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Put me in, COACH.

We are all sure to understand the impact of coaching. Some of us have positive experiences. For me, my Platoon Leader, Kevin, inspired me to push hard and strive for new athletic heights (Thanks brother, R.I.P.) Kevin’s encouragement and example fuel my drive to this day. Some of us have negative experiences. For me, the basketball coach who told me I was too slow and short to ever play. Though this feedback initially inspired me to work harder, his comments to the team that “..Mattis will never out-work genetics..” and the laughter that followed damaged me for years. If you experience is positive or negative, the impact of a coach is undeniable. Focusing on the positive aspects, as professionals and adults, we all have the opportunity to greatly benefit from a coaching relationship. What if I told you that you need a coach? The most successful people in the world, those who you would least suspect to be in need of guidance, are those who are most likely to invest in coaching services. For example, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, two NFL quarterbacks who are among the greatest of all time, invest in the personal coaching services of Tom House to continue their improvement. Brady and Brees realize that no matter how good they were yesterday, they must be even better tomorrow. Each trusts House to analyze their mechanics, footwork, and more to constantly refine the tools that make them great. Personally, I work with four coaches:

  1. Amy Hicks of Forged Nutrition for nutrition coaching;

  2. Jen Rulon of Rulon Racing for triathlon coaching;

  3. Todd Erickson of Total Immersion for swimming; and

  4. Melissa Wallace of DiSalvo & Wallace for executive coaching.

Though I am certainly no Tom Brady (maybe a little closer to Brees: we’re the same height and suffer from absentee hairlines) I am driven by personal goals that have inspired me to invest in strategic areas of my life. Though different, each is related. Triathlon Coach: My goal is not to “do” a triathlon, or “win” a triathlon, but to compete in triathlons into my 80’s. Jen and her team help me understand and hold me accountable to train for near-term success as well as longevity. Swim Coach: I’m a horrible swimmer. Horrible. To be an effective triathlete, I need help in correcting my form and efficiency. And my ability to float. Nutrition Coach: Understanding how / when / how much to eat to achieve performance goals is a lot of work. Considering my love of gourmet foods, wine, and whiskey, I need help understanding how to have it all (without going overboard.) My nutrition coach keeps me accountable from skewing too far toward one extreme or another. Christmas excluded. Executive Coach: Do you know what you want to do when you grow up? I don’t. This is where Melissa comes in. She helps me understand what I want, what I need, and how to get there. What aspects of your life would benefit from coaching? What’s in it for you?

REFLECTION There are many people in your life who look at you with bias. Your friends and family form their perspective based on who they know you to be: that one thing you did when you were a teenager, that one person who you dated that one time, and that one thing you did when you were just a wee baby. Though nostalgic, these perspectives rarely offer much insight for growth. Your colleagues have a different sort of bias. They see who based on that thing you said that one time, based on you leaving at 4 each day to pick up your kids from school, and based most especially based on the fact that you are their competition (don’t give them the opportunity to steal your soul.) A coach, in contrast, looks at you through an objective lens. A coach will: …not judge you, …point out your blind spots, …be a source of fresh ideas, …help you create a vision. One thing to be aware of, a coach will not feed your ego. A coach will be open, honest, and transparent with you, which means that YOU need to be in a healthy enough place to receive such feedback.

DIRECTION Do you have a vision? Do you have goals? How well do you stick to either? Are they aligned? Personally, I have always done well in establishing goals, and reasonably well in accomplishing them. However, what my coach uncovered was that I was setting the bar far too low. Also, my goals were not moving toward a common purpose. This is where the personal and professional vision comes in. As I share my vision below, understand that though concise, many hours were invested in the curation of each. With their refinement, I have been able to establish professional and personal goals that are in alignment with each vision and complimentary of each other. Personal Vision: To act as a servant leader by generating energy for ideas and developing people; live a balanced life; and leave everyone and everything better than I found it. Professional Vision: Partnering with organizational leadership, drive sustained growth by reinventing the way brands approach technology, operations, people, and customers. The conversation and feedback offered by my coach helped me to clarify the ambiguity and conflict in each of the early revisions. She challenged me to dig deep and helped me understand what really mattered.

ACCOUNTABILITY Two things that I value most from each of my coaches are accountability and consistency. My nutrition coach, for example, taught me simple habits long before we even discussed what to eat. These habits built the framework I needed to be successful in fueling my body for my athletic aspirations. Had she assigned me a meal plan without first building consistency and habit, my success would have been limited. In terms of accountability, my executive coach Melissa works with me to establish clear (and hard) goals, and then constantly holds me accountable to the path required to achieve them. No matter how motivated and dedicated you are, we are all better when we have people supporting us, holding us accountable, and calling us out when we move off course.

A SHIFT IN LEADERSHIP PRINCIPLES There is a seismic shift taking place in how organizations lead and develop talent. For more than a decade, I have been helping organizations rethink the way they approach to value delivery and people. A big part of this has been a shift in leadership mindset from “management” to “coaching.” The value offered by an effective coach: a person who challenges people to think through problems objectively, holds them accountable to goals and can serve as a mentor in the development will prove critical as people begin taking on increasingly complicated tasks and Deep Work. Coaching is the way forward. To learn to become a Coach to others, you first must become coachable. The only way to do that is to get a coach. Give it a shot, and let me know how it goes!

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