Where curiosity could take you: The TPCL story
“The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” – W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game
In 1968, when executive coaching was barely a whisper of an idea, Sir John Whitmore left the UK to study with a group of people who were more or less about to invent it. One of them was Tim Gallwey who would go onto author The Inner Game, which proposed a radical shift in sports coaching. Instead of focusing on skills that were visible to an outward observer (strength, speed, technique) the book suggested that the secret of success was in a renewed mental approach.
The first questions
“To get the best out of people, we have to believe the best is in there – but how do we know it is, how much is there, and how do we get it out?” – John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance
Sir John Whitmore was a former motor racing champion who resonated with Gallwey’s ideas. Together with Bob Kriegel they began to dream into creating a new way of coaching and learning. How could you reduce fear? Deal with doubt? Confront underlying beliefs? The answer would surely change the game for everyone.
Eager to find out everything he could, Whitmore began studying at The Esalen Institute in California. Most importantly he met Diana Becchetti, who had trained with Roberto Assagioli, the founder of the psychosynthesis approach to psychology. She was equal in passion to Whitmore, determined to refocus psychology to help people live with meaning, purpose and a sense of well-being. They soon travelled back to the UK and were married.
Changing the game together
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Edward Everett Hale
After establishing a tennis school and a Gallwey-licensed ski school in the Alps, Whitmore became a co-founder of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). This would go on to become one of the leading accreditors for coaching across 24 countries. Whitmore also authored Coaching for Performance in 1992, bringing the GROW model of coaching to the fore for the first time.
It was around this time that Sir John Whitmore crossed paths with Charles Brook and Dr Andrew McDowell. Charles Brook was a former squash professional turned coach who had sat around the same table as Whitmore at the inaugural meeting of the EMCC. Dr Andrew McDowell was a clinical psychologist studying psychosynthesis – the choice of subject bringing him into contact with the Whitmores. Their shared passion for making a positive difference in the world through deeply understanding what makes for a meaningful and purposeful life, was to underpin a life-long friendship.
Everything shot off at a pace in 2003. Charles Brook founded The Performance Coach and just a year later John Whitmore founded Performance Consultants. The two organisations worked side by side regularly and together they founded the world’s first Masters in Coaching with Portsmouth University.
The beginning of TPC Leadership
“Great companies were never motivated by fear (competition, looking foolish, others having short term success) but by a very clear sense of what they wanted to create.” – Jim Collins, Good to Great
As the years progressed, The Performance Coach shifted in emphasis. Coaching was still guiding their ethos but the mission had evolved into one of leadership development and consulting. In 2017 The Performance Coach became TPC Leadership. Questions were still being asked at the heart of TPCL. What guides our actions? How do you stay true to what you believe in? How are we making a difference?
There are now TPC Leadership offices in 14 countries serving our global client base training hundreds of coaches and developing hundreds of leaders every year. But the gnawing desire is not to grow big – it is to grow deep. The most powerful game is still beneath the surface, somewhere between our inner game and our core identity.
The legacy of leadership coaching is strong. But what is over the next horizon? Can we go to our edge and discover what leadership could be like tomorrow? We probably won’t have full certainty of where we’re heading till we’ve arrived. Then there will be more difficult questions to ask. But curiosity took a few people a long way; maybe it’ll take us further.
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