This is a guest blog by Mickey Addison, MSCE, PMP
I’ve been an athlete all my life. I started soccer at age 6, baseball at age 8, and I lettered in both football and track in high school. Attending a senior military college and then entering the Air Force afterward meant intramural sports, physical training, and annual physical fitness tests from the age of 18 until my retirement from the service in 2017. Of course, we lead active lives in our house as well: hiking, cycling, CrossFit, surfing. Well, you get the idea. I’m not a couch potato.
The reason for that self-absorbed preamble is to establish that at 55 years, I’m not a novice to physical fitness or the gym — and despite all that experience, I STILL need a coach!
Successful People Are Lifelong Learners
Several of my CrossFit coaches at New Braunfels CrossFit embody this idea. In my last job, my commute and work schedule combined to prevent me from going to a CrossFit “box” (gym), so I worked out on my own. Sure enough, working out with no coaching and no partner to provide some accountability meant I’ve developed many bad habits. That’s where Coach Kaelin comes in. She’s there to correct, guide, and encourage — exactly what a coach should do. I can go out and work hard on my own, sweat, and stay in shape. If I want to improve, however, I need Coach Kaelin.
As I discuss in my book, “The Five Be’s,” a key part of being healthy and successful is nourishing our minds — and that means being a lifelong learner. Learning requires a teacher, and putting thought into practice requires a coach. You can make a lot of progress watching YouTube videos and practicing on your own, but if you really want to improve, then consider seeking out a coach! One of the defining characteristics of successful people is being in “learning mode” their entire lives. President Bush (43), for example, was a voracious reader who consumed 95 books during his first year as president, and after he left office learned to paint!
What Makes a Great Coach
A great coach has three defining characteristics: (1) Technical Mastery, (2) Ability to Motivate, and (3) Patience. Technical Mastery is essential because a coach must have something to give; we expect our coaches to be experts. Technical Mastery is not enough, however, because the coach must be able to motivate the student and then patiently guide the improvement. There are many people out there with one or two of these characteristics — great coaches possess all three!
When looking for a coach, whether it’s athletics, speaking, or executive leadership, look for someone who is an expert and who can walk with you as you learn. Just as I need a coach to break my bad CrossFit habits, we all need people in our lives who can hold us accountable and make us better. A good coach imparts knowledge; a great coach inspires you to be better.
For engineers, having a coach is crucial. The successful practice of engineering is much more than merely knowing the science. There’s the art of communication with clients, team building and leadership, the techniques of design, and hard lessons learned on the job site. Our coaches and mentors allow us the ability to grow and benefit from their experience. Just like working out on your own, you can be successful. It’s a much faster path to success if you have a coach. To Be Balanced, you must nourish your mind and be a lifelong learner. Desire and hard work will only get you so far — to really improve, you’ll need a coach.
About the Author
Mickey Addison, MSCE, PMP is an expert in leadership and organizational change. During his 30-year US Air Force career, Mickey commanded thousands of Airmen, managed portfolios worth billions of dollars, and worked with military, civil, and industry officials around the world. Mickey now works with clients around the country to improve performance and help organizational transformation. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the Eisenhower School at National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Mickey is the author of eight books, including “Leading Leaders: Inspiring, Empowering, and Motivating Teams,” “Mickey’s Rules for Leaders,” and “The Five Be’s: A Straightforward Guide to Life.”
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share about why you think you might need a coach.
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To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success