The Impact of Coaching

lead with people present with people Dec 05, 2022
Focus and Awareness




The softball whizzed past me, only millimeters from my leg. I heard a gasp from the bench. I looked over and saw my teammates looking at me with wide eyes and mouths dropped open.

“Did you see that?” our varsity assistant coach exclaimed as I stood at home plate. “She knew exactly where that ball was and knew she didn’t need to move. That’s the type of focus and awareness I’m talking about! Focus and awareness!”

Stepping away from the plate, I swung my bat. I knew the ball was inside, but I didn’t realize it was that close to hitting me. I don’t remember what happened next and I don’t even remember my coach’s name, but what I do remember is that phrase he would repeat over and over again: “Focus and Awareness.”

I can clearly picture his hand motions while saying those three words, “Focus and Awareness.” With fingers near his temples, hands parallel with his palms facing together, I can imagine my coach moving his hands forward as if he were taking off a pair of glasses as he said “focus.” He would then shift his hands in front of his face with his palms pointing away, moving them out and in like elevator doors as he said “awareness.”

Those words not only made me a better softball player, but they have made me a better person. “Focus and Awareness” is a life skill that is not only critical in sports but also in everyday life. As a mom, I have used this same phrase and hand movements over and over with my son as he has grown over the years. The very same coaching I received, I now coach my son. Focus and awareness. “Focus on what you’re doing!” “Be aware of your surroundings!” “Be aware of how what you do affects those around you.” And so on. As a life coach, I help people become better aware of who they are, what they are capable of, and how they can focus on these things to become more effective in what they do.

The words my coach spoke to me many years ago still influence me today. There are many types of coaches. Athletic coaches help improve your game. Communication coaches help strengthen your presentation skills. Leadership coaches provide you with insight into was to develop and grow your team. Life coaches help you understand and live out your purpose in life. The list goes on. But no matter what the type of coach, they all have one thing in common: Coaches drive us to be our best and can have a lasting impact on our lives.




I have had many different coaches over the years. Recently, I was sitting at a desk in an office building, gazing out of the floor-to-ceiling windows while munching on a handful of M&Ms. Carolyn, a certified life coach, sat across from me jotting down notes on a pad of paper as we talked. She asked me questions about my life story.

At a break in our session, we grabbed our coats and walked out of the building together. A rush of cool wind brushed against my face. It was a beautiful, sunny day in November. We were surrounded by storefronts and building walls decorated with colorful artwork. As we walked down the sidewalk toward a restaurant for lunch, Carolyn began telling me about some of the patterns she saw emerge as I was sharing my story.

She pointed out two words that I used several times during our conversation: empower and recognize. I’m passionate about empowering people so I wasn’t surprised by that word. The word recognition, however, was unexpected. Yet, it resonated with me. I desire to be recognized, not in the sense of getting a gold star, but in the sense that I want to be seen and known. For people to recognize and appreciate who I am and what I have to offer so that I can make a meaningful contribution.

As a life coach, Carolyn was able to recognize patterns in my life that I was unaware of because she had the perspective of being on the outside looking in. That moment increased my own awareness and gave me valuable insight into who I am and how I interact with others.

Coaching makes us aware of our strengths as well as the areas we can improve. Several years ago, I was asked to be the guest speaker at a DivorceCare event. After the event, the leader of the group who had invited me to speak provided me with some great feedback. He shared with me how the stories I told encouraged the group. He also shared with me the footage from my talk and made me aware that even though I didn’t use fillers like “um” or “well”, there was one word I did overuse: “huge”. I knew I used the word in sentences like, “The hope that I had was huge,” or “This person’s encouragement made a huge impact in my life”. However, I wasn’t aware of how often I was using that particular word. Because of his coaching, I was able to expand my vocabulary and improve my speaking skills.

Having a coach in our lives makes us more aware of ourselves and how we impact the world around us.




Once we have a greater awareness, we move on to narrowing our focus. Philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something”. Dr. Jim Singleton put it this way, “It’s not about what you can do, it’s about what only you can do”.

