The Power of Coaching

14 July 2015

The Coxless Crew (@coxlesscrew) girls are making amazing progress and are now only days away from rowing in to Hawaii.

Can you imagine how they must be feeling and what they will be looking forward to when the get off Doris. What would you be missing after 50 days plus at sea on tiny Doris?

It wasn’t plain sailing (no pun intended), as the girls hit storming weather for the first 3 weeks after leaving. So bad were the storms they encountered, they described the waves in one of their blogs: “as the size of houses and being lifted up one side and surfing down the other side, was like being on a roller coaster, with no harness to hold you in!”

Damage was done to the battery connections. Without battery power they would have no method of making drinking water and their communication with the outside world would be affected. They had no option but to make the difficult decision to turn back. There are so many analogies to businesses, including many of our clients who testify to making many wrong decisions and having to go back to the drawing board. It’s why the more successful business people see the value in having a qualified coach to help them make better judgements and hold them accountable to their values and goals. There is also a great analogy for us as coaches. How many of us start off in one direction and it doesn’t work – do we give up or do we take time to repair and improve our own coaching proposition? Who is your support team – always there to get you goi

You can see below the challenges the girls had by taking a look at their GPS Tracker online at They were at sea for twenty three days after leaving San Francisco, and it took them only 4 days to row back into Santa Barbara, way down the California coast line.

Now; it’s one thing to start a journey like this not knowing what you will really face out in the Pacific Ocean, however, it is a completely different mental conditioning to restart the journey, knowing exactly what you will be facing out there. I am so proud of the girls, because they did just that. After the necessary repairs to Doris was complete, they got back behind the oars and rowed out from Santa Barbara, into more treacherous waters to overcome immense adversity.

What made them do this? Or what motivated them to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and get back out there? The truth is many things, however, integral to their motivation, is the Best Year Yet Team programme we produced together before they left San Francisco. Here is one of their latest blog posts:

Day 49 – Our Best Year Yet!

Update: In the last 24 hours we’ve been treated to the highest winds we’ve had since leaving Santa Barbara. Intermittent squalls have come with dark, menacing clouds, driving rain and waves faintly visible by the misty moonlight coming at us from all angles.

Safe to say we’re all wet again but not quite as cold as we were. We are thankful for some fresh water to rinse out our salt encrusted wet weather gear but find that as soon as that happens, we get dumped on by yet another saltwater wave undoing all the good work! However, yet again, we remain in high spirits and still laugh at ourselves and with each other. Why?

  • I am truly dumbfounded and quite frankly astounded by how the 4 of us have dealt with life over the last 49 (or 65 from San Fran) days.
  • Why have we not wanted to kill one another?
  • Why have we not had moments of complete frustration with how long this leg is taking us?
  • Why are we not completely delirious from sleep exhaustion?
  • Why do we never complain about getting up every two hours to go and sit on the oars in driving rain, pitch black darkness, rough sea state, cold or hot conditions?
  • Why are we still joking, laughing, looking after each other and in essence…working amazingly well together as a team?
  • There are definitely a number of reasons…but for now I want to share one of them with you:
  • I love how there is a universal order to how things happen in life.

Two serendipitous moments led us to working with the amazing Andrew Duncan at New Level Results to create a Best Year Yet Team programme that has helped streamline us as a team and get to the start line as well as how we are functioning out here on the Pacific.

Flash back to 2001 when I was working in Nepal and I met a group of people who had just come back from the most successful summiting of Mount Everest in history. They had broken 4 World Records and their elation at conquering the roof of the world was incredible. First blind man to summit, oldest man to summit, first father/son team to summit and most people to summit at any one time.

Turns out that they had been following a Best Year Yet Team programme.

Flash back to 2012 when I was working in Mallorca and my path crossed with Andrew and we spent a few hours talking about values and with the aid of his Value Cards I had to whittle down 10 of my top important life values into only one.
Andrew and I remained friends and reconnected in the UK when I got involved with the row. Turns out that the programme offered by Andrew was the glue that allowed us to put procedures firmly in place and gave us a solid framework to follow to improve our effectiveness as a team – vital to the success of the expedition.

Although we are all very different characters, we are able to work really well together as we have a shared objective and shared values. This is very important.

We’ve always had clear objectives.

Best Year Yet helped us set out our objectives, our top 10 goals and prioritise what needed to be done. It was just what we needed to keep all our admin together in one tidy and effective package.

We needed an online system that would not take up too much of our time and would help us all focus on the job at hand and keep us all on track. It made each of us accountable for championing certain areas and get results!

The other great thing about the programme  is that we have an external coach/facilitator work with us (Andrew). He is objective, there is no personal tie to the project and he can offer a unique professional perspective.

Our project has been in 2 stages:

Stage 1 – Getting to the start line essentially setting up a business. We had to deal with areas including sponsorship, PR/Media/Marketing, logistics, finances, legal and admin

Stage 2 – Successful crossing of the Pacific, the expedition
Below are some of the guidelines we came up with for Stage 2.

Coxless Guidelines

  1. Believe in yourself, trust in each other and the strength of the team
  2. Row with SPIRIT (our values)
  3. Be Unstoppable, stroke by stroke

Coxless Paradigm

Control the controllable and conquer OUR Pacific

Major Focus

Enjoy the journey! Live the moment

Inspiring and encouraging others to reach their full potential is exactly what New Level Results aims to do through their programmes and is also exactly what our expedition is all about. A HUGE thank you to Andrew and the team and we look forward to our next review in Hawaii! We’re certainly doing our best to ensure we all enjoy the journey x

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