The term "coach" has become a buzzword these days. There are life coaches, health coaches, sales coaches and others. People seem to want someone to "coach" them. However, I believe what people are really wanting is a cheerleader.
In the realm of "personal development" people want to be told, "You can do it! I'm rooting for you." Cheerleaders tend to offer praise before goal is reached, in hopes of inspiring the players, crowd, etc. to reach the goal. Coaching isn't quite the same.
When I played football in high school, I had a coach named Sam Ford. He was loud, mean and condescending.
Coach Ford referred to the football field as "his" and you had to earn the right to be on "his football field." He would put us through torturous drills without one word of encouragement — or so we thought.
Not afraid of confrontation, Coach Ford would often grab a player by the facemask and get right in their face when a mistake is made, or to emphasize a point.
In all fairness, Coach Ford was not all about "negative reinforcement." In fact, he offered praise with an equal amount of enthusiasm. "That's what I am talking about!" he would often exclaim after a good play.
However, the praise was definitely earned. It was not given in hopes that someone would step up, do their job and reach their goal. When a player was praised, it was a special thing.
At the time, nearly everyone on the team respectfully feared the coach. In retrospect, we know he was pushing us to be better than we were _ and better than we thought we could be.
I have witnessed numerous practices of various sports teams over the years. I have heard loud coaches and soft-spoken coaches. While their methods may be varied, one would never confuse them with a cheerleader.
As we in business "coach" our teams, it is important to know the difference between coaching and cheerleading.
When your team needs a coach, don't show up as a cheerleader.
I don't know everything, but neither do you
When I was in junior high school, one of my best friends had a shirt with the words "Know It All" really large. A closer look revealed the following sentence: "People who think they know it all particularly annoy those of us who do."
While funny, the statement is often reflected in the attitudes of many. They come across as if there is nothing you can say or do that can add one ounce of improvement to their knowledge or life. If we are not careful, we can become this person as well.
When I was in advertising sales full time, I came across a client who was quick to point out he had a college marketing degree. His condescending attitude really got under my skin. After all, I was there to do my job and I had done my homework on his business.
Because of a closed mind, this potential client missed out on the opportunity to learn something new. He missed out on a "free" consultation from someone with a different perspective. Sure, I was there to sell him something — eventually. But I was also there to help his business the very best I could.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. I vowed to never allow myself to think so highly of myself that I would be unwilling to learn from others.
That day, I learned about wisdom. Something a "know-it-all" will never know.
David Specht Jr. is Vice President of Specht Newspapers, Inc. and Publisher of the Bossier Press-Tribune. View his blog at www.DavidASpecht.com.