Consider team sports. They consist of players on various surfaces and environments (fields, courts, pitches, etc.). The player performs the actions that directly affect whether the team wins or loses. Although not directly involved in the action on the field, virtually every sport includes a coach, someone who comes up with the game plan. Even in individual sports, the athlete who tends to go alone often experiences a jump in performance when consulting with a coach. Competitive runners and swimmers rely on coaches to plan and organize, even though some plans may change in the midst of an event. Even individuals whose careers are not dependent on racing discover that coaching provides unique benefits and insights, even while not making daily use of those services.
Sports analogies permeate almost every sphere of our non-sports activities, from work to politics, family to entertainment. In the business world, coaches play similar roles. Whether working alone or in a team environment, there are benefits to having coaches look over your shoulder as you encounter unfamiliar situations or to affirm ideas and defeat doubts.
MightyData provides a full-featured range of services around FileMaker Pro, from development through consulting, instructor-led training classes, and coaching. There is often a delicate balance between training and coaching. One might say in the context of FileMaker development (or any software development), that training is the first step on the road to becoming a developer. Basic training focuses on users – people relatively new to the product and from the perspective of a user. Subsequent training, especially in the FileMaker Training Series (FTS), goes far more in-depth and covers development tools and certification requirements. Not every developer seeks certification or even the broad scope of FTS training. Coaching fills this void, targeting specific areas.
Are You Ready or Not?
How do you know if you are ready for coaching? First, you must be motivated to learn. You are not simply handed a fish, but guided in the process of becoming someone who can fish, to cite another analogy. By considering coaching, you acknowledge a thirst for learning and a desire to improve. Coaching is not an admission of defeat, but a validation of your skills and your desire to take them further. A coach may suggest solutions and approaches to problems, but ultimately the implementation and understanding lies with you. Flexibility comes with any coach/developer relationship. As in sports, individuals may clash; sometimes the player refuses to budge, other times, the coach remains set in certain ways and fails to see other options. Both the developer and coach must take an open approach.
Another critical skill is communication. How do you articulate the issues or problems? MightyData’s coaching is mainly a virtual affair, conveyed via email and screen sharing using GoToMeeting. Can you state the problem so that others understand both where you are coming from and where you want to go? There is always a goal in mind, so vague generalizations tend to lead to fuzzy coaching as if the coach surveys a dusty nebula of issues, rather than sharp stars. Can you interpret what the coach tries to communicate? Sometimes the coach may assume certain things about the problem and suggest a solution that doesn’t quite fit the problem, and the developer needs to mention this to clarify any misunderstanding.
In my experience, I think a coach enjoys giving back knowledge, which is why we coach. We share in the excitement someone feels when he or she has that “aha” moment as something once murky becomes clear, the realization of learning some of the tools FileMaker contains and how they work. If you are looking to take your general FileMaker knowledge to another level, I suggest a broader training curriculum. If you are ready to hone your developer skills and have the willingness to learn and ability to communicate, then you are ready for coaching.