Tuesday, February 2, 2016

When Your Coach is Wrong

My management team at work has been with me for many years. They handle me well. Sometimes I have a bold idea, a unique way to change our business. I present it with enthusiasm. Most often my idea fails. My team reminds me that my part-time status has let me to forget the issues of implementation.

We operate as a team on some simple principles:

  • No means no and yes means yes. No double guessing.
  • Communicate face to face. Email is fraught with danger in misreading emotions.
  • Take nothing personally. Your idea getting shot down is not personal. Just business.
  • Bring solutions, not problems.
  • We are paid to be cheerful and cooperative.

If you have a coach, these same principles work. I happen to have two coaches. My triathlon coach is Marilyn Chychota. My other coach happens to be my wife KT who was a NCAA Division I volleyball coach for over 20 years.

Guess which one I disagree with the most?

My triathlon career has exceeded my expectations because Marilyn’s expectations have exceeded my own. And we don’t always agree -- far more than she will ever realize. Why? Because I have faith in her. I know she is doing everything possible for my career. And I know that part of that is pushing me outside my comfort zones and beliefs. So I add one other principle to the list above: I keep my mouth shut and I do the work.

Now what about my other coach? She does a brilliant job managing my mental journey. She knows how to say the right thing at the right time to get the job done. That includes offending other spectators at Ironman Texas when she yelled at me that, “You need to haul @$$ now!” And I did.

She doesn’t know all the intricacies of triathlon but she does know me. I stand my ground, often poorly, on the things she doesn’t know. She stands her ground -- too well -- on the strategy of where we are and where we are going.

Great businesses and great relationships require friction. Nothing great is ever achieved on an easy path. Surround yourself with coaches and people committed to greatness. There is no better journey.


Sue started her triathlon journey with a 50 pound weight loss and continues as a multiple Kona qualifier. In 2013, she was named the Overall Ironman All World Athlete Champion in her age group and in 2014 won her age group at Ironman Texas. As a successful entrepreneur, she believes that, “You can run your business like your training and your training like your business!” As a coach (USAT Certified), she helps athletes to develop success in all areas of their lives: family, health and work. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can find her on Twitter @fewoman.
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