Coaching: What Is It? The Answer Ignites Personal Growth

Ken Collins

A lot of people come to me curious about professional coaching sessions, but are afraid to dig deeply; concerned it’s a form of counseling. I had similar perceptions and completely understand this type of apprehension. That is, until you discover the power of asking questions. There is the common fear of asking a “dumb” question. However, the answers to our questions bring us the most joy and personal growth.

I will provide some insight to answer the question: “What is coaching?”

The origins of coaching and its roots come from the world of sports. Most sports coaches are experienced tacticians. They utilize experience and knowledge to improve players. The sporting environment assumes the coach is used to doing things in the best way possible. Unintentionally, coaching approaches players as empty vessels devoid of knowing what’s best at any given moment.

The difference between training, mentoring, and coaching:

• When a person is sharing information, they are teaching or training.
• When a person is sharing their experience, they are mentoring.
• When a person is asking open, explorative questions and listening deeply, they are coaching.

Coaching looks at a person’s potential, rather than performance. Instead of being directed, coaching sources your own answers by asking simple, direct questions that generate self reflection, self evaluation, and makes individuals curious about themselves.

Let’s bring it all together by looking no farther than Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

Packers on field

Training (facilitating content and proven techniques) camp is a time for fundamentals with the quarterbacks coach, such as foot, arm, and ball position to generate quick release. It’s also for working on timing with receivers, learning new plays from the playbook, etc.

Mentoring (or sharing of past experience) is the week of preparation for the next opponent. Studying game film and tendencies from previously played games against them. Scouting reports are reviewed from previously played games this season.

Coaching takes place on game day and it’s not so much the play call in the huddle. It’s the “out of the pocket” decisions after the play breaks down. It’s the review of formations photographed throughout the game. It’s the audible at the line of scrimmage after surveying the defense. In the end, it’s allowing Aaron Rodgers to be Aaron Rodgers and his utilizing the unique talents he possesses to be an MVP-caliber player.

True coaching is what Aaron does best. Do you — for one second — think the head coach is communicating in the helmet headset of Aaron Rodgers; telling him exactly every decision while the play unfolds. No.

What does this mean to me? Coaching is creating self awareness; empowering others to take action and ownership in the way that suits them best, while at the same time transferring accountability to the individual for the desired outcome; regardless of how you get there. For Aaron Rodgers the outcomes on game day are first downs, field goals, touchdowns, and ultimately, victory!!

The same process can bring greater success to your business.

By Ken Collins
Ken Collins is principal at ABC member Ken Collins Coaching, LLC. Learn more at

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