I love to coach. I always have. The word coach can often veer toward sports in most people’s heads but, for me, coaching is more. Today, we call what I love to do mentoring. While that may be more appropriate, I still like the word coach.
Growing up, I always enjoyed working with kids younger than myself, showing them the shortcuts, particularly on the basketball court. As I got older, that impulse continued into high school and in the dorm where I lived. I saw myself as a coach to many of the younger students helping them find their way.
The moment I started to grasp my love for coaching was during our end-of-year basketball game of seniors vs. the rest of the team.
This event had become a yearly tradition, and that year we had a dominant senior class. On the evening of the game, sensing the fact that the seniors had an advantage, our coach took an active role in coaching underclassmen against us seniors. At the time, if you had asked me if I wanted to sit on the sidelines or play, the answer would have been easy: PLAY. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot of playing time, based on my skill level compared to the other seniors. But that evening, that fact became my biggest asset and one of the pivotal points in my life. Near the end of the first quarter, we seniors were already down by 10.
I saw clearly that, without a good coach on the sidelines, we would not win. So I decided to take on the coaching role. I called a time-out, huddled up the seniors, and told them we needed a coach. I then told them I was going to do it. They all wanted the play time, so it was a no-brainer to let me coach and keep one more guy out of the rotation.
I could bore you with the details, but the bottom line is we went on to win that evening.
It was so energizing to stand on the sidelines and direct the action. Even though I enjoyed the spotlight of playing, there is nothing like the feeling of coaching. You can’t deny the high you get when you score or assist on a basket, but for me, the sense of coaching overcame that high easily. And while many of my high school memories are not as clear as they once were, that night is still crystal clear. After we won, I felt better than any other game. Our coach, who had taken the side of the underclass, came over and congratulated me for the win.
After that day, I knew I wanted to coach.
Since then, I have not had a chance to do any significant coaching in sports. I’m okay with that, because I have spent what seems like a lifetime coaching and mentoring individuals in business. I love the payoff of helping someone else advance in their job, beat a deadline, or finish a big project. That pivotal moment in my life, when I discovered my “why” in coaching, changed the course of my professional career. I have endeavored (and will continue to strive) to be a mentor and coach in any role, and I’m confident this has helped me succeed at a more rapid pace. The combination of being able to help others and being open to being coached myself has accelerated my career.
Of course, I have many coaches and mentors to thank for helping me get this far.
We all get a chance to coach and mentor nearly every day. Are you looking for more success or fulfillment in your professional life? I want to encourage you to be more purposeful in your coaching. Mentoring is fantastic, but I think a hybrid between coaching and mentoring is far better. It’s not just enough to show someone how to do it; you have to encourage them through the process, help them find the answer. That night in 1992 when we came from behind to beat the underclassmen, I didn’t show my fellow seniors how to win. I coached them to victory. They found a way to win.
Go right now, and help someone else win today!
We all need to coach and be coached by others. No one achieves peak performance without a coach. I would encourage you to seek out a coach to reach your peak performance.
If you’re in the market for a great resource to help you get started coaching others, I would recommend The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way you Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier. It’s a great foundational book on coaching in business and life.