No, it won’t be about getting your football team to the National Championships.
Hmmm, wait–maybe it will!
Coaching someone is different than mentoring or teaching/training or psychological analysis. Coaching is about triggering something inside your student, player, employee, or client that allows them to improve their performance. It is opening that awareness that allows you to play better as a team. It is exciting that desire that will allow you to overcome self-limiting beliefs to achieve your goals. (Whoa, cliche much?) Translated into normal speak: It brings the destination of who you want to become into view, to allow you to believe that what you want is achievable. It is making the impossible possible because it gives the person the awareness that they have the power within them to change.
Case in point:
Little Betsy plays the trumpet. It is almost too heavy to hold, and she can only get honks on it. Instead of the teacher circling every mistake and correcting her embouchure and yelling “Blow!!!” at this 5th-grader, her teacher acts as a coach and asks questions.
- What did it feel like?
- What did it sound like?
- What did you do differently?
- How many notes did you miss? How can you remember them next time?
Yes, there will be times when the teacher has to fill in the gaps in her knowledge, but Little Betsy will be a much better musician than her peers in a couple of months because, through her teacher’s coaching, she has developed an awareness. She has learned to listen and pay attention to her own playing, and she will be developing her consciousness of the music around her in her elementary band. Will she become a professional musician? Probably not, but that doesn’t matter. She will enjoy the music she produces and will discover an appreciation of the music she listens to…Pop, Jazz, Hip hop, Rap, Classical, Medieval Gregorian Chant… She may even venture into composition!
Bobby wants to play basketball in the worst way. He has reached his goal…yes, he plays very badly. He’s also 5’2″ tall. He cannot play basketball. Why not? He gets coaching help from a brilliant coach and his awareness explodes! You do NOT have to dunk to play basketball well! This is a revelation. He goes to his coach and tells him he wants to work on skills that will be valuable to the team and are not dependent on his height. His coach helps him develop his ball-handling skills. He asks Bobby these questions:
- What does it feel like when you dribble correctly?
- Can you dribble faster? How would you go about it?
- Can you pass faster and with more accuracy? What would you do to improve that?
- How would you go about guarding a guy 1 1/2 feet taller than you?
- Would stealing the ball be easier if you have better skills than the person you’re guarding?
- How fast can you change direction when you’re running? Can you do that while dribbling? How would you improve that?
- How High do you think you’d have to jump? How would you go about improving your current jumping skills?
Now Bobby is aware of his teammates’ positions on the floor. He knows who is open and who can shoot from where they are. He avoids having the ball stolen from him and because he can dribble like a demon; no one can block his passes. He may have increased his jump height so he can deny a shot from the opposing player. Of course, that freaks out the whole opposing team. He is his team’s secret weapon. When they announce the players at the beginning of the away game, and he stands between his buddies who are a foot taller than he, and the crowd snickers, he knows that the home team crowd is thinking, “Oh boy are THEY in for a surprise!” Can Bobby apply these skills to something outside of basketball? If his coach is on it, and if he asks the right questions, you can bet on it. In both cases, the music student and the athlete, they are playing to their strengths. Awareness IS a strength.
But coaching is not just for athletes and student musicians. Who asks you questions that make you more aware of your strengths, your aspirations, your perceptions, or your consciousness? You don’t have teachers that do that anymore. Are you a better person than you were ten years ago? How about five years ago? two months ago? What have you read, watched, or participated in that stretched your thinking? Do we stop improving our thinking just because there isn’t a test? News Flash! There’s always a test! It just may not be written! Isn’t the purpose of school to improve your thinking, not to just cram more stuff into your brain? Aren’t you supposed to relate the information you have gleaned from your studies to your everyday life?
Learning in school is not the facts you accumulate to pass the test, it’s the way you prepare to gain awareness and the growth you will need in your experience after school. But unless you know what questions to ask yourself, you live day to day without stretching your skills, your mindset, your perception. That’s why there is so much burnout in adults. You graduate from high school at 18 or 19, then, for some, four or more years in college, then you spend about 15 years in your chosen profession. No growth, no developing awareness, a closed consciousness… And now you believe everything you see on Facebook. Your windows to the world close to pinpoints. This is where the mid-life crisis rears its ugly head. The fact that there IS a mid-life crisis is PROOF that you have stopped your growth and development as a person! And the fact that the existence of a mid-life crisis has become normalized is absolutely frightening!
What happens in a mid-life crisis? A person wants to re-invent himself or herself. They might buy a flashy car, go on a dream vacation, have an affair, quit their jobs, gamble away their savings… They want to start over. But what they are really saying is that they want to recreate the feeling they had when they graduated and knew absolutely everything and nothing was out of their reach. They just don’t realize that nothing has ever been out of their reach; they just haven’t become the person they needed to be to reach for it. They stopped growing, experiencing, and appreciating.
A coach, if they’re not a fraud or a con man, will ask you these uncomfortable questions:
- What do you want in life?
- Is that all?
- Why is that important to you?
- What would it feel like? look like?
- What would you have to do to get this? What kind of person would you have to become?
And the coach won’t stop there. What you want in life might not be the first thing that pops into your head. What you currently think you want in life might NOT be what you truly want; it might be just a visible aspect of something deeper. The premise is that to get something, you have to do something. But that is shallow at best. To DO something significant requires you to BE someone significant. This requires growth in your thinking that will substantially change your outlook on life, your perception of your world, and your power to mold it into the life you want. Do you ask yourself those questions? Are you satisfied with the most cursory of answers?
To get those answers, you don’t seek a mentor, because though you may want the lifestyle of a person, you have differing backgrounds, experiences, and perceptions. You can’t have his life any more than he could have yours.
To get those answers, you don’t seek a teacher, because though they can fill in the gaps in your knowledge, they do not usually teach you how to think into the deepest areas of your consciousness. If you’re still working, and you want to quit or retire and start your own business, they can provide some information you need to be successful, but they cannot make you into the person you have to BE to be successful. You have to change your mindset from employee to entrepreneur and that is a huge shift in your thinking.
To get those answers, you don’t seek a psychologist. They look back into your past to explain your present. They might be able to project your future, but though they may bring new awareness into why you ARE the way you are, they cannot help you BECOME who you want to become.
To be designated as a coach, I am taking a course that leads to accreditation by the EMCC, The European Mentoring and Coaching Council. I must take online classes to fill my brain with good practices and processes. But obviously, that cannot be the be-all and end-all of certification. Anyone can pass a test. So once we have the basics of good coaching down intellectually, we have to work on the practice in order to develop a sense of the art of coaching. It requires that we give and receive coaching under supervision. It’s like an apprentice arrangement. Then we are evaluated. If we pass, then we move on to evaluated live coaching where we are observed coaching an actual client. If we pass that and have spent the requisite time in reflection and examination, learning, and self-assessment, then we get a certification that is very exclusive. 100 people wanted to put in an application for this certification, but only 43 qualified. Of those 43 applicants, only 20 were accepted. (I was one of those accepted! Yay!)
You cannot simply go on the internet and proclaim yourself to be a coach. Unless you are a con artist, It is a time-consuming, arduous process. It is also very expensive. But who would go to college to get a degree and be surprised that it cost money? Who thinks that becoming an MD requires just daytime classes and no internship or residency? Who thinks that taking the CPA test is easy enough to be passed without extra study and tutoring? It will take me 12 months of hard work, but I should be certified by the end of December. And that’s not the end of it, because the learning never stops. There are weekly calls, continuing education, and occasional summits and updates.
If you want to avoid that mid-life crisis; if you want to self-actualize; if you want to be a significant force in your universe; you must get a coach.