Watching the coach?

Today, I was in a conversation with an associate of mine that caught my attention. He is training to do a form of kickboxing. After each time he would throw a punch or land a kick on the training bag, he would look over to his coach to get a visual response. After a while, his coach asked him about this. “Why do you look over at me each time you throw a punch or land a kick? Are you expecting some kind of approval from me?” The question made my friend think. It was because he wanted the approval. He wanted to know if he was doing it right. “Yeah. I guess so,” was his reply. In response, the coach said the following: “When you are out in the ring fighting, you aren’t going to be able to look over at me to see if you got it right. You have to feel it. Go by what you feel when you throw the punch or land the kick and then adjust your attack on your own. You have to be able to do it while you’re in the ring.”

That bit of advice caught me on the chin. With anyone we are responsible for, whether peers, direct reports, children, spouses or volunteers, we have to be able to give all that we have and then pull away and let them do the fight on their own. If we create a person who is so dependent upon us that they cannot make a decision for fear that we will disapprove or that we will constantly correct them, we do ourselves and our protégé a giant disservice. The best we can do as teachers, trainers, parents and mentors is to infuse all the wisdom and knowledge we posses into the lives of others and then be there if they fall or choose help. It doesn’t mean we don’t inspect what they are doing. People really do take more care of what you inspect versus what you expect. But it does mean that we have to not only instill knowledge and wisdom but also security and self-worth. The former without the latter creates a person that will forever be bound by their own lack and inhibitions. I don't know how you feel about this, but I think I owe a few people an apology.


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Bryan Hurlbut is the author of Making It Count: Putting meaning back in business and relationships. You can read this and many other topics like it in his book, Making It Count: Putting meaning back in business and relationships.

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