Saturday, November 27, 2004

Why Coaching

Why Coaching

An important fact I thought I knew, but realized I didn't really know, hit home on a cold, rainy Saturday morning in a store this morning.

I've been fighting a nagging achillies tendon problem for the past several weeks that has hampered my morning runs. Since the tendon only flared up after I bought new shoes in mid-October, I thought the footwear may be the culprit. So, I went to Athletic Annex with the express purpose of having a trained shoe fitter try to figure out what my feet were doing and getting me in a more appropriate running shoe.

There I met Margaret, an experienced runner and sales professional. She sat and listened, asked a number of useful questions and pondered my situation. Only then, did she start to think about which shoe I might need. Pair after pair came out. We laced and talked and looked.

But the key was when she took me outside and set me off to run down the 40 yard long covered porch along the strip mall where the store was located. She stood, arms crossed, pondering my gait, as I lumbered down and back with each pair of shoes. "Those make you roll in." "Those are awful." "Those work."

Why was this important? And why do I bore you with this drivel? Here's the deal:

I can't watch myself run. I'm busy running. I can't see my feet, how they hit the ground, what my ankles and knees do as I'm going downt he road. I needed another person, another qualified person, to watch me run. Only then could I begin to understand what was really going on.

I can't watch myself lead a kaizen event. I can't watch myself do a performance review. I can't watch myself leading an operations meeting. Why?? Because I'm busy leading the kaizen, the performance review, the ops meeting. I have to "keep my eye on the road." And while I can do a self-critique at the end, I will miss many things. I need someone else to watch and then tell me what she/he sees. Self-diagnosis doesn't always work. Ask my wife.

I need a coach to watch me do my job, just as I needed Margaret to watch me run. But not just anyone. A non-runner, a non-trained person would understand the interaction of shoe fit with pronation, arch height and gait on my ability to run injury-free. A non-lean person won't be able to understand how a kaizen event should run, or how I should approach an ops meeting.

And it isn't easy to find such a person. And it isn't easy to figure out how to pay such a coach. And it isn't easy to submit oneself to another's teaching, as I submitted myself to Margaret's expertise. And I sure don't have it figued it out. Yet this is important if I'm serious about developing genuine expertise. It is important for you too.

I'd welcome your input. And I hope you find this helpful as you seek to improve your own skills.

Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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