I recently moved to Perth in Western Australia after living in the Kimberley in the north-west for the past 16 years. The Kimberley has come to define who I am as a person and, most importantly, as a coach.
It is a vast and remote area spanning a distance of 423 520 square kilometres, and to me, epitomizes the true Australia. To understand the enormity of the area the United Kingdom is 243 610 square kilometres. You could almost fit two UKs into the Kimberley! And just for the record the Kimberley is only one eighteenth of the entire Australian continent.
Coach in a Box is a true community; I belong and it feels like coming home
During my time there I worked for two different government departments as a teacher, trainer and counsellor, and also as a consultant and manager. Just under half the population are Indigenous Australians and the nature of my work meant this was my main target group. There are several descriptors I can apply to my work and life there. They present as words or phrases but each one holds many stories which have also become my story. They are: respectful and reverent, deeply humbled, confronted by the reality of dispossession and alienation, eyes opened, embracing diversity, sacredness of land, sense of belonging, meaning of family, cultural and traditional understandings, spirituality, and the strong sense of being so very privileged to be accepted as a non-Indigenous person.
It is the essence of these stories that led me into coaching. The more I immersed myself into my work with Indigenous people the more I became dissatisfied with the policies, bureaucratic structures and expectations of the government departments I worked for. They began to stifle my creativity and put boundaries around my vision. In my search for ‘another way’ I discovered coaching and through training and becoming accredited I identified closely with the core purpose of this process: the belief that too often when taking that next step we focus on what needs to get done, without looking at who we need to become, in order to really make it.
My own journey into coaching reflects this belief. I asked myself the question: “Are you going to continue to accept mediocrity or are you going to change something about who you are to enable you to step up?” In 2008 I met Nicola Palk at the Kimberley Education Regional Office and in a meeting that was in no way coincidental we discovered some commonalities: coaching, education and partnering to develop Indigenous leadership. Even better Nicola spoke my language which is what I love about working in the Coach in a Box community. She asked me if I would be interested in working with the company and I realized I had come to the fork in the road; my choice point. After very little deliberation I resigned from my government job (I felt like a bird released from its cage), started working with Coach in a Box in 2009, became an Associate in 2010 and truly haven’t looked back. Coach in a Box has enabled me to grow as a person, I am joyously challenged and fulfilled by a wide variety of clients which includes many in the corporate sector as well as in education and I have been able to realize my vision of developing a partnership to design and deliver the Stronger Smarter Coaching Program. Over and above this, Coach in a Box is a true community in every sense of the word; I belong and it feels like coming home.