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I’m a coach.

I love coaching, it’s a large part of who I am and I am rarely so alive as when I’m coaching someone.

But there’s a time for it.

I’ve seen a lot of people (and I’m sure I’ve done it myself) who have decided to go into coaching mode when it was unsolicited and unwanted.

Times when people are looking for a friend, not for advice.

Times when people are looking for someone to listen, not give advice.

Times when people just want to talk about life, not start setting goals.

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Mick Malthouse speaks to the media after being announced as the new head coach of the Blues during a Carlton Blues press conference. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Mick Malthouse, a legend of AFL coaching here in Australia was recently appointed coach of the Carlton Football Club.

After coaching for almost three decades and with a remarkable track record of success, some were unsure as to whether or not he would get back into football after a year out of the game.

When he recently discussed his decision to return, he referred to a message that he has framed on his desk.  It was written by his late brother-in-law who had just been told that he only had three weeks to live.

It simply says:

“Don’t you ever, ever let yourself get to a stage in your life where you think, I wish I had of, or worse still, why didn’t I?”

It’s a great message isn’t it?

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The scores were level as the two teams went into their three-quarter time huddles.

Coach Jack launched into a ferocious tirade.

He had the vein sticking out of the side of his head as he lambasted his side, swearing at them, screaming at them and embarrassing individuals for their lack of skill and effort.

Coach Bob walked up to his team with a quiet authority.

He was clear in his direction as he taught, instructed and coached his side.  He knew that this was another great opportunity to pass on information and continue the process of learning.

The two teams went back out and Jack’s team, with their coach’s stinging words still in their ears, went on to win a close tussle.

Who’s the better leader?  Jack or Bob?

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Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

McDonald’s have an interesting strategy when it comes to the ergonomic design of the tables and chairs in their restaurants.

They are strategically designed so that they are comfortable at first, but not if you sit in them for too long.

They want people to feel at home for a while, but not for too long so that they move on and create space for new customers.

I believe that the role of the coach is to be the McDonald’s furniture for the people around us.

It should be OK for people to feel comfortable for a short while, but then to get moving.

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Angling with a rod.

Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure that you’ve heard the old saying, “Give a man a fish and he’ll have food for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll have food for a lifetime.”

It’s a terrific principle when working with people living in poverty and trying to assist them to get back on their feet.

It’s also a key principle to be conscious of when leading people.

If you want a successful organisation or enterprise, equipping people for a day won’t help you much.

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As a sports fan, I am conscious of how easy it can be for an athlete to fall out of form and how challenging it can be to fire on all cylinders again.

A few times this year, I have also been conscious that there are occasionally areas of my life when I’ve been out of form.  It may be in my role as a husband, parent, leader or christian, but I can sometimes get in a bad rut that can be a challenge to break out of.

Form slumps are normal and most of the all-time greats have experienced them at some stage of their careers, so it’s only natural that we will go periods of time when we’re not performing at our best.

So how can you break out of a form slump?

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NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge (2008)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve written a few times about the importance of having a network of support around you when you’re trying to navigate through life.  As social beings, to be completely self-reliant is not how we were designed and we are diminished if we don’t have others contributing to and sharing in our success.

However, I haven’t really defined the kinds of people who should be in your support crew, so that’s what I thought I should do today.

I’ve identified at least four different functions that you should think about having in your life to assist you in your journey.

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Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

One of the key skills to being an effective coach is learning how to ask the right questions.

As a Life Coach with over ten years experience, I have been able to build up a sizable number of coaching questions that I’ve used effectively and I thought that I would try to catalogue some of my favourites for this post.

I was trained in the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and Way Forward) Model, so I’ll be listing these questions under the relevant section.

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