I felt safe in my classroom. I knew I was a good teacher. I had spent years and years improving my skill. Then one day we got a new principal who challenged my thinking and my understanding of what it meant to be an instructional leader. He encouraged me to go back to school, to learn new skills, and to try a new job. I was nervous, but it was an exciting nervous.
That uncomfortable feeling you get when you try something new is exhilarating.
I was asked recently to describe my most important mentors, those people who really made an impact on who I am and what I do. It was a fun conversation. I love reflecting on the many people who have taken the time to nurture me, to teach me, to challenge me. The people who have made the most significant impact on my life did not allow me to stay safe. They pushed me and challenged me to grow.
The best coaches listen and seek to understand you. They take the time to learn who you are and what you believe. They know your strengths and your abilities.
The best coaches support and encourage you. They are there for you when you need them the most. They give of their time and their attention, and they make sure you know that you matter.
The best coaches help you organize your thoughts and set priorities. They encourage you to develop action plans to achieve more than you ever knew was possible.
And they challenge you. The best coaches do not simply accept what you say or what you believe. They are willing to engage in debate and discussion and push your thinking.
The best coaches, the best mentors, help you feel comfortably uncomfortable. It is in that space where you are forced to think about things in a new way, to try something you have never done before, where you grow the most. Loving, caring support is valuable, but the best mentors, the ones who make the most lasting impact, move you beyond who you are to who you were meant to be.
This week seek to identify those people in your life who have been willing to challenge you. Thank them!
And watch for the people in your life for whom you could be doing the same!