Mountain climbing is a dangerous and precarious sport. Often when mountain climbing the protagonists take the sensible precaution of being tied securely to something or someone so that should an accident happen and someone was to fall, their fall would be halted by whatever or whoever they were tied to. We refer to that process as belaying.
You see it often at climbing walls when the climber is secured by a rope to a point higher than they are and the end of the rope is secured by someone on the ground. Should the climber slip the belayer on the ground will be able to stop his fall and help him regain his grip on the wall.
The metaphor of the belayer, or secure base, is one that I was introduced to by George Kohlrieser, author of two great books ‘Hostage at the Table’, and ‘Care to Dare’, hostage negotiator and leadership lecturer and is one that I frequently use to describe the coaching relationship.
A secure base should allow the climber to stretch further, attempt more, see greater possibilities and risk what he may not otherwise have done. A good belayer will help the climber see the handholds and the route through that may not have been quite so clear from the climber’s perspective. A great belayer will encourage the climber to attempt more and achieve more while always keeping him safe.
I will let clients know that, as their coach, it is my role to provide that secure base. I will always be in their corner, always have their back, will never let them fall and will always keep them safe, and in return I expect them to stretch further, push harder and achieve more.
These are very much the traits a great parent will show towards their child. They will challenge and push them while keeping them safe, lending them their own courage until they have the chance to develop their own.
We can all achieve more from a secure base and so I wonder not only who provides you with a secure base but for whom are you the secure base which allows them to do more, to be more and to achieve more?