Coaching is not Motivation

Last week I spent time with a coach of a professional team. He came to my office and confessed that he realized that all the things he had learned and mastered in life were no longer enough to work with athletes almost 40 years younger than him in this world of constant connection and transparency. He made a decision that before the start of the new season, he was going to learn something new. My first question was what troubled him the most. His response? “I have great athletes who lack desire and hunger to succeed. How can I get them motivated?”

My response? Every minute he spent on the one or two players who needed to be motivated was time stolen from players who are motivated and need coaching. The kind of motivation that constantly creates a sense of hunger requires a substantive life experience often associated with emotional trauma. And unless he was willing to take his millionaire players to Afghanistan to fight for their lives and the liberty of others, this kind of motivation is almost impossible to instill. Motivation would be relegated to very short-term adrenaline-pumping highs, like a pre-game speech or video, and nothing more.

The same applies to work. I am certain there are people who work with you or for you that you wish had your drive, your work ethic, and your set of values. Many of these folks are positively ignorant–they simply don’t know any other way–no one took the time to coach them. And then there is a smaller group that simply does not care. Time spent on the latter is stealing from time for the former, whose lives and work performance could be significantly enhanced by you being a coach to them. This week, of the people around you who you have to work with, insert them in one of the two aforementioned buckets. And choose to invest your coaching time with the ones who want it.

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