Coaching and the Olympics

When I was a child, around 6 years old, I started to dream about being in the Olympics. I would lie in bed at night and imagine crossing the finish line like a wild horse, way in front of the pack and claiming victory at the top of the podium.

And no, if you Google my name, you won’t find any reference to that childhood longing. Why not? I had great natural ability. By ten years old I had won the all-city Track and Field Championship in my hometown. What was missing?

I was missing a coach. I was missing that one person who shared my vision. I was missing that person I wanted to please, who I trusted had my best interest in mind, who wanted me to live my dream as much as I did. I was missing that exceptional human being who finds incredible joy and satisfaction in helping others become successful.

Maybe that is why I became a coach myself. Early on I coached the little kids at my school in volleyball and basketball. I moved up to the older kids in baseball. And finally, I found myself drawn to the emerging world of Life and Leadership Coaching.

How is sports coaching and leadership coaching similar? Well, it’s always about fulfilling one’s potential. Within each of us is a seed of greatness. Whatever path we choose, we have everything it takes to succeed. In fact, we are capable of succeeding in our work, our hobbies, our relationships to a much higher degree than we could imagine.

That is why we need coaches. We don’t always know what we need to improve our results in life. Often, when we do know, we don’t act. Perhaps we feel unsure and lack confidence in our own ideas.

As a coach, I can see my client’s potential even when they can’t. I can hold their dreams and goals in my heart and mind even when they lose faith and need a rest. I can instill confidence that they will indeed achieve what they are after because as a team, we always sort out the insights and training needed to get ahead.

Coaching tends to follow a similar process:

  1. We pick a goal. What is it you really want to do, have or be? Leaders are usually looking for better ways to inspire, motivate, manage and succeed. What skills have you identified need work? Assessments help with that. And coaches really help a person go from a broad area to a very specific item that can be worked on immediately. Thus, you see results which motivate you to keep going.
  2. We always look at the emotional components that are driving the behavior that needs to change. This is the inner game. The inner game is always expressed in the outer game. You can see that in sports so easily. You just know the athletes who have the mental aspect of their sport under control.
  3. We put together an action plan. You can’t win a race without doing those wind sprints. Even in leadership, positive skills have to be practiced. No one would expect an athlete to have to a fast start in a sprint if he or she hadn’t worked repeatedly on it.
  4. We set up accountability. It is just the nature of human beings that we need a system of accountability to stay focused, committed and successful. Coaches are great at that because we are not afraid to tell the truth and challenge the client. That’s what we are here for. We are here to push you to work harder, smarter and to hold you to what you said you really wanted.
  5. And finally, celebrate. Sometimes the wins are small at first. Perhaps no one else notices. But the coach knows. We know what it took to make that change, to shift a perspective, to practice a whole new response, to confront a difficult person. It feels wonderful for a client to be seen in the special way a coach sees them. A coach’s congratulation is deep and true because the coach has been witness to the whole struggle and process.

Everyone who wants to play a bigger, better, more successful game, always uses a coach. And so, you can bet I will be watching those fantastic athletes in London. I will cry with them, and rejoice with them and have a “jolly good time” knowing that they all found that someone who was the missing link on their road to success.

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