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Coaching in a time of change

In 1969 I took part in an overland expedition to India. 500 young people in 25 coaches, we were quite a caravan.

On the way we stayed in Zagreb in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia no longer exists. The Berlin Wall came down and much of Eastern Europe has since undergone a major transformation.

We also passed through Greece. Even on the top of wild mountains there were huge posters showing soldiers and a phoenix. Greece was under a military dictatorship – it is now free.

Then we passed through Iran. Throughout we were accompanied by very helpful guides from the secret police who ensured that we had right of way through the traffic. Iran has since escaped from the Shah.

Everyone I spoke to was overwhelmed by Afghanistan, the scenery, the men and their beautifully decorated pony and trap transport. Afghanistan has since been invaded by Russia, taken over by the Taliban and is now attempting to grow its own democracy.

In 1981 I was sent by the OECD to Spain to help them with schools transport policy. Spain had recently emerged from the Franco regime and the television was giving lessons on how to run trial by a jury. Portugal has also escaped from dictatorship.

I have worked in South Africa. South Africa has emerged from apartheid.

Change happens, and very often it happens when the time is right; suddenly a tipping point is reached, nobody foresaw it but everything seems to come from nowhere.

Now change is sweeping across the Middle East – currently it is in turmoil.

Change offers both a risk and an opportunity. It is a time when a coaching approach is really valuable.

Whether it is a matter of changing how you do something, changing your job, or something as massive as a revolution, the assistance of someone who will slow you down to really explore the reality, the options and the consequences can make the difference between success and disaster.

When the people of Eastern Europe or Arabia throw off years of control they are left with freedom but little experience. When they destroy oppressive governments they can be left with no civic structure.

This is time to ask “What do you want instead?”

Time to consider:

What do you really want?

What would be even better than that?

What would having that do for you?

How would having that affect others?

What has to happen for that to be possible?

What might stop you?

What is the first action you must take?

All good coaching questions. Use them anywhere, for a simple decision or to overthrow a regime.