Coach to Coach: An Empowering Story About How to be a Great Leader, by Martin Rooney

Coach to Coach tells the story of a coach who has lost his passion and is in danger of losing his job—until a mysterious man appears and begins to coach him. Told almost as a Socratic dialogue, the book distills the act of coaching into digestible lessons.

First, the elder coach asks his apprentice: "What is your ultimate goal?" He asks him to find the "intersection of passion and purpose." Everything follows from that. This is reminiscent of Angela Duckworth's definition of passion in her book Grit as "a compass—that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be." As martial artists, we can identify this as a lesson in vision.

Next, the coach teaches his student what he calls "the Golden Rule of Coaching: be more enthusiastic about someone other than yourself." He also emphasizes the importance of being a "blame taker" and a "credit maker." As coaches—or instructors—we must keep the focus on our students, not on ourselves. We recognize this as a lesson in humility.

The old coach imparts some practical advice, too, which will be familiar to experienced leaders: Praise in public, but criticize in private. Be generous with high fives, when they are deserved. Use what he calls "the five most powerful words a coach can say": I am proud of you. Implement what you learn: "Knowing what to do is useless if you never do what you know." (In other words, take action.) And practice, practice, practice: "Amateurs do things just enough times to get them right. Professionals do things so many times they can't get them wrong."