From coach to coach

Currently, I live and work in Tucson, Arizona. Prior to life in the desert, I lived in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. While this is not an article about fitness or best places to live, I’d like to use different training styles from coast to coast to make a point.  

My preferred fitness workout is in a class with the instructor yelling at me to “push harder.” I thrive on the energy of the people around me pushing equally as hard past what they believe are their limits. I know I’d never do an extra pushup through the pain threshold if not for someone else counting loudly, telling me, “Gimme just five more!” I laughed when a close friend who swims daily for her workout tells me she would never want someone yelling at her in a class. She’d never go back. I love that we are all motivated differently.

On the coasts, class instructors tend to push you, ask more of you. As a matter of personal responsibility, we each should enter any game understanding our bodies, physical limitations and injuries, and proceed accordingly. My experience for the most part in Tucson is it is a rare instructor that coaches me from the stage to go beyond what I think I am capable of. They demonstrate less strenuous options, which I suppose is good, but how do you get to the next level when you are constantly coached to stay in what’s familiar? It is a style I can work around, but not what I prefer. As a city, Tucson is less “Type A” than my haunts on either coast. That has its benefits, but I have never seen a successful team that didn’t have a coach to get people to bust past their comfort zone.

I am using the fitness analogy to distinguish that different people respond differently to just one style of coaching. It’s not one size fits all. Obviously, working out differs in one key area from working. At my club, I can opt out of classes or instructors that don’t interest me. Sometimes while I am thinking I really don’t want to work out (most days), I tell myself just put your gym clothes on, get there, walk in, get on the treadmill or walk toward the class, and if you don’t want to do it, I’ll give you a pass. Nine out of 10 times, I participate. It’s not that way with work. You are contracted to show up.

My friend and I already have the commitment inside us to be physically fit, and we require different coaching to bring out our best. You could say the difference between good and great employees is the coach. If you’ve hired well, most employees already have the seed for excellence inside them. It’s up to the coach to provide the environment for that seed to flourish. Ultimately, seeds — like people — thrive on caring, a committed source of inspiration and love of the game. After that, it’s personal.