Last week I had the opportunity to work intensively with a visiting riding coach I respect and admire. After seeking her advice on what would most benefit myself and my pony, we decided on a mini bootcamp style 3 consecutive days of private lessons, rather than join her group clinic on the weekend.
I jumped in, listened, experimented, observed when she rode my pony to demonstrate a particular thing, or help my pony understand what I wanted. I had massive ah-ha moments, big breakthroughs and a real sense of achievement.
On the final third day, I was excited and ready for more as we walked out the arena. What was she going to ask me to do today? Where would she take me? What would we learn?
“OK, Anita. Just get going. I’m going to sit here and watch. You do what you would do if I wasn’t here anymore, using what you’ve learned from the last two days.”
The she sat down, and shut up.
And I freaked out.
What if I did it wrong?
What if I looked bad?
What if I’ve forgotten everything from yesterday?
OMG- I HAVE forgotten everything from yesterday!
Will she be disappointed in me?
I’m going to look like an idiot.
She’s going to know I’m not good enough.
She’s going to think she’s wasted her time on me…
All that, in less than 30 seconds. Like I said, I freaked out. Intellectually, I laughed at myself. What she was doing was GOOD teaching. What she was doing was empowering.
But in that moment felt alone. I felt inadequate. I’d become reliant on her voice, guiding me, instructing me, telling me each step how to do it better. And it immediately became crystal clear to me the difference between a instructor who enables someone, and a coach who empowers someone.
The instructor who is there to “keep you accountable” and tell you each and every step, hold your hand, and always, always jump in before you make a mistake- those are the enablers. The one who keep you trapped in thinking that you can’t do it without them.
The coach who gives you the chance to learn, to ask questions, to experiment, and then pushes you off to do it on your own- to make your own mistakes, to do your own experiments, to make your own decisions- those are the one’s who empower you. Those are the ones who make you better.
It’s becoming more and more apparent to me the massive difference between an “instructor” and a “coach”.
An instructor teaches in a way that they are required to be constantly giving instructions for the student to progress, or even just to maintain their skills.
A coach teaches in a way that empowers the student to understand, to be able to make decisions and choices based on that new knowledge while being supported and actively encouraged to do so on their own.
In that one session on my horse, I learned a massive life lesson.
It’s shown me why some business coaches are better than others, why some horse riding coaches are better than others, why some teachers are better than others.
It’s the difference is between enabling and empowering their students.