The Good Coach
A few weeks back I put my ‘what is a coach’ presentation online. I love to give presentations. Presentations for me are a way to bring my message to a group of people in an open interactive way. I tell the message with the use of stories, anecdotes, practical examples, visual support in the forms of beautiful images and videos.
In this post I’m going to share my presentation that I used in the last few months to explain what a good coach exactly does. I used this presentation for a wide audience and to give a general picture of my own coaching services in business, life and sports.
As you can see the presentation is just a few words and a lot of images. I use each slide to tell a story that accompanies the subject named in it. That’s why I decided I would elaborate a little bit further about each keyword to give you a better understanding of what a good coach really does. A good coach…
The art of listening is really underestimated. Really listening till the end. I once had a doctor who already came to conclusions after he heard a few words from me describing what my symptoms were.
Listening without any presumptions is hard sometimes. Your brain is always trying to make connections to existing experiences, so make sure you let go and listen carefully.
Listening till the end, without interrupting the flow he’s speaking in. If someone is speaking it’s almost the same as someone painting a picture. If he has painted half of it, you can’t assume what is on the other side. You have to wait till he’s finished to see the whole painting.
Always try to redefine the box or limits people are thinking with. Find solutions outside the common knowledge. Combine strange things that let to new exciting ways to get something done.
It’s hard to explore. You need to be creative and look at different options. You have to be fearless and not afraid to fail. Test things out, talk about it, look, see, smell, everything! But in the end finding a solution is just the best thing ever!
Remember that you need to be a good listener? Well, after you’ve listened carefully and have that complete painting in your head, it’s time for the questions. Questions come in different sizes and forms, but in my experience you need to be aware if you ask a questions where you can get a clear measurable answer or a question that still holds a variable and/or emotion.
It’s sometimes hard to really get to the point of what someone wants to achieve; their goal. If you ask him what it is he wants to accomplish with his work, his life, his athletic aspirations you get answers like ‘I want to be the best’ or ‘I want to earn a lot of money’. You have ask further into these questions to get a measurable idea what it means to be the best or to know what a lot of money is.
People are also afraid to ask questions. They are afraid that they will be seen less competent in their work, less smart, or just don’t get it as fast as others. I applaud the people who keep asking. They will make sure that there is a clear understanding of the objectives ahead and that there will be no difference of insight into the goals discussed. Keep asking questions, always!
I only work with people who want to be coached and want to dedicate themselves. They have to make a choice that they want to improve or reach a goal. Of course I’m more then willing enough to introduce them to the art of coaching and tell them what it could mean for them in their situation (mostly done in my intake sessions).
But after that it’s all about the fact that I want to see commitment. I’m always seeking commitment from people that I’m coaching. There are days that there is less commitment and I need to remind them of the choices they can make. But in the long run I need commitment. Good coaching is a long term commitment between 2 people. It’s not about learning a new skill in a week time, but it’s about making a change in the long run.
Making long term changes isn’t easy. Improving isn’t easy. It’s challenging work. You need to step out of your comfort zone, a lot! If you need to do this all by yourself day in and out, it’s hard. Bravo to all the people who have the self discipline to keep going and going all by themselves, imagine what you can do if you challenge such a person, wow!
A good coach helps you challenge yourself. In sports well known for the yell “come on! Only 1 more time!”, but the same goes for all other hard steps. The coach is the one who helps you set that first step, or that 834th step that is oh so hard, because the kids were up all night and there is still so much other stuff to do…
Challenges are more easily overcome if you work together. A coach has the same goal in mind as you, so he knows what you need to do to reach that goal.
Being the line between person and objective, the good coach is the one who is responsible. Taking responsibility takes courage. You need to believe in the end-goal and how to get there before others ‘see’ it. You need to convince others.
Taking the first step into guiding and helping getting people forward is hard, but oh so rewarding project. Time after time, goal after goal, it’s clear that many goals are attainable as long as you keep working hard on it. Most people give up. The good coach takes a responsibility to go in for the long run and gives the tools needed to reach that goal.
In the past I did a lot of consulting for companies. 3 to 6 month projects and after that I was gone. That way of working just didn’t feel right. I didn’t have a connection with the people I worked for and no passion for the end-goal. I was doing what they asked of me, but I didn’t care of the end result. I promised myself that that would never happen again.
Now I only do projects where I care about. It’s so much easier to light that fire within myself when you have purpose. At that point it isn’t work anymore, it’s just passion. It doesn’t take energy, it brings energy! You have to care, really make contact. It’s scary sometimes, but you get used to it. You need to trust the people you are working with. Connecting creates contact.
This one goes hand in hand with all previous points. If you want to work together, you need to listen, ask questions, communicate, build rapport, make contact. Working together doesn’t mean just being in the same office, it means aligning the goals and helping people take a step.
Being open and honest about what is going is so important. If you want to be a good coach you need to create synergy, you need to make one plus one three! Let someone stand on your shoulders so he can reach that apple. That’s synergy!
When you combine all of the above, you create the ultimate state you want the person you are coaching in; empowerment! You don’t give solutions, you give the tools necessary so that he can find their own solutions. You don’t say what do, but you show how he can find out how to do it for himself. You help him!
Helping people find their passion, reach their goals, finding usefulness in their lives is a powerful thing. Coaching for me is the ultimate reward. And while not everyone will reach their goal, the fact that if you can even help 1 other person reach his goals and empower him, is rewarding enough to keep going forward.