The Wall

A breathtaking view

Last week my partner and I spent several days up in Northumbria staying in a small bed and breakfast right on Hadrian’s Wall. On the second day we decided to walk the five miles to the nearby Housesteads Fort following the route of the wall. Predictably perhaps, the weather decided to make things just a little more challenging for us that day and as a result we ended up battling through driving winds and temperatures very nearly at freezing point. The rain had done its preliminary job of saturating the ground through the previous night so it was no time at all before we were getting bogged down in glutinous mud that came over our ankles as we negotiated the harsh rocky terrain.

As we struggled over, through and around that terrain and my partner described the environment around us as well as the breathtaking views all along the route I got to thinking about how we as human beings not only have to overcome obstacles and barriers throughout our lives, but also how we create them.

More specifically I was thinking about those that we create for ourselves that prevent us from achieving what we want to. Naturally there are those that we consciously put in place marking our boundaries and setting the extreme borders of our personalities; but what about those that we subconsciously put in place?

When thinking about self created obstacles I was considering examples like:

– The individual who wants to work their way up the ladder of seniority in their work but makes or finds excuses as to why they cannot go for that promotion they have always wanted.

– The individual who doesn’t have confidence in themselves or their abilities and has anxiety around making themselves heard, therefore creating an obstacle from their own shyness or fear.

On the surface these examples do of course appear to be more conscious obstacles, but those conscious obstacles more often than not have deeper root causes.

It can often be very difficult to get to the bottom of these root causes with a client, but ultimately that extra discussion and exploration can uncover multiple reasons for the given issue to have manifested.

I then thought about what obstacles and barriers can mean to different people. To most they will mean physical or mental things that slow a person down, something that is difficult to get through, around or over or something that can be intimidating as well as seeming impossible to face. Does this mean these obstacles are insurmountable?

I come across examples much like the ones I have used above regularly in my Coaching and I invariably ask my clients almost the same couple of questions each time. “How do you think you could find the courage to face these obstacles?” and “What do you think could help you overcome these obstacles?”

Almost always the response is the same or similar. “I don’t know” or “I was hoping you could tell me.”
Half way and it's getting colder!
Now, as my partner and I slipped and tripped and scrambled over that terrain along the route of the wall I thought how much I’m like my clients and my clients are like me. Not as silly as at first you might think.

I am blind and so to navigate successfully over that terrain I needed the help and support of someone I trust. Not to walk the route for me you understand, but to help me discover the best path for me and my particular needs. After all, my partner wasn’t carrying me, I trod the path myself.

In the same way (although metaphorically of course) my clients have the same handicap as I do in the way there is fear of the unknown; perhaps they don’t have the confidence or do not have the bravery to embark upon such a path alone, and ultimately are as blind as I am because they cannot see what is over the crest of the next hill.

So it is since making that slightly odd (but in my opinion, very relevant) metaphorical observation that I intend to use that walking experience in my Coaching to encourage clients to explore their fears and anxieties and to help them find the root issues that cause them to create their subconscious obstacles.

I would like to leave you with something to think about before I go.

Imagine yourself if you will, in the situation I was in on that long cold windy walk over incredibly wet, steep and rocky ground and see if you can apply that metaphorically to a part of your life that you are struggling with right now. It can be your home life, your work life or your student life.

Now consider how you feel at the beginning of the “walk”, how you could improve that feeling or indeed who might be able to help you feel better about it. Also think about what you are likely to find particularly difficult over the route of the “walk” and consider what or who might lessen that difficulty or help get you over that particularly high and nasty looking hill strewn with rocks. Now think about how you will feel when you get to your destination knowing what you have just gone through.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

James Goldsworthy.
AoEC Accredited Associate Executive Coach.
Founder of Alternate Visions Coaching.

What makes us who we are?

What makes us who we are, shapes the person we see in the mirror each day and creates the personality we project to others? 


Below is a poem I wrote a few years ago in which I attempted to answer that question. Now that I look at it from a Coaching perspective I find myself considering how those people I mention in the poem that influence us actually Coach us in one way or another through our lives. 


