Who is Coaching You?
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown emphasized the way that coaches and managers learn. Since in-person conferences have been put on hold, just about everything has shifted to streaming content. And that is a great thing!
The question is from who and what are you learning during this time? I hope much that is applicable when you return to shaping the lives of those in your life.
You are a catalyst. As a coach, leader, manager, or parent, you have a responsibility to contribute to the development of another person. It is a hard job, but it is one for which you must prepare to be your best. You cannot wing it, as the people that you lead will see right through it.
The quarantine has gone on longer than I think everyone anticipated. It has been difficult for everyone, but something good will come out of it. It has to, right? I hope that you have reconnected to your role as a catalyst and improved your ability to impact those in your life.
"If you don't identify what you want and build a plan to make that happen, then what are you really trying to accomplish?"
How I Have Been Learning
Like many of you, I have taken more time to learn as well. I did a podcast with the 2018 Skip Bertman National Coach of the Year and 6-time national champion Jeff Wilis from LSU Eunice. It was a powerful podcast because of his perspective on the life and development of his student-athletes. He challenged listeners to be the best catalysts they could be by funneling the energy into those they lead instead of using this time to JUST learn new skills. I thought that was a tremendous comment and suggestion. Instead of focusing on JUST learning new skills, learn better ways to produce more impactful connection with your athletes.
I also chatted with 2-time NCAA National Champion Head Baseball Coach Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt Baseball. Coach Corbin shared the concern and challenge of managing through adversity, such as COVID-19 and the tragic passing of one of his players. In the discussion, despite talking about the logistics of being a leader and how to manage a program, Coach Corbin continued to bring the conversation back to the individuals he was leading. Every decision ultimately returned to the players, one-by-one.
It hit me during those conversations. COVID-19 sucks. We can all agree on that. But it is our responsibility to find the purpose in pain. As a catalyst, you have to see through the madness for the message. The message is how you have used this time to build your connection to YOU and the impact you have had on your people. It is about YOU.
It is not about a particular drill, strategy, or membership in an online community. It is all about taking the information and building your catalyst impact.
There are three levels of influence that you have likely relied on during this time to build your connection, knowledge, and potential impact. You need all three to develop.
Thankfully, technology has allowed the worldwide sharing of ideas through different platforms. It seems every day there is a powerful educational opportunity to learn from impactful catalysts in a variety of settings. Instagram LIVE has become one of my favorites simply for the informal nature, but Google Hangouts, ZOOM meetings, and webinars have filled up to capacity. April 2020 was my largest month of podcast downloads and videocasts on our different platforms have seen their highest consumption. People are sharing more books and blog entries than ever before.
The cool thing is seeing those thought leaders that are typically 'untouchable' join in. In the past, whether they were too busy or not interested, this time opened many to share their content in new ways.
All of these styles are what I call Observational Knowledge. While they may be self-guided or even powerfully vulnerable through informal delivery, the learning is obtained through an ability to observe, translate, and implement into your game. It is not 100% specific to you, and it is up to you to do that translation. The problem with solely relying on Observational Knowledge is that it can be very overwhelming and lack the specificity to improve you. If you tried everything you learned, you would be stuck, frustrated, and confused. But make it a significant part of your learning library. The low cost of entry, particularly emotionally, can make it worth it on many levels.
I can guarantee that you have had mentors that have contributed significantly to your style, impact, and vision as a catalyst. Throughout your life, someone was willing to share with you the steps you needed to follow, highlight the challenges you will face, and help you open the necessary doors to get to where you are.
You need mentors. You need to stay in touch with them. There is no reason to repeat the mistakes they have made.
Mentors are valuable because they have wisdom in areas you need to grow, have experience in aspects greater than you, and they can overlook the anxieties you obsess about daily. It is your responsibility to stay in touch with them, keep them updated on your progress, and ask them questions in their area of expertise. You are never bothering a mentor if you respect their time and are gracious with their content.
In selecting a mentor, ask yourself the following questions:
• What do I want to learn from the individual?
• What can I offer them (not financial necessarily) that would make it worthwhile for them? For example, would they want to mentor me?
• What specific domain do I want help in which they have expertise?
• What is their risk in mentoring me? There is always a risk, so do not fall for the "nothing" answer.
Mentors provide guidance much longer than merely the exchange of information. They are there for a period of time. It is your responsibility to keep that relationship fruitful for both parties.
The most impactful relationship you can form is with a personal coach. As a catalyst, who keeps you in balance, maintains your accountability and is honest with you? You ask that of those you lead, so are you any different?
Coaches come in all forms and fashions. The core aspects of a coach are:
• To guide, inspire, and challenge you to achieve what YOU want to achieve
• Not concerned with your resistance, as they use it to fuel your growth
• Bring information to you from a variety of specialties outside of your expertise
It is not easy to find coaches, and there are often costs that may make it difficult, but there are also alternatives.