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Coach people from the inside out

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in Leaders & Managers

In February 2006, golfer Stephen Ames, ranked 65th in the world, lost the World Match Play Championship about as badly as it’s possible to lose.

One month later, in the final round of the Tournament Players Championship, Ames again was pitted against the sport’s top players. This time, Ames won by a remarkable six strokes.

What made the difference?

A bit of coaching helped him approach each shot differently.  Previously, Stephen’s caddy—his brother, Robert—had approached each shot by giving Stephen yardages, advising him on club selection and helping read the putts.

All were the “correct” things to do. Yet for Stephen, the input was interfering with his ability to trust his own instincts. The caddy’s information was blocking Stephen’s faith in himself.

The two brothers and coach Alan Fine devised a new approach: Stephen needed a quiet mind. Robert would stand near his brother and wait. Stephen would verbalize specifically what he intended to do on a shot. Because Stephen is very kinesthetic, he would also use his hands to describe the shot.

Stephen had the knowledge. He needed to unleash his faith and passion, and commit to a goal for each shot.

Lesson: When you’re coaching or mentoring, focus on removing interference. Look at the person you’re coaching in terms of what’s inside that you can help get out. Focus on where they want to go and what’s getting in the way. Ask yourself, “Am I reducing interference or increasing it?”

— Adapted from You Already Know How to Be Great, Alan Fine.

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