If You’re Great, Don’t Be A Coach

By: Jay S. Levin

What to be a star? Learn to sing. Play guitar. Buy a Versace outfit.

Looking for a platform?

Coaching’s not your thing.

What to make a contribution? Find a charity. Looking to lead? Learn to tango.

Got mad skills, find a talent agent. Dying to help people, join the Peace Corp.

Coaching isn’t about us. We ain’t the subject. We ain’t Elvis. The person we’re in front of is.

What to be a coach? None of what you bring matters.

If you want to make a difference, you’ll fail as a coach. If you want to heal, you’ll fail as a coach. If clarifying and explaining a lot of things is what you’re good at – you’ll fail as a coach.

True coaching ain’t about what you bring it’s about what your subjects discover.

True coaching isn’t about what we can add. It’s about what we can uncover.

True coaching is about our knowledge it’s about what our subjects know.

True coaching is about what you have to teach, it’s about what our subject can learn from themselves.

Got what it takes to be a great coach?

Theory. Sound advice. Industry specific knowledge. Business acumen. Management competencies. Conceptual thinking. Analytics. Planning. Organization. Problem solving ability. Negotiation skills. Decision making expertise. Goal achievement. Presenting skills. Leadership. Analysis of data. Competitiveness. Urgency.

None of that matters.

What’s of value is keen insight, practical and common sense thinking, empathy, creativity, listening skills, curiosity, dynamically positive attitude, self-awareness, self-acceptance.

Coaching is for those of us who’ve learned to value our own values and don’t need any longer to push or promote them onto anyone else.

If what you’re doing as a coach is focused more on you than your subject you’ll never be a great coach. You may have slobbering dependent clients that need you more and more but you’ll never make it as a real coach.

Great coaching is us getting out of the way. Coaching is listening. Its empowering Sounds shallow. Reads like a bumper sticker. But it’s true.

Coaching is a relationship based on the trust that comes as the result of listening.  There are only two things to listen to. Your subject. And your intent.

The more you listen to and recognizing your intent the better you’ll be as a coach. The more you listen to your subject the better you’ll become as a coach.

Recognizing our intent, keeps us honest. Continually questioning our intent brings us back to our neutrality. Our neutrality impacts how we are with others.  The more neutral we are the more effective we can become. The more effective we become the less we become the focus and the more others get to be.

The more we grow our in our practice of neutrality the more our subjects grow.  The more their style, their approach, their ability, their confidence, their insights . . . grow. It’s organic.

A practice I recommend for those want to be great coaches is to exercise the practice of  “Neti, Neti.” “Neti, Neti” means “Not this, Not that.” It’s an ancient practice stemming from Yogic and Vendantic wisdom.

Practicing “Neti, Neti” while looking around us, especially when tempted to throw ourselves and what we know into a coaching situation can help us remove ourselves and our biases from the picture – so our subject can see their picture more clearly for themselves.

What does success in this practice look like? It looks exactly like what success as a coach looks like. Our subjects become free from their dependence on us and others and more independently capable contributors on their own.

For those of us with mad skills and insane crazy experience with strong drives to make something happen, and be great along the way – be a teacher, start a start-up, become a healer, or a Guru, or both, be a master magician, go on Dancing With The Stars.

Just, please don’t be a coach!

Jay has over 35+ years experience increasing productivity, profitability and advancing careers through cooperation. You can find Jay S. Levin by visiting his website www.JayStevenLevin.com or Email: jay@jaystevenlevin.com or Phone: 951-235-1102

One thought on “If You’re Great, Don’t Be A Coach

  1. So enjoyed this post, Jay. I really agree with you: the biggest barrier I see newbie coaches struggling with is the desire to know the answer, to be the expert, to talk too much, and as you say, “getting in the way.”

    If you don’t mind me saying, I had to read several bits of your article twice, as there are quite a few typos. You say, for instance: “true coaching is about what you have to teach” when you mean “isn’t”.

    Hope that helps.


    PS I am resisting the temptation to point out the typos line by line!

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