Remember any of the coaches you had as a kid in Little League or Soccer or Softball? Or maybe for a school sports team? The best coaches I remember are the ones my children had.
When my sons were in Little League, they had a pair of coaches that were super terrific. I remember the very first meeting of the season. Bob, the older one, pulled out a scrapbook and proceeded to show clippings he’d collected about baseball players at local schools, at universities, in minor leagues…all people he had coached. He made a promise…. “If you are serious about baseball, I will support you all the way…no matter where you play, I’ll be cheering you on.” Together he and Jim, the younger coach, created an individual profile of each player and their strengths and weaknesses. They charted a path of improvement for each player, and at the end of the season they celebrated the progress each had made.
As adults who aren’t in sports, many of us still have coaches in our lives. There are professionals and programs to help us reach all kinds of goals — to help us lose weight, get fit, get sober, improve our finances and strengthen our relationships. Olympic and professional athletes have coaches, of course! What’s incredible is how many times the athletes and the coaches both talk about how they “focus on the basics.”
If that’s what it is all about, then why do we need coaches? Perhaps it’s because while setting goals, we get distracted from the fundamentals by the lure of doing something “uniquely me”, something new, something fun.
Or perhaps it’s because finding motivation to persist and achieve our desires can be a challenge. How many times have you “restarted” a diet? Or an attempt to change a habit?
When it comes to our professional goals, desire is one attribute executives and entrepreneurs have in excess. We can make goals, and even write out plans to reach those goals, but will I force myself to keep those plans if no one is there to help me focus? Most of us, sadly, are not able to be accountable to ourselves.
Look Into The Powerful Mirror of Accountability
One of the most significant reasons successful people meet or exceed their goals —personally and professionally — is accountability. Accountability is a mirror, and it often is the difference that keeps us on track and making progress towards a goal. Numerous studies have shown that social accountability — such as posting a goal on Facebook or LinkedIn – improves our chances of sticking with the effort. One of my biggest challenges in working “solo” has been finding ways to keep focused on the long-term objective during the day-to-day activities. And people who are really good at making and crossing items off of daily task lists are sometimes just as guilty of not staying aligned with their dreams and long-term goals.
External accountability — having someone who “is watching” you do the thing you’ve told them you need to do – is the most powerful form of accountability.” Accountability is the number one reason people hire personal trainers, not expertise. It’s not so much that we don’t know WHAT to do… after all, as Jim Rohn has said
Think about the last great motivational speaker you heard. What big idea do you remember? Chances are, it wasn’t something totally new. What resonated with you was most likely a different way of stating the fundamentals that you already know. And that is exactly why it resonated…. It was an echo of what you know to be true, brought back to your consciousness by a great story, a compelling twist of phrase. A leadership coach should have that same effect: they should bring to consciousness that which you already know unconsciously – and then keep you accountable to that.
Plug Into The Energy of Professional “Me Time”
I’ll bet (about $5k in Monopoly Money) that far more executives fill their “me time” with workouts at the gym or watching sports on TV as opposed to filling it with personal growth and development. Then there are those who get so caught up in the success of the business and employees that they allow their own professional development to take a back seat.
Just like physical exercise is more invigorating and refreshing than it is draining, personal development “exercise” heightens motivation and sustains us energetically through the drain of the day-to-day. It also plugs us into our often-subconscious big dream that could – and wants to – pull us toward itself, guiding our daily choices that determine our lifetime path.
Leadership and personal development is a process, not an end goal or status that can be achieved. This is where a business coach gives a huge advantage; long-term coaching relationships create history, through which a coach helps the executive see patterns, or bring to consciousness ideas and opportunities that may have been overlooked or forgotten. A good coach not only leads us in self-discovery, but also gives us the truth – even when we don’t want to hear it. When we slam into our own blind spots, a coach helps us leap into a new opportunity with renewed energy.
Unearth Your Own Motivation
We all have heard (at least once) the path to accomplishing goals: make them s.m.a.r.t., and track your progress, setting and meeting smaller, benchmark goals — all the essential steps to building momentum. More difficult is making sure that our professional and personal goals are in tune with our inner, often unconscious, desires and motivations.
Rather than specifying how-to steps or giving directions, a good coach will focus on helping you dig deep and unearth – and then articulate – the inner world that holds your aspirations as well as your most powerful roadblocks: fear. One of my mentors, Eric Worre, said something that slammed me in the face. My subconscious mind is making decisions all the time — I’d better make sure it I train it to be working FOR me and not against me. A coach not only helps bring subconscious motivations and roadblocks to the surface, but also helps us get our selves (inner and outer) on the same page.
Get Better Faster
Yes, most of this learning, unearthing, and growing can and does happen without a coach. I’m learning that it happens a LOT faster with one than without. Success loves speed. The Try-Fail-Learn-Try approach (which now has the fancy moniker of “lean process” works best when it’s done quickly – and for almost all of us, that speed happens when we have the advantage of a third party who can hold us accountable, help us see and embrace what’s inside of us, and teach us to see when we’re not aligned with our inner, true self.
Coaches can come in many forms. Earlier in our history, it came through apprenticeship and deep, meaningful extended family relationships. Today, though we may have many mentors and thought leaders in our lives, few can devote the time to coach us. Hiring a coach, even for a 6-12 month timeframe, can yield high-impact, high ROI results.
John C. Maxwell, hailed by Inc. Magazine as the #1 Leadership guru in the world, has spent the last six years mentoring, training and developing a team of coaches who can provide one-on-one coaching for you and your executives, managers and emerging leaders in your business. John has also equipped them to provide group leadership development programs online and offline, on-site and off-site. If you’d like more information about our programs, services, and coaching from The John Maxwell Team, just contact me here using the contact form or call / text me at 505-510-0056.