Happy National Coaches Day! I consult and coach. I love both. Why? Because I see the impact I can make on others. In business, I help entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives improve the financial performance of their business. In coaching, I help individuals and teams strive for greater achievement. Those are the simple answers to a not so simple question of “who needs a coach?”
I really must credit a distant relative who, inadvertently, placed on me this weight when she said, “we will read about you one day, you are going to do something significant.” That was over twenty-five years ago. Nothing significant yet.
Not so long ago, a fellow employee sat down with me and gave me a heart to heart. She said simply, “you are not doing all that you can do. Jeff, you can do so much more.” Wow, that was a blow. But one that I needed. I did not get angry or sad. She was right. It was time I did more. I have a purpose. Coaching and consulting help fulfill my purpose.
Those two conversations will stick with me forever. They remind me that we are put on this earth for a purpose and if we do not live up to that purpose, we will be reminded of that at some point. Sometimes over and over.
I have heard people say many times that they don’t need a coach. “Coaches are expensive, they don’t know everything, they don’t know what I need.” My first experience with a coach that was incredibly meaningful was when I was thirteen. I was on a baseball team and we were playing in a tournament. My two best friends were not on that team but wanted to see us play. They were killed in a car accident on the way to the game. You can probably imagine the impact that had on me. I was numb. But I still had to finish the tournament. I remember our coach, Coach Algozzini, put his arm around me and looked at me and said “what would your friends want you to do? What would you want your friends to see here?” Was it selfish because Coach Algozzini wanted to win? No. It was a true coach, a mentor, a support system that I needed. I will never forget Coach Joe Algozzini.
Fast forward several years, I was working in the corporate world where I had administrative responsibilities. Budgets, sales, resource management, customer/client retention were my life. But what I really enjoyed was seeing people excel. I wanted to give them the information, tools, and support they needed to succeed. Before I knew about Simon Sinek and his profound leadership philosophies, I knew that real leaders ate last. Real leaders enable, or as John Maxell puts it best, “equip” others to succeed. As a coach, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing your client succeed. To grow as a person, and to exceed their own expectations in their career is awesome!
In Rich Litvin and Steve Chandlers’ book “The Prosperous Coach” they emphasize the need to always be coached. As coaches, we can only be at our best when we are also coached. I have been fortunate to have awesome, incredible coaches. You know who you are, thank you!! I am a better person today because of their patience, support, guidance, and every-once-in-a-while kick in the backside.
So, now I coach. And, I have a coach. Why? Because I want to be the very best I can be for my clients. Is it expensive? The best way to answer that question is to say that it is too costly not to have a coach. And, in my case, and I am biased, but I have one of the best.
I am the ultimate simplifier. I will outline three reasons to have a coach. I believe there are hundreds of reasons, but I will simplify and provide you with three.
First, to address my original question, “Who needs a coach?” Hopefully, you know my answer, and that is we all do. But, in case my point has not been emphasized enough, I will ask you this question, “are you at the top of your game?” If you answer, yes. I would ask for proof. I don’t believe anyone is truly at the top of their game, every minute of every day. There is always room for improvement, no matter what the subject matter or issue. Perfection is elusive. Striving for perfection is admirable. Not everyone does. Everyone should.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating that everyone needs to be perfect. Remember, perfection is elusive. And, I am not pushing people into levels of self-loathing because of continually falling short. I am saying that we should always strive to improve. Set your sights on where you want to go and take the steps to get there. Simple? Maybe. But not everyone does it, nor do they want to. Why? Good question.
Reason #1: Know yourself. Do you know all about you? If you said “yes” I am not convinced that is entirely believable. Do you know why you do what you do? Do you know why you communicate and behave the way you do? Probably not. We all have tendencies, many we know, but many we do not know. A coach will help point these out so you can know yourself better. Why is this important? Because the better you know yourself, the better you can communicate and get along with others. Is that important? Well, only if you have a family, friends and a career or occupation. Yes, it is important.
I will take this one step further; do you know your core values? Core values are those beliefs that, to you, are non-negotiable. They define who you are and how you live your life. If you do not have core values, you are living without a compass. A coach will help you find your core values. A coach will not choose your core values but will help you determine what they are.
As you discover your tendencies, you will also better understand your impact on others. There are several well-known and highly regarded leadership experts who have written exceptional books that teach us how to be better leaders, better workers, and better people. John Maxwell, Simon Sinek, Brendon Burchard, Pat Lencioni, Jim Collins, Napolean Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, and the list goes on. What is one thing these great voices in leadership have in common? They all advocate a servant’s attitude. It is how we impact others that make us better at what we do, whatever that may be. Do you know your impact? You should. A coach will help you.
Reason #2: Improve yourself. Once you know yourself better, then you can understand your current state. You need to know where you are, presently, before you can truly determine how to achieve your desired result. Why? Because you need to understand the gap between now and your desired future. This will help you determine strategies to get there. The quickest way to point B from point A is a straight-line. Develop strategies that represent a straight-line to your desired result. A coach will help you develop the straight-line.
Reason #3: Accountability. You may believe in accountability. That is awesome. But life happens. Things get in the way. Once you know your tendencies, develop your foundation, understand your current and desired states and how to get there; now you need to track your progress. A coach will help you stay on course. Deviating from your strategy and desired results is normal. It is called “life.” It is not a sign of weakness or incompetence. It is a sign of taking care the present while overlooking your future. A coach will help you stay on track and remain accountable to your game plan.
Can you do all this on your own? Maybe, but remember that we are not super-human. You have tremendous potential. Your possibilities are everything you want them to be. A coach will help you get there.
I have three final three questions for you. (1) Do you want to be the absolute best you can be in whatever you choose to do? (2) Do you know how to get there? (3) How long will it take you? A coach will help you answer those questions. Go forth and achieve.