Parents, coaches, teachers, and some bosses stand out in our life. They encouraged us, demanded the best from us, and showed us a better way. I’m amazed at how my wife and I are doing that for our grandson of less than 2-years. Already we see his personality coming through as he approaches those terrible-two years. He can be demanding of us to sit or do this or do that. He can melt in our arms with a warm hug and bring smiles to our face when he says, “love you.” It’s a continuous interaction from encouraging to correcting and back again.
I well remember my tennis coach in college pushing me. I’d argue with him that I was giving it my all and he would argue back that I was not. Guess who was right? Like the gospel reading today, take the log out of your own eye first before trying to dislodge the speck in another’s. I was the one with the log in my eye, and maybe in my legs and arms as well.
I also remember some bosses through the years that were fantastic in caring about me and getting me to give them my all. I may be luckier than most in that I only recall one or two bosses back in my high-school and college days that I never got anything out of. Everyone else, was a positive influence in some way.
Business owners and leaders, often need someone to help them look at a situation differently, give them encouragement, be empathetic at times, and push them to be their best. I’m writing this on Sunday. I can bet that many of you, like me, will be checking sports scores for something. It might be golf, hockey, basketball, soccer, or even baseball already. Just think about the number of coaches your team or favorite player has. No matter how good you are in sports, there are people who cannot play as well as the star, but can see things and help them along the way. Coaches for swings, coaches for strategy, coaches for physical training, coaches for attitude, coaches for nutrition. This begs the question, who do you turn to for coaching? I currently have three. I turn to my wife for outside the box thinking and how to better interact with people since she is much more people oriented than me. I turn to my daughter (38 now) for soul searching questions and deep thinking which she enjoys, partially from her psychology studies in college. My son helps me with some business and much marketing things. He’s 36, been the CEO and COO of $10 million dollar startups and works in the marketing industry. And, as a business coach myself, I have a business coach who’s been working with small and medium businesses as a coach for much longer than I have. That does not count all the study I do on my own with webinars, books, articles, and podcasts. I’m a life-long learner and need business coaches, not just the golf pro at the country club helping me to get my handicap down this year.
Here are seven words for coaches:
The best coaches are careful. They spend a good deal of time getting to know you, what drives you, and your personality. They don’t jump right in. Like teachers in grade school and middle school, they quickly learn what is unique about you and adapt to your style.
Once they know a bit about what you want to accomplish, and how you operate, they observe you and how you get things done. For a golf or tennis pro, it’s by watching you hit a series of balls. For a financial planner/coach, it’s observing how you have your investments organized. For a business coach, it’s observing how you spend your time and money, and how you interact with others.
After learning about you and observing your actions and behaviors, they are in a position to provide some initial advice. Typically, they want to build upon the strengths they see, and correct the mistakes that can interfere. Your level of commitment to a unique approach can make a difference in the advice. Consider the unusual style of golf swing of Bryan DeChambeau that has taken him to the top of the sport.
This is often the tough part for both the coach and the person being coached. It may be like hearing your mother say, “Don’t do that!” in a commanding tone. It can be really tough to hear, but may be crucial to your improvement.
Initial observations are one thing. Over time, coaches get to know you better and see habits that are both good and bad. These insights give them some ideas for additional advice. These are ones that take repeated practice, emphasis, and correction. Many studies now show that it takes 21 days of constant exercise of a new habit to break the old habit.
Coaches are effective and produce results. It may be different for you than for someone else. Take golf, for instance, my current sports passion. Coaching the innovative, free spirt of Phil Mickelson is very different than coaching the mechanistic Bryan DeChambeau. To be effective, the coach adapts from those early stages of careful and observation, and the later stage of habits to devise a plan of action that is most likely to work for the individual person or business.
Coaches succeed when the person or business being coached succeeds in improving in skill, mindset, health, profits, or whatever the goal was when starting. Often the person or business succeeds in ways not originally mentioned as a specific goal of the coaching. Coaches are often in the background taking pride in the accomplishments of those they have coached.
Bottom line? Make sure you have a slate of coaches and use them.
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