My freshman year in high school, I could play well in every position on the field except for pitcher. However, my coach recognized that my greatest strength was my speed and strategically placed me in right field. Even though I could hit a homerun, many times my coach would show me the bunt hand signal because I could beat the ball back to first base. Our coach knew his players and how to focus on each of our strengths to have a winning season.

I always considered myself a jack of all trades, master of none. So this quote from Dr. Howard Hendricks really resonated with me: “There are lots of things you could do. But there is only one thing you must do. Most opportunities are distractions in disguise.”

When I went through my coaching certification process, I realized I had a sweet spot where my passions, abilities, and opportunity collide. I realized that my ability to do many things actually gave me the diversity I need to do one thing really well: empower others to connect to their sweet spot.

Coaching helps us align our focus so we can maximize our impact.

We invite you to join us on this journey of growth. No matter what type of coaching you are interested in (communication, leadership, life, personal growth), you would go through a process that looks something like this:

  1. Inventory: Assess where you are today.
  2. Interpretation: Ask the question “Why?”
  3. Inscription: Articulate the results, celebrating the successes and highlighting areas of improvement.
  4. Implementation: Formulate measurable next steps.

This is the four-steps of the Younique Life Coaching process that I use. Speak with People walks clients through a deep dive into questions and tools that help them become a more effective communicator and reach their goals. We take a look at different experiences throughout life and discover what we can learn from them. Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is.”

We evaluate what clients can do to increase the value that they contribute to the world while also increasing the vitality that they experience. Finally, we explore what this looks like practically speaking and provide accountability.




American Author John A. Shedd famously wrote, “A ship is safe in harbor, but that is now what ships are made for.” Ships were made for sailing the vast ocean. People were made to live a life of purpose. Implementing a plan can feel risky, but it is rewarding.

There were times playing softball when I got hurt. Once, I was on third base threatening to steal home. The pitcher took her stance, watching the catcher’s hand signals. She nodded. I leaned back so that I could get more momentum.

The pitch! I sprinted off the base to get a good leadoff.

Strike! I immediately pivoted and ran back to third base. Suddenly, the softball hit my shoulder at about 60 mph. The catcher had tried to throw it back to the third basemen to tag me for the out, but slipped and the ball caught my shoulder. Pain shot down my arm as I fell into the dirt.

I slid and grabbed third base before they could recover the ball to tag me out. My coach helped me up and asked if I was okay. Slowly I rotated my arm and winced in pain. I couldn’t play and sat on the bench for the rest of the game. But that never stopped me from getting back off the bench and playing again.

Over and over my mom used to encourage me during high school to “finish strong.” Those two words have stuck with me, pushing me to finish the freelance video, complete a certification and publish my book. I have used that same phrase to encourage my son as he grows up.

Finish strong. Make appropriate goals and follow through. This part is the hardest for me. I love to evaluate and dig into personality and passions. But when it comes to focusing and getting things done, I need the accountability of a coach and others in my life to help me push through to the finish. Sometimes it hurts along the way. Sometimes we misjudge the situation and have to make that leap. But when I do, it’s rewarding.

One time there was a fly ball hit into the outfield. No one was on base and I could tell it would be a simple catch. So instead of sprinting to get under the ball for the easy catch, I jogged toward the ball. As it came down, I realized I had completely misjudged its position. My heart raced. I quickly kicked into high gear and took a diving leap into the air. I stretched my glove out as far as I could and made a dramatic catch. The runner was out, ending the inning. The crowd cheered and I let out a big sigh of relief.

Coach, speaker, and author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Jack Canfield says, “Don’t worry about failure, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”

I have had many coaches over the years who have given me an increased awareness of who I am and what I am capable of as well as challenged and pushed me to focus, overcome, and accomplish great things. These people were instrumental in my life and their words and influence still impact me today.

Who is your coach?


Caitlyn Neel - Content Director & Coach