Achieving courageous goals – Walking the talk

I don’t know about you but if I read a book I’d like to know that the authors have ‘walked the talk’. Chapter 6 of our book ‘Challenging Coaching’ is titled ‘Courageous goals’ – this is the ‘C’ in our FACTS model. So, as the reader, I would rightly want to challenge the authors by saying ‘Tell us about the courageous goals you have achieved in your lives – Tell us how you dreamt, how you shared and how you started down your own path. It’s all very well for you to ask us to do this but how have you walked the talk yourselves’. This is a healthy challenge.

In reply, Ian and I would say that one of our own courageous goals has been writing the book itself. For this has always been a dream for both of us. I remember pulling into Derby station on the train to Newcastle one morning back in 1997 and seeing someone sat on the platform reading Peter Senge’s seminal book ‘The Learning Organisation’. I dreamt about one day looking out of a future train window and seeing someone reading my own book on leadership. At the time, this was an absurd dream and I didn’t dare tell anyone about it. A few years later in 2004 I first shared this dream with Ian and others in 121partners, the coaching practice I co-founded with Bill Barry. ‘How about we write a book in the next three years?’ I boldly ventured expecting a chorus of naysayers and cynics. Strangely, there seemed to be some enthusiasm for this crazy idea and the courageous goal had passed an important milestone – it had been shared.

Yet we still hadn’t worked out how we were going to do this. We still hadn’t taken the first real step. That came in 2007 when Ian invited me to an Association for Coaching workshop led by an inspiring guy called Will Thomas. Will was a coach and author and he opened our eyes to the self-publishing route for getting a book out to market. As we drove away from that workshop we suddenly realised we knew how to achieve this courageous goal. We self-published our first book ‘Where were all the coaches when the banks went down?’ using the extraordinary facilities at and this was published in 2009.

Next, the dream accelerated and, via an introduction from Sir John Whitmore, in 2010 we found ourselves sat with the publisher Nicholas Brealey in his book-lined office in Spafield Street, London surrounded by the great titles he has brought to life in the coaching and leadership field (including Peter Senge’s ‘The Learning Organisation’!). Nicholas had read our first book and we fully expected him to kick us out of his office and tell us to go back to the day job. When he said that ‘he thought there could be something in this’, I felt my head spinning and I am sure the walls of the office billowed out a foot or two – something had just exploded in my head; maybe it was a limiting belief.

This week we took delivery of the first two hundred advance copies of the resulting book, ‘Challenging Coaching’, which Nicholas and his fantastic team have helped us create. What will happen from here? Nobody knows – yet we have proven to ourselves that we can walk the talk and if we can do it once then we can do it again. Dream! Share! Start!

[ First posted on ]