Howes: Coaching: Reflections On A Journey

July 26, 2023
Growth lies in embracing your journey, learning from your failures and having the right teacher at the right time.

This is a hard truth: "The best teacher makes himself unnecessary to his students." Maximum performance in sports, as in business, almost always occurs with sound coaching. Competency can occur with self-teaching, but mastery rarely. 

Coming to that realization is not easy. You are never beholden to anyone or anything that is not contributing to or bettering your life. In life, as in business, also realize that it is always OK to seek higher education, and to feel the need to better yourself should never bring about shame or fear. Fear is not from God, nor is it from good. 

Train To Failure 

Never stay just because of your social circle, which is comfortable, and even good. Growth is rarely found in comfort, it’s found with challenge and with failure. I would share that I have learned far more from my failures than I have from my successes. Failure teaches humility, it’s an affirmation that you have limits, and you have hit them. It’s also a call to look at those limits and to train to move past them. We don’t start out running a marathon or lifting 200 pounds. Rather, we train to failure because each failure brings growth and a new milestone; a milestone that now becomes your starting point rather than your stopping point. 

The Journey

The Japanese have a wonderful term for this journey, "Do," which roughly translates as "the way of," and the steps and path therein. We're all on a path, whether we acknowledge it or not. Ideally, that path should bring you up in knowledge, confidence and empowerment.

So, here we are. In my journey in the uniquely American martial art of the rifle, I've consistently studied hard under one teacher and, when ready for the next stage, eagerly but respectfully sought out the future. Every one of those past teachers is a mentor, still a friend, and very much understanding, encouraging and respectful of my choice to continue my journey.

There is an adage, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." Trusting in that maxim permits an understanding of one's true path. Just as the student must honor and respect his teacher, the teacher must also honor and respect his student by allowing him to advance and grow along that path. The second part of that adage is as important as the first but oft-forgotten: "When the student is truly ready, the teacher will DISAPPEAR."

A Wise Teacher

The wise teacher advises and advocates for the student that they are ready to advance and, in so doing, bring blessings and honor to the student and himself.

A student ready to advance and leave one's teacher is not a sign of failure but the opposite. It is the true sign of success. Knowledge and lessons so imparted will always cause the faithful and wise student to crave more until he completes the cycle and becomes a teacher. Sometimes that thought may frighten a weaker teacher.


Some years back, this was most vividly taught to me when one of my instructors at a certain firearms academy placed a challenge coin in my hand after an arduous day of training. I've earned many since that day, but I remember the first one like it was yesterday. I knew instinctively what it meant, but I also knew it was time to move on to the next challenge, to the next teacher.

There comes a time when one must be true to oneself and leave the nest for the greater challenges and knowledge that lay beyond. For the wise student, the journey is never-ending and endures throughout life.

Fear is never your friend, but honor always is. Never apologize for seeking your personal best.

Actively seek out coaching, be it peer to peer, or professional, the important thing is that you are growing, you are advancing and you know you are on the journey. 

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