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By: Shannah Kennedy •  4 years ago •  


I have now been coaching for 15 years but my background includes stockbroking in my early 20s. At the time, I didn’t see enough scope for women in the industry, so I entered into the sports management world. I was blessed to be employed by Pro Sport Management who looked after 10 Australian golfers. The owner was an incredible man who taught me everything from how to run a business from the ground up, to negotiating contracts, travelling with the players, running corporate golf days and managing the athletes. It was fantastic and I worked very, very hard.

The owner then went to the USA, and I was offered a job at a sunglass manufacturer as their sponsorship manager, going from 10 athletes to 200 and suddenly becoming Jerry Maguire! Buying athletes, negotiating, living at sporting events and working 7 days a week. It was a dream and I loved it all but the pace was unsustainable and I ended up getting chronic fatigue.

To help overcome the syndrome, I employed a life coach (no one had heard of them yet but they were quite big in the USA) and she assisted me with my short and long-term goals as I was spiralling into a depression. My A-type, over-achieving personality and perfectionism didn’t mix well with chronic fatigue. During this process it occurred to me that no one really assisted the athletes with their goals in life during and after sport, so I studied coaching and started my own practice coaching athletes into retirement.


While the definition of ‘short’ and ‘long’ is generally unique to each coach, as a frame of reference, my short-term clients work with me for up to 1 year, and long-term clients for several years or more.


The client is ready to learn, is starting their coaching journey or needs a refresher. These are exciting, powerful conversations to gain clarity, vision, structure and form a plan to get going over a 12-month period. To cement our time, we complete the following:

1. An inventory of achievements in life and lessons learnt

2. A clear and very concise foundational piece on personal values – these form a decision-making point for life choices

3. A “check and action” of all the drainers in the client’s life: personal, professional, health, finances, home environment and wellbeing

4. A responsibility vs. blame check

5. A clear vision for the 12-month period

6. A more detailed plan for the above period, broken down into clear monthly tasks that willservice the overall goal-setting space

7. Vision creation for a 3-year period (written and visual), with a finely tuned definition of healthy success


With these clients, we are a team and one unit. Many CEOs I have had the privilege of working with, along with some of my own role models, have been with me for 5-10years. We are on a very long journey together and meet once a month to refine, tune, iron out wrinkles, so that they can be the best version of themselves personally and professionally.

These clients are exciting as we embark on a great journey together covering every aspect in life. We start with setting out a 20-year plan to map out their life goals and projections, year by year, also considering how old those around us will be. Encompassing their partners, children, parents, friends and colleagues, the picture the plan creates is incredibly powerful.

I have worked with athletes at the beginning of their career creating their Plan B, one that they can be working on whilst embarking on their immediate sporting career. We set out small tasks and goals along the way that focus on making them feel like a whole human being, not just an athlete. Injury and selection policies can force unforeseen changes, and they need to know who they are without their sport. This propels them forward with confidence in their sport as they feel like the driver in life, not the passenger.

We cover the 20-year plan, looking at vision creations, emotional intelligence, resilience, Plan A, Plan B and build an education platform together so that they are constantly learning, usually via audiobook. I think this is a very under-utilised tool. You can listen in your car, on your run, in your rest time, and keep growing the brain.


As a coach, you need to keep yourself excited, challenged and 2 steps ahead of your client! My 3 golden rules:


I challenge myself to keep growing, be authentic, inspired and motivated. Keeping it all simple helps with maintaining momentum with the client. Are you great to be around? Do you bring energy to the table? When your client sees you, do they see you growing too? Do you have the best knowledge and tools for the client? My business is run purely on referrals, so when speaking, authenticity is key.


I challenge the client on their plans and keep them accountable, making sure the plans and goals are the right ones, setting them up for success. Clients often say that my voice is in the back of their minds, keeping them in check, remembering the fundamentals and providing perspective.

Their wonderful journey is assisted by you as a coach, offering snippets along the way, being available in between sessions if needed and remembering where the client came from. Many athletes forget where they came from very quickly, with success comes new opportunities, doors open quickly and we can capitalise on this, but we can also be grateful when we are reminded of where we started and remember to celebrate the journey and keep revisiting Plan B for when the door may close.


I am also an ambassador for a health retreat and teach their “Masterclass of Wellness”, the boardroom retreat for corporates. This is where we take the skillset you learn at a health retreat and bring it back to the corporate world. It is a fundamental skill set that people lack and it is a part of my coaching.

Wellness skills are essential for longevity in our career, whatever you may be doing. Whether that is coaching, competing, managing or running a business. You need to have a stress reduction action plan and understand how to get the most from your mental and physical health.

Education in this area with long-term clients is incredible as we address goals, visions, plans and structures, but also our basic mental, physical and emotional health needs to be able to execute all of the above. Learning about the breath, meditation practice, fight or flight, commitment vs. trying, and setting up a toolbox of skills for ourselves to train the brain is all part of the long-term journey.


 Know yourself – look in the mirror and really connect with who you are, what is going on for you and where you want to be. Don’t just exist on the treadmill of life; own it, live it and drive it the way you want to.

 Have a clear vision for yourself – know what you want the next 5 years to be like. This way you can start a great plan to support yourself, set up a few safety nets and not get caught out by the unexpected.

 Look after your finances – I always say you work for the business of yourself no matter who pays you. Do you know your finances inside out? Are you taking responsibility for them? They are your choices for the future and your freedom. Know them, love them, understand them and have a good system for wealth creation to support why you are working so hard.

 Get some structure – use the diary, program your phone, really set up a foolproof system so the thinking is taken out the mundane things and nothing gets too hard. Structure is where I find most people fall apart as they are not skilled enough in this area.

 Your health is your wealth – no matter who you are or what you do, if your health is not there, you cannot do anything. So it is your first and foremost concern. Our mental, physical and emotional health need a good solid plan, a good team and a good, healthy mindset with some great brain training. The mind is an incredible tool!


Shannah Kennedy is a Life Strategist who has coached Olympians, CEOs of businesses and entrepreneurs. She travels the country speaking at conferences on two main messages: Simplify Structure Succeed, and The Masterclass of Wellness, recently run nationwide at Macquarie Bank. She is the author of “The Life Plan”, published by Penguin Books, and is married to a CEO of sport with two children.

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