Why Would The Fastest Man In The World Need A Coach?

The Olympics are headed our way and sports fever is in the air. Londoners aren’t known for their focus on running, jumping and swimming but it certainly has our attention now.

There’s been a lot of press about these world class athletes, their training and coaches.

If you are the best in the world, why would you need a coach?
The answer seems to be in breaking down barriers. I heard Chris Hoy from the British Cycling team speak. He said having goals is critical but believing you can achieve them, putting aside your own doubts, is what turns hope into reality.

A classic example of this was the long standing belief that a man could not run a mile in less than four minutes.

Physiologists, in the 1950’s studied human metabolism, respiration and the way our body functions and concluded it was physically impossible for man to break that 4 minute barrier. They said it was dangerous to athlete’s health to attempt it, because it was physically impossible.

As no one seemed able to do it, there was no reason to disagree.

Then came Roger Bannister. With the help of his coach Franz Stampfl, he overcame all the doubt, to fly down the mile stretch at a remarkable 3 minutes and 59 seconds.

Bannister recalled, years later, that the belief it couldn’t be done was more of a psychological barrier than a physical one. Reinforcing his point, his new record was broken six weeks later when another runner ran the mile even faster at 3.58.

And the impossible was no more. In the next three years, sixteen other runners would prove the scientist wrong and come in under four minutes, because they knew they could.

Hurdling the barrier of doubt
In business, a coach serves much the same purpose as in athletics. They help you spot assumptions that you have accepted as facts, and encourage you to break through your own barriers.

They challenge your acceptance of your limitations. They urge you to think differently and try things in a new way.

They are your biggest fan, supporting and encouraging you to shake off the thoughts that are holding you back, build your confidence and believe in yourself.

They help you shape the thousand conversations you have in your head so they are productive and helpful, not damaging and resigned.

What could you do?
What could you accomplish if you had that kind of belief in yourself? You’d have the confidence to try something new, confidence to trust your ability, enough confidence to push through the things that scare you and do them anyway.

It’s hard to do that on your own. Just like athletes, we often don’t recognize the limitations we put on ourselves. In some cases, we believe we aren’t good enough, quick enough. How often have your heard someone else’s story and thought “I could never do that”. That thought is nothing more than a barrier of doubt.

My most productive coaching seems to happen by helping people extend their comfort zone. When they find ways around the barriers that hold them back, they move to a new level in what they can accomplish.

What’s your four minute mile?
If you are absolutely happy with the way things are running in your life, you don’t need a coach.

However if you’re struggling with:

Managing your workload, delegating or finding time for a life after work
New ways to develop business or generate more from existing clients
Managing difficult conversations or managing your boss
Increasing your profile, having gravitas or influence with management
Inspiring, motivating and developing your team
Coping when you’re overwhelmed, staying calm when everyone needs you
Shaping your job so you are managing people, not executing work
Defining your next role, changing companies or shaping your career
Managing presentation nerves
Feeling more confident

Then just like in sports, you need a coach.

When you are ready to break new barriers, push yourself a little farther, a little faster, think how an Olympian would do it. Find someone who will encourage you, challenge you and support you to bring home life’s gold medals.

If this post has captured your interest in coaching give me a call, I’m offering an Olympic discount.


  1. It took me a long time to realize I couldn’t (and didn’t have to) go it alone. My ‘ah ha’ moment was when a good friend landed a job as CEO of a large publicly-traded company. As part of the package they gave him, they hired a coach for him to help with the transition. It was so puzzling, they thought he was the most qualified person for this huge job, but also thought he needed help before he even started? Turns out, this is very common in positions like this.

    Since then I’ve realized that most of the people I respect or want to emulate professionally have coaches. Many have multiple coaches for different aspect of their lives or business.

    Just like you are saying – business is exactly like sports. The best and brightest know that they can always be better and brighter with a little outside help.

    1. Thanks for writing Kathy. We have such high expectations that we should know how to manage everything, even the stuff that’s brand new. How boring life would be if nothing was new and challenging. Thanks for your note.


      Kathy Reeves Consulting Exec Coaching and Myers Briggs 07702-313268 Click for virtual coaching & creative inspiration

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s