“The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without a purpose.”
It doesn’t take much to bump into a coach nowadays. Seems like it is a new craze and everyone does it. There are coaches for everything from eating, exercise, business, anything really. But what is this craze all about?
I absolutely love the discipline of coaching. One of the mentors in the John Maxwell Team, Paul Martinelli explains that “If you can tell me where you are going, I can help you get there”. This is the biggest problem in so many people's lives. They have no idea where they are going.
Not being clear of your direction and purpose is like going on holiday and having no destination. Myles Munroe often said, “The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without a purpose.”
This is where the big difference in coaching lies. I will try to explain coaching by first telling you what it is not.
There are four major disciplines when helping people grow and develop: Teaching, Counselling, Mentoring and Coaching. Understanding the difference between these four approaches will help you to realise the importance of having a coach in your life.
According to theCambridge Dictionary, to teach means “to give someone knowledge or to train someone; to instruct”
Teaching can happen from a distance in a very impersonal way. I have had teachers who have imparted knowledge to me whom I have never met before. In fact, it is exactly what I am doing now by means of this writing. I am imparting knowledge and perhaps a certain level of skill without even being close to you.
Even though teaching is one of the most important disciplines we need in our lives, it can happen without relationship and impartation of character and values.
Teaching is simply "mindfacts" that can be learned without ever changing the type of person you are. Though we know this is not always the case, it is quite often what we find in people who are very knowledgeable but lack character.
Teachers give knowledge.
TheCambridge Dictionarystates that to mentor is “to help and give advice to a younger or less experienced person, especially in a job or at school".
The main aspect of mentoring is helping someone develop a skill. This means I have to be in closer proximity to the mentor in order for the skill to be taught and assessed. Like a carpenter who is training his apprentice to work with wood, the trainee will do everything that the mentor teaches him and then, after the work has been done, evaluate and correct the mistakes. This is what makes mentoring, in my opinion, a better option than mere teaching.
There is a constant evaluation of your skill and impartation from a more experienced “father” in the trade. You do not simply gain knowledge, you improve your abilities to apply knowledge.
Mentors give wisdom
TheCambridge dictionarydefines counselling as “the activity of a trained person listening to someone who has a problem and giving them advice on how to deal with it”.
This discipline is particularly focused on past hurts and pain and helping people to overcome mental and emotional struggle. This will involve some form of teaching, could involve some mentoring to help a person gain the right skills to deal with emotions, etc. but is mainly focused on giving an individual the tools to help them cope with mental health and past trauma.
This is a skill that should be done by trained professionals. I have seen some people who give themselves out as counsellors that do more damage than good. Just because you have compassion for brokenness and some experience in giving advice to friends, you cannot call yourself a therapist.
Counselling focusses on inner healing
The dictionary defines coaching only as a trainer for sports and a type of long bus. The term coach seems to be so ambiguous that anyone can call themselves a coach and not do any coaching at all.
According to our training at the John Maxwell Team “You cannot lead unless you can Coach. Coaching is the art of influence that underpins leadership in the 21st century. If you’re to be a credible teacher of leadership, you have to know how to Coach.”
Coaching is both an art and a science. There are certain tools and skills that you can learn and master, but a large part relies on intuition. Therefore the purpose of coaching needs to be understood before any skill can be mastered.
When you teach, mentor or counsel a person, you help them with WHATto think. In coaching the aim is helping people HOWto think. A coach will help you to develop the self-awareness to be able to dig out the golden treasures that God has placed inside of you. One of the starting assumptions of a coach is “You already have all the resources for your success inside of you.”
This process does not involve teaching information but asking open-endedquestions in such a way that you become aware of that design that God created in you. In many senses, people will develop a codependent relationship upon a teacher, mentor or counsellor. The aim of a coach is to help a person become independent from their coach and interdependent upon those who can create networks of success and progress.
A coach does not determine the agenda of a meeting, but will simply help you to reflect deeply upon the purpose you have and help you achieve the goals you set for yourself. Therefore you need to be aware of where you are going before the coach can help you get there. The coach, unlike a teacher, mentor or counsellor, will not determine the end goal of the coaching journey. Unless you know where you are going and what you want to achieve, you will not be coachable.
This is why we would first assess whether a person is coachable or not. To be coachable means you are fully aware of the responsibility you have as a person to live out your God-givenpurpose. You take ownership of your own life and will not blame others for your failures. This mindset will make you a perfect candidate for a coach.
A successful coaching relationship will develop the maturityof character and self-awareness in a person to achieve success in their own purpose and design.Coaching bridges the gap between what a person knows and what a person does. This happens on such a fundamentally deep level, that the person being coached will know the depth of their God-given design and purpose.
So why would I need a coach?
One of the most important aspects of leadership is self-development. If you are serious about developing yourself, you will also be serious about allowing someone to reveal your blind spots to you.
A coach will help you to overcome the not-so-obvious hurdles in your life that will hinder you from further movement and growth.
If you are serious about leadership, get a coach to help you develop.