The Consequence Of Experience

Doctors differ, and patients die. Careers and businesses die too, so choose your mentor wisely. Here’s briefly what I’ve learned…

Image of a mentor and his student for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Doctors differ, and patients die. Careers and businesses die too, so choose your mentor wisely. Here’s briefly what I’ve learned…

A couple of years ago I was taking part in an endurance running coaching program with AAI. The content was good, but nothing I hadn’t been previously exposed to as a runner. I had just come off the back of an intense period of endurance running, and I was entertaining the idea of coaching other runners for a living. The course felt like the appropriate next step.

We got started and had our introduction to the day’s work, but soon it was clear there was a problem. Although the coach delivering the program was level three and employed by Athletics Ireland, he couldn’t provide basic instruction.

He was visibly out of shape and couldn’t perform any of the drills. In fact, he almost fell over attempting a lunge. So instead, he brought his crappy laptop to the track and played a video of the routine.

This is bloody pathetic, I thought.

Most attendees were beginners maybe covering 5k or 10k once per week and were getting involved in coaching at their local club for the first time. Perhaps it didn’t matter too much to them that this coach couldn’t walk the walk, but it mattered to me.

If this was the standard of coaching that talented young athletes were being exposed to in AI then no wonder we perform so poorly at an adult level on the world stage.

This guy was a joker as far as I was concerned. I was pissed off. I expected more.

In commercial circles I have found the same — blokes who regard themselves as business coaches who inevitably come up short. They have the lingo and they have the suit, but they don’t have the experience. “Bullshitters” as my father would call them.

The ones I met in my time in business were nice blokes, I liked them on a personal level, but they had never been where I was nor felt what I felt. Yet there I was, handing them €1200 per month that I couldn’t afford for poor or no advice at all.

What a dope I was.

“The teacher must adopt the role of facilitator not content provider.” ― Lev S. Vygotsky, Psychologist

Great athletes or business people don’t necessarily make great coaches, and neither do poor ones. I honestly don’t know what makes a great coach — it’s likely many things. But if you’re tasked with coaching novices in any field, then you must be at least able to share your experience and impart the real knowledge, not just information.

I’m talking about real-world, down-and-dirty experience here, not content consumed at a weekend seminar. Any dope can share information. It is the practical application of that information that counts.

If they have wrinkles and talk low, if they move around in the background and are unassuming, and if they say little and it travels far, then it’s likely they are worth getting to know.

On the contrary, if you feel like you're getting the hard sell, say, for example, from a well-branded coach, then you probably are. Any coach or mentor worth their salt need not strain to convince you.

You’ll know already.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters