3 stories that hold coaches back

written by Erica Quam

We all have stories we tell ourselves. Some stories started out to protect us and helped us grow into the people we are today. There comes a time when these same stories no longer serve us and end up holding us back.

Here are 3 stories I see coaches struggle with all the time.

1. I CAN DO IT ALL BY MYSELF

How it shows up...

You hand a project off to someone on your staff. It doesn’t get done right. Instead of taking the time to get really clear on your specific expectations of what it looks like when it’s done and done well...you go ahead and just do it yourself.

As a coach, you are capable of a lot. You are good at juggling a lot of things - all at once. Does the fact that you CAN do it mean you SHOULD do it? Of course not!

Where it originated...

Perhaps it originated from a time when you became more independent in your life. You learned that you COULD do some things by yourself - instead of having your parents help or do it for you. There comes a time when this story no longer serves you.

What to try instead...

First of all, take the time to get clear when you delegate something. Make sure you tell that person what you're expectations are and be prepared to give them constructive feedback if it doesn't meet your standards. 

Next, get creative about the things you hand off. Here's a great example of this...

One of the coaches I work with has a lot on her plate. She’s a new mom, a wife, a coach, and a teacher.

She started thinking of where she felt stress, resentment, and anxiety. The first area was cooking. The second was cleaning. She's figured out two new things to delegate: 

  1. She now subscribes to a weekly food service. A box arrives each week with new recipes and fresh ingredients. She looks forward to seeing what shows up...and her family has loved the meals!
  2. Next, she hired a cleaning service to come twice a month. Her husband does a better job of picking up before the cleaning service comes and they both enjoy a fresh, clean home on a regular basis.

Boom. She describes these changes as, "timesavers and lifesavers." 

While it hasn’t taken all of her responsibilities away, it has helped her value herself more and say, "I’m worth it." This is HUGE!

She got to the point where she realizes, “I don’t like to do all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning. It drains my energy.” She found a creative solution...to free herself up to do other things.

2. STRUGGLING ALONE IS PART OF COACHING

How it shows up...

Coaches work with athletes who are dealing with mental health issues, sexual abuse, suicide, eating disorders, hazing, bullying, and the list goes on. I'm pretty sure you didn’t sign up for this!

You're great at getting your athletes the help they need. (You're like a first responder to the scene.) Yet you don’t always get support for yourself. 

I see coaches at the end of the season. I hear what you’ve gone through. The spectrum of issues you've dealt with during the year is unbelievable. No one prepares you for this!

Coaches carry on all year like all this is "normal." 

Where it originated...

All coaches face unexpected challenges. That’s true. It’s normal. Struggling alone may be something you’ve seen other coaches go through. Maybe it’s something you’ve seen your parents go through. Yet, how long you allow yourself to ‘be in struggle’ is optional. 

What to try instead...

Reach out for help when you’re dealing with the issues that come up on your team. Reach out to a colleague who has gone through something similar. Talk to a therapist to tell them what it’s like - for you. Hire a coach to help you get clear on the standards and boundaries you’ll set - for yourself. 

Don’t struggle all by yourself and get to the end of the season burnt out, overwhelmed, and exhausted. If you can line up support for yourself all season long, this can be a game changer for you.

3. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT I'M GOING THROUGH 

How it shows up...

A lot of coaches don't reach out for help because they don't think people will understand what they're going through.

Coaches look to their partners as their primary (and maybe only) source of support. They come home and vent about all of the stuff they have to deal with everyday. They try and tell friends what they've gone through...but their friends don't really get it.  "Why can't you just skip...whatever it is...and come out to drinks with us!"

Where it originated...

Let's face it. Coaches are unique! No matter how amazing and understanding your partner is...no one REALLY understands what coaches go through...except other coaches!

What to try instead...

Connect with other coaches on a regular basis. Organize a coaching circle to grab coffee or lunch on a regular basis.

One of the most common things I hear from coaches who come to a summit is how valuable it was for them to hear that they weren't the only one who had a challenges. Every coach has issues to deal with. Many have gone through similar challenges. It's helpful to have the awareness and be able to get another perspective. At the summit, you have the opportunity to share what the experience was like and how it impacted you...and get concrete ideas about how to move yourself forward.

Next, hire a coach.

Working with a coach consistently throughout the year will help you be more proactive and less reactive to the situations you'll face. Instead of letting things build and eventually blow up, a coach can help you address the little things before they turn into become big things.

You're partner will be so grateful they aren't the only person listening to you vent about these challenges AND maybe this will even free you up to spend some more time with your friends!


Which one of these three stories resonates with you the MOST? 1, 2, or 3? I'd love to hear from you. Share your number in the comments below.