Coaching was yesterday — today we are Piloting

Sandy Seeber-Quayle
4 min readNov 13, 2020

Have you ever thought about the word coaching in its original meaning? Going back to around 1550 (yes, that is nearly 500 years), a coach is considered a “large kind of four-wheeled, covered carriage” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. The use of the word coaching in a sense of training somebody to excel has been established later but exists for at least nearly two centuries. While back in the very old days a coach was exactly what we needed to get from “A” to “B” simply because there were no other means of transport we now travel not only a lot faster but also through the air. We even get up into space. I wonder what our ancestors would have thought of such a possibility.

Coaching as a form of bringing a person from where they are to where they want to be has truly become a well known discipline in all walks of life including sports, businesses and how to live a more fulfilled, successful and healthy life. It does work, doesn’t it? To have somebody supporting us on whatever our journey is. Somebody who keeps us accountable on the way when there are obstacles to overcome, challenges to tackle and not to forget successes to celebrate. Many people benefit from working with a coach to reach their next level in life, have more fulfilment or find their dream job. And with every reached destination a new one appears and we leave for the next journey ahead, more growth, faster pace, more fulfilment, greater strength, better relationships, (keep adding the things that you want to achieve) — the list keeps going without an end in sight.

Stone face, Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Looking at how the world has developed in the last hundred years alone, it makes me wonder why we are still using a coach to get from “A” to “B” when it comes to development. While only a few humans fly into space, many have become accustomed to using airplanes to travel around the globe. The world appeared to be huge when I was a child in the eighties while now it has become so accessible due to the airline industry. Being in a pandemic, exploring the world has come to a full stop. But do we really need to see everything with our own eyes? The last twenty years have literally brought the world into our living rooms. It will only take a few seconds to look at a sunset picture taken in Srinagar, Kashmir India or a stone face in Angkor Wat, Cambodia or looking at breathtaking mountain tops in Patagonia. Yet, for development we apply ancient methods. Do we really need somebody coaching us from one place to another, again and again?

Dal lake, Srinagar, Kashmir, India

Maybe that is what you need. Who am I to decide? But maybe it is time to step into the next century when it comes to ourselves. While trying to getting better, growing, leading a healthier life, increasing performance we tend also to deny ourselves to be ok with were we are at. To be ok to not being ok. To be ok with having a bad habit, drinking too much, eating too unhealthy, doing too little exercise and so on. What does it take to just be in full acceptance of where we are at ? Right now, in this minute while you are reading this article. Just say it: “I am ok with ….”. Was that too hard?

Maybe it was, maybe it was a lot easier than you thought it would be. Maybe you can just decide to make it easy. However, if it wasn’t there may be some parts of you that you are not in control of. And if we are not in control of ourselves then we have given it away to some part of ourselves that may act out of habit, trauma, outside influences, conditionings or other people.

Mount Fitz Roy, Patagonia, Argentina

The word pilot is even older than the word coach by a few years (1510). Its meaning is described in the Online Etymology Dictionary as “one who steers a ship". It is a word describing someone to be in control. And because it is not bound to the vehicle it controls it has developed over the years to “one who controls a balloon,” and to “one who flies an airplane.” We also use the word pilot when we talk about a prototype or a test phase. And the pilot light is describing a low burning flame that becomes the source of the ignition of a bigger flame according to Wikipedia.

How does the word pilot relate to coaching? It doesn’t really. While coaching is a means of transport, piloting is a means of control. While coaching is a fantastic method to help people and businesses reach their goals and develop, piloting gives people and businesses the control to steer their destiny. While coaching is the crutch to enablement, piloting is the ignition to self-empowerment. While coaching is a linear transfer, piloting sets you up to take control of your life wherever it may bring you.



Sandy Seeber-Quayle

Writes articles, flash fiction, poetry about life, thinking, management, human behaviour and all that is beyond my grasp.