As I was going through my home office, I came across a treasure. It was this green note book. The reason this green note book was a treasure is that it contained notes from old Agile courses and conferences. Notes that I had taken with a beginner’s mind when I was new to Agile. I could read how inspired I was by these great speakers. How many new ideas I was being exposed to. My reflections on the conversations I was having. In amongst all these great ideas was the phrase “Get a coach!” This surprised me since I remembered being at San Francisco Agile 2012, when Joshua Kerievsky asked who in the crowd had a coach. Most of the people in the room lifted their hand but I didn’t. When he said that, I immediately wondered why I didn’t have a coach. How could I improve if I didn’t have a coach?
Jumping back to the present, here I am with this phrase “Get a coach!” written in front of me. What really hit me was the fact that when I wrote it, I knew the importance (thus the underline and exclamation point) but I seemed to forget it along the way. I had too much information all at once. All that great learning but not enough to time to digest it all. Now that I have a coach, I have someone who can help me focus on the right thing, rather then 20 different things at the same time.
Coaches can play an important role in many parts of our lives. To take the first step, you need to realize that you need a coach. The top athletes in the world often have several coaches to help them, why wouldn’t you? Of course, if you think you know everything already, your not in a good position to learn new things so it may be a waste of your time (definitely the coaches).
A coach might be a mentor, an advisor, a motivator, a supporter, or a guide. The trick is figuring out what you need. This is no simple task. You need to find some who is close enough to understand where you’re coming from but outside your everyday environment. You also need to find someone who can help take you towards your goals. A challenge they have is to give you the right advice, instruction or motivation. The wrong advice can confuse, frustrate or negatively impact your development.
If you are starting an activity, getting some early advice can make a great deal of difference. If you’re going to be using weights, make sure you learn how to lift properly. If you’re learning the guitar, take some lessons.
What might interest you is that the best coach isn’t usually an expert. In the world of software development, intermediate developers are the best at explaining new concepts to beginners. Part of the reason is that they still remember what it was like when they didn’t have this knowledge. The expert, by comparison, has difficulty empathizing with the junior developer. The result is therefore, not as effective. That doesn’t mean coaches can’t be an expert. If they have the ability to connect with the student, then they can still provide value.
If you can’t find a coach, there are a few things you can do. Rely on your friends. They know you, they care about you, and they want you to succeed. Talk to them, share your dreams, and listen to their advice.