Articulating my own philosophy has been an incredibly tough thing to do. It is a long and arduous process, and requires a lot of conscious effort, and it is never complete. As a coach evolves as a person, so too does their philosophy. But it is one of the most worthwhile things I have done as a coach. I think the whole process is summarised by this tweet:
As Dan Pfaff once said: "when under pressure, you coach the way you were coached." Unless you make a concentrated effort to reflect and become self-aware, you will always revert to the norm - coaching how you were coached.
It has taken me a long time to be comfortable in being myself. I don't have anything that I am not. I want to be authentic. Authenticity breeds authenticity.
I created a collection of slides that detail what I am about (above). A number of resources influenced me and my process of articulating my coaching philosophy:
- Presence, by Amy Cuddy - how to find your personal power.
- Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown - vulnerability is not weakness.
- Pete Carrol & Steve Kerr, Flying Coach Podcast Premiere Episode:
- Finding Mastery podcast: Pete Carroll and Michael Gervais on Living and Leading Authentically
- A personal favourite of mine has been Quiet, by Susan Cain. Introverts can behave like extroverts for causes they are passionate about, but extrovert behaviour must be balanced with restorative niches. This is a vital point for me. As a coach, I must be a chameleon:
do I need to bring the energy of the room up (the team is coming off a gut-wrenching loss);
do I need to keep players grounded so they work through the program with intent;
do I need to give a player space;
do I need to be a sounding board for a player.
- Understanding what the people in the room need requires a high emotional intelligence, which begins with empathy (Daniel Goleman - Emotional Intelligence).
This image is a visual of my philosophy, and the environment I want to create for people within it.
Based on the resources listed above, and the reflections I have done on my own experiences, my coaching philosophy is to Inspire Excellence. My two core values are inspire and excellence. Everyday I want to inspire people around me (players, and other support staff) to be excellent in what they do. While these are my two core values, these can be further broken down into other values important to me.
What am I trying to inspire? There are 3 things:
Confidence: I believe people perform best at any task when they are confident about what they are doing. I try to inspire confidence by catching people doing things well. A simple feedback framework: WWW EBI. What went well? Even better if?
Curiosity: Did I question myself? Did I create an environment where other people could question me? Did I try to understand? Life is more fun when you're curious.
Joy: Did players enjoy the challenges I set them? Did I enjoy coaching the players. People can only do their best work at things they enjoy. If people don't enjoy themselves, why would they come back?
Excellence, for me, is represented by two things:
Improvement: A relentless pursuit of improvement. Have I created an opportunity for a player to improve – asking a question to encourage reflection; delivering honest and fair feedback; set an attainable and realistic challenge? Have I cultivated a passion in the player to improve?
Authenticity: Excellence as someone else is not true excellence. Pretending to be someone you are not is tiring work, and it will catch up on you eventually. I want to be an authentic presence, and I want to create a safe and transparent environment so everyone else can be authentic. Authenticity breeds authenticity. Creating this safe environment requires empathy.
Also detailed in the above slides is the importance of the alignment between my behaviours and my values. When these are aligned, I am in a position of personal power, which I have defined as: having the ability to overcome my fears and inhibitions and express myself authentically.
I will sum up my philosophy with this poem by Marianne Williamson. It resonates with me massively, and it articulates my thoughts much better than I can.
These lines in particular, sum up what I am about:
"We are all meant to shine as children do... It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same, as we are liberated from our own fear. Our presence automatically liberates other."
Authenticity, breeds authenticity.