We’ve been sold the Hollywood image of a coach as a miracle worker, waving a magic wand that transforms the underdog into a champion by sheer force of will.
But a coach’s shout from the sidelines, no matter how strategic or impassioned, isn’t the potion that turns pumpkins into carriages or players into legends.
The Truth About Coaching
True coaching isn’t about dependency; it’s about development. It’s less about the coach-as-hero and more about the coach-as-guide.
The real work?
That’s on the player—the person being coached—who must grab the reins and drive forward.
A coach provides a map, but the player navigates the terrain.
Mistaking the map for the journey is where most go wrong. It’s easy to believe that having a coach means you’re on the right path, but without taking steps, the path is just a drawing, a hypothetical route.
What happens off the court, in the quiet moments without an audience, is where growth takes root.
You can’t hire someone to do your pushups for you.
Coaches can’t add hours to your day, inject ambition into your morning coffee, or dream for you at night.
Why Some Resist Coaching
Coaches can’t help those who won’t help themselves. It’s not that these players are uncoachable; it’s that they haven’t yet decided to be their motivator, their accountability partner.
They wait for the external—the coach’s plan, the team’s cheer, the accolades—to give them what can only come from within: the decision to act.
But for those ready to embrace it, accountability is the seed from which excellence grows. It’s the understanding that the voice of a coach is merely an echo of your commitments.
It’s recognizing that the responsibility for your growth never leaves your own hands or your own heart.
The Art of Self-coaching
Acknowledging that the true catalyst for change lies within, we pivot to the art of self-coaching. The best performers in any field have a common trait: self-drive, or ‘kusang palo,’ as beautifully phrased in Filipino, indicating the ability to self-motivate.
They aren’t merely passengers on their journey to greatness; they are the captains, charting their course with purposeful intent.
The high achievers know this secret: Clarity of purpose is the compass that guides them. They carve out pathways to their goals with precision, learning to execute strategies with greater finesse over time.
They use their coaches’ guidance not as a crutch but as a supplement to their relentless pursuit of excellence.
Listening to a coach, and absorbing their wisdom, is part of the process—yet the transformation is an inside job. It is a harmonious symphony where the coach’s voice is just one instrument in an orchestra led by the employee’s inner maestro.
Each piece of advice, each strategy session, becomes a note that resonates with the personal ambitions and hard-won self-knowledge of the individual.
We must look inward and ask ourselves how we can become the architects of our own destinies. This inward reflection allows us to harness the full potential of coaching, transforming it from an external input into an internal dialogue that steers us toward our true potential.
Steps to Becoming Your Coach
So you’re wondering, “How can I coach myself?” The answer lies in understanding that self-coaching is a skill, much like learning to play an instrument or write code.
It begins with tuning into your internal frequency—knowing what drives you, what your goals are, and the gaps between your current position and where you aspire to be.
Self-coaching demands self-discovery.
It starts with asking tough questions: What do I want to achieve? Why is it important to me? What has been keeping me from these goals? This line of inquiry sets the stage for a coaching dialogue with yourself.
Next, set clear, attainable goals.
These are your benchmarks for success, the metrics by which you’ll measure progress. It’s the step where dreams begin their transformation into plans and, eventually, reality.
Without a coach’s external feedback, you must develop an internal feedback loop. Track your progress, celebrate your wins, and reflect on the setbacks.
Be honest with yourself about where you’re excelling and where you’re merely showing up.
Remember, self-coaching doesn’t mean rejecting external input. Listen to your coaches, mentors, and peers, but filter their advice through your self-awareness.
Your goal isn’t to replicate their path but to forge your own with their insights lighting the way.
Make accountability a daily ritual. Commit to specific actions each day that align with your goals and hold yourself to them. If you falter, ask yourself what a coach would say, and then say it to yourself.
Be the voice that urges you on when the path gets steep.
Self-coaching is an ongoing process, not a destination.
It’s the steady drip of water on rock—the persistent, relentless effort that shapes your path forward. It’s the commitment to continuous learning and adaptation, the willingness to remain a student even as you become your teacher.
So, light that spark. Fan it into a flame with every action you take and every decision you make. Let it be the beacon that guides you through uncertainty and into the clear light of purposeful achievement. You have what it takes to be your coach—a reservoir of untapped potential waiting to be realized.
The Manager as a Catalyst
A manager pondering their role in an employee’s growth might consider the coach’s influence as only a fraction of the equation. But it’s a critical fraction.
While 90% of coaching might be self-driven, the remaining 10%—the part that’s in the manager’s hands—can significantly accelerate the learning curve.
Be the lever.
Think of yourself as a lever, where your 10% effort can amplify the force of your team’s 90%. Your role is not diminished by their self-coaching; it’s made more precise.
You’re there to introduce leverage at just the right moments, to help magnify their efforts and propel them toward their goals.
Create a culture of accountability.
Fostering a sense of accountability is about creating a culture where commitment to results is clear and shared by everyone.
This begins with setting an example. Be what you expect to see. When employees witness integrity in their leaders, they internalize those values, and their self-coaching is aligned with the organization’s direction.
Your guidance as a manager is the nudge that keeps momentum going. It’s also the nutrient that feeds their growth.
A timely word of advice or a shared resource can be the difference between stagnation and a breakthrough.
Empower with autonomy.
Give your team the autonomy to set their own goals and the responsibility to meet them. Autonomy fosters ownership, and ownership breeds accountability.
By giving your team the space to self-coach, you empower them to take charge of their performance and development.
Provide tools for success.
Remember, a good coach doesn’t just offer criticism or praise; they provide the tools for improvement. This can be training, time for strategic planning, or simply the permission to take a risk. Your role is to supply the resources your team needs to self-coach effectively.
The 10% That Makes 100% Possible.
So is your 10% less important? Far from it. It’s the part that makes the other 90% possible. Your influence is the rudder that helps steer their self-coaching journey. Without it, even the most self-motivated employee may drift off course.