- - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Myles Garrett. Mitchell Trubisky. Solomon Thomas. They all share something in common. By virtue of being drafted (read: hired) first, second and third overall in the recent NFL draft, they are considered the best young football players in America. Each is expected to one day lead corporations named the Browns, Bears and 49ers to success. But they aren’t exactly expected to produce hall-of-fame dividends overnight.

Organizations know they will need coaching to season them into great professionals.

Your new hires (read: future stars) are no different. Heck, I was no different, and you were probably no different either. Coming out of college and starting out down my own professional (professorial) path, I certainly fit the description of a raw talent who needed coaching and seasoning to produce dividends.

Joe Calloway, the Nashville-based author of many books, including my favorite, “Category of One,” impacted my life in numerous ways. But he didn’t draft me. In fact, he didn’t even know me until I called him, told him that I used his wisdom everyday in everything I did in the classroom, in the consulting world and in building a program at Middle Tennessee State University. No, I didn’t get drafted by Joe. The truth is, I begged him to meet with me and mentor me. Looking back, it could have been considered stalking.

Joe’s response to my begging changed my life. I’ll never forget what he said when he finally gave me a chance to speak on the phone. He said, “Colby, if you think I can help you, then come on up here to Nashville and we’ll meet.” I was in the car and on my way north to Nashville before he even finished that sentence. And in our first meeting, I recall spending enough time together that I could plan the next five years of my life.

Why did I do it? Why did I push hard to meet Joe? Because if you want to get better, you must get around people who are better than you. You do, and so does your workforce. Great coaches have conversations with us that we may not want to have. They challenge us to do things we may not think we can do. And the result is we become something we didn’t think we could become.

At some point in life, and certainly on a professional path, all of us reach a ceiling. It’s where we can’t seem to get any farther, or, perhaps better said, higher, and we need to turn to somebody else and say “I need your help.” Believe me, when you reach – or hit — the ceiling, you will need a coach. It’s the same reason we all seek new concepts, theories and ideas. We want to be better tomorrow than we are today. That’s growth.

Here, then, is the question: How do you find a coach? (I pestered a thought-leader like Joe Calloway at his personal addresses). Perhaps instead you make a connection at a conference visit, or something simple like finding a YouTube channel, podcast or blog that provides you new insight on market specific information. 

I think that in the complicated world we live in today, we are in the midst of a great coaching revolution. To me, in modern life and business, you either are a coach, have a coach, or don’t want to be coached. And if you are in the latter group, you will be left behind.

Find a YouTube channel, Twitter feed, blog, podcast or people to coach you. Hear the message. Let it inspire you. Teach the message to yourself and to others.  Because if you really want to flex your ability and your creativity, and if you really want to use the education you paid for, you must constantly be pointing up.

If you really want to have opportunities to run things like you want, find someone better than you who can grow the skills you may have brought to the table and get you past that inevitable ceiling we all encounter.

Then maybe like Messrs. Garrett, Trubisky and Thomas, you too can develop professional skills that lead to hall-of-fame dividends.

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