My Story of Transformation
“Multiple Olympic and world rowing medalist & Chief Commercial Officer, London. Ink Global.“
Leading with Vision
Steve’s philosophy has always been that when adversity strikes, you overcome it by reconnecting with and accelerating your vision.
When, after a successful career as a rower, he was dropped from Team GB just weeks before the 2004 Olympics, he picked himself up. He knew he could win a medal, recommitted himself and worked his way back onto the team – winning bronze in 2008 in Beijing.
After retiring from athletics, Steve embarked upon a business career. In 2014, Simon Leslie, co-founder of Ink Global, the world leader in travel media, offered Steve the opportunity to bring to Ink what he had learned about success in athletics. Steve has played a crucial role in helping double the company’s turnover over the last few years.
Simon asked me to meet Steve in August 2019, and we have been working together since then. During this time, COVID-19 hit and Ink’s business was severely affected, yet Steve has been able to help Ink regroup and create a new vision.
What was the problem you were having before you engaged me?
I was ready for change. My leadership was feeling like less of an adventure and more of a chore. I felt trapped, frustrated and unable to be the real me, and I didn’t feel in control of many parts of my life. I was no longer growing and accessing my latent potential. Even though I was still achieving a lot, I was often left feeling unfulfilled.
What did your frustration feel like as you tried to solve the problem yourself?
I felt impatient and alone, that I was spinning my wheels, and was becoming more and more frustrated.
What was different about my approach to helping you solve your problem?
You helped me understand myself, and allowed the real me to emerge and solve my problems. You helped me see I was someone who needed to lead from a sense of vision. You were committed to me becoming the best version of myself.
Take us to the moment when you realized the coaching was actually beginning to work to solve your problem.
In our first session, you sat and listened and immediately gained my trust and respect. I could feel my sense of adventure returning and I sensed that I hadn’t reached the end of the road, but there was a new beginning beckoning.
Have you undergone a significant shift in your sense of identity?
I began to see that it was time for me to take another step in evolution, from Steve the Olympic hero, to Steve the leader who cares passionately about the happiness and success of others, as well as my own. Having figured out how to draw out the best in myself, I wanted to inspire and guide others to draw out the best in themselves too. You encouraged me to start a podcast to help inspire people within Ink, and to be a guest on other podcasts and share my stories on LinkedIn. I have been amazed at the response, the gratitude people express and the conversations that have opened up.
What is the biggest obstacle you have been able to overcome within yourself through our work together?
I have had to face how tough I am on myself and how little I appreciate my own successes. I wasn’t able to see my big “why”, my sense of purpose. We had a breakthrough session, which got into the core of who I am and how I operate, and this has enabled me to share more with others. It’s allowed me to find a stronger sense of meaning in life.
What does your life look like now that your problem is being solved?
I feel like I am growing every week into the person I want to be. I am more aware of how I impact others and make them feel, both in a positive and not so positive way. I have been driven by a massive fear of failure, but now I am following my heart and my unique leadership calling. I am achieving at even higher levels than before, but I am experiencing more enjoyment and fulfilment.
In what area have you grown most?
I can see that the adversity I experienced has been a catalyst in revealing my own essence. I now know that my greatest strengths lie in setting the vision, and creating and leading high-performance teams. You helped me acknowledge that I have a powerful voice and encouraged me to become a storyteller. By sharing my own struggles and vulnerabilities, the more resonance I create and the more trust I build. I have developed more empathy with people. By helping me to actualize my ideas for Transforming Adversity into Opportunity, I could see the steps that enabled me to turn around being dropped from the team in 2004 to Olympic victory in 2008. I was then able to utilize this approach when COVID-19 hit and Ink’s business shrank, helping to develop a vision for Ink’s future even in the midst of current adversity.
What are you most loving about the impact you are now able to have?
Although Ink has been hit badly by COVID, I have been able to help develop a new business model and Ink is beginning to flourish again, evolving from print to digital platforms. Positively impacting others by leading with vision matters to me, and makes me happier and more fulfilled too. I am using the insights we’ve had together to improve my relationships and I have noticed that people are now naturally gravitating towards me.
In what ways do you experience your leadership as a calling rather than simply a position?
I now feel much less driven by fear and more fuelled by inspiration. I see my leadership as an act of service, rather than satisfying my ego. I am a better human being, the one I always sensed I could be – still able to achieve but increasingly from a place of happiness and feeling good. I am glad to enjoy a more collaborative, co-operative and finessed relationship with my CEOs.
Why did you choose me?
I have spent my whole adult life being coached, in athletics and in business, and I only work with people who I know can help me. I knew from the first time we met you would be able to make me become a better human being and more effective leader.