Specific. Relevant. Universal.

The art of coaching for me has been a journey to say the least.  One in which I have enjoyed immensely and, if I’m being totally honest, not at all what I anticipated when I set out on this path.  In the beginning, I thought coaching was about standing on the sidelines.  Pacing stoically with your hands behind your back was part of the job description and showing little emotion while holding a clipboard was optional.  Now to be clear, my metric early on were the coaches I had in various youth sports.  But as I continued on my own path, I began to realize that coaching is about communication.  And communication is about creativity.

When I think back to my early years of coaching, I really appreciate the stages that I went through.  I began coaching my little sister’s soccer team when I was in 8th grade.  I eventually became a swim coach, a captain on the fire department, and eventually a trainer and business owner.  All of these progressions had their moments, and each of them taught me something about myself (and I continue to learn ever day!).  But recently I have been thinking quite a bit about the things I learned when I was teaching kids how to swim.  

I always joked with parents that water was the great equalizer - it gave me an extreme advantage in the sense that I knew how to swim and my students did not.  But more importantly, being successful in teaching young kids how to swim depends entirely on your ability to connect with them first and your ability to communicate.  If you cannot gain their trust in a matter of minutes and find a way to get them to let you in, you will achieve nothing.  

Recently I was writing and a thought came over me that I wanted to share: water and barbells, from a purely metaphorical standpoint, are not much different.  Both are awkward and scary at first.  In the beginning emotions range from excitement to frustration in a matter of minutes, and both require dedicated practice in an effort to gain comprehension.  Even more interesting is the fact that coaching movement inside of the the gym or in the water, has little to do with the actual setting at all.  In my opinion, success hinges on a coaches ability to communicate effectively in a manner that will allow clients or students the confidence to take a chance and listen.

I believe that coaching, and more specifically communication, must follow a specific set of parameters if it is going to be effective.  What I have begun to use in my classes and with my clients is this:  coaching must be specific to the individual, relevant to the subject at hand, yet universal to a wide population.

Now I must say that I am sure there are other “coaches” who are preaching similar messages, and frankly that’s rad.  But this is how I have come to condense my message and something that the coaches at Kingfield have found to be useful.

So today, I challenge you.  If you are in a position of leadership or a position that requires some sort of communication, ask yourself if what you are saying is specific, relevant, and universal.  If it is not, maybe it’s time to refine your message.

Happy Monday Everyone!


D