Your mama ain’t your coach!

I expect that this article may stimulate a lot of debate, or maybe even strife.  That’s okay.  I’m here to point out a fact that not many people will be willing to accept or embrace.  Yet, I am inclined to say it because if it fuels any self-examination then I have done my job as a coach.

When we are asked as a child, “Who looks out for you the most?”  The intuitive answer would usually be, “My mom.”  Yet why is it then, if mom was our ultimate guiding light as a child, she may no longer be fit to be our coach as an adult?  The truth is, she helped shape us (for better or for worse), and so many of the programs running in our minds are attributed back to mom.  And mom, being human, has her own faults, her own fears, her own ambitions when it comes to how she communicates with us.  If you grew up in the Asian tradition, you will undoubtedly know that mom does and says things to bring out what she believes is the most appropriate behavior.  Yet, that doesn’t mean it’s what’s best for our growth.  For example, when mom asks you to greet people during Chinese New Year by saying “Gong Xi Fa Cai”, she likely feels pride when others sing praises about how obedient you are.  Of course, there will always be some well-meaning element of helping you with your social skills, but at a young age, obedience is viewed as more important in the traditional Chinese home than being sociable.  Her judgment of what you’re learning may be partially clouded by the fact that she is your mom and how you may affect how she may appear in social settings.

Teachers, Coaches, and Masters, in sports, religion or in other areas of life all serve a different purpose.  They are there to push you.  Their purpose is not to make you love them (whereas mom would always want you to love her).  Teachers, Coaches, and Masters are there to ensure you excel in your given field, industry, art or discipline.  They are the ones who understand that it could be your career, relationship or reputation on the line.  They are the ones who are meant to provide you with objective and constructive criticism.  Mom, on the other hand, will always only see your positive traits and love you regardless of your success or failure.  Biased much?

You see…Your mama ain’t your coach!  A Teacher, A Coach, A Master is someone who has aced their game.  Someone who is so good at what they do (or has been) that they can spot your weaknesses, your mistakes, and give you the right advice to correct it.  That doesn’t mean that your mom is purposely giving you the wrong career advice.  She’s coming from a well-meaning place.  However, just as you wouldn’t learn how to cook from a mechanic, you wouldn’t learn how to fix cars from an astronomer, and you wouldn’t learn how to play golf from someone who has barely ever held a golf club, your mom probably isn’t going to be the best-suited coach for an adult in this era.  Just as their parents became outdated over time, so have many of our own parents.  It’s the natural evolution of things.  At the end of the day, if you’re serious about growth, then you will need to be prepared to cut some of those apron strings and invest in some professional help.  Growth doesn’t stop when we leave school, it starts when we leave school.

Judy Wong

Writer, Speaker and Lifestyle Coach