With apologies to Robert Frost, the metaphor about “good fences make good neighbors” also seems to fit with coaching. Coaches recognize the boundaries; they love fences. Coaches want to coach. They don’t want to mentor, train, or do. That’s a very important fence. How else do coaches make good neighbors? Here are some thoughts.
Coaches are a positive force. As a coach, you want to raise and not tear down. As Author Baer describes neighbors, “A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.” As a coach, you want to be the person who smiles and maintains an optimistic disposition. You want to be the neighbor that is there to put a sunny disposition on the situation.
Coaches are more than a person. As a coach, you fulfill a role and do a job. You are a coach and you do coaching. You seek to understand and to ask empathic questions. Gilbert Chesterson would describe you by saying, “Your next-door neighbor is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a piano; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.”
Not very coach fits every client. Like neighbors, you need to realize that not everyone will have universal appeal. While all coaches would work to be good neighbors, not everyone will strike you that way. Louise Beal closes this thought with her statement about neighbors: “Love thy neighbor as thyself, but choose your neighborhood.”
There are probably more positive things to say about coaches than they make good neighbors. On the other hand, there is a whole universe of worse things. How would you be described as a neighbor? Would you make a good coach?