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How belief unlocks potential

August 11, 2022

Are you sporty? Or maybe I should ask do you like sport? because they’re not the same thing. I don’t excel at sport, not being keen on activities that make your lungs hurt. I was an enthusiastic joiner-inner, but resigned to being one of the last picked for school teams. When my junior class swam a 3 mile challenge, I was nervously splashing with the little ones in the shallow end. Secondary school brought the chilly horror of hockey until thankfully I moved to a city centre school with no facilities for field sports. 

However, fast forward to 2005, and my ambivalent relationship with sport was about to change.

It was July, I was slowly getting the hang of motherhood, the country had finally won its third bid to host the Olympics, and in the excitement Neil and I made a promise to be there with our family, whatever it looked like by then. We kept that promise, taking now two young sons to see a number of Paralympic events. This fuelled Sam’s burgeoning love of sporting competition but it also ignited something in me. 

Inspiration at all levels

As the boys grew up and into football, I’ve enthusiastically cheered on many a freezing Junior league match. We made our 2014 holiday a memorable visit to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, and we’ve just enjoyed a month of sporting magic, seeing both England and Germany in the group stages of the Women’s Euros and two days in Birmingham where Sam opened my eyes to what the heck is going on in a game of cricket.

There’s something about watching sport in person that really moves me. You can feel what it means for the competitors to reach those PBs. You can feel the bond between team mates and you live the highs and lows with them. I found the Lionness’s win particularly moving, seeing gutsy women breaking yet another barrier. It proved to those big clubs who’d turned down the chance to host the women’s tournament that their lack of faith was a big mistake.

Ya’ see, it’s all about belief. Believing in yourself makes a huge difference but it’s not always easy. That’s when you need someone to believe in you. 

Believing in others can change their lives. 

Seeing things I couldn’t

The one sport I didn’t mind at school was squash. a) it was indoors b) you didn’t have to run far to reach the ball and c) we were coached by a young woman called Fran who seemed to see potential in everyone, including me. I still enjoy playing today because, unlike running and swimming and hockey, I feel OK at it. Not great, but good enough.

Another woman who believed in me was my last manager Margie. She saw greater potential in me than I had, at the time, seen in myself. She encouraged me to do more of what I loved which led to me doing my coaching PostGrad and gave me opportunities that scared the wotsit out of me but really built my confidence, like helping run a leadership programme in China.

Wherever you are now, I see more for you

That’s the thing with coaches, wherever you are now, they see more for you. Where you see limits they see possibilities, where you see failure, they see learning. That’s why I do what I do, because one of my strengths is being able to see potential in others that they often can’t see in themselves. 

When we discuss which team we’re supporting, it’s a family joke that Mum will be supporting the under-dog. And it’s true, I cheer for those who are yet to prove themselves, those who are doubting their abilities or facing a massive challenge.

So where are you right now? Are you doubting your abilities or facing a daunting challenge? Would you like someone to cheer you on, to talk tactics or help you find ways under, over, round or right through the blinkin’ middle of those hurdles in your way? If so, let’s have a coffee because whether you’re trying to break a personal best or the glass ceiling, you don’t have to do it alone.

(The image is of Molly Caudery realising her potential, winning silver for England in the pole vault at Birmingham 2022.)

About me

I’m Celia Clark. I’m a career development coach based in the dreaming spires of Oxford. I help you think clearly about your job, in all its ups and downs, so you can be happy and successful in your work.

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