One of the three guiding principles in the Excellence in Training philosophy is, “It is not about you.” This is also part of the Dare to Be Great Leadership workshops. The message is that as a leader, coach, trainer, or mentor it cannot be about you. It must be about the people you have the privilege and honor of teaching, coaching, mentoring and leading. Some trainers get this right away and for others it takes time to learn this important lesson.
In an episode of The Unfair Advantage podcast host Alex Auerbach asked his guest Dan Abrahams this question at the end of the interview, “If you were going to pick one concept for coaches to dive into right now that would enhance their performance as a coach what would you suggest they look into and why?”
Dan Abrahams’ answer was, “Self-Skills: Self-awareness, self-control, self-reflection, and self-development. Why? Because it starts with you. Because player experience starts with you. Because player participation, progression and performance starts with you the coach. That’s not to attribute blame on coaches for everything. I am not saying that, but their experience starts with you.”
“Their experience starts with you.” Reflect on that for a moment. Think back to your own experiences in training and the impact of the coach / trainer on those experiences.
How would you rate yourself on the ‘Self Skills’? How self-aware are you of your language and actions as a trainer and the impact those might have on the people you teach, train, coach, and mentor? How is your self-control when people ask difficult questions, challenge the way you are delivering training, question or challenge the content, or ask ‘why’? When was the last time you engaged in the hard work of self-reflection? What do you do on a regular (daily, weekly, and monthly) basis towards self-development?
What you do as a coach and trainer is too important for you not to be willing to put in the work. That work takes place before, after and during the training. It requires reading, listening, and continually seeking to find more effective ways to deliver your material and help people learn. It requires all the ‘Self-Skills’ that sport psychologist Dan Abrahams talked about.
Part of that work is getting mentally prepared to teach before every session. This is the same as a high-performance athlete getting their head in the right space before the game. I spoke with a training academy commander at a conference recently who told me that he and his people walked out on a class on ‘improving your training’ in the first few minutes. He explained that the very experienced, and highly regarded, instructor walked in right before the 8:00 a.m. start time never having checked their AV to make sure everything was working and made a comment to the effect, “8:00 a.m. is way too early for me to have to teach so let’s just start with an icebreaker.” He was so put off by that first impression that he and his people left and went to a different class. In this case they had other options and the ability to walk out and go to a different class. What if that was not the case. What if they were forced to sit through the training. What would that experience have been like for them. As an instructor / trainer / coach / teacher you are not there for you, you are there for the participants. You have a responsibility to them to provide the best possible training experience, and that starts with you.
Being effective as a coach or trainer is not just about showing up. I don’t care how long you have been doing this you need to put in the time and energy to prepare. If you are just going to show up and wing it because you have taught this material hundreds of times before, then get out of the business of training.
Always keep in mind that it is not about you, but it starts with you.
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