The following is a guest post by Erica Saint Clair of journalMENU:
As a coach, you likely have a multitude of plaques on your walls displaying a variety of certifications – but thin, slightly wrinkled, pieces of paper behind plastic stuck up on a wall do not make you a great coach.
They certainly make you marketable, and bring clients in the door.
They show that you know your stuff. They show that you know how to setup for a clean, the most efficient way to snatch, and how to keep me safe when I deadlift. They show that you have studied the art of kettlebells, CrossFit, nutrition, or any of the thousands of other areas you can learn about.
Those little pieces of paper tell me that you are dedicated, and that you have spent countless hours with the top professionals from a variety of fields to better yourself and your gym.
They make you a good coach. But they don’t make you a great coach.
To be a great coach you must inspire me.
Inspiring me is not easy. It’s not something that you can get a certification for. Inspiring me is not something that you can learn in a day, or a week, or a year of education. Inspiring me is not something that you can ever tangibly post on your walls. There is no cert or level you can attain, no place you can go to to pay for a course. Yet, inspiring me is essential.
You must inspire me to show up, to give it my all. You must inspire me to see the long game, and not get down due to the seemingly invisible gains I am currently making. You must inspire me to care more about my safety than the amount of iron on the bar, to check my ego at the door and to focus on being stronger and healthier than I was yesterday.
Essentially, you must inspire me to lift with better form, to run faster, to eat better, to live healthier and to want to pursue those goals. That is a heavy load to bear. You might think all of this is unimportant, that I should want it and be motivated without you – but to be great, you must overcome that delusion. You must inspire me.
So how can you inspire me? It’s pretty easy actually – you just have to believe in me.
You have to truly, honestly believe in me. Not just to my face, and not just when I’m in the gym with a barbell in hand. You have to believe in me behind my back, to the other coaches and members. You have to believe in me within yourself, to search for the potential you know is there, and use your vast knowledge to prove to me that it exists.
Little extras can go a long way. Posting up famous quotes on your walls, so I can be reminded every day that “practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good, it’s the thing you do that makes you good.” So that I can live to “shut up and train.” So that I will strive to “hit the wall and tear it down.” So that I will understand that “first you fuel the desire, then the desire will fuel you.”
You can paint a wall with Idea Paint so that everyone can write up their goals or leave little notes for friends telling them to kick ass. You could even write down the current gym records and especially celebrate member PRs (everyone loves to be recognized when they finally get a skill or a lift).
Maybe I need to be screamed at in the middle of my workout to really put myself out there, to push myself to the point of collapse after the last rep. Maybe I need your silence as I try to put together all the technique pointers you just gave me. Maybe I need a few reps to try it out before getting a litany of new pointers (or repeated ones). Maybe I need you to build me up, because today I’m down in the dumps.
I will probably need something different every day. In fact, all of your members will need something different everyday. As a coach, to be great, it is your responsibility to figure out what each of us needs, and give it to us, be it the cold hard truth, a swift kick in the ass, or a bit of sugar coating. It is part of being a leader to figure out how you can apply those gentle coaxes or perfectly timed swear words.
Becoming an inspiration to me can be learned, just as performing a proper jerk can be learned. Both are skills that can be honed, and it is a skill that is slightly different for each coach and each athlete.
You can skip all of this and be a good, knowledgeable, heavily certified coach. But to be great? To be great you must inspire me.