N is for needs, and in particular Maslow’s hierarchy of them. Depicted as a pyramid, broadly it’s based on the idea that every human being must have physical needs, such as warmth, food and shelter satisfied before you can start to worry about whether you’re in the right career.

It’s a useful starting point for a getting ourselves to think and talk in the language of universal human needs rather than how we’d like everyone else to behave differently. The awareness of our and others’ needs is the starting point for the truth that we are responsible for our own reactions, so that looking for the cause of our irritation, or contentment, outside ourselves is a hiding to nothing. More on needs later, but N comes around only once in 26.


O is for ostrich, or more specifically our tendency to hide what’s bothering us under one distraction or another – social life, alcohol, exercise, work. Sometimes that’s not such a bad idea, if it gives us a break, but sooner or later the underlying problem will have to be dealt with.

Ostriches, as I understand it, don’t do this. Their reputation largely arises from the fact that they bury their eggs in the ground and look after them. As for their problems, I gather they face these head on.

So, now I’m thinking O is for Ostrich and the human tendency to think we know what someone else is doing and thinking and inevitably get it completely wrong.


P is for plod for ever. Sir Ranulph Fiennes, intrepid and quite mad explorer of ridiculously dangerous places, describes how he reached the summit of Everest by repeating these words to himself, and so avoided getting caught up in the anxiety of where he was going or how hard it would be to get there.

One step at a time, concentrating on now rather than worrying about tomorrow, or even later this afternoon, is the simplest, most effective and repeatedly overlooked answer to pretty well any difficulty life throws up. Anxiety about the past or future is just noise and the ability to switch off from it is all it takes to achieve peace. Ask any Buddhist, or intrepid explorer.


Q is for question. One of the lines I most enjoy hearing when I’m coaching is ‘that’s a good question.’ It doesn’t mean I’ve asked something clever or subtle – it actually has nothing to do with me at all. What it means is that the conversation has sparked something that’s gone to the nub of what the client is trying to work out, clearing a way through the noise to the heart of the matter. All I have to do then is wait long enough for the answer.

If you’d like to find out if life coaching with me is your answer, or even your question, DM me to arrange a sample session or visit my website https://lnkd.in/d7SUf5C


R is for relationships and a small and possibly random observation; I’ve noticed that quite often a client will arrive wanting to talk about their relationship and end up talking about the job; while those who turn up wanting to talk about the job move on very quickly to the relationship. Funny that.

S is for Sewing Bee (The Great British). My favourite show and almost perfect in every way. I love all three tasks – making from a pattern, transforming something from something else, constructing a fitted garment from scratch. The only thing I don’t enjoy is the absurd time restrictions the show puts on the contestants, or even that there are contestants. I don’t really like competition, I suppose and I very much don’t like undertaking something as detailed, creative, meandering and organic as sewing, against a manifestly too tight time frame. I know this is how these shows work and maybe fewer people would be interested if the urgency and judgment were removed. But for me, I hate the stress it puts the participants under and I miss seeing the care and expansion of technique and creation.

Is there a life coaching point to this? Possibly several, and the obvious one is that making things – a waistcoat, a decision, a change, sometimes takes time and rushing it can run counter to the process.

Having said all this, perhaps this post only goes to show I’d have been rubbish at producing good telly.

T is for transitions. When my kids were small I used to take them on these (quite frightful in some ways) camps (rather euphemistically) called Creative Parenting. They were a kind of kid-centred free-for-all with a lot of dogs, feral families and none of the things that traditionally keep children content – ie anything with a screen or made using sugar. There were, though, several very wise things that I learned from that group and one was how difficult children, and actually all of us, find transitions; transitions from home to school, school to home, home to camp, camp to home; home to holiday and back, university to home and back, moving work, moving house, moving on. Most of us find comfort in stasis and yet, especially in this modern world, we put ourselves through a lot of change. We need to take care of ourselves during times of transition, recognise it might be shaking us up a little, and know we’ll be okay again once things have settled. Change is most often good for us in the end. I wonder if the discomfort it brings us is part of the reason for that.