Mental Toughness
Accredited Coach

Andrea Close
Accredited Coach                                Licensed MTQ48 User
Executive, Career and Mental Toughness Coaching
Leadership and Management Training 



I will share my thoughts and reflections as they come to me. Some will be because of what I have been doing or who I am with. Others will be about de ja vu moments I have about my leadership or coaching.

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How did I get here?

Posted on 4 August, 2015 at 6:25 Comments comments (0)

When I look at this photo of me when I was a baby I think to myself how did this shy child with big brown eyes get to be me!

This was taken when the photographer coloured the picture as they developed it, hence why dolly is wearing the same coloured outfit as me. The story goes that my dad had to remove the squeaker from the doll because it frightened me. This was taken in the garden on my grannys lloyd loom bedroom chair. The cardigan was hand knit by my mum especially for the photo. She continued to hand knit lots of my clothes, I remember my first school photo was of me in a fetching pink aran jumper and matching skirt.

I recall being at a coaching event about careers and hearing that often what we want to be as a young child will lead us to what we are happiest at in adulthood. I had a desire to be a teacher and in later years particularly enjoyed english literature and writing.My journey to that end hasn't been straight foward. I am doing both now but not in the convential way.

So what stopped me? I would say limiting beliefs coupled with shyness. I failed the 11 plus and although I went to a secondary school I still got myself "0" levels and three "A" levels.I was also made Head Girl in my final year, which came as a surprise but possibly an indication of leadership and influencing skills to come later in life.In my head I still thought I was too stupid to go to university and did very badly at an entrance interview for Stranmillis by holding on to this belief.

I left school and trained as a Post Office Cashier which as my first job taught me an awful lot about people. I moved when I married and held a stream of administration jobs until I joined Abbey National ( Santander) which led to the breakthrough moment of working in a call centre. I joined their temporary pilot centre in Great Vistoria Street in Belfast and loved it. I often tell the story of how I was a nervous driver and had told myself I wouldn't be able to drive to Belfast to work every day. My colleague Yvonne soon laid that to rest by taking me on the journey one Sunday coaching me there and back. This was my first experience of how the determination and faith someone else shows in your ability can spur you on. My enthusiasm and good customer service was noticed and I quickly progressed from an agent to a team leader, having been a trainer and coach in between.

This first step into management then led to me securing a Team Manager's job in the first BT Call Centre Apollo in Boucher Road Belfast. When I reflect back on this now it amazes me how many great people came out of Apollo, who have done well. Many are now heading up their own centres having reached directors level. The connections and relationships built there have remained with me to this day.

I have always said that if you want to progress quickly, work in a challenging and rewarding environment then give a Call Centre a go. I have worked in two, both very different, yet both very rewarding. In my second, which was Concentrix ( formerly GEM) I had the opportunity to practice my coaching and passion for developing others. The bredth of experience working with senior people, diverse clients and a global team has been enriching, but also serves me well now as I embark on this new journey.

What did you think you wanted to be as a child and are there elements of that in your career choice now?

Creativity is it innovation?

Posted on 25 June, 2015 at 4:40 Comments comments (0)


Creativity is it innovation?

I am attending the Journey to Innovation masterclass which has for me thrown up all sorts of questions. The first being when does creativity become innovative? When I think of traditional creativity as defined in VIA Strengths: “you produce original, novel or unusual ideas and are passionate about scientific or artistic endeavours.” The second path talks about using creativity to achieve your goals. This then leads me to Ian McDermott’s view that their needs to be some discomfort as a catalyst to recognise an opportunity to innovate. This would be coming from the moving away from Meta programme. If that is the case does it mean all us folks who run the moving towards Meta programme cannot innovate?

And once you look at one Meta programme then it leads to the others and what impact they may have on being able to innovate. The other that springs to mind that has particular relevance is:

 Necessity    vs    Possibility 

Surely someone who is motivated by what could be, the new and unknown is more likely to innovate?

What is clear is that in order to work with the 5 keys to successful innovation there needs to be a facilitator who can prompt the desire. An engaging conversation with a coach who understands and recognises not only strengths but the Meta program their client is running will undoubtedly add value. I think this is where the 1st key is slightly flawed as I believe that as a coach I could facilitate a towards motivated person to follow the 5 Keys: 

  1. Recognise the opportunity – discomfort as a catalyst (replaced with what could be?)

  2. Developing the Idea

  3. Recruiting others

  4. Implementing

  5. Championing the benefits

I would love to hear other’s views?

Mind the Gap

Posted on 22 June, 2015 at 6:00 Comments comments (1)

Mind the Gap


I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately on how coaching is used or indeed under- utilised.

I always believed that the biggest impact coaching could have for an individual is as a follow on for the application of learning. How often do companies pay for MBA’s and expensive training programs and then expect the trainees to be able to work out how to apply the learning in their job?

This is particularly true for leadership training. I believe that for adult learning to make a difference there needs to be three principles in place:

 First facilitate the learning of the theory or the model

 Second let them practice the skills they need, to apply that knowledge, in a safe “real play” environment

 Finally coach them to support and challenge them in the application back on the job

Notice I use the term “real play” rather than role play. It always amazes me that facilitators shy away from using real life examples when working with their delegates. With good contracting in the group, confidentiality is taken care of and everyone is comfortable to share. Ultimately delegates can go away with real insights and actions that can then be followed up in the subsequent coaching sessions.

Adult learning is most effective when all three principles are applied. This is particularly relevant for our new generation of future leaders, who expect instant results, to be seen to make a difference and get noticed to get ahead.


The Power of Silence

Posted on 19 June, 2015 at 2:20 Comments comments (0)

The Power of Silence


One of the things I learned as we practiced the scale of influence in pairs was the power of listening. Isn’t it interesting that SILENT and LISTEN are both made up of the same letters. What I discovered is that you can be silent but not necessarily be listening to the other person. This is because if you are someone who does a lot of self-talk you will be paying more attention to the conversations you are having with yourself than listening to the other person. So how do you silence yourself? Well first you need to be aware that it is happening. When you notice yourself starting to wander off into your own head, refocus. Start to repeat the words the other person is saying inside your head until you can shut off your own words. This also works if you are attending a meeting or at an event where it is important that you listen so you can ask a question or comment later.



Engaging Conversations

Posted on 13 June, 2015 at 3:55 Comments comments (2)


Yesterday I attended the Julie Starr Coaching event in Dublin and surprisingly it turned out to be a day full if engaging conversations. Very fitting as this is the ethos of Julie’s approach to training managers who want to coach.

The first was with Jacky who sat opposite me on the train. When I told her where I was going to said she had done some coaching training herself and thoroughly enjoyed it. This turned out to be with Carole Pemberton who also helped me design and deliver our gem-coach program based on her book “Coaching to Solutions”. What a small world we live in. We both still have our copies of the book and refer to it still.

Next I was joined in Newry by Niamh and Debbie who were very excited about my first day on my new venture. The chat was mighty and it seemed only a blink until we arrived in Dublin. On arrival at Connolly the next step was to grab a taxi. As we waited we got into conversation with the girls from Advice NI so we were all able to share a cab together. Through my conversation with my practice partner Elaine I learned that coaching was a beautiful gift and the power of silence. I also got the encouragement through her coaching to write my first blog.

Julie Starr’ simple yet powerful approach has helped me understand how I can demystify what coaching is for business clients so they are open to the idea of me delivering coaching programs for their managers.

My final engaging conversation of the day was with Stephanie. She talked so passionately about what being a volunteer for the Association for Coaching in Ireland has done for her. So watch this space for what that might lead me to next.....