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Remarkable Similarities between Coaches & Pirates

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Recently, I’ve been pretending to be a pirate. This primarily involves wearing an eye patch (for medical reasons (honest)) and randomly declaiming “Ahoy there, me hearties”, “Shiver me timbers”, “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” and “Arrrrr”. Being from the West Country is proving a great advantage in cultivating an authentic pirate sound, it has to be said. Sadly, Amazon is refusing to source me a cutlass and The Long-Suffering Mr B has drawn the line at a parrot. Sigh. But I do my best in the face of this adversity.

Ahoy there, me hearties!

It’s possible that I’m the only pirate coach (or possibly coach pirate – I’m undecided, so let me know if you have a preference) in the world. I have googled this and there is someone with the business name, but, to be frank, it appears to be just a word for him, rather than a way of life – I mean, not even a jolly roger on his website. Shocking. There are also some sports teams called Pirates who have coaches, but that’s different. And that’s it. Unless there’s something after the first page of search results, but, let’s be honest, who checks that?

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

As (possibly) the only pirate coach (coach pirate) on the planet, I can tell you that there are some surprising similarities between piracy and coaching (anyone mentioning daylight robbery at this point will be made to walk a very non-metaphorical plank, btw: you have been warned). Moving swiftly on, here are some examples.

Shiver me timbers!


Inconveniences such as eye patches, wooden legs and hook hands require a pirate who wants to wield a cutlass with any effectiveness, remain upright on a pirate ship on the high seas, and avoid extraordinarily uncomfortable toileting incidents to develop new ways of thinking and behaving pretty damn rapidly.

A coach’s work is all about helping people find new ways of thinking and behaving in order to achieve the change they want. Although, somewhat disappointingly, this rarely involves cutlasses or pirate ships.


Pirates are, of course, notorious for making people walk the plank: those who annoy them are basically forced to leap into the ocean, and are left to sink or swim. Or, possibly more accurately, swim for a while and then sink. Or get eaten by a shark. Anyway, you get the picture. On the whole, a somewhat less than life-enhancing experience.

Coaches gently persuade their clients to plunge from the gangplank of their external persona into their own minds. They may be afraid that they’ll sink or that a shark is lurking, but they find that, with the support and encouragement of their coach, they can swim far better than they ever realised, that most sharks don’t eat people, and that dry land is within reach. Now that’s my kind of walking the plank.


The first rule of the piratical world is that anyone with a chest full of gold and jewels must seek out a remote, inhospitable island and bury the aforementioned chest in a spot that is impossible to find without the map they carefully draw, but carelessly allow to fall into pirate hands. Pirates dedicate so much time to searching for buried treasure that you’d think they would opt for small shovels rather than hooks for hands.

In coaching, the buried treasure we’re seeking to unearth is (dramatic music, please!) The Secrets Of Your Mind. We’re digging for all the stuff that you can use to help you make the changes you want to – all the mental and emotional strengths and skills that you don’t even realise you have (and boy, will we polish up those gems!). And we’re also digging for the stuff that is holding you back: the limiting beliefs; the second hand values that don’t really suit you; the mental and emotional shortcuts that used to be great but now take you to a dead end or round in circles. The second lot of stuff may not sound like treasure, but once you’ve got it out in the open you can start to change it into something far more useful to you – it’s kind of like gift vouchers among the gold and jewels!

And there you have it.

Will you ever be able to tell the difference between a coach and a pirate again...?


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