There is a method to the madness. All successful restaurants use it when forming a menu. The items they want you to order are often highlighted and set apart. If it’s a tri fold menu, the items that are most profitable or that they know they can execute at the highest level are always in the center and boxed in. Good servers will make recommendations, and more times than not, you will order what they recommend. Specials are ordered at a much higher rate when a server delivers them with confidence and seeks out a little information from the diner. Think about your last dining experience, and I don’t mean fine dining. If you went to a fast food restaurant, they asked you if you wanted fries with that, do you want to supersize it, or make it a combo. We oblige. We add lump crabmeat to our steak. We get that awesome blossom. But why? It works because we all want decisions to be made for us. We want to be guided. We crave it actually.
For as much as we want to have our own opinions, in some parts of life, we love for decisions to be made for us. We want someone to tell us the right way to do things. To praise us when we do well, to constructively criticize us when we mess up. To mold us, to shape us, to improve us. We crave to be coached.
When we are young our whole world is guided by teachers and coaches. All of us at some point have had “that coach/teacher”. The one that got through to us and made us have our “a-ha” moment. For me it was a couple people. One a teacher, Ron Engel. He was a tough, eccentric guy who would throw a set of keys from across the room if you fell asleep in class. A guy who made us take lab practical tests in biology that rivaled collegiate courses. He drove us hard, and for those of us who connected with him, we worked hard to gain his respect. My second was a swim coach, who took the time to pull me aside in a group of 70 swimmers to make sure my form was correct. Who when at the age of 13, I jumped in a challenging set with the 17-18 year olds, let me give it a go, until it was just me and one or two of the eldest team members left. These were the coaches I remember.
But then something happened. I went to college and there were no more drivers or coaches. Very few professors, if any, inspired me to be anything more than I gave, which at that time, was little. I never gravitated to another professor again.
Age up again to “work” and who is there? If you are lucky, you may get a good boss along the way, but managers in general, and bosses in particular aren’t driven to cultivate and enrich talent like teachers and childhood coaches once did. How many of us have reached out and obtained a great mentor (read:coach)? Some argue that coaching and mentoring are different, but for this blog the point is that you need someone to raise you up both functionally (coaching) and relationally (mentoring) to continue to grow. Ask yourself if you feel better about your growth, or at the last time in your life you had an active coach?
This to me is the missing link in corporate America. A coaching and mentorship program that is built into the very fabric of our work environment. “Projects” can easily be broken down into “work outs” so that every day we are coached along to success. But don’t misconstrue for a second that the “projects/workouts” are what make us better. No, any coach can give you a “workout”, but the really good ones, watch, listen, push, and pull you to your best so that there is a mental and a physical benefit. They give us permission to reach our potential, and if we trust them and follow their guidance, we succeed. This applies JUST as much to work as it does fitness. IF not more so. With a good coach, we are all better, we all thrive, and all of our teams (read:companies/businesses) flourish.