written by Erica Quam
One of the questions I often get at my coaching summits is, "Can I be a successful coach and still be an introvert?"
My answer? Absolutely.
I really believe the more authentic you are the less energy it takes. Being a coach is a big job already! Trying to be someone you're not will leave you overwhelmed and exhausted.
Now, there are times when all coaches have to step out of their comfort zone and adapt their behavior - to be effective. However, if you're always striving to please your athletes, be someone you're not, or simply trying to fit a mold of who you think you should be...you're gonna burn out.
Here are four strategies to honor your introvert and be highly successful:
If you've ever read my articles before, you know I'm a big believer in setting intentions. As a coach, you're going to be stepping up and putting your voice out there a lot more - coaching your athletes, talking to parents, working with your staff, etc.
Set an intention ahead of time and choose who you want to be in these moments. This step can be as simple as choosing one word that describes what you'd like to embody: bold, confident, strong, authentic, or just be myself.
Consider the alternative of setting an intention: reacting...in the moment. How many times have you reacted in a way that's directly opposed to the way you actually want to show up? Probably more than you can count.
When you hold onto old patterns or stories of what's happened in the past...you go into situations with that little voice in your head saying, "I'm just not good at this" or "this is way too hard" or "here we go again."
Setting an intention will help you re-program that little voice inside your head - to tell it, "I can do this." "I am going to do this." "I'm all in."
Your intention changes everything!
Preparation will allow yourself to nurture your nature. Preparation is crucial for everyone...especially for introverts. Here's why: coaching is all about relationships and connecting with people. This can take a lot of energy for introverts.
Plan ahead and have a few questions in your back pocket - to ask other people. This will help you get other person talking. It'll take the pressure off of you and put the emphasis on them. (And people love to talk about themselves!) You can own the conversation and connect with people at a deeper level.
So, before you go on the road to recruit, out to a fundraising event, or anywhere you have to mingle and network...prepare three key questions you can ask someone. Make these questions meaningful for you - so you can be engaged as an active listener. Then, it's a win-win situation for you!
You can even do this when you're working directly with your athletes. I've worked with a lot of coaches who feel pressured to provide "the right answer" or be expected to "fix" the situation on the spot. Buy yourself a little more time by asking questions and listening. When you respond, use their words in your response. "So, I really hear that you think...x, y, or z. I understand you feel...x, y, or z. Why don't you try...x, y, or z." This will help you formulate your response and by summarizing what they said to you. They will feel listened to, heard, and understood by you.
You may have a lot of resistance surrounding the stories you've told yourself for a long time. How are you going to expand out of your comfort zone to learn and grow? Expansion can be as simple as:
- going first in a group - when you usually go last
- saying something that's on your mind - rather than waiting to see if anyone else will bring it up
- doing a little more talking - instead of more listening
It's great to stretch beyond your norms. Get out of your default-mode. That's where transformation happens!
Just as there are times to expand, there are other times where you will need to give yourself full permission to be a total introvert!
Educate others on what you need. Set boundaries...and don't apologize. If you need 30 minutes in your office by yourself with your lights off...make that need known to others.
You'll have to get out of the spotlight and be by yourself to be able to recharge. Don't worry about saying no to things.
Extroverts get refreshed by being around people. Introverts need more downtime. It's not that introverts don't enjoy being with other people...it's just that they replenish their energy by being by themselves.
I believe that introverts can absolutely be successful coaches! In fact, I would encourage all coaches to switch roles every once in a while to experience the benefits of "the other side". Just be sure to play to your strengths a majority of the time.