BOOK REVIEW: Staying the Distance by Catherine Baker

REVIEW: Vicky, FCN Founder

Now here’s a book I have been waiting for for over a year, ever since the author told me she was writing it! Staying the Distance;  The lessons from sport that business leaders have been missing by Catherine Baker.

I have to begin my review with a thank you to Catherine.  Having met Catherine in the early days of the FCN, she has continually been a huge support to me.  Whether it be a quick call or an email, or spending an entire day with me helping to develop the concept and goals of the FCN, Catherine’s help and support is one of the reasons I am able to write this review today.  

So to have the chance to tuck into a book written by Catherine, I was immensely excited.  And it did not disappoint!

Staying the Distance is an insightful, inspiring and thought provoking view of what it takes to be a successful leader, whether that be in business or sport. Refreshingly for this type of book, it was filled with plenty of accounts from female coaches, athletes and leaders, and is crammed with lessons that everyone of us can take away and implement in our roles as leaders and coaches. 

Split into two parts; 1) focussing on you as the leader and 2) focusing on the people you lead, Catherine has encapsulated the essence of what it takes to be a high performing leader and the skills that need to be developed to keep this high performance up over the long term. 

“As leaders, you have the power within your hands to have a significant impact through your roles.  Both as an individual and via your organisation.  The more you can sustain your and your organisations performance, and the more you can consistently get the best out of yourself and your people, the greater the impact is going to be over the long term.”

For my own role as founder of the Female Coaching Network, I have taken away a lot from this statement.  

Additionally, I particularly found chapters 11, 12 and 13 useful.  These last few chapter address the notion of managing and valuing the people you work with, something I believe many federations and organisations in sport and forgotten to do.  There are some key lessons within these chapters that coaches and leaders of NGBs must implement in order to create a safer and more effective sports system for everyone.  

I do have to make a special mention for Chapter 7 “How to build trust”, with a cameo from myself and my interview with the brilliant Coach to British Sporting superstar Tom Daley, Jane Figueiredo.  Jane’s incredible experience coaching multiple Olympic Gold medal winning Divers is highlighted by Catherine in one of the most important chapters of the book (and not just because I am mentioned in it ;)) discussing the importance of trust between a coach and athlete, which is sadly a concept too many coaches in performance sport are blind to.

Especially pertinent for leaders suffering with imposter syndrome, leaders who are doubting themselves and leaders who are on the edge of burnout; Staying the Distance is an inspiring, informative and fascinating read into the World of sport, business and leadership.