Leadership Guru John C. Maxwell asserts that talent is never enough. “Belief lifts your talent. Your talent will not be lifted to the highest level unless you also have belief.” There are four main perspectives of how believing in human potential for greatness can be a talent lifter.
- 1. Lift your talent to coach by believing in people’s potential for greatness.
- 2. Lift the talent of the people you coach by believing in their potential for greatness.
- 3. Lift your talent by believing in your own potential as a great coach.
- 4. Lift the talent of the people you coach when they believe in your potential as a great coach.
The positive effect of believing in human potential for greatness is multiplied when it permeates the relationship between the coach and the person being coached. Coaching is an unconditionally supportive relationship, and as you coach you want to offer full acceptance and an unbiased belief in the person you are coaching regardless of their present performance.
It has been said that belief is more than a thought that a person possesses, it is a thought that possesses the person. A belief in the unlimited human potential for greatness is a habit of the mind in which confidence becomes a virtue that is embraced. In order to be a highly effective coach, you need to put believing in people, yourself and your mission as one of your top priorities. If you want good results, you have to perform good actions. If you want to perform good actions, you must have good expectations. To have good expectations you must first believe your goals are achievable.
The globally acclaimed author of Fully Human Fully Alive John Powell, estimates that an average person taps only ten percent of his potential, sees only ten percent of the beauty that is all around him, hears only ten percent of its music and poetry, smells only ten percent of its fragrance, and tastes only ten percent of the deliciousness of being alive. Since most people neither see nor seize the untapped opportunity that constantly surrounds them, therein lies the potential waiting to be unleashed.
You know that people are always capable of much better results than what they are currently getting. This might include better physical fitness, higher job performance, more loving relationships, and so on. As a coach, you will encounter situations where people do not succeed or don’t measure up to expectations in the face of huge commitments. During such times, your belief in their potential for greatness is even more important and needs to remain steadfast.
Even at a time when someone is going through great difficulties in work and life, as a coach, you are still able to see the goodness in them and bring it to surface. This is easier said than done, but believing in people has to be a conscious choice, a decision made and a habit to inculcate with constant practice even when it’s difficult. If a coach covertly believes that the person being coached is not able to succeed in achieving their goals, feeling that they are not capable enough, this could very well undermine the entire coaching process.
If you are coaching someone to become an effective presenter and as a coach you have seen the person performing very poorly and have formed a belief that this person is unlikely to become an effective speaker, then your ability to coach the person will be flawed. When you hold negative expectations of the outcome, this is likely to get in the way during your conversations. Your negative expectations could affect their confidence and lessen the likelihood of accomplishment. This does not mean that if someone sets an unrealistic goal that the coach should not seek to find out if the person wants to make changes to the goal or work on a different goal.
Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War that when troops prepare for battle, if they lose the battle within their own mind, their chances of winning is diminished by up to fifty percent even before the battle begins. He emphasizes the profound effect that belief has on the ability to win. The awareness of great potential that lies within people, coupled with a strong belief in people, releases the power that drives a successful coaching practice.
CASE STUDY – DAVID
David was a General Manager of a multinational shipping company based in Long Beach, California and formerly a Captain in the armed forces. His father fought in World War Two and had followed a strict military regime in raising his kids. David was well known in his company as a very tough no nonsense boss. His employees feared him greatly as he was good at finding people’s faults and fixing them. His command and control style meant that employees were not expected to act proactively and creatively in the face of escalating environmental changes. Employee morale was depressing and business declining rapidly. David had to face it all on his own without the support of his employees. The prolonged high stress had affected David to the extent that he had to undergo a heart surgery.
One of our professional coaches worked with David to support him. It was very difficult initially and his staff mostly believed that he could not and would not change. The coach stood in David’s greatness and believed that he was capable of notable achievements. David spoke his heart out when he knew that the coach was fully present for him and would champion his cause without being judgmental. When David fully articulated the tremendous pain in his life and his coach listened empathically and caring for him, it was as if a ton of bricks was lifted of his shoulders. It was then that he became aware of how his leadership approach was not bearing fruit. The awareness and acceptance of how his approach was limiting his achievements became the eureka moment that fueled his transformation and gave David the motivation to invent his own new approach to leading which he decided to call “Participative-Appreciative Leadership.”
Since, old habits take time and discipline to change, so his coach encouraged him to create a way to remind himself to stay with his new approach until the new habit became locked in. One of the many self-created support structures that proved effective for David was instructing all his employees that every time he reverted to his old habit, they were to say to him, “Yes, Captain!” and he was to laugh out loud at himself to interrupt his old military pattern. As he constantly replaced his old pattern with the new one, he began to reap the rewards of what his coach believed he was capable of achieving. His belief in himself began to soar, and so did his performance.
Nine months into the coaching relationship, David had created a new work culture that increased staff satisfaction and performance. The change was so profound that he received the “Outstanding Leader of The Year” award from his head office. His wife expressed deep gratitude when she mentioned to the coach that David was now a changed man. In his acceptance speech David said, “I am eternally grateful to my coach for believing in me when no one no else did. You are the wind beneath my wings. You lifted me up and that changed my life.” When he paused to wipe his tears, you could have heard a pin drop. When they played the song “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler, David’s coach and David’s staff were all moved to tears.
The mindset of a coach includes the belief that people are inherently good, they want to contribute and they want to improve. The coach believes people make mistakes, but that most do not make mistakes intentionally. Remember to stand in people’s greatness and always come from a belief that people want to succeed with their goals and commitments. Know that everyone has talents and strengths, and the role of a coach is to bring these out and to help people to use their core genius purposefully. When they do, they will shine magnificently beyond description.
The more you believe in people’s potential, the more reason they will give you to believe in them. Eventually you will wake up one morning realizing that you have also been transformed, and the way you look at people and life will never be the same again.
Imagine when you are searching for that rainbow and when mountains stand before you, there is a coach that truly supports you, wholeheartedly believes in you, and knows that you are capable of conquering the challenges that you face. You will be inspired to grow and become the best person you can be. Such an experience is tremendously uplifting and enriching. That is when you will encounter the true spirit of a coach that firmly believes in human potential for greatness.
– Denis Waitley