There are people who really love what they do, truly, madly, deeply, because it inspires them and develops them and motivates them and satisfies them. But sometimes you find yourself on the top rungs of the ladder unsure whether being up that high is amazing or terrifying, because the wind’s so much stronger up there and the ladder beneath you is much shakier, and you start asking yourself why you’re up there, where you’re going, how you plan to get there, who you plan to take with you and whether you’ll manage it at all.

In that sort of situation it makes sense to climb down off the ladder for a moment and speak to someone who has an experienced and qualified outsider’s viewpoint. Listening to what you have to say, they work out where you’re at and where you want to go, and they show you ways of getting there. My coach, Merle, is just that sort of ‘guru’. In a sense she doesn’t do anything, because ironically that’s what she’s meant to do – take a passive role, not an active one; listen to you, mull over the answers you give and unobtrusively guide you towards important conclusions. Then the fog clears, the ladder’s standing firm again and you discover new ways of climbing it or, if that’s the way you want to go, changing direction altogether.

Every session I’ve had with Merle has been worthwhile. She’s trustworthy, she’s observant, she’s quick to analyse things and she presents a new perspective while keeping you focussed on the bigger picture. For me, that means a new source of inspiration, more enjoyment of my work and more consciously heading towards better results. As a coach, Merle’s like a magic mirror that shows you what’s there but not always being put to the best use.