So You Want To Be A Coach? By Russ DeVan

Russ DeVan

Coaches KNOW the “answer”….right?

After all, where would Tom Brady be without Bill Belichick? Michael Jordan without Phil Jackson? Notre Dame without Knute Rockne? FOOTBALL without Vince Lombardi? Where would they be?

 Here is my “about-to-be-unpopular” opinion. All these names would STILL be the legends that they are today!  “Why”, you ask. Because the Coaches mentioned didn’t MAKE these individuals or their sports great! Their TALENT did! The “Coaches” had the gift, the PRIVILEGE, and many times, even get the credit, for bringing that talent out!

I assert that greatness is not instilled by a mentor, teacher, or coach. It is unconcealed.

The origin of the word “coach” in the context we are referring to right now, actually started at Oxford University in the early nineteenth century as slang for a tutor who guides a “less able” student through their examinations, comparable to driving a horse-drawn “coach.”

Later in that Century, the term was upgraded to apply to sports.

That association led to a certain coveted status; Great team – great Coach! Great athlete – great coach; Success by association. Today coaching isn’t just for sports anymore. There are “Life” coaches; Success Coaches; Financial Coaches, Business Coaches, Productivity Coaches, Time Management Coaches, and Personal Development Coaches, etc., etc. Take a course, spend the money, and you can be a “certified” coach in almost anything.

My personal experience, however, differs from the common paradigm. I believe that real coaching has little to do with knowledge and more to do with a unique gift some are blessed with.

Believe me when I say, I have known and been the fortunate beneficiary of some of the greatest coaches who have ever lived. 

Again, although I believe PART of a coach’s job may be to share what they know and have learned, the REAL gift is that they can hear and see in someone what others, including the subject, cannot see in themselves.

Do you honestly believe that Don Shula knew how to throw a football better than Dan Marino? Or that Angelo Dundee could throw a punch or “dance” better than Muhammed Ali?

One of the greatest living coaches of our time, and there are more than a few, writes for TNMM, every month. A gifted and prolific author and “motivated” speaker, he is a loving Father, Grandfather, husband, FRIEND extraordinaire, and former swimming coach. He tells and has published a now-famous story about his personal experience with an athlete named Allison. 

What Allison lacked in ability and physical attributes that are practically mandatory, in order to be a champion or even a top competitor, she made up for in sheer grit, attitude, courage, and heart…BUT SHE DIDN’T KNOW THAT! 

However, her “Coach,” Brian Biro, did.

Knowing Brian the way I do, he would deny or greatly play down his part in what would change a young woman’s life and perspective, forever. This is because, as with all great coaches, he knew her greatness had nothing to do with him. The ability and gift were inside of Allison and Brian’s job was to open the door and have her naturally and gracefully walk (or perhaps, swim) through it!

 (Search for Brian’s Article, published last year in TNMM : “Allison’s Story.”)

Now here’s the “punchline” about Brian Biro: To the best of my knowledge, Brian has never built a Network Marketing organization…nor does he care to. Yet, he is often asked to be the Keynote Speaker at some of the largest and most successful MLM companies in the world. He has never sponsored a multi- million dollar MLM ‘er…but he has coached and inspired hundreds if not THOUSANDS of them, present company included!

Are you catching my “drift?”

Another wonderful metaphor that Brian and I share in our training has to do with a perspective often missed, particularly by children, of a subtle message in the story of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Near the end, when Dorothy Gale and company return from “liquidating” The Wicked Witch of the West, only to find the “Wonderful Wizard” is a phony humbug…they are, quite understandably, more than a little upset! However, that’s where the real magic begins. The Wizard begins (presumably to save his own neck) to point out to each character that he cannot and does not actually have the ability to provide what it is they seek.

However, what he CAN do is point out that they already had it all along and he CAN give them a “reminder” so they don’t forget it.

So to be a good coach, in my opinion, does NOT take or require what so many think it does. It’s not about how smart or wise you are or how much knowledge or experience you possess or have gained through study and hard work. You don’t have to prove how good or skilled you are or how many trophies or awards you’ve won. However, being a great coach does require a gift; a skill that not everyone has, and if they do, may not be interested in honing. A GREAT coach listens to and hears what is not being said. An exceptional coach sees not just what’s there, but what is missing!

The best coaches realize that the true gift of their trade is to spot someone else’s magnificence and show it to them.

Finally, as one of my most significant and powerful coaches once told me, and I now will pass on to all who aspire or wish to benefit from this wonderful profession: “The greatest leaders come into the room like a mouse and go out of the room like a mouse, but they leave the crowd cheering…..for somebody else!

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Russ DeVan
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