Quick answer: Other than being in the top tier of their games, they all have a coach. Back in the day, it was often said, “Even Michael Jordan has a coach.”
How about you? Do you need a coach? Do you have one?
The short answers are yes, and yes. Everybody needs coaches and you have them, whether you realize it or not. You may not be utilizing your coaches to their maximum potential, but you’re most likely following somebody’s guidance. And in just a minute I’ll show you how to recognize who you turn to for coaching, at least on an informal level.
But first, a word from the Lone Ranger…
Three Reasons You Don’t Want to Have a Coach
True confession: My temperament tilts heavily toward “I can do this myself.” I do like my own company and autonomy. But the honest truth is, whenever I have been in any kind of mentoring, coaching, even counseling relationship, my growth has always taken a much stronger trajectory.
So why wouldn’t everybody jump at the chance for a structured kind of relationship with somebody who can help them?
1. They prefer mediocrity.
Ouch, but deal with it. Mediocrity makes no demands other than the status quo. And the status quo is just fine, thank you very much.
2. They don’t want anybody asking difficult questions.
Coaches make people think, and thinking is work, and work produces change, and change is uncomfortable.
3. They don’t want to own their own results.
When someone has a coach, they are all about improving their performance, personal or spiritual growth, or leadership. Without a coach who will hold up a mirror and ask you to account for your actions, it’s easier just to duck and blame the environment, the economy, or your lack of opportunity.
Who’s YOUR Coach?
Although the idea of coaching has mushroomed over the last 20-plus years or so, it’s certainly not a new idea. There were coaches in Bible times. Look at how Paul describes his relationship with Timothy:
Now you have closely observed and diligently followed my teaching, conduct, purpose in life, faith, patience, love, steadfastness (2 Timothy 3:10, AMP).
Here in this simple description of their relationship are seven ways you can determine who your coach is, and when you need to take advantage of that relationship.
1. Who do you look to for answers?
Paul was a teacher and Timothy was a student. Now Timothy was a teacher, too, but even teachers need teaching. Whoever you turn to for understanding and clarification is your coach in a sense. So yes, that can include authors or teachers long dead.
2. Where do you look when you need an example?
“Conduct” literally means “the way I have led you.” Good leadership always leaves clues for future performance. And it would have been totally legitimate for Timothy to ask, “What would Paul do in this situation?” You can do the same. Whose example are you following? That’s your coach.
3. Where do you look when you need reasons for what you do?
“Purpose” referred to that which motivated Paul and what set the plan and direction of his life. We must be people of purpose. There must be a reason for what we do. But under stress or fatigue, it’s easy to forget what the purpose is. Your coach is the person who reminds you of why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place.
4. Who do you look to when your confidence is shaken?
Faith isn’t just a set of convenient beliefs we recite in Sunday school. It’s the bedrock of our lives and the springboard for all meaningful positive action. And faith gets rattled. When that happens, you’d better have somebody you can turn to who can remind you of the foundation on which you stand.
5. Who do you look to when you’re frustrated with people?
Yes, I think parents need coaches too – especially parents of preschoolers. But everybody who deals with people on any level gets frustrated. And frustration can influence some pretty stupid words or actions. Enter the coach. The person who, like Paul, was an example and encourager of patience. The one who can give perspective when quitting or bailing on the relationship is a very enticing idea.
6. Who do you look to for love when you don’t feel very lovable?
You know of my love, Paul says. I have it on some pretty good authority that at times Timothy didn’t feel very lovable. There are times you won’t as well – especially during times of failure or feelings of shame. Coaches are the people who remind you that you are loved by God and others.
7. Who do you look to when you feel like quitting?
Perseverance is the characteristic of a person who stays focused on his deliberate purpose, even in the face of the most difficult suffering or resistance. You haven’t lived very long if you have never reached a point of discouragement. And you didn’t handle discouragement well if you tried to face it alone. This, more than any other place, is where you need a coach on speed dial.
It isn’t hard to think of one or more people who function in your lives as “adjunct coaches” – people who are there when you need them or think you do.
The problem is thinking you don’t.
Everybody needs a coach, but if you aren’t regularly connecting with those people (read 2 Timothy and you’ll see he had lost touch with his), you are settling for mediocrity and exposing yourself to a lot of frustration.
Pick up the phone. Schedule a time. Connect! And take the glorious risk of letting a trusted friend hold up a mirror to your life and work.
You can thank me later.
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