Teachers, trainers, mates/friends are help in the moment, looking at the present. What are you doing now? Can it be tweaked to make it more efficient? Mentors look a bit into the future, as far as they can see on your joint path. When the paths diverge, the person needs a different mentor. Psychologists/Psychiatrists look into the past to help you process your movement on the path.
But what does a coach do? Let’s start with perspective. When a coach gets a team, he assumes that everyone on the team has passed the audition or tryout and deserves to be there. The Orchestral director is not going to correct missed notes or change how the musician holds his instrument or refine his sound. The NFL coach isn’t going to correct the player’s stance when he’s doing dead lifts or squats. The baseball coach is not going to work on stance in the box or fielding techniques. They work with the group as a whole and assume the group can do what needs to be done. The Orchestra is not going to play Jr. High music, and if it cannot handle Beethoven, he won’t choose to play Berlioz or Gershwin. The football team has to know the rules of the game and the coach will discuss strategy with his quarterback and tactics for each set of downs, both offensive and defensive. If someone is continually missing blocks or tackles, the offensive/defensive coordinator will work with him briefly. If he shows no improvement, they will find someone who can handle the requirements of the position. The point is this: the coach does not assume that the team is broken and needs to get fixed.
When we go in search of a coach, we should not, then, choose one that says, “I can get you where you want to go because I can fix what’s wrong with you.” We want a coach that says, “You are not in need of fixing. You know where you want to go and what it takes to get there. I will assist you to focus on your destination.” These types of coaches are hard to find!
When we were in coaches training, we had to coach someone on how to juggle. Most of us assumed we needed to be good jugglers to coach someone else. You might have to be a good juggler to TEACH someone how to juggle. You’d have to tell them step by step and they might learn it, or you’d have to move their hands for them. Would they remember? Would picking up this skill apply to other areas in their lives? But even if you did not know how to juggle, you could coach them because coaching uses questions instead of statements. “Why is it so hard to get 3 balls in the air?” “Because it’s too fast for me to throw and catch!” “What would give you more time?” “Maybe if I threw the balls higher!” “What skill would you need to improve to make this work?” “Catching the ball without looking at it.” “How would you go about acquiring that skill?” “I think I will practice with one ball first, then add another and finally the third.” Will the subject learn to juggle? Most certainly. Will he remember how to juggle later? Yes, because he discovered it himself and taught himself. Can he apply the lessons to other areas in his life? If he can break down juggling into its component parts, he could also break down complex problems in order to solve them.
Coaching is a means for the client to assume responsibility for his own growth along his own path. The client see his ideal in HIS head and is not taking the ideal from a teacher or trainer or mentor. The client knows how to reach his ideal and what parts of his philosophy he should keep and what he should discard. He doesn’t have to rely on someone to tell him. The client realizes that he’s a unique creature that has many different aspects–mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. Each aspect is formed over his lifetime by his unique upbringing, his unique mental capacities, his unique character, his set of unique beliefs. By forging his own way, he makes his growth a permanent change in his life, and increases his capacity for growth as well. This perspective on the client’s part and also on the coach’s part is what will get a person to become his own ideal. The coach enhances the client’s focus by asking questions. This is good coaching.