What You REALLY Need to Be Successful


If I asked you about the differences between a coach and a cheerleader, one common scene will probably come to mind: a football game. During that football game there are two very distinct groups: the players on the field and the crowd in the stands watching. Cheerleaders are in place to engage with people in the stands. They gauge the energy of the crowd and the decide which cheers, chants, or stunts will elicit the best response. I was co-captain of my high school’s cheerleading squad so I can tell you firsthand the disappointing feeling a cheerleader gets when there’s minimal audience feedback. Cheerleading is all about the external; they plan their next move based on a response from the outside world.

But then, there are the coaches. Before the game even starts, the coach knows their expectation of performance and outcome. They already know what plays to run and they are focused on their plan, the goals, the players, the performance, and the outcome of the game. Being a coach means that you’re in constant thought and reflection thus coaching is more about the internal. And now that I’m a career coach, it is very easy for me to spot what a person is lacking but for the most part, my cheerleading days are over.

I get phone calls, emails, and social media comments all the time of people asking for direction but I’m a coach so that doesn’t bother me. I already have a game plan and my plays are already mapped out – I’m always ready to get on the field. There is an element of motivation to being a coach, but external motivation can only be ignited when the player has some degree of self-motivation. No one can motivate a player better than they can motivate themselves. If they can’t motivate themselves to get out of bed, the coach can’t help them win the game. I can coach you all day long, but I don’t go to sleep with you and I don’t wake up with you – you do that on your own. What you choose do to before you go to bed and as soon as you wake up depends totally on your level of self-motivation. A coach isn’t at your bedside rah-rah-rah’ing telling you to get up, they’re already at the field waiting on you. I have blog posts on what to do when you wake up, but if you don’t read them or implement those ideas every morning you won’t win. Winning requires partnership; it requires give and take. If you ask me for advice, I’ll give you the advice. But if you don’t implement my suggestion that’s a player problem that is not a coaching problem.

Find your internal source of motivation before you go out looking for a coach.

Campus Career Counselor

CCC, Feb 2015

A few months ago, I was contacted by the publisher of Campus Career Counselor, a monthly national newsletter for college/university career services professionals across the United States and Canada. In each issue of Campus Career Counselor, they devote a page to a column called “Tools & Techniques.” The idea behind it, essentially, is to add to the reader’s bag of career counseling tricks — to give readers a brief glimpse of tools, techniques, and activities that other career services professionals have used successfully to tackle students’/grads’ specific career counseling-related problems and concerns (whatever they might be).

Check out my feature in the newsletter here! Campus Career Counselor – February 2015