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The Coaching Dept. Blog

A Long Look Back

As coaches we spend a lot of time helping people look forward to the future. We help them to dream and plan and set themselves up for success. At times we encourage them to look back and reflect on what has gone well and what they would like to improve. We also have them look at the present to be clear about how things are now.

Last week my wife Rose and I went on a vacation to celebrate the anniversary of our marriage. We had a lot of time to sit by a stunning lake reflecting on the past, drinking up the present, and dreaming about the future.

I started to reflect on a 41-year marriage and a 45-year career.

In some ways the beginning of both feels like yesterday and yet the reality is that the beginning of both are a long time ago. It was interesting to go back that far in history to think about who and how I was.

As I reflected on both a career and a marriage, the two words that came to me in both areas were incompetent and passionate. As I reflect on whatever level of success I can claim in the areas of career and marriage it is not lost to me how important these two words have been.


I realize as I write this that this word is not one that most people would want to associate themselves with. Nevertheless, I am. When I started my career in Food and Beverage the things, I didn’t know far outweighed the things I knew. I was like a baby learning to walk. Every day there were new discoveries. Everyday I had a lot to learn and everyday I realized how much I didn’t know. What a wonderful and scary place to be.

Even more scary was the realization of incompetence at the beginning of a marriage. What did I know about being a husband? Well, I had seen others do it. I had a father who seemed to be a pretty good example.  I also saw seemingly nice guys who were going through divorces. You could fill volumes of books with what I didn’t know about communication, financial planning, family planning, and not being my sole focus.

I remember early on buying a book called Women. I had married one. I knew a little bit about them because I had a mother and sisters, but after reading this book I learned many things that I previously didn’t know. I learned how they were different. I learned how their bodies were different. I learned how they thought differently. I learned that they had different needs than men. I learned things that would help me be a better husband to one.

About 10 years ago we had a party at our home. A friend of my youngest son was there. I told him that I heard he was getting married and asked him when he would like to get together to learn how to be a great husband. He said “Would 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning be too soon?” I could see in his eyes the same fear that I had experienced so many years before.

It is obvious that at the beginning of a career or a marriage, I might be very incompetent.

Before I go on, I must admit that there was a time when feeling incompetent might have been the worst thing in the world for me. Some of my worst moods or worst behaviors came from being rubbed up against my incompetence.

But incompetence has followed me all through my career and my marriage. In my career, each time I was promoted I was exposed to my newly found incompetence. Each time I changed a career direction I was exposed to my newly found incompetence. As processes or technologies changed, I was exposed to my newly found incompetence.

In my marriage, just as I was starting to feel some competence, I became a father and found a new level of incompetence. When I was a father of three, I found a new level of incompetence. When I became a father of teenagers… there were feelings of incompetence beyond anything I had experienced previously.

Generally, men don’t like to admit their incompetence. On my long look back, I am understanding that accepting incompetence, appreciating it and learning from it, is so important.


I am so grateful that along with my incompetence, I also had passion.

As I started my career, although I studied business in university, I was passionate about working with people and being in service. I was passionate about learning. I was passionate about leadership. I was passionate about training, teaching and coaching. There were a few times that I might have had challenges with the people I was working for, but I always had passion for what I was doing. I am passionate about coaching, speaking, and writing. I am passionate about what Shelley MacDougall and I have created and get to do together.

In marriage it started with passion. I am so grateful that after so many years the passion for Rose, and the passion for sharing my life with my extraordinary Rose are still there. I am passionate about being a husband, a father and now a grandfather.  I am passionate about family and supporting my now extended one. I am passionate about golf. I am passionate about exploring and learning. I am passionate about being the best I can be every day. I am passionate about making a difference in people's lives. I am passionate about giving and receiving. I am passionate.

A Long Look Back

As I write this article it is my hope that you will take some time to take a long look or a short look back to notice whatever it is that you notice that has impacted your life. I am pleased about the level of competence that I have achieved in many areas of my life. Now I am more grateful for the incompetence that supported me in getting here.

Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To contact them call 1-866-822-3481 toll free or e-mail or

About the author

Kevin MacDonald

Kevin MacDonald founded Clarity Success Coaching in 2000. Kevin is deeply passionate about his work with his clients and loves living on purpose to assist those he works with to elevate their lives and live to their fullest potential. Kevin MacDonald is a Coach and Facilitator, a Communicator and a Storyteller. As a Coach he initiates action from within the people he touches. Kevin believes that knowing who you are is critical to your success. Kevin's business and management background combined with his exceptional Coaching skills make him an asset in any people development initiative.

Kevin is a member of the International Coach Federation and a graduate of Teresia LaRocque Coaching and Associates Abundant Practice Program. Kevin has received his Coach training from Coach U. Before he began coaching he spent over 20 years as a manager in the hospitality industry. His focus now as a coach is to inspire his clients and help them lean the skills in that they can use to change their lives. Kevin empowers his clients so that they can take the actions that will start to change their behavior so they begin see the results they are wanting in life.

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