Right up until the last line in the poem I think that those external influences have a greater impact on us as individuals than we perhaps appreciate. Certainly in the respect of our own will and intentions I feel that it is not until we reach our true adulthood that we come into a sense of our own identity in many respects, whether in personal relationships, family life or of course our chosen career paths. 


It is this in particular that interests me as a Coach. As through learning more about ones own strengths, weaknesses, anxieties and potential a person can grow as an individual and change who they are and/or who they want to be. Whether through conscious decision or by accidental realisation many people feel that they want to change but do not have the confidence to do so. As a Coach I feel that through helping people find that confidence and helping them empower themselves to change peoples personal lives and careers can be drastically changed for the better. 


James Goldsworthy.

AoEC accredited Associate Executive Coach.

Founder of Alternate Visions Coaching. 


Who we are.


What makes us who we are? 

This is my answer. 


Our early experiences in childhood, the bad and the good 


The things we see from afar, the beautiful and the disturbing 


The family that love and teach us 


The friends that surround and embrace us 


And our inner voice, the mind and the will. 


Written by James Goldsworthy.

copyright reserved 2008.

The Answer?

“Exploration leads to understanding. Understanding leads to deeper knowledge. Deeper knowledge leads to greater awareness.”



Although not spoken by anybody famous the quote I wrote above is something I like to use in a variety of different scenarios and I have found it particularly suited to my style of Coaching. Whether there is a challenge that I myself am working through or if I am Coaching a client I have found that each individual statement within the quote plays a specific and important part in its effectiveness as a whole. 


The quote does of course work in its most general state, but by extending the individual statements within it more clarity can be achieved. This works particularly well when the extended version is applied to a specific problem. If you take the quote from above and turn it into the version below you should see what I mean. 


“Exploration of the issue at hand and the potential options available leads to understanding. Understanding of those options and how they might work leads to deeper knowledge. Deeper knowledge of how many possible options work leads to greater awareness. With greater awareness one is better able to make informed decisions that have a greater chance of success.” 


As I mentioned earlier, what makes the application of this quote so effective is that each part of it directly supports the next. In fact it would be fair and accurate to say that using only one part of the whole will not work; for how can understanding of an issue or challenge be achieved without first exploring it fully? How can one have true knowledge of something one does not first understand? 


This quote, statement, or tenet if you prefer, is something that has served me very well through life and is now something that I incorporate into my Coaching practice. I don’t for a moment claim that it is “the answer” but I do feel that it goes some way to helping find the answers that we all seek. 


James Goldsworthy.

AoEC accredited Associate Executive Coach.

Founder of Alternate Visions Coaching.

Why did I choose to become a Coach?

Why did I choose to become a Coach? 

As you can probably imagine this is a question where the answer has many contributing factors, but I shall try to answer as fully as I am able. 

Back in 2005 I lost my sight, something that drastically changed my life as I knew it. My career up to that point had been in retail where I had worked my way up from the bottom. Unfortunately just as I was about to commence my training to the next level of management the problems with my vision started and as a result my career was put on hold. Now this piece is not a “woe is me” piece, so let’s get one thing straight before I continue. I lost my sight and it was bad, really bad and utterly devastating. For a time there I thought my life was pretty much over. Right, that’s the more negative bit over and done with so let’s move on. 

Ultimately I had to leave my job due to ill health and the fact that I was for all intents and purposes in and out of hospital for the best part of twenty one months. Now I could bang on about how I had to learn to do things, simple things like making a cup of tea from scratch again, but there are hundreds if not thousands of articles and posts out there where visually impaired and blind people go into all of that so I am not going to; but it is accurate for me to say that I went through all of that and came out the other side. 

