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Is coaching the new rock n roll?

Rock music has always been about breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries. Rock music is about passion and singing from the heart. Maybe coaches have something to learn from rock music.

I watched a documentary about the rock music of Los Angeles that included the famous Rancho De La Luna recording studio in Joshua Tree, California. Joe Walsh, rock legend and guitarist from the Eagles was working on a track ‘Outside’ with the Foo Fighters. Taylor Hawkins the drummer of the Foo Fighters talked about Joe saying, “he is totally absorbed about how to make this song better, not to show off… He does not even play a note for the first 8 bars of his guitar solo. And then he hits two notes and those two notes are more important than any note any one else has played on that song” (Expletives deleted).

Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl, Gary Clark Jr.

What struck me was the connection between this quote and challenging coaching. Joe Walsh is clearly a master of his art with over 40 years in the music business. Despite this he had the humility to leave his ego behind and focus totally on making the song better. As¬†coaches, we can do the same. We don’t need to show off our wonderful coaching skills, we have nothing to prove, we don’t need to play the coaching equivalent of a self indulgent guitar riff. All we have to do is help coachees be better than they currently are.

With Joe Walsh’s experience comes skill and confidence. There is consciousness and restraint. There is the ability to know when to do nothing, allow the drums and bass to create the atmosphere and when to play only two notes that are heartfelt and beautiful. The music is deliberately stripped down to maximise impact. As coaches can we be this confident? Can we hold back, allow silence to do the work, and then make a very simple stripped down intervention? Coaches don’t need to be busy, we can have faith that less is more. The quality of ¬†the ‘two notes’ we play and a powerful intervention is far more important than quantity.

After an intense week of two Challenging Coaching workshops for coaches and an interview about the book, the theme of breaking the rules emerged. The participants of the workshops said that Challenging Coaching gave them permission to break the rules. But what are these rules and where do they come from? These seem to be the rules imposed by non-directive person centred coaching and reinforced by the coaching professional bodies. These rules have permeated through coach training to create the equivalent of elevator ‘musac’. Rock music has always been about breaking the rules, to sing and play with passion. This is about communicating a message and making a difference. So how can we do the same and sing from our coaching heart?

Sir John Whitmore, author of Coaching for Performance has the answer, as he is credited with saying that anything that gets a person from A to B is coaching. So by being genuine and authentic, we can be the best coaches we can possibly be.

Be at your best and make a difference. Break the rules and make a difference.

When coaching next, what rock song will you hear playing in your mind?

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