Seeking the Coaching Sweet Spot

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There’s a funny aspect of coaching where you need to strike a balance between your involvement and your objectivity.  I think the best coaches are driven by a passion to make those they have the privilege of working with better, but they then need to take the proper steps back not to let their own desires become the focus.  That’s a little bit of the secret sauce of it all, really.  You are trusted with being the steward of your trainee’s talent and desires.  To use a legal concept (because why the hell not), you are like the executor and manager of a trust – you have a good faith obligation to what has been entrusted to you.

And trust is such a perfect word and concept because it hits the dual-meaning of duty and also that you are entrusted with the faith your trainee placed in you.

This takes on a new level if the trainee/athlete/student is personally very close to you. The thing that drives you as a coach adds in a new, very strong variable of that relationship… which can be good and bad.  Good in that you are even more committed than usual to a great end result, but bad if… again… the objectivity is lost or the desired end state of your trainee gets steamrolled.

I just started working with my oldest nephew just over 2 weeks ago to really get him weight training for the first time.  He did a little bit in fits and starts with the high school baseball team this past year, but this is his first foray into a structured and very consistent program.  I had my own coach work this up for him as I guide him through it.

Each session we’ve had is a learning experience for both of us.  For him, he is seeing what a well-thought out program of strength, power, mobility, movement prep and conditioning looks like.  For me, I’m seeing what it means to consistently coach someone else on all aspects of strength & conditioning and figuring out how to do this for what he wants… not what Uncle Kevin wants.

It’s essentially a twist on the baseball coaching I’ve done with my 2 oldest nephews for the last 8 or 9 years.  The difference here is in baseball, it’s balanced by the need to focus on all the players.  In this case?  It’s one-on-one.  It would be easy to get all out of sorts and take every bit of how each session goes overly personally.

So what to do?  How to find the magic point in all of this between passion and objectivity?  I think for the near future (and maybe longer), it’s going to be fairly simple: focus on getting my nephew to enjoy the whole process.  That’s honestly it – if I make that my success criteria, the rest of the details will take care of themselves.  Progress will be made and progress, my friends, is the great hook of hooks.

Sometimes your best course of action as a coach is to get out of your own way, stop spending so much time overthinking every nuance with your trainee and just let their enjoyment be the guide.  And maybe you’ll have a little fun more coaching fun in the process too.

Big Leaps, Little Leaps and All Kinds in Between

Themes sometimes run through my mind and because of that, they also end up on this blog.  The post I had from Friday was all about the Global Corporate Challenge and how, despite my initial snobbery at the notion of 10,000 steps a day making any kind of difference to super-fantastic and ridiculously awesome ME… well, I am finding benefits in spite of myself.  Go figure.  Well, that theme of steps continues today on this beautiful Sunday over the Memorial Day weekend.

It’s obvious that my interest in health, fitness, exercise and diet exceeds being just a hobby for me – it’s something I feel strongly about both from the standpoint that far too many people seem to neglect the gift of their health and also because of the unbelievable carry-over to other parts of your life you get from being active and healthy.  That’s one of the biggest themes of this blog – how the elements of mind, body and spirit interplay with each other and bring transformative benefits to each other.  A strong body can give you confidence.  A determined spirit can push you through in the gym.  A sharp mind will allow you to think through problems that would otherwise stress you into a bad physical state.  You get the idea.

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So yesterday I decided to take a leap, the length of which I leave to you, gentle reader, to decide upon.  I dropped a decent chunk of cash for all of the study materials I would need to prepare for the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.  The CSCS is considered one of the most respected certifications if you are interested in working with and training athletes.  There are equivalents for personal training as well, but this was the one that jumped out at me most because of its reputation and because of my own personal belief that you can taking the specialized training of an athlete and adapt it to the general population (provided you don’t act like a complete lunkhead and assume a 53 year old business executive wants to play middle linebacker for a NCAA Division 1 football program).

All of this was a bit inspired by some e-mails and comments I’ve been going back and forth with the author of the blog, SlackerMom. Jessica has recently take the leap from the big law firm world into being a massage therapist and has been documenting a lot of her process of working through that on her blog (which is very good – I recommend).  In one of our notes back and forth, she talked about how she needed to make some firm steps in order to get herself going towards her own goals – they didn’t need to be massive steps, but there had to be some definitive action with sacrifice and consequences.

I had been thinking over ordering the CSCS study materials for quite a while decided to get off my lazy behind to do it yesterday.  So I dropped a bit of a chunk of cash and the training manual, audio CDs, practice tests and all of that good, happy fun should be arriving soon.

The larger question is what I will end up doing with all of this… well, besides the obvious of studying for and, hopefully, gaining my CSCS certification.  Assuming I get it… then what?  Truthfully, I don’t have an answer to that just yet, but it feels like the right step for me on a few levels.  First, I just find this stuff interesting and want to truly learn it.  Back in college, I was so freaking grade focused, I occasionally wonder what I would have really learned if I was a little more concerned about the process of understanding and absorbing what I studied as opposed to a jazzy report card with lots of A’s all over it.  Second, maybe I will end up training people one day in some context.  I can’t tell you the date or time of this, but it feels like something I will explore soon.  It might only be to help along some friends and family and that really may be more than enough, but I’ll never know how much I like it until I start doing it in earnest… so why not be as best-prepared for that as possible?

So, yet again, my own personal ego is foiled and that’s probably a good thing.  Friday was about admitting via YouTube that I don’t have all the answers and even counting your daily steps has unexpected benefits.  Yesterday and today were about thinking through how to continue the steps and movement towards something positive and having a chance to learn and grow a bit (God forbid).  And that’s my “leap” of the weekend.  It’s not exactly some kind of massive sea change… but as I keep coming to realize… the small, but consistent steps, truly do add up.


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I’ve noticed a few things over the years.  One or two observations on the human condition.

We, as human beings, are inherently flawed.

We are capable of unspeakable cruelty.

We hurt the ones we love the most.

We can be foolish.

We can be ignorant.

We can be cold and unfeeling.

We can be lazy and uninspired.

We make the same mistakes over and over and over again.


We have a capacity for overwhelming kindness, especially in the face of adversity.

We can love to a depth that humbles the receiver of that affection.

We can be completely thoughtful and considerate.

We can be connected and empathetic and understanding.

We can reach out to others with warmth and peace.

We reach dizzying heights of creativity, innovation and utter brilliance.

We can learn and learn well.

In spite of all the ills we are capable of, I focus on the good we can do.  The human mind, heart and spirit soldier_and_child1241048146

Our flaws serve to make our goodness shine by comparison, like a bright white image against a stark black background… and I believe we do well much more often than we do ill.  That’s my philosophy and what keeps me going every single day.  It’s easy to see the problems every day, but if you think of the simple interactions with most people on most days?  The good is there and I place my focus on that.

It’s why my blog tagline is “Relentlessly push yourself forward”… so that’s what I do… the best I can.

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