by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
There is a grand paradox in coaching.
Y’see, the nature of coaching is that we are surrounded by people.
Yet the paradox of coaching is we can feel as isolated as that poor fellow stranded on Mars.
That isolation comes in three flavors.
Onliness is the feeling of isolation because what we do is unique.
No one else is doing exactly what you are doing. Of course, there are millions of coaches. Yet not one of them is
- coaching your team
- in your location
- with your life
You are unique in who you are, how you think, and how you coach.
Do remember when you saw the potential in that struggling athlete, that no one else saw? You used your unique insight. That is onliness.
Loneliness is the isolation one feels due to the nature of leading.
A decision that didn’t work, disciplining a team member, calling for fatiguing workouts — those separate us from others. Because you lead, that often means you are alone. I call it the insane loneliness of coaching sports.
Do you remember Pete Carroll, the moment after the play in the Super Bowl failed? Even though he was in front of millions of eyes and surrounded by his team, he was alone. That is loneliness.
Solitude is a different form of isolation.
We often need solitude when it is time to think, to reflect, to rejuvenate.
Barbara de Angelis said, “Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” Could the same can be said of coaches? I think so.
Remember the time you had to get away from the noise and business of coaching? Take a break to clear your head? That is solitude.
Action You Can (and should) Take
Bouts of isolation are part of coaching. It can be troubling if the isolation is continuous, overwhelming, depressing.
Ask yourself these questions for insight if your isolation is too heavy:
- How often do I laugh as a coach?
- When was the last time I was told “nice job”?
- How often do I collaborate?
- Do I feel “We got this” more than “I got this”?
- Do I need people to help me, or am I good?
- Am I coaching from a place of fear, or from joy?
Those questions are helpful. Work through them and you’ll see being alone differently. Want some help?
- A social support system can help.
- A giant might have valuable directions to offer.
- Your 3-coaching cards can be your best coaching friends.
Remember, you are not really alone (and you are amazing). And if you know of a coach who is struggling you can help them not be so alone — send them this, or prompt them to join us by clicking here.
Coach well, be strong, we need you!