As I wrote in a recent entry, I get most of my coaching insights these days by watching my clients, friends, and family in action.
This insight comes from an amazing experience I had this week on the tennis court. Read the story, and I think you will learn something from it, as I did.
I was playing tennis with a guy named John. John has had an incredible career. He started as a rank and file computer engineer at a major oil company, with no MBA or graduate degree. He basically had no career path in that company.
However, he kept making requests of his managers to let him have more responsibility….and, thanks to his persistence, they agreed.
By age 38 he was the youngest executive at the company, and felt odd in the executive dining room when everyone else was at least 50.
He retired a wealthy man at age 45.
I got to see him in action during an interesting distraction that took place in our tennis match, and his actions show a lot about why he was successful — as well as how we can coach our clients to be more successful:
As we were changing sides during the match, he noticed that Jimmy Arias (formerly #4 in the world, and now a television announcer at many big tennis events) was getting off the court with his opponent.
He said to me, "Let's challenge them to doubles. Do you mind if I ask?"
I was surprised, not least because he and I are just good club hackers, not worthy of playing on a court anywhere near these two guys.
I told him he could ask if he wanted, and he walked over and asked Jimmy and his buddy to play with us.
The buddy wasn't interested, but somehow John convinced Jimmy to hit with him, as long as I didn't mind disrupting
our match for a bit. Of course, I didn't.
I heard the conversation, and there was no magic to how he got Jimmy Arias to hit with him.
He was charming and offered him a case of beer. Basically he just said, "Jimmy, it would be a once in a lifetime experience
to hit with you, and I'll give you a case of beer if you do."
Jimmy didn't need the case of beer, and was gracious enough tosay, "I'll hit with you for a few minutes, but then I have a
So the two of them got to hit, and John was beaming at the end of their time together. "That was like a dream come true for me," he exclaimed.
So what can a coach learn from John?
The answer: Work with your clients on making big requests!
I work with so many clients who are sedate and have no idea of what they can achieve if they just take some risks and try to
influence people — authentically and without gimmicks — to help them achieve some big goals.
Too many of us hold back, perhaps because we are afraid of how others will see us. Or maybe we fear getting rejected. The fact is that we will get rejected when we make big requests, but not all the time.
There are three types of people out there:
– Those who are influencing.
– Those who are being influenced.
– Those who are not even in the game.
Which type are you?
The Center for Executive Coaching offers a great set of modules about coaching clients on the art and science of influence. You could take this material and set yourself up as THE influence coach in your market, if you wanted. And that's just a fraction of the content we provide.
Could I make a request that you check out our program and sign up today? :)