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The day I met an Olympic athletics coach…




This is an archived blog post from Green Alder Coaching


The experience happened in the most unpredictable way… I spent a couple of days on a training course to coach people who are stressed. It was one of my first courses in coaching, and I was excited to start. Nervous too.

The friendly attendees were from a number of backgrounds:  such as CBT, clinical psychology, life coaching, recruitment, and Health and safety. But, there was one guy who immediately stood out from the rest. He had a composed and calm aura about him – a  presence. We all introduced ourselves, and I quickly found out that ‘one guy’ was an Olympic Athletics coach (TL), with a rich pedigree of ‘great AthletiKy stuff ;)’.

Oh, golly!!! I could not believe that – out of all the attendees – he became my main practice buddy! Yikes!! I initially noticed the fear welling up inside me, the inferiority complex, and the blood draining from my face….shit, shit, shit… my social anxiety is bound to get the better of me here…

I need not have worried, as he was kind and friendly, and quickly put me at ease…

We had to use personal stress examples to authenticate the coach-coachee relationship. Maintaining discreet anonymity,  TL began to weave an interesting account of one of his potential work stresses, which involved being part of an important selection panel to see which athletes are supported to succeed. I could see he really cared. He described how he would meticulously check and re-check his reasons for the decisions he had to make. I felt a sense of reassurance that he was careful and passionate enough to have faith in his decision-making process. He displayed compassion for the athletes who did not get through.  There was a complex web of important stuff to do, and he was clearly a high achiever…He felt pressure…not stress…

OMG… then it was my turn to come up with suggestions of my  current stressors in life …Well, if the earth could have swallowed me up whole at that moment, it would have  helped……’ Ummmm ….well, I do fear driving into cities….and I am stressed that I won’t get through my reading list for university thereby appearing thick on my first day…..’ Oh no! We had gone from a sophisticated web of important Olympic AthletiKy stuff to my teeny weeny insignificant concerns…I held my breath…

But, – and this was the turning point of his majestic awesome impact on me – he carefully thought about my concerns,  he politely probed a little further for detail, and then gently and kindly  (metaphorically) wrapped a warm and supportive blanket around me, and guided me towards finding my own solutions. He even finished the collaborative conversation by suggesting,  ‘You have it covered… and you will grow into a butterfly once you have started your course’. My concerns mattered.

He ‘blew me away’ as he demonstrated the true qualities of an excellent coach. Poetry in motion. He had presence and was mindful, empathic, supportive, and solutions-focused. Most of all, I felt ‘my problem’ was given the care and attention it needed – regardless of its ‘small’ nature. I was equal in our mutual exchange…My anxiety had evaporated, and I found myself comfortably conversing with a great example of a professional coach.

The course was interesting and engaging….but, I left with so much more than new skills. I experienced the pure essence of a beautifully executed coach-coachee relationship, and it will stay with me for a long time to come. Thank you TL for helping me to feel normal whilst allowing me to be authentically myself. You Rock!

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