Blog Post #9 What it means to be a Coach
What does it mean to be a Coach?
I’ve been called many things but probably the thing that gives my heart a little flutter every time I hear it is when someone calls me their, “Coach!” There’s a lot of pride in that name and people who are lucky enough to be called one usually respect the title and earn the name on a daily basis. I am going to go ahead and jump to the conclusion and work backwards with this one because I think it’s important for people to understand from the start why I do what I do and why most Coaches do their job.
Simply put: a Coach is someone who cares for and about the individual as a person!
That’s it! I know how anticlimactic that is but let me explain why I said that first and I am going to work my way through what I feel it truly means to be a coach.
#1 Trust. A coach is someone you trust especially when you don’t trust yourself to make the right decision or to listen to directions. The best coaches I’ve ever had never lowered their standards and they demanded that I trust them and the goals that they set out for myself and/or the team. You have to trust your coach that does not mean you have to understand why they are making you do the things they are making you do if that were the case you would be one of the coaches and you would be able to have input on why everyone is doing the things that they are doing. Let’s leave this one alone and emphasize that a person either trusts a coach or they do not trust a coach and if you do not trust your coach then why in the hell are you apart of their program!! I believe people trust me because I will help them work every day towards becoming a better human being.
#2 Communication. A coach will communicate with you about everything and if they don’t why do you trust them and if you do not trust them then why in the hell are you apart of their program!! Communication is key! Especially when that communication goes both ways most often what happens is one or both parties will think they are communicating properly which creates a barrier and blocks off one side from the other. This is usually resolved when both parties come out and communicate in a clear and distinct manner what their intentions are for the program they choose to be involved with. Communication involves two elements to be highly effective one is speaking the other is listening; so often we would rather speak than listen and that makes it very hard to listen when others try to speak. Most often we need to listen first then speak no matter what your role. Communication is simple and it’s usually the downfall of teams, relationships, corporations, and politics.
I remember my high school gym coach would break this word down and sound it out or reverse it to explain exactly what it means to be accountable. The Ability to be accountable. Account for your own ability to make decisions and show up in your life. Something along those lines I wish I could remember how he would make this so simple. I think of leaders when I think of accountability because they are the ones holding the standard or more often holding others to a higher standard to get a desired result. To be accountable also means to be reliable or trustworthy when you say you are going to do things you say you will do and leaders tend to be doers. Being accountable has a certain grown up nature to it that you just don't see in young kids until later in life at least that has been my experience. It is something you earn based on how you show up in the world. Coaches who are accountable hold athletes to a particular standard that can be evaluated by one’s effort. A coach knows when you are giving maximum effort but more importantly they know when you are not. Yes! We do want to let it slide from time to time and we know sometimes the easy thing to do would be to turn the other cheek or ignore something but a good coach is always going to use every opportunity to walk the walk and talk the talk.
Again, my high school gym coach would break this word down too and I don’t remember the exact way he did but when you do it makes sense. The ability to respond, responsibility is the weight a leader carries because they have to know how to act or what to do in any situation, one has to have the ability to respond in a positive manner to the diverse situations of all human interactions. This does not mean we are perfect as much as this means that we will act in the best way we know how in the situations we are presented. Second, we will learn from our mistakes when we make them and try to move on with a positive attitude. As a kid apart of a team I had a friend once tell me that he “didn’t know what made me so good!” on the soccer field. I did not have incredible talent, skill, size, or speed but somehow I was able to compete with players that were far better. I know this may sound like an insult but I never took it as one because what he said next has stuck with me for a very long time, he said, “you just react maybe that is what makes you so good!” I would first like to say that I was not a very talented or gifted soccer player and I spend most of my life trying to prove to people that I was a lot better than they thought. I endured many heartaches throughout my career but I also had many triumphs that I believe started with this one little comment. My friend wanted me on the field because he trusted me to make the right decisions, I helped the team communicate, I held my teammates to a higher standard and always pushed them to do more, I reacted and made decisions quickly, and I did this every time no matter what and I demanded my teammates do the same. This was my talent and I knew it from a very young age, my father called this leadership, for me this was an innate skill that made me different. I embraced this now as my unique genius and I tried to develop these intangible skills over time learning many lessons all that help me every day as a coach. Responsibility is not about being the best it's about knowing it’s your job to bring the best out in everyone else.
Habits. Repetition. Mastery. Discipline is the ability to develop habits that will get you to your desired hopes and dreams, repetition is boring and will weed out those who are not mentally tough, and mastery comes not from being the best but from maximizing your potential to do things you never thought possible. I never realized how much I like discipline until I was forced to incorporate it into my life. I was a very rebellious kid so when someone told me to jump, I would go sneak off and drink beer or when someone told me something had to be done a certain way I was hell bent on doing it completely different. The truth of the matter is I never understood discipline so I resisted it just like we resist most things we do not understand. Discipline is definitely about developing habits and sticking with them until they become routine but discipline is also about recognizing weakness such as a lack of something like understanding. We have to learn to attach the weakest parts of ourselves and at least work towards some kind of understanding. Discipline is what gets us up every morning, it's what gets us through our routines and schedules and it is what sets us free to do the things we want to do in this world. This is what it means to me to be a coach and I am sure I could go on but I think you get the point I am writing this while everyone else is asleep and I get to share this with you now because I am able to call myself a Coach; always watching for opportunities to make people better and ready to listen when you just need to vent a little.
Best job in the world.