Long before I became a professional life and congregational coach, I was a professional tennis instructor and coach. People who know my history will ask if life coaching is anything like tennis coaching. My answer is “yes” and “no.”
Yes, life coaching is similar to sports coaching, so similar that corollaries are helpful to draw. No, they are not exact, so the comparisons are only suggestive. The following characteristics and behaviors are indicative of sports coaches that I consider exceptional. Good life coaches can offer similar benefits to their clients.
- Coaches care about their players. Exceptional coaches care about their players as people. Life coaches genuinely care about their clients, and want what is best for them.
- Coaches want each player to be the very best s/he can be. Exceptional coaches care about their players and want them to succeed in all aspects of life, not just in the game. Coaches strive to strengthen and develop players’ character as much as their skill. Life coaches have the same goal.
- Coaches want their players to succeed. Exceptional coaches, particularly those who work with young people in academic settings, want their players to develop into healthy, productive and intelligent adults who contribute to the well being of the world. Life coaches also focus on holistic growth so that clients reach their full potential and discover where their passion and the world’s needs intersect.
- Coaches help players improve their skills. Exceptional coaches work with players to discover their abilities and build on their strengths. They also help them learn how to be team players. Life coaches help their clients discover their inner passions and build on their own wisdom and abilities to have the life they want and to be effective work colleagues and leaders.
- Coaches motivate players. Exceptional coaches are encouragers and challengers. Life coaches do the same for their clients.
- Coaches and players work toward mutuality and symbiosis. Exceptional coaches cultivate with their players a particular rhythm in practice and in play that is unique to that relationship, and they have a shared outcome. (Think of Coach Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.) When a person finds the right life coach, the same thing happens. Coach and client have a unique relationship, and the give and take of the coaching session is like a dance. Coach and client have a shared vision for the outcome of coaching, and they work together to reach that goal.
- Coaches win when players win. Exceptional coaches and smart players embrace mutuality. Shared goals and shared practice lead to shared win and a shared celebration. The goal of a life coach is to help the client win—that is to reach their desires goals. When the client does this, it is a shared win and a shared celebration.
Smart players know they need a good coach to help them improve their game and their win percentage. Whether playing an individual sport like tennis, or a team sport like basketball, coaches are essential to success.
Do you want to improve your life, and your contribution to your work or the world? Do you want to have a high “win” percentage? Consider finding the right coach, and make an investment in yourself.