I’ve been drinking in the Harvey Mackay interview on the new Success magazine audio CD for November 2009. One of the interesting aspects he discusses is the 20+ coaches he has used throughout his lifetime to become an expert or even up to speed on areas of interest in his life. Speech coaches, language coaches, sports coaches, financial coaches, etc. that he wasn’t afraid to seek out a second pair of ears and eyes and minds to assess his skills and improve his performance.
It got me thinking through the years about the different coaches I’ve had. I know when I initially started bowling, I had the good fortune of assistance from both of my parents who were certified youth coaches. From there, when I went to college I had a new bowling coach for 4 years that opened up my world to the mental game as well as different lane play and drills to encourage me to think outside the box. A few years ago I sought out a third bowling coach, one this time who also bowls as a left-hander which I think helped me to think more about the different tools I need in a tool box for lane play, adjustments on the fly and tournament seasoning that has helped me accomplish so much more than I have at any point in my bowling life.
I’ve had various English teachers and professors who brought my writing up to another level. I’ve learned how to prune my sentences when necessary, and also when to elaborate. I’ve had professors who pushed me to be even better, and I think willingly challenged my thinking, my essays, my thought process to bring more out of me than I ever thought possible. I still study other writers, I marvel at their gift of words, stringing together paragraphs and just enveloping me into their world.
Do I necessarily believe the best coaches are the best at their particular subject matter on their own? I think there is a difference and a distinction between the two. Michael Jordan may be a superstar athlete, but does he have the ability to pull together a team of individuals to the point that they could win 6 championships as he has? As a coach you must step outside of yourself, understand the individual’s goals and motivations and get them to a point where they trust your abilities to give them the necessary tools, guidance and constructive criticism to reach another level.
You must be accepting of the fact that you don’t know everything. If you are always learning, you will always grow. Understand that I believe coaching is not an exercise merely for the young- that you can seek out coaches and mentors for the rest of your life. Some may offer their services for free, others you will have to pay for on an ongoing basis. But know this- you can’t expect to get better at any subject or any sport or any hobby without a helping hand or two. Even interests that appear individual in nature need some sort of training to move from a novice to an expert- and the time frame may take months or years.
Look back at the best franchises in history- whether it be presidents of countries or sports teams- and I’m sure you will see a solid team of coaches and advisers at their sides. Think about some of your goals you want to achieve and seek out the expert help. If you don’t know where to go to, look to some of the people that are at or doing what you want and ask them who coached or mentored them. Be open and honest with what you dream and I know that your dreams will come true.