Permission to Speak Candidly? Get Some Coaching!

Grab the new QBQ! Workbook here. Personal, powerful, and practical!


We’ve had the game of Boggle in the Miller home since 1982. Fun, competitive, and challenging—and great for kids as it helps grow their “vocab.”

Here’s what always amazes me when I play:

After staring at the letter cubes for a couple minutes, I think I’ve found all the words in front of me until someone rotates the game board 180 degrees. Then—BAM!—I find words that I couldn’t find before.

So just by looking at the layout of letters differently—by turning them upside down—I now see what I could not see.

Therein lies the reason why having a coach is so critical:

Nobody can look into the mirror and see what’s present and what’s missing, what’s positive and what’s negative, and what’s good and what isn’t good.

But when another person looks at us, he or she can see all those things.

This person doesn’t have to be a real coach. You know, like a paid consultant. Just someone who sincerely desires to help us learn, grow, and change—for the better.

Of course, we need to give this person something first:

A coach requires complete freedom to offer input, with absolutely no fear of recrimination, grudge-holding, or argument and debate.

Like in the military:

“Permission to speak candidly, Sir?!”

“Permission granted.”

Allowing someone into my life to give frank feedback is like turning the Boggle board 180 degrees: I can now see what I could not see.

Who could benefit greatly from having a coach, you ask? Hmm … let’s see … maybe …

Managers, executives, parents, grandparents, spouses, pastors, salespeople, friends, school teachers, volunteers, athletic coaches, referees, and speakers.

Just to name a few.

A Personal Example

Early in my speaking career, I had the honor of presenting “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” from the platform in Minneapolis to 1,500 people. I was the opening act for famed Notre Dame football coach, Lou Holtz.

Believe me, in my mind … I. Had. Arrived!!!

The next day, while I was still on Cloud 9 1/2, a buddy who’d attended the event called and politely said, “It was pretty good, but I can take you higher.”

My private thoughts:

What!? No way, man! It was amazing! I opened for Coach Holtz. The audience applauded!!! Were you not there???

My spoken words: “Oh, really? Huh. Well, okay.”

David Levin and I began our journey together that day and my speaking business took off.

Thanks, Dave!

Two decades later, David doesn’t coach me anymore. He’s an author and speaker himself now. I still have some in my life, though. The most valuable being Karen, my wife of 36+ years. Sometimes, she sets me straight.

When she does, my spoken words are, “Yes, Dear.”

My private thoughts are: Man, she’s right again.

It simply and continually boggles my mind what a coach can do!

Who is your coach? Tell us about that person and how he/she adds value to your life. Comment below!

Grab the new QBQ! Workbook here. Personal, powerful, and practical!


6 Responses

  1. John – thank you for this simple way of explaining the benefits of having a coach. As a certified professional coach myself, this permission to speak candidly has been the cornerstone to guiding others toward the successes they desire. It isn’t that I am smarter than they are, or that I “know better,” it is just that I am an outsider who can see things from a different angle. I love your posts – thank you for giving of yourself so freely.

  2. Good note John, on the importance of garnering feedback to help us improve.

    I have benefited tremendously from various family members and friends and mentors coaching me over the years.

    In fact some of my best coaches have not actually done anything—they have taught me by their example. In some cases, like my wife, her actions have taught me about self-discipline, kindness and dedication. Other people have taught me by their examples of anger, bullying behavior and cynicism. (what not to do!)

    However, my biggest mentor and coach is now myself and my own desire to improve. Not a day goes by when I do not ask myself questions such as how can I do this better?, what is a better way to relate to this person?, what can I do to better manage my own anger or frustrations, what am I missing—is there something else I need to learn, or I have tried and failed at this one skill but maybe I gave up to soon?

    Keep up the good work John. Thanks!

  3. This is a fact that is true
    Most will tell you from this, that they grew
    It’s a must to approach
    A really good coach
    For success, a good mentor’s view

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