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What Does a Coach Do?

October 7, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 7:46 am

I met  a potential new client today. He wasn’t looking for a career coach and I wasn’t exactly looking for him but our paths crossed and he asked what I did for a living. I told him I was a coach.

I should point out that ‘Nelson’ is a recent college graduate with a degree in criminal justice and was working at the kind of first job everyone gets. No relation to the field he wanted and no prospects for advancement. Naturally, he hated it.

I asked what he wanted to do and he rattled off a few possibilities but admitted he didn’t really know. At one time his goal was law school but he did poorly on the LSAT  (twice) and didn’t have any money to take it again, so he figured that wasn’t meant to be.

“So,” he said, “you don’t like, coach football? That’s the only kind of coach I know, but you don’t look like that kind of coach.” I had to laugh – if you’ve seen me you’re already laughing too – but I explained that I help people make decisions.

I tried to use an example he could identify with. “If you go home tonight and tell your dad you want quit, he’s gonna have 12 reasons why you shouldn’t and why your ideas about what you could do won’t work – probably because they didn’t work for him,” I told him.

But if you tell me,  a coach, I don’t offer an opinion, I just help you go through what it would take to get you to the goal you want. It’s up to you to decide what’s right, and any decision you make is the right one as long as you understand what it means.

He smiled, like he had already had the  conc0versation I described. and offered a few more ideas about what he might want to do, including a small business idea, getting an MBA and three or four other possibilities.

After 45 minutes we had taken cursory look at most of them and he said he had to leave but added, “That’s the first time I ever had a conversation like that with anyone, that was great.”

“So.” I said, “Now you know what a coach does.”

“Yeah,” he said taking a bunch of my business cards, “But when I call, I know I’m gonna have to pay you right?”

Maybe he doesn’t need that business degree.

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