October 13, 2013
It was summer 2003 and I was working on a construction project in a small English town called Biddulph in Staffordshire. I was commuting weekly driving up at the crack of dawn on a Monday and driving back down to London on a Friday afternoon. Fortunately I love driving and even to this day if I hear of a road trip my ears prick up and my eyes light up. So the commute by car was not a chore but a pleasure.
Whilst up in Biddulph me and a fellow consultant were staying at a bed and breakfast on Biddulph Moor called Chapel Croft. The town was so small there were no hotels let alone any of the international brands. The nearest big city was Stoke-On-Trent and the drive there did not appeal to us at all. The little B&B was tucked away among farms and cottages leading up to the Moor. Paddocks and pastures lined the route and there was one country pub that became our dining venue for the three-month duration we were there. The landscape and scenery could have been akin to the Yorkshire Moors straight out of Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. The drive up to the B&B would take us past farms with quintessentially English names such as Dingle Brook Farm, Thorn Tree Farm and Three Nooks Farm among others. The lane names led me to think J.R.R. Tolkien probably spent time here to get inspiration for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Names such as 'Over-the-Hill' and 'Under-the-Hill' as well as 'Dingle Lane' were everywhere you turned.
Our landlady was a retiree and she would prepare a cooked breakfast for us every day of toast, eggs, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and anything else you fancied. I avoided the Black Pudding but occasionally would indulge in some cooked meat. I was on a strict diet at the time as I was training for the London Marathon in April 2004. My colleague lovingly named the lady Mrs. Miggins attributed to her grandmotherly demeanor and loving, caring attitude towards us and another guest who were a fixture at her farmhouse.
The third guest was a young engineer who was a client staff member on the construction project. He would also commute by car every week from the Welsh coastal town of Llandudno (pronounced "chlan-DUD-no"). He was in his late twenties and an avid kite surfer. He would join us at breakfast and then in the evenings on some nights for dinner. He would tell us no matter what the weather he would be out in his wet-suit kitesurfing the cold turbulent waters off the Welsh coast.
I would relay to him my love of running, as he would see me run along the top of Biddulph Moor every morning at 6am in training for the marathon. Come rain or shine I would be out there, we both called each other mad but became good friends due to our passions. Over the course of my time there I came to understand that he was not too happy with being an engineer. He had studied at Bangor University which was about twenty miles from Llandudno and even though enjoyed engineering he did not feel satisfied or fulfilled.
At the time I was studying for my coaching certification with The Coaching Academy and I wanted a live client (pro bono) to coach over a period of time. My young engineer friend willingly accepted and we began a program of eight coaching sessions. The key model that I used was the GROW coaching technique which essentially helps the individual find their own answers. The GROW acronym stands for:
- Goal - this is whereby the individual determines the goal in mind. I used other questions to concrete his answers and what those goals meant to him.
- Reality - this is to understand their current reality in relation to their goal, i.e. to determine a starting point.
- Options - this is the fun bit, where I asked my friend to list out all the possibilities if anything was achievable.
- Will - this is whereby I got him to commit to some form of action, i.e. I got a commitment from him to take the first step towards realizing his goal, No matter how small he needed to take the first step.
Over the course of eight weeks we would meet and I would coach him two or three times a week to ensure he did not falter and was on the path to achieving his goal.
About three weeks before the end of my engagement I turn up on site and my engineer friend has a surprise for me. He states that with my help he was going to bring his goal forward by six months. I inquired further and was told that he was leaving the job and going to fulfill firstly his goal that I had worked with him on and then his lifelong dream.
Sure enough at around the time I left he disappeared west to Llandudno and that was the last I saw of him. So what was his goal and his lifelong dream?
Well his goal was to be a professional kitesurfer and his dream was to have a kitesurfing business teaching people how to kitesurf, own a shop that sold kitesurfing gear and make the sport available to a wider audience.
That was my first real life encounter of someone having the gumption to take that leap of faith and follow their dreams. The great thing about going for your goals and dreams, it's never too late.