I Choose Coach

Why am I an advocate for the term Recovery Coach? More specifically why did I choose “coach”? Simply, “coach” most accurately describes and defines my role as it pertains to helping others.

When I first think of a coach, I think of sports. I love sports. I’m wired that way. I love all that it entails. I coached youth soccer for many years. I relished seeing players grow and teams develop. I thrive in several of the roles associated with coaching – motivator, encourager, teacher, trainer, cheerleader, confidant and mentor. These roles are vital to be an effective recovery coach.

But I didn’t start out that way.

My coaching career started with my son’s soccer team. I had dabbled in coaching as a teenager, and I had given golf lessons while working as a club professional, but I was very much a coaching novice when I accepted this position. I thought I might be best suited for coaching basketball, but soccer? I had played some in high school but that was long ago. Now I found myself on the sidelines of our town’s travel team for an eager bunch of 8 year olds. After one particular game, my assistant told me that I did a great job of yelling. He was serious. I had a great game yelling. Thing is, I didn’t want to be a yeller. Everyone else on the sidelines was yelling. There had to be a better way.

I searched the web that evening and stumbled upon the Positive Coaching Alliance. Immediately, I purchased a book, The Double-Goal Coach. It permanently altered the way I coached. Here is the key lesson for me.

To be an effective youth coach, a minimum of seven affirmations or encouragements must precede one correction or criticism.

The first time I read that, I paused. I rarely offered encouragement. I believed my role was to correct. Something rang true. I slowly began offering praise for things a player did well. I noticed a change immediately. As 8 year olds, my team won one game out of twenty-three. That’s a record of 1-22. Four years later we lost 1-0 in an epic state championship game. I couldn’t have been more proud of that team. I attribute much of the success to the Positive Coaching Alliance and my new approach. Many of these principles have been assimilated into the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy©.

Recently, I was flipping through the pages again of The Double Goal Coach and came upon this.

“The very first use of the word “coach” in English occurred in the 1500’s to refer to a particular kind of carriage….Hence the root meaning of the verb “to coach”: to convey a valued person from where he or she was to where he or she wanted to be.” – Roger D. Evered and James C. Selman Coaching and the Art of Management

I have seen no better description of what we do as Recovery Coaches. We convey a valued person from where he or she is to where he or she wants to be. I especially am fond of “valued”. That ties in to how I see people and how I train recovery coaches. The person I am working with is the best resource on his or her life. They have immeasurable value and are worthy of recovery.

Recovery, to me, is much more than a life saved. It’s a redeemed life that sees people transform to fulfilled citizens who contribute to their communities. I firmly believe that transformed people transform people (thanks David Powell).

Going back to seven affirmations for every correction. How often do you think a person new in recovery has heard some encouragement?

I am truly blessed. I love recovery and I love coaching. And I have the privilege of practicing every day. So do you. This is what I do. I try to offer encouragement. I do my best to actively listen, to ask good questions, to keep my stuff out of the way and to treat everyone as a resource. I’m curious.

To me “coach” is a term of endearment.

I choose coach.

Phil “Right Click” Valentine
Recovery established 12.28.87

Phil Valentine
Phil Valentine

In 2015, I finished a thruhike of the entire Appalachian Trail, a trek of 2,189.2 miles. It took 189 days and 6 pairs of boots. During all that time alone with my Creator, my purpose in life became more precisely defined. I am, simply, to coach recovery. Recovery saved me from an early demise and brought purpose to my tattered life. I have learned that I’m a coach to my very core. I am blessed to put the two together. I started work at the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) in 1999. I became the Executive Director of this recovery community organization in 2004. I have trained the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy© dozens of times and have a hand in modifying, improving and adapting various recovery coach curricula. I’m old enough now to start considering my legacy. This is a way for me to share things I have learned in my recovery, in my role as Executive Director and a trainer. I find that when I speak I present the same messages over and over. It’s time to write them down.

4 thoughts on “I Choose Coach”

  1. Loved this blog Phil. Absolutely gained so much knowledge and met the most amazing people and trainers, you and Art in the Recovery Coach Class 2/12-2/16.

    Eva Roehrl

  2. I am so enjoying your blog! Coaching is a passion for me as well. You were one of my trainers. For that I am grateful. Your open minded approach, authenticity and compassionate nature moved me. Coming from behind a clinical desk, which is what I thought My path was, has been a blessing. I guess the desk was the foundation block. Then, Recovery Coaching…….. WOW! you said it when you said, “We convey a VALUED person from where he or she is to where he or she wants to be.” Past experiences showed numerous times, anything but compliance in the clinical setting was a perceived failure with consequences.
    With Coaching, it’s the individual that has a say in their recovery and that is what is supported. Personally, the best is being able to literally walk with them through it, sit next to them in a situation that would otherwise be unnerving.
    No longer requiring a person to do something that is seemingly impossible. Encouraging and supporting the things that they feel are possible. They realize, the impossible changes to I’m-possible.

    Warmest regards,

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