In high school, I had a tremendous basketball coach, one of the best coaches in the entire country, and he pushed us to be the absolute best we could be. His name is Bud Lathrop, and he is the winningest boys basketball coach in the stat of Missouri.
Coach Lathrop would not only help us grow as basketball players, but he also took the time to teach us life lessons to help us grow as people. His daily lectures would touch on subjects like how we handled ourselves in school, how we treated our parents, dating and sex (awkward…), making excuses, being on time, and whole gamut of issues. Before every practice, he would play Bette Midler’s Wind Beneath My Wings to remind of the value of teamwork and helping others succeed. He was a great coach, and I loved playing for him.
My high school golf coach, Neil Ellis, had the same approach of teaching us the game of golf but also helping us win at the game of life. He was also my physics teacher, and his example showed me the right way to teach and influence young people, which I did just six years later at the other high school in town.
I had the privilege of playing basketball and golf in college as well, and I was fortunate to have two excellent coaches during my time at William Jewell College; Larry Holley and Bill Skolaut. Coach Holley guided us my freshman year to a Final Four appearance in the 1997 National Tournament, and Coach Skolaut led us to a Conference Championship and an appearance at the 1998 National Tournament. These experiences were incredible, and they were the main reason we were able to achieve so much.
And then I graduated, and I no longer had a coach. I no longer had someone to help me navigate the rough waters of adulthood, working a job, having a solid financial plan, owning a home, preparing for marriage, and on and on. I was now on my own, and I had no idea what to do.
For some, parents assume this role, and that’s great. For others, a trusted, seasoned adult might jump in as a guide. But for too many of us, there is no one to help along the way. We are left to figure it out for ourselves, and we often make painful, expensive mistakes that sidetrack us for years or even decades.
From a financial perspective, I never had anyone to teach me sound financial principles like budgeting, saving and staying away from credit cards and other loans. Unfortunately, I made a lot of mistakes financially that have taken me over a decade to overcome, and this is quite common. I know I would have made better choices had someone I trusted stepped in and helped me learn how money works and what I need to do to stay out of unhealthy financial situations.
In light of my situation and the experience of many others, here are three reasons everybody needs a coach:
1. A coach sees your situation from an outside perspective. This is invaluable because he can view your situation without your emotion. Most often, poor choices are dictated by our emotions, not facts, and most emotional decisions don’t turn out so well. This ranges from impulse purchases to how we respond to being mistreated, and most of these decisions we end up regretting.
2. A coach only succeeds if you succeed. There is a natural motivation to help you grow and achieve more because this is the measuring stick of a coach’s success. Every basketball coach knows that his success is directly dependent upon his players’ success, so his entire job is to help them become successful. Therefore, having a coach means having someone in your corner at all times who is only working to help you be successful.
3. A coach has the ability to make you think. Conversely, a coach does not have the ability to make you do anything. At the end of the day, the choice will always be yours. This may sound obvious, but the way you think directly impacts what you do, and this will impact what you will achieve. As Suze Orman says, “Be careful what you think, for what you think becomes what you say. Be careful what you say, for what you say becomes what you do. Be careful what you do, for what you do becomes your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.”
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