Coaching Greatly: Empathy, Vulnerability and Worthiness

You’re not going to find this at any basketball clinic or in any coaching book. Rarely will it show up in any works on leadership. But… it is the essence of great coaching and leadership.

This is one of my everything-yet-nothing to do with coaching shares: Brené Brown on Empathy.

Watch. Reflect. Apply…


“Empathy fuels connection.”

Four (4) Qualities of Empathy:

  1. Perspective taking – ability to take the perspective of another person or recognize their perspective as their truth
  2. Staying out of judgment
  3. Recognizing emotion in other people (then communicating that)
  4. Ability to feel WITH people

Coaching = Creating Connections

Dr Brené Brown studies human connection. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. When you take a step back and think about how others are affected by coaching (good or bad), those four themes continually surface. They’re deeply interwoven within the fabric of the sporting experience of any athlete. And, consciously or unconsciously, your words, body language and every interaction have the opportunity to build up or break down all in your charge.

“Empathy is a choice. It’s a vulnerable choice.” But, it’s a quality of great coaching.  To borrow from Brown, what makes something better is: connection. (Think about your experiences. There’s a universal truth to this!).

It’s not your “stuff” (read: X’s and O’s) that will separate you from the competition. It’s the stuff that’s behind the stuff. To access that vault, often locked deep within you, you’ll have to be willing to get uncomfortable – or vulnerable as Brown more accurately frames it.

Coaching is one of those professions where empathy really matters.


PS. Don’t stop here… Learn about the power of vulnerability in coaching.

#thankthepasser:  Dr Brené Brown is the best-selling author of “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead“. Add it to your reading list.