In life or leadership coaching, we often make a distinction between our process and that used by athletic coaches. This may be because the image of coaches who appear driven to succeed at any cost. For example, the late Vince Lombardi is reported to have said, “Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.”
But Lombardi also said, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” All types of coaches can agree to that statement.
We can see similarities between the two processions especially if we perceive the role of the athletic coach being to help the athlete reach her or his full potential. This is what life coaches do as well.
For example, both types of coaches recognize the potential in those with whom they work. They stand on the side and observe abilities that have not been developed and skills that can be sharpened. Whether this is passing a football or leading a team, the coach sees what the person can achieve with commitment and practice.
Second, a coach urges a person to the next level. The Core Competencies of the International
Coach Federation encourage a life coach to stretch and challenge the client and to “stand for” the client. Sometimes the coach’s role—whether an athletic coach or a life coach—is to say to the person, “Is this a big enough challenge for you? How can you go further?”
Third, a coach provides constructive feedback. For the athletic coach, this may involve sharing techniques but often it is in asking questions and providing a new perspective. Certainly, this is what a life coach does—helping the client to learn from both successes and failures and thus become more effective.
Whether we are athletic coaches or life coaches, our goal is not just our own success but the success of those with whom we work.
(This post originally appeared on January 10, 2016, and is re-posted in recognition of International Coaching Week.)