Hockey color commentator Don Cherry makes coaching look easy. In fact, he makes it look so easy, I’ve decided to add one-on-one lifestyle and career coaching services to my home office business menu. I mean really, how hard can it be?
I’ve got the prerequisite equipment (whistle, baseball cap and at least 3 over-sized, musty sweatshirts). I’ve got the experience (I regularly coach other drivers on how they could improve their driving skills and I taught my dog how to shake his paw). I’m an excellent listener (unless you ask my spouse, family or most of my friends). And I’ve got loads of passion (for telling other people how they can improve their lives by following my sage words of advice).
To test drive my skills, I started out by coaching my friends. At first, (while I still had friends) this was great fun. Completely unsolicited, I cheerfully shared my worldly insights and astute observations. For example, “Why don’t you stop smoking, drop some weight and get a real job?”, “You know, I think you’d feel a lot better about yourself if you lowered your expectations” or “If you want my advice while it’s still free, I think hair-replacement products have come a long way in the last few years.”
After months of offering my “little-life-nuggets” (as I so cutely called them) I realized that part of a coach’s job is to motivate their ‘coachees’ on an on-going basis. The real key to success was to become my clients’ own, 24/7, pocket-sized Anthony Robbins (not an easy task, Anthony Robbins is well over 8 feet tall). This required some subtle, ingenious techniques. Since many people now have call display, phoning at all hours of the night was only effective the first few weeks. That’s when I moved on to cyber-coaching (also called cyber-stalking) – sending a continual barrage of e-mail messages designed to keep my coachees pumped and primed. With a little technological help, I was able to send flashing messages like “HEY – HOW’S THE CAREER PLANNING GOING?” or “TODAY IS THE DAY BEFORE TOMORROW – THINK ABOUT IT!” or “IF AT FIRST YOU SUCCEED. . . YOU’LL HAVE A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. SHOW ME YOUR PAIN!”
If your clients change e-mail addresses, as most of mine did, then an entirely different tact is required. Your job, as a coach, is to show the client that they cannot hide from their challenges (or you) forever. An effective way to remind them of this is to continually pop up where they’d least expect it. Arriving behind them in the line up at the cafeteria just in time to whisper, “You’re not going to order gravy with those fries, are you?” can be just the thing to scare them into making those lifestyle changes they desperately need to make. Likewise, pulling up alongside them at a downtown intersection and offering them a knowing smile and subtle head nod sends the message, “I know what you’re up to – and it has to stop.” And popping up from under the meeting table at their job with a well-timed, “How long are you going to keep taking this from your boss?” is an easy way to remind them that you care.
One last point worth mentioning. Often your clients will try and turn the tables around, believing, for some warped reason, that, as their coach, you should be modeling the behavior you expect to see in them. How absurd is this? “Modeling” has become one of those new-age terms designed to let people off the hook from taking responsibility for their own inaction. If a client tries this tact with you, all that is required is a firm reminder: “We’re here to talk about your miserable existence, not mine.” Remember, your clients are a lot like children (or puppies).
Don Cherry summed it up best when he said, “Coaching ain’t rocket surgery.” So if you follow my simple advice, you too will be well on your way to a new lucrative career coaching anyone (even rocket surgeons). And if you don’t follow my advice, don’t be surprised if I show up behind you in a back alley some dark and stormy night . . .
Copyright Michael Kerr. Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, trainer, and author of six books, including Inspiring Workplaces and The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. www.HumoratWork.com
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