by Janice Hunter
Success leaves clues. ~ Anthony
I’ve often said that coaching moments
creep up on me in the weirdest of places.
Last week I had a transcendental moment
with some supermarket trolleys…
I’d slept badly and lumbered the
two steps from our front door to the car
like a bear just out of hibernation. While
my husband drove us to his work, I daydreamed
and dozily chatted about news items on the
When we arrived, I got out of the passenger
side to swap over and drive to the supermarket.
Wham! The wind slammed me in the face! As
I stood there looking like Medusa and grabbing
onto my scarf, my husband, completely unfazed,
said “Wild, isn’t it.”
He kissed me, smiled and headed into the
I scrambled to the driver’s side,
got in, slammed the door shut and took a
few deep breaths. He’d made driving
through a gale look so effortless!
The problem is, I’m not a confident
driver and don’t drive on very windy
days if I can avoid it. I’m not actually
a ‘bad’ driver – just a wimp
with a weather-related comfort zone. But
there I was, faced with a choice; get on
with the shopping and drive home, or sit
there all day outside my husband’s
place of work.
I made it safely to the supermarket, this
time noticing the swaying trees and the
cars being buffeted as they overtook lorries.
Later as I sat in the café, warming
my hands around a chunky white coffee cup,
I sat musing about mastery and unconscious
My husband can reverse park in a space
that looks too small to get through with
post-Christmas hips and two bags of shopping.
He can cook ten-item breakfasts without
breaking sweat or swearing at the kids.
He gets strikes every time we go bowling
and can pot six or seven balls one after
the other in a game of pool. All of it effortless,
but here’s the thing… it’s
probably never occurred to him that any
of those skills constitute mastery. He takes
them so much for granted!
When I was going for certification, I used
to be intimidated by graceful, elegant coaches
who made everything seem so effortless.
I fought off envy until I learned how to
analyse what I admired, what they did and
what I could adapt and absorb. I worked
very hard, learned how to learn, made a
load of silly mistakes and eventually passed
the IAC exam. The most important thing I
learned from my certification journey is
that success leaves clues.
As I was leaving the supermarket, muttering
under my breath at my talent for picking
trolleys with wayward wheels, I heard an
announcement. “Due to the weather
conditions, could customers please return
their empty trolleys to the trolley bays.”
I looked out onto the car park and surveyed
a surreal scene; unaccompanied trolleys
whizzing and clanging into cars, a tiny
bouquet of cellophane-wrapped tulips buffeting
and skidding along the road trying to take
off, newspapers flying around like kites,
and people batting off litter and flying
brochures with their flailing hands like
a scene from Hitchcock’s ‘The
I saw people struggling with overloaded
trolleys, trying to swing them around like
rollerblading partners, outstretched arms
in a spin. Others lurched for small light
items snatched by the wind and watched in
alarm as their liberated trolleys trundled
off to freedom.
As I walked alongside my wobbly trolley,
gently but firmly using my weight to keep
it on track as it tried to veer to the right,
I suddenly realised that this is what coaches
do when faced with clients’ ingrained
paradigms, self limiting beliefs and stormy
days. We walk alongside them, gently but
firmly keeping them on the road they’d
rather be on, helping them navigate obstacles
along the way and sometimes relieving them
of a burden so heavy it’s been paralysing
them into inactivity.
We know the difference between directionless
emptiness and a load that’s too overwhelming
to manoeuvre. We know when it’s time
to apply the brakes and when to keep on
going and take advantage of momentum. We
know how to focus to get through fear.
I may not be the world’s most confident
driver, but I’m good at getting the
shopping home. (And don’t worry…I
don’t actually talk to trolleys!)
What unconscious competence do you
take for granted, not just in your coaching
but in your whole life?
Hunter is a writer, teacher and IAC certified coach who
currently specialises in homelife coaching – helping people
create authentic, spirit filled lives and homes they love –
and in supporting coaches on their certification journeys.
She lives in Scotland with her husband and two children.