Book Review: ‘Coaching in the Great Unknown’ by John Borland

Coaching in the Great Unknown: About the Book

Coaching in the Great Unknown is fresh onto the scene, the first book by a new author, John Borland.

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This book review will focus on why things you don’t know actually matter more than you know- an interesting paradox.

An Authentic Voice

The typeset is contemporary and fresh.  It is easy to read, broken into manageable sections.  This is a perfect ‘read and put down’ book for busy people.  Every chapter provides insights into new aspects of coaching.  Furthermore, the authentic voice of the author strikes the reader immediately.  John navigates coaching in a unique story-telling fashion which he uses to great effect to drive home his experiences within and outside the field of coaching.  Utilising his BRIGHT coaching framework, you get the sense of real expertise through well thought out, structures chapters.

Similar to James Flaherty’s ‘Coaching, Evoking Excellence in Others’, John offers the how and why of the coaching structure.  In addition to this, John speaks to the reader as a human.  This is an important facet of the book as it provides, unusually, the mistakes as well as the successes.  Rather than the business focus you see in many coaching books, concentrating on ‘wins’ and efficiency, each section provides the human aspect.

Responsibility of Coaching

This book is for coaches and anyone who is thinking of being one.  John speaks directly to you from his wealth of experience. Moreover, he uses a variety of examples to drive home the human condition. For instance, from a camping holiday where he becomes ‘Face’ (from the ‘A-Team’), to working with children from low socio-economic backgrounds.  John’s varied experience and linkage to coaching leaps out at you.

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Final Thoughts

Authenticity is the byword of this book and provides a real truth based on experience.  Coaching in the Great Unknown makes you think and reflect on the responsibility of coaching and how this moves beyond goals.  Moreover, John takes us critically beyond the ‘known’ and challenges all coaches to re-consider how to frame goals, their uses and misconceptions.

This book is challenging and engaging and, in my opinion, one of the best coaching books on the shelves right now.


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