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Learn and Experiment with Us!

The US Open wrapped up last weekend. While one of the biggest names in the sport was not present—Serena Williams—her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was there. I am a Grand Slam tennis watcher, so I am accustomed to seeing Patrick in Serena’s player box, but more recently I’ve been noticing that he is in more and more players’ boxes. This is why I was curious to read the NY Times piece profiling Patrick. 

Most fascinating was this tidbit from arguably one of the best coaches in tennis given his long tenure as Serena’s coach:

My philosophy is I know nothing. I learn the person and I learn my player. A lot of coaches start with their method. There is one method per player and I need to find it – Patrick Mouratoglou

Interesting. So, Patrick does not have a set system which anyone looking to improve in their tennis playing should adopt. Instead, he assumes the individual is above the (and his) system, and coaching needs to be tailored to the individual. 

That is incredible to me. First, it suggests that the ego of the coach cannot grow to the point of having all the answers. If that were to happen, a coach would be in the position of insisting the system is right above the individual. 

Second, the person is distinct from the player.  

As interesting as this is to me, why I am I drawing your attention to it? Well, I’d contend that each one of us is a coach. If you are a…

…Manager…

     …Mentor…

           …Counselor…

              …Therapist…

                  …Cleric…

                       …Teacher…

                           …Parent…

                                …Athletic coach…

                                     …Colleague…

                                          …Friend…

…then you serve as a coach. 

If you want to enhance your coaching capability, here’s a starting place straight from the book Helping People Change:

  • Coach with compassion: Help people articulate and fulfill a desired future

Instead of:

  • Coach for compliance: attempt to facilitate the person’s movement toward some externally defined objective

This is what Patrick is doing. As he learns the person and the player, he learns what the person is working towards, what the dream, goal and vision of the player is for herself. Then he works to help the player realize that vision.

This idea has broad application. Do you know the individual who is also your employee? Do you know what that individual aspires to be and do in the future?

So, take a cue from Patrick and learn the person. No better place to start. 

Coach well my friends!

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