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I am just back from a wonderful three weeks of backpacking around the country of Mexico, including one week with my daughter. Threaded amongst all my fantastic experiences, my biggest problem was that my footwear was not up to the job. We are talking about my sandals. I had made an assumption, that my lovely sandals (featured above, on the edge of the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacan, looking down the Avenue of the Dead), which had seen me through eight weeks of different challenges and situations in hot and humid SE Asia last summer, would be fine for Mexico too. This was a mistake!

Things were different in Mexico, including:

  • Warm days but much cooler nights (much higher altitude)
  • Many more steps and uncomfortable cobbles on the roads
  • More demanding activities and hikes, including some at 2000m.

Picture: Masses of stone steps at the ancient Mayan site of Palenque


The impact of my choice to take the same footwear as my last trip, was that I had a foot that hurt, more slips and grazes, lower speed and I needed to pay much more attention to my stamina. I did everything I wanted to, but there was a cost.

I realise now that I could have thought about, researched, taken advice or many other things about footwear before setting off. After all, I had organised Spanish lessons before going, and that really helped. But with my footwear, plain and simple, I made the assumption that what had worked last time, would work here too.

Picture: An aqueduct left over from gold and silver mining in the Sierra Norte


I can also see now, that I needed a pair of walking shoes, not as hefty as my adored walking boots I use in the UK, but something half way in between them and my sandals. A purchase is now planned!

How does this relate to leadership coaching? Often, when my fellow coaches and I talk about coaching, we refer to being the person’s guide. I had some fantastic guides in the Sierra Norte in Mexico, who walked with me, set their pace with mine, and simply, without words, focussed on their own breathing when I found it really tough and I needed to do the same (we got into sync!). They were totally non judgemental in every way and we reached the outcome, i.e. the end of the walk (they got a good tip!).

The blog about being a guide has already been done. Many times. In case you don’t know what I mean, take a look at one of mine.

Picture: Jungle walk near the border with Guatamala


Coming back to the here and now, there are many new journeys about to begin. We are at the beginning of February 2020, and the UK has now left the EU – we have Brexit. Harry and Meghan have started their new life, carving out their new roles and niche. On an individual level, there are many of us seeking new opportunities in 2020.

Is this true for you? Using this metaphor, can you pay more attention to your own footwear selection and choices for your journeys, before you set off?

Might there be a role for me to help you with that? Do you need a thinking partner to help you consider the climate, the contours, the variations, the ground below, the scenarios and how you might prepare best for your own journey and adventure before you set off?

Benefits could include less reliance on a guide during the journey, able to go faster with less discomfort, fewer slips, scratches, work rounds, deviations or delay.

Perhaps most importantly, you could then align your mental stamina to other factors and demands that really matter. The ones that maybe can’t be anticipated in advance, where a resourceful mindset in the moment can help.

Why not eliminate adverse factors that a thinking partner can help you prepare for in advance, to increase the quality of your experience and success on the way.

Picture: An aqueduct left over from gold and silver mining in the Sierra Norte


Here is what a recent coaching client had to say:

“As a coach, Gill draws on deep business experience, intuition, fun, honesty and some killer questions. I appreciated her commitment to my goals and her willingness to think creatively with me and I recommend her to you.”   Andrew Mais, Managing Consulant, JMJ Associates

Gill How is a Master Executive Coach and Innovative Leadership Developer who loves to work with ambitious professionals wanting to have both a positive experience and make a significant difference in their careers and lives. Please contact her for an exploratory conversation if you think her approach may help you succeed with your goals.

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Photo credits: Gill & Hannah How

Gill How

Helping leaders grow, step up and deliver outstanding results

One Comment

  • Gill How says:

    Oh the irony! It was me that was changing, not my context! Something that needed a podiatrist to put it right! Now I have orthotics (insoles) for my trainers and walking boots, life is a lot more manageable! We need to consider changes in ourselves as well as our context it seems!!

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