During the period of time between February 2004 and December 2005, which was basically how long it took for my vision to go, I had A LOT of time to think about my life, how it was changing and where it was going. After another few months I decided I wanted to do something and not just sit in my house letting my misfortune beat me; so I started volunteering for a local visual impairment charity once a week. I am not going to go into details here as this piece will end up being fifteen times longer than I intend it to be, but it is fair to say that doing that voluntary work really opened my eyes (no pun intended) to how lucky I was to have only lost my sight. It also made me feel valued and ultimately helped shape me into the man I am today. Of course there are many contributing factors that have made me who I am now, but I think it is fair to say that those few years had an impact that I am not entirely sure I can articulate properly. 

Over the next few years I became more and more involved with the charity and became a trainer for assistive technology as well as becoming a charity trustee in 2011. I am very happy to say that I became the Chairman for the 2012/2013 period and still sit on the board of trustees now; but that is by the by. For years I had been mentoring, training, and I guess helping guide people through very difficult and challenging times in their lives and on several occasions I had friends and family members telling me they thought I could go into counselling work etc. However, to be honest counselling work never appealed to me and although I was trying to find a career that would be interesting, challenging and that I would enjoy, it was only in 2012 that I heard about Coaching and what it actually is. 

I am not going to lie to you here, like most members of the general public I didn’t have the first clue of what Coaching was and how powerful a tool it could be in helping people change their lives. It was only thanks to a friend that I actually learned a little about it and was intrigued enough to want to learn more. Once I had found out considerably more about Coaching and how it worked I wondered whether my family and friends might be onto something and began to seriously consider training and becoming certified as a Coach. Fortunately I had the opportunity to attend a two day taster event at the AoEC so I eagerly went along with an open mind and a willingness to learn. 

The event was very engaging and answered many of the questions I had about Coaching and I think it was this that ultimately made my mind up as to what I wanted to have a career in. A far cry from being a department manager in retail or an assistive technology trainer, but a career that tapped in to skills I had already begun to develop in both those and other previous roles. 

It was just a couple of months before attending the AoEC event that I was offered the opportunity to receive some free Coaching. Needless to say I took up the offer as I wanted to experience Coaching from the client’s perspective and better understand how the Coach/client relationship works.

Even after only two or three Coaching sessions I could see how positive an effect it was having on me and helping me change the way I thought about things. It was this that really cemented it for me, I wanted to train and learn how to Coach properly and professionally. It was soon after that I enrolled on the AoEC’s Coaching Practitioner course and the world of Coaching was opened up to me.

So to answer my own question, why did I choose to become a Coach? I chose to become a professional Coach because after having gone through a literally life changing event and feeling that I had absolutely nowhere to go it was Coaching of one form or another that helped me get through it. Whether that Coaching was from friends, family, colleagues at the charity or medical professionals the process was challenging, emotional, enlightening and although I didn’t necessarily feel so at the time, incredibly positive. I looked deeper into myself than I ever had before and learned more about my own strengths and weaknesses than I honestly thought was possible. It helped changed the way I think about and approach the challenges and obstacles that life throws at me and ultimately gave me the tools to either work around them or smash my way straight through them. 

That is why I chose to become a professional Coach. I wanted to take a path on a career that is not only interesting and enriching for me, but one that also can help people change their lives in an informed and positive way. 

James Goldsworthy.
AoEC Accredited Associate Executive Coach. 
Founder of Alternate Visions Coaching.

A New Year

Welcome to the Alternate Visions Coaching website and blog. I would like to wish you a Happy New Year for 2014 and wish you every success in your endeavours through the coming twelve months. 

With this new year comes this new website and with hard work and a bit of luck the growth and development of AVC. It is my intention to write short articles on my journey as a coach and points of interest that you may find engaging as well as informative. Here you will be able to get news about AVC as well as reading more about my work and mission, so please do follow this blog to keep up to date. 


James Goldsworthy.

AoEC Accredited Associate Executive Coach.

Founder of Alternate Visions Coaching. 

Enablement coach specialising in sight loss, assistive technology training on Apple VoiceOver, Dolphin Guide & SuperNova, coaching for living with sight loss, back to work skills & confidence building