I’ve talked a lot about how leaders can help people succeed through daily learning. In fact, our company recently offered a webinar called The Coachable Manager: Implementing Coaching Skills in Your Organizationwhich you can view here.
In my blog today, I would like to share how coaching has helped me succeed in various aspects of my life and how it can help you. Although some of these people did not have the official title of “coach”, they had experience in the areas where I needed help.
A coach can give you what you can’t give yourself and provide the direction and support you need to succeed.
As a youth, I had a great example of what coaching could do for me with my basketball coach, Paul Ryan. Paul coached me to focus on my strengths – in my case, big hands and an outside jump shot. Even though I wasn’t much of a runner, people gave me the nickname “Hot Hands” because I was a great shooter.
A coach can help you set goals that are important to you and hold you accountable as you move toward them.
Later in life, my obsession with food combined with my busy career made it difficult for me to keep my weight under control. When I finally decided to get serious about getting in shape, Tim Kearin, my co-author at Fit finally, became my primary fitness trainer. We used SLII® to figure out what leadership style I needed to get healthy. Now I know I need constant training and support to keep me accountable with my diet and exercise, so I work with a fitness trainer regularly. This is how I “commit”.
A coach can improve your skills and deepen your knowledge.
I was never an excellent student. My first intellectual coach was my brilliant sister Sandy, who taught me good study habits. In college, I found coaches who guided my academic career. During graduate school at Colgate University, Warren Ramshaw coached me to find a major that really interested me. Don McCarthy later helped me get accepted into the doctoral program at Cornell and coached me through my Ph.D.
As a writer, I also consider the dozens of co-authors I’ve had over the years to be my intellectual coaches. Each of them gave me new knowledge and helped me to understand more deeply the topics that interested me.
A coach can explain next steps, ask smart questions, and get you moving forward toward your goals.
In the late 1970s, a group of presidents from the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) encouraged my wife, Margie, and me to start our own company. We were flattered by their high opinion of us, but in those days we couldn’t even balance our checkbook! Fortunately, five of these presidents became our business coaches and helped us grow our company.
Twenty five years ago we started using professional consultants for our family business. We wanted to make sure that the business didn’t ruin our family — and vice versa! A consultant meets with us once a quarter, giving us invaluable coaching.
A coach can help you gain self-knowledge and improve relationships.
One of my weaknesses is that I please and say yes too often. That’s why it’s important for me to work with a coach to look at what I’m doing and help me set priorities that align with my goal.
My wife, Margie, and I are always looking for ways to improve our relationship and the way we communicate with each other, so we’ve worked with several relationship coaches over the years. The key to a good marriage is being open to learning.
When we met Norman Vincent Peale and his wife Ruth in the 1980s, we learned how important it is to be a team when you’re married. We noticed that they each had their strengths and didn’t try to tell the other what to do. Every morning Norman and Ruth walked two miles together, holding hands but not speaking. They called it their “alone time.” When it came to working together in marriage, Norman and Ruth were great coaches for us.
A coach can give you perspective and someone to confide in.
After seeing how badly my old church treated a pastor who protested the Vietnam War in the 1960s, I turned away from my spiritual side. Fortunately for me, when we got down to writing, I found a great spiritual mentor in Norman Vincent Peale The power of ethical management. Norman gave me a broader perspective and helped me get back on the spiritual path. Since then, I’ve had some great spiritual coaches, including Bob Buford, co-author Half time and the founder of The Leadership Network, Phil Hodges, my longtime friend and co-author, and Bill Hybels, former senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.
Take advantage of the coaching
If you’ve been avoiding doing something just because you’ve never done it before, a coach can help you do it.
If you’re stuck in any area of your life, a coach can help you identify what’s holding you back and find ways around your obstacles.
Look at your life. Where are you now – and where do you want to be? Where do you need additional guidance and support? Be honest with yourself about the areas in which you cannot succeed on your own, and find a coach to help you with them.
To get the most out of your coaching relationship, you’ll need to be honest with your coach about what’s going on and where you need help. You will also need more than one session. Coaching is most effective when you meet regularly for an agreed upon period of time.
My last piece of advice is to give up your pride and stop fighting on your own. Go find yourself a coach!