One of my passions is to study the little differences that separate the good from the great, the amateurs from the pros, and the one-time winners from the legends. When I do this, I account for the things that are out of their control and focus on the things they habitually do to separate themselves from other competitors. I look for commonalities that cross all sectors of business, professional sports, the performing arts, and the elite military operators.
Recently, when I was watching the PGA championships, one of these difference makers jumped out at me. Why do all of these pro golfers have coaches? Aren’t they masters of their craft? Don’t they know much (if not all) of what these coaches are teaching them? Haven’t these golfers been playing this game since they were kids? What could coaches possibly offer these high performers? These questions rattled in my brain and intrigued me. After all, these pros already know the proper technique when it comes to swinging a club, which means there must be more to hiring a coach than gaining knowledge.
Maybe the problem is not a knowledge problem. Maybe it's more of problem with the application of knowledge (even simple knowledge) and the ability to apply this knowledge to the how, the why, and the when. This is exactly what great coaches do for great players. This coaching technique also holds true in the business world. While business schools may do an exceptional job of teaching the frameworks of business, we are seeing more and more of the best performers turn to coaches to stretch themselves and stay at the top of their game.
After 14 years of leading Tignum, I have definitely hit many obstacles and challenges along the way. Even as an expert in Sustainable High Performance, I have needed a coach to help me make adjustments, face the truth, rebuild my plans, and apply what I know when it matters most. When I look at our superstar clients (the ones who are true Sustainable High Performers, who maximize their impact, and push themselves further than they ever imagined both at work and at home), I notice their openness and acceptance of coaching. They realize that knowing something and being able to apply it on a consistent basis are quite different. In fact, I have met many extremely smart leaders who shook their head and acknowledged that they knew a lot about Sustainable High Performance but never applied a thing, never accepted any coaching, and, subsequently, never improved.
Whether it's a golf coach, a presentation coach, an executive coach, or a Sustainable High Performance coach, this is what I have seen great coaches do to make an impact:
_They hold your information with impeccable confidentiality to build the trust needed for you to be authentic and vulnerable.
_They bring empathy to every encounter with you because they truly care about you.
_They help you purposefully and consciously develop a self-image that will stretch you, so you can become the best you can be.
_They provide insight to you outside of your circle of comfort, which helps you see yourself accurately when it comes to your strengths, shortcomings, weaknesses, opportunities, and more.
_They recognize what you need and give it to you, whether it's a nudge, a push, a hug, or a look in the mirror.
_They meet you where you are, help you shape a clear vision of success, and efficiently help you identify how to connect these two.
_They adapt their methods and their style to what you need rather than the other way around.
_They are constantly learning and sharpening their skills to take you to even higher levels and give you unique insights.
_They help you transition from knowing to doing.
Excellence doesn’t happen by luck; it has to be a choice, and it must be developed by design. The world is complex and overwhelming at times. If you want to win, you have to stretch yourself. For this reason, beside almost every high performer is a great coach.
As always, I’d love to hear what you think.
By Jogi Rippel
Founder & Chief Executive Officer