Are self-limiting stories holding you back? They may be, says British-born, Singapore-based MARCUS MARSDEN, managing partner of The Coach Partnership and a leader in the field of experiential learning, development and coaching in Singapore. He’s just written his second personal development and self-help book.
What’s this new self-help book about?
Start with Who delves into the power of identity and how it influences our lives. The way we perceive ourselves is key to designing the life we aspire to. The questions of “Who am I?” and “What am I (not) capable of?” are pivotal.
Over the years, many of my coachees have come to realise how impactful is the story they create about their identity. Once they comprehend the invisible impact of that story, they are free to make great strides in their lives.
The book highlights how human beings inevitably use stories to navigate their way through life. The narratives frame our lives and the outcomes we are able to generate. The fact that these stories are invisible only adds to their power.
Start with Who serves as a guide for readers to recognise the constricting stories they have constructed, make new choices and create fresh, more productive ones.
What inspired you to write it?
After more than two decades in personal development and coaching, I have seen some work so hard and yet still not achieve their dreams. The prevailing wisdom is to “start with why”, but for many people that doesn’t work. I felt that it was time for a different approach.
Another inspiration for me is Bob Dylan, much of whose work concerns identity. One of his most famous quotations is, “All I can do is be me, whoever that is” – and in many ways, that sums up my book.
How did you research it?
The book is not so much an outcome of extensive research, but rather a result of my over twenty years of coaching and training experience. It showcases our leadership development work and the Newfield Coach Training Programme, and is supported by real-life testimonials and case studies.
Who is this self-help book for?
I wrote it for anyone who is interested in taking their own life to a new level, or supporting other people to do the same. It is for leaders, coaches or anyone who is passionate about personal development.
Coaching is more than just a profession or a job. Instead, it is a way of life, a philosophy and an approach that permeates every aspect of an individual’s personal and professional life.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
That their lives are in their own hands. It is not the circumstances, events or other people around them that determine the outcome of their life: it is rather the story they themselves make up about them. That’s because your concept of who you are, and who you are able to become, plays such a fundamental role in how you live.
Can you recall a highlight and a lowlight of the writing process?
The highlight was discovering that I really did have a book. When I started writing it, I knew I had some ideas, but I wasn’t sure that I would be able to string them together into a coherent structure. Realising that I could do so gave me a big burst of creative enthusiasm that took me 80 percent of the way to the finish. The fact that this realisation happened during a two-week quarantine period, after a trip home to see my father, just made it all the more special.
The lowlight was the last 20 percent! They say that the last 20 percent takes 80 percent of the effort, and that was definitely the case here. It took a great deal of focus, discipline and support from my wife to get me over the line.
Tell us about your day job coaching in Singapore.
I love my day job! As managing partner of The Coach Partnership in Singapore, I get to work with people who want to create new results in their lives.
Everything I do is about generating a spirit of possibility and new actions. In a world where people spend a lot of time focusing on what is not possible, I find that very refreshing and energising. I learn as much from my coachees as they learn from me. They constantly inspire and challenge me to keep moving forward.
Another part of my job is leading the team. We have a very talented and dedicated group of coaches, and they keep me on my toes the whole time.
The great thing about this work is that it is not just for professional coaches and the corporate world. We use the Newfield programme, which has always attracted people from various walks of life. Many, many people take the programme because they want to be more effective in their personal relationships, for example with their children or their spouse.
Do you have another personal development book in the pipeline?
I have a few ideas. Fit to Lead (2017) was my first book, co-authored with my wife, Sari. It focuses on the often overlooked role of the physical body in leadership. Start with Who deals with the linguistic narrative that human beings create. A third area that remains to be explored in detail is the huge role played by moods and emotions in human performance. This is such a big factor in our work that it deserves its own book!
Where can readers buy your book?
Start with Who is available in personalised formats at thecoachpartnership.com.
It’s also available at Kinokuniya and Popular Bookstore in Singapore, and in both print and e-book formats at Amazon and other e-book sellers.
Our article on Marcus Marsden’s new self-help book first appeared in the April 2023 edition of Expat Living. Purchase the latest issue or subscribe so you never miss a copy!
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