The evolution of a coach

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As I am sitting waiting for my flight to come in from Paris after watching the worlds greatest game for a week with my brother and Dad, I figured I might as well be semi productive and write this week’s newsletter. As always, it is about…me!

But it can help you make greater gains, I believe, so read on!Like most jobs, you should never stop evolving so now, that I am nearing my 10-year anniversary in this business, it is as good of a time as any to look back and see where I started.

1.
In the beginning, I had the classic athlete background/attitude. The coach says do this, you follow it to a ‘T’ and…success! No room for negotiations. For a while it worked well; most of my clients were type A personalities and followed instructions very well. They were also inherently motivated and driven, so a chimp could have coached them with more or less the same results.

2.
After a while, comes (hopefully) the stunning revelation that you do not know everything. One level of that is more technical; you realize that there is a whole new universe of knowledge out there and you’d better get acquainted with it. So you start searching for people that are better than you and start following them, reading their blogs, books, and the like. This helped me to become an author myself, thereby furthering my credibility.

The second part goes deeper: it is mainly understanding that people want to change but not really. They have certain responsibilities holding them back such as family, financial worries, etc. and are often not ready for a drastic change. In that case a yelling coach will not help. But neither will an enabler.

3.
It is then time for a whole new approach. How to coach people: motivational interviewing.
Again, the conventional set up is: I am the coach, I have the answers, you are the client and will listen to me. To an extent that is true since people come to my company for our expertise.

That said, the act of listening on the coach’s side is a lost art. Why does the client want to change? How important is for you to make the change? What are you willing to give up for it? How would you feel if you accomplished said goals?

The ensuing conversation has the advantage of making the client feel an active player in choosing the strategy for achieving his/her objectives. This way, the chances of success are infinitely higher than when the needed changes are pushed upon him/her.

Personally, I think the best coaches, be it personal trainers in NYC or anywhere else,  are like sherpas. They get the client to the to the mountain of his choice without the 1,000-yard-stare, clipboard-carrying attitude, but by the same token, they are not babysitters.

Till next time!

Maik

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