and give it a try!