Start With Who is the second book written by Marcus Marsden. His first book, Fit To Lead, was co-authored with his wife, Sari, and focused on challenging received wisdom regarding the role of the body in leadership.
His new book continues the theme of challenging received wisdom in the world of development, coaching and training. It is the product of 35 years of experience, gleaned from a Philosophy degree at Oxford University, a business education with Unilever, and coaching experience with The Coach Partnership.
In Start With Who, Marcus focuses on the role of identity and context in performance. Whereas conventional thinking would have you focus on establishing ‘SMART goals’ and ‘starting with why’, Marcus argues that there is a deeper level that first must be addressed. Only when you identify and work with your underlying beliefs about who you are today, and who you can become in the future, will you unleash your full potential.
The book cuts through the complexity that often attends this kind of work and makes a clear and incisive case for the importance of ‘starting with who’ if you want to transform your capacity to produce results.
Marcus includes plenty of case studies as well as examples from his personal and professional life that bring the book to life. He is not afraid to be challenging and confrontational in places, arguing that many of the accepted norms in personal development, such as ‘unlearning’ are red herrings, and based on faulty understandings of the way human beings operate.
“It’s really a synthesis of a lot of different inspirations I’ve had in my life. I studied Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University and the works of Albert Camus and Victor Frankl made a big impression on me. The world just keeps on ‘worlding’ and as human beings, it is part of our ontology to be able to choose the meaning we attribute to the events we encounter. That philosophy not only underpins my professional work, but also how I live my life.
Another inspiration is Bob Dylan, much of whose work concerns identity. One of his most famous quotations is, “all I can do is be me, whoever that is” and in many ways, that sums up the book. Your concept of who you are and who you are able to become play a fundamental role in how your life plays out.”