He stands in a New York Boardroom, but the dust on his shoes comes from the Afghanistan desert. He’s here to coach the executive team of a Fortune 500 company. He’ll take them on a deep dive into where real responsibility lies. Not all people will leave the meeting happy.
Revered as a master coach, but, to watch him, he is part poet part sculptor bending and shaping difficult conversations into beautiful artifacts.
Later, over a coffee, he tells me, ‘Last week, I was flown by helicopter into the middle of the Afghan desert’. He regales stories of helmets, bullet-proof vests, orders barked in the breathless dry air, gunshots tok-tok-tokking in the distance. ‘The UN peacekeepers and refugees were at loggerheads. I was shitting myself, expecting a ground to air missile to blow us out of the bright blue sky’.
Listening, captivated, I can see an exploding helicopter, metal mangling, debris flailing earthward in the strange and sad desert. Happily, he survived.
His words, bending metal softly, melt hardened minds, after three days of deep discussions, crisis averted, he flies back to softer climes.
The desire to create a better world fuels the dreams and actions of many. Pete flourishes inside and out from his chosen vocation. From Budapest to Peru, he crisscrosses the globe training people to deal with pressure cooker moments, and resource themselves from inner wisdom. He has a laconic, disarming way about him, and his approach is a blend of brain science and mindfulness.
A visit to his FaceBook page paints a romantic picture. Tanned and poolside in the Maldives, Key notes in Chiang Mai, Safaris in Africa, Yoga retreats in India. He smiles, ‘It ain’t all stress and struggle’. Likes and jealousy-tinged comments adorn the page, ‘You’re living the dream Pete’. ‘I wish I was too’ hangs, uncomfortably unsaid.
The responsibility of leadership is alive in Pete Smith. Outer success is nice but something deeper calls him. He is a blacksmith to his own evolution, having wrought iron conversations with himself: who am I, what am I to do with this one and precious life, he melts himself first, allowing what is deep and true to glisten.
In conversation he is in turn knowledgeable, vulnerable and real. Afterwards I am struck by the thought, ‘There are Gods walking among us, humbled and flawed, doing noble deeds’.
Success leaves clues. I ask, ‘How did you create all of this for yourself?’ He pauses. Born and bred a country boy, he carries the softness of the country in him.
‘My father was a shiftworker, long hours, little pay, few rewards. I knew that was not for me. However, in my early twenties, I found myself working in a factory, shift work. It scared me. Looking out of the factory window I saw the same guy, every day, sitting in the mid morning sun sipping lattes, reading the newspaper, his flash car, kerbside. So one day I walked across the road and asked, ‘Hey mate, what do you do for a living? We had a great conversation.’
He pauses, once again. ‘And that’s how it started, every time I met someone who was successful I would ask them, how did you get to where you are in life? And I started to do the same thing. Pretty soon I was studying to be a coach. Loved it, and just kept modelling my behaviour on those who were more successful than I was’.
Pete Smith walked to the edge of what he knew. Jumped, learning to fly as the earth hurtled towards him.
Who do you admire? Ask them out for a coffee, and a chat. The Maldives might be your next destination.
Additional info http://www.corporatetrainer.com or http://www.petersmith.com.au.
Author: Julian Noel, master coach specialising in entrepreneurs, purpose and prosperity. Founder of Shine, creating events that showcase entrepreneurs making a difference in the world.