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By Michael Aun


Coaching is about more than winning or losing. As a matter of fact, it is about neither. The closest profession to a coach is a teacher. The training, development, practice, education, skill development and ultimate results of the endeavor are built right in.

Success or failure is academic. Done correctly, even failure yields positive results provided one is willing to learn from them.

I cannot help but think of many descriptors when I think of coaching. Mentor is one. The most critical part of mentoring? The mentor must care enough to tell you what you are doing wrong as well as what you are doing right.

Instructor is another of those words that come to mind. It goes directly to the heart of teaching. One of the most demonstrative instructors I had in school was a diminutive little man named Harvey Halfacre.

Mr. Halfacre was my algebra and math teacher. He could not seem to get into our thick skulls that you had to invert to make fractions work. Not until the day he held a desk upside down above his head, did most of us dim-wits get the message to INVERT!

Speaking is another of those relative words that support the concept of teaching, tutoring, training and mentoring. One of my early inspirations was my first grade Sunday school teacher Father Joseph Bernadin, who later in life became Joseph Cardinal Bernadin.

He was a Priest at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Assembly Street in Columbia, SC. He and his family were friends and clients of my dad, who had remodeled his parent’s home in Columbia.

Another mentor of mine, my grandfather Eli Mack, Sr., taught me early in life to journal and one of the people I chose to write about in my journal was Father Bernadin.

He was a remarkable communicator, wordsmith and a storyteller. He taught me early on in my life that the best way to communicate any message was on the wings of humor wrapped around a remarkable story.

Many observers felt had his premature death not occurred in 1996, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin might, in fact, become the first American in history to become Pope.

In many ways, he embodied the attributes of a coach, teacher, mentor and communicator. We called him Father Bernadin before he was promoted to Monsignor and later Bishop or Joseph Cardinal Bernadin. I would have settled for calling him “coach” because that was what he was to me.

Coaches train by example. Like professors, they have earned the right to instruct others vicariously through their own example. Unfortunately, professors at the collegiate level are protected by tenure, a word that rhymes with manure and constitutes about the same value.

Success, be it in business, on  football field or in life, is about getting the proper guidance and then honing those skills into the right direction and knowledge to help us reach our ultimate goals.

Development is an on-going process and is constantly on the upgrade. There is no such thing as a “final product” because experience teaches us that we can always be better, faster, and new and improved no matter what.

What you never hear about and will likely never even think about is the coaches’ role. Like mentors, coaches are self-less people. What most will tell you is they benefit far more than they contribute to the coaching relationship. The prayer to St. Francis has a line in it that describes this nicely: “It is in giving that we receive…”

In my experiences coaching other speakers and sales people in my agency over the past four decades I can clearly confess that I learned far more from the people I mentored than I was able to impart.

Coaches must actively listen, build rapport, ask penetrating questions, express empathy, monitor with intuition, give feedback and establish achievable and yet challenging goals.

I find it useful to journal my notes with the people with whom I work. Documenting development is critical to monitoring progress with the people you are helping. Remember, winners keep score!

Michael Aun Hall of Fame Speaker CSP®, CPAE ® is the co-author of “Chicken Soup For The Catholic Soul: Living Catholic Faith”