This newsletter message is in memory and in dedication to Avril Baxter – an inspirational coach and a beautiful soul who passed away from Leukemia a few weeks back. Her strong message for all us is to live our life fully, seize the opportunities, appreciate what we have and treat ourselves and others kindly and with love.
Avril planted a seed many years ago that ultimately led to the creation of Empower World: a coaching, facilitation and coach training and mentoring organization established in Doha, Qatar, The Middle East in 2012.
Avril was the consummate professional business coach as well as consultant, facilitator and mentor. And she displayed the true characteristics of a coach long before she even studied the skills of coaching. And in her honor, we would like to share some of those attributes with our readers. These are characteristics we believe makes a great and successful coach – way beyond expectations.
When Jeanine first met Avril back in the 90’s, she was in charge of public relations for a large Australian owned funds management company. It was a huge, responsible role, but Avril was very capable of handling it. In fact, she embraced it. This was because she was incredibly resourceful, creative, outwardly confident and 100 percent accountable for the job she did at this early age of her life. And this was despite not being consciously aware of coaching principles at the time.
Avril studied, researched and sought feedback on her work to make sure she was well prepared to do the best job she could do. And people like Jeanine really appreciated every effort she put in to ensure the good reputation and name of the organisation went far and wide.
Back then, Jeanine used to write about the impact of investment markets on the funds that were managed by the organization they worked for, as well as what the fund managers were doing to potentially add value to the managed funds. Her target market was financial planners and retail investors – the mums and dads of the world.
Jeanine was required to submit her work to Avril for editing purposes every week. And consequently, to her great fulfillment, she began to learn how to write professionally from reviewing Avril’s edits (always made in red) as well as from the feedback she would give Jeanine verbally on a regular basis. This professional connection between them both led to their strong friendship and also many professional writing roles – and other roles – in Jeanine’s life.
Avril recognized a skill that Jeanine was never consciously aware of: that she could turn investment speak/technical wording into something that could be understood by mums and dads. She advised Jeanine it was a rare talent and other organizations would pay handsomely for that skill.
Avril didn’t have to feed this back to Jeanine, but Avril chose to really acknowledge this strength and how this supported her and the organization – which no other person had ever done as consciously and specifically as Avril had. As coaches, we recognise specific feedback is important to give and receive as both a coach and coachee to ensure enhancements can be made.
Jeanine wasn’t driven by money to leave her job back then, but when she decided it was time to leave by the promise of a stimulating, largely writing role: Avril’s words were clear in Jeanine’s mind. Her salary rose by nearly 50 percent in the belief she could add worth to an organisation. And as coaches, we recognise when we as human beings value ourselves and others, it has the impact of improving our daily practices, thoughts, emotions and therefore our results.
One of the main memories Jeanine has of Avril – which really significantly changed her life – was when Avril decided to train as a life coach and she asked Jeanine to be her ‘guinea pig,’ pro bono coachee. Jeanine trusted Avril completely and said yes because Avril’s insights and advice had always led to great things in the past.
Jeanine recalls distinctly saying to her, “Yes of course I’d love to be your guinea pig… I have no issues … but I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
Jeanine said this while she was in the honeymoon phase of getting married and moving to a new country. And ten years later – her marriage is still strong and beautiful, and she still loves her Doha life (even more now), but as Avril started to coach her, it became evident to Jeanine she was starting to uncover some unconscious patterns, thoughts and beliefs. She recognised she definitely had some areas to explore and improve, and was keen to make positive change and become much more effective.
Avril was well prepared and armed with all sorts of information to support Jeanine to reveal her blind spots in her habits and thinking. This included undertaking DISC personality profiling which Jeanine found to be incredibly eye opening and useful to work with. Undertaking it meant creating much greater awareness, new perspectives and determination of a new way forward.
At the end of the sixth hour of the required pro bono hours, Avril advised Jeanine she had so much on at work, and couldn’t continue the programme. Avril was able to identify her own boundaries and draw a ‘line in the sand’ as to what she will and won’t do. And this is something Empower World truly appreciates and acknowledges is a powerful practice as many of us can be prone to stretching and giving way too much of ourselves. This can ultimately drain our energy and reduce our effectiveness. It’s about finding the balance of giving, receiving and taking time out to re-energise.
At this point, Jeanine hadn’t arrived at a conclusion as to what she should focus on going forward. Avril took off her coaching hat and said to Jeanine, “I’m not supposed to tell you this as a coach (because coaches don’t give advice), but I believe you will make a great life coach.”
Jeanine was taken aback somewhat because it was something she hadn’t really considered very seriously before (although she has been asked to join an organisation as a trainee business coach). Jeanine felt she didn’t have the skills to be able to do it – but again she absolutely trusted Avril’s insights and ability to see the bigger picture in life and so began her journey into coaching.
Every time they met after the coaching world opened up for Jeanine, Avril would share her new developments, products, learnings, resources, experiences… including her vulnerabilities. She was an open sharer and an ongoing learner with a huge appetite to keep adding to her tool kit. And with that, demonstrated so much humility, humanity and open heartedness.
And she was always, always prepared to learn from Jeanine as well as their paths as coaches were slightly different. Avril would ask probing questions about Jeanine’s learnings and was prepared to experience what Jeanine was learning. The trust deepened and Avril recommended her clients to Jeanine and Jeanine invited Avril to the Middle East to work with and share her knowledge with Empower World’s circle of influence – but the trip didn’t take place in time.
Importantly, it’s knowing Avril truly appreciated her family and friends and that she was grateful for all of her experiences – the positive and not so positive. The not so great times were powerful experiences to learn from: to really value what she did experience and what beautiful people she had attracted into her life. She embraced life fully: living the outdoor lifestyle she loved by the sea, spending time with the people and dogs she loved and making a difference in all areas of life, whether it was at work, at home, socially, or the in the charities she helped run.
The stories Jeanine heard at Avril’s life celebration service were so consistent… that she was a true change agent, passionate about supporting people to live their best life and break down the barriers of limiting beliefs.
In her sickness she did not complain – her husband testified – and she continued to coach and mentor (she was also a business mentor) whenever she could right up to the last days of her life.
These are just some of the amazing qualities that Avril consistently demonstrated. Qualities we believe make a great coach and include:
For those of you who want to be, or are in the process of studying to be a coach or who are already certified as a coach, we highly recommend living and breathing these attributes as much as possible… if not all the time… to create your truly amazing transformational coaching practice. Ask yourself how can you live these qualities or enhance these qualities even more on a daily, regular practice and just notice how things unfold.
Avril will be forever missed in this physical world, but is very much thought of and felt in our hearts as an inspirational being and angel guide: the wind beneath our wings.
Thank you Avril – forever grateful – this podcast is on the airwaves because of you.
With love and gratitude, be inspired… be empowered.
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