An Interesting Etymology for You

by Julie Salgo

I wonder how many of you know the origin of the word “coaching.”

Our modern use of the word “coach” is a metaphor. “Coach” was applied first in education, not in athletics. The term was used as a verb by students of tutors preparing them for exams. The slang reference for tutors became “coach” because tutors quickly and comfortably carried students to their goal of passing their exams.

The history of the word is instructive.

In the 15th century, a Hungarian village called Kocs made its living by building carts and transporting goods between Vienna and Budapest. Around this time, “an unknown carriage maker in Kocs devised a larger, more comfortable carriage than any known at the time. It was called ‘wagon of Kocs,’ which was shortened to ‘kocsi’ in Hungarian,” states Robert Hendrickson in The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins. Over the next century, it became popular and was copied throughout Europe. The name became “Kutsche”in German, “coche in French, and “coach in English.

Today, coaching and life coaching are popular ways of helping people achieve their goals.

Most Toastmasters will get into mentoring and/or coaching and learn that mentors and mentees/protégés create short- or long-term relationships. These relationships provide opportunities to learn the “ins and outs” of the necessary Toastmasters ingredients, such as core values, Toastmasters International (TI)/District/Club Missions, systems, processes, and roles, working on projects, for the benefit of all parties’ development, plus how to charter/mentor a new club. (Anyone can download a Mentoring Manual to learn all the necessary details.)

Coaches, on the other