What's in a name?
If you don't recognise the name Arkle, no worries. Why should you? If you do it will probably be from a rather non-descript mountain in the far north-west Highlands of Scotland or perhaps the racehorse! It is important to me for several reasons and a daily metaphor for change and not always accepting the way it is just because someone said so.
Arkle the racehorse. Now, I'm not a particularly big fan of horse racing, I've been a couple of times and it was fun, but that's about it. Arkle was first spoken of to me by a lady named Jean Floud when I was about 9 or 10 years old. She was one of Britain's leading educational sociologists whose career was quoted as "…a triumph of brains, charm and presence over class and gender prejudice." The latter two are things I have held very close all my life. Also, I think she was the first person to read Rudyard Kipling's poem 'If' to me, which is also important.
She told me the story of Arkle, the game-changer, and how he was so good that he caused the rules to be changed (in steeplechase racing). Jean had already seen that I was adept at challenging the status quo and felt it an appropriate story to tell me. Later, she was also the first person to give me a character reference to take with me as I headed off to New Zealand with my one-way ticket.
Arkle the mountain. In 1990 my first 'proper' job was at John Ridgway's School of Adventure, on the shores of Loch Laxford and sat below Fionavon, Arkle and Ben Stack. I was 15. I lost count how many times we climbed these three mountains, sometimes twice a week. This job was one of the most formative of my life, perhaps, because I was given responsibility, independence and was trusted in at such a young age.
Arkle itself, although simply a large lump of rock, when you look closer it becomes far more interesting. Looking across Loch Stack to the south side of Arkle you can see layer upon layer of the different rock laid bare for millions and years. I'm forever looking at what's underneath or behind something.
In people this isn't about fixing and changing things in the distant past – you need a therapist for that, not a coach! It's about finding what is behind or underneath the things we say and do that can help with our future. Finding out what you are like (your character or invisible you) and then we can work on what you are likely to do (your behaviour, personality and so forth). Without the former, the latter won't stick.
Arkle is all about choice in defining our future, identifying changes we want to make and following this new course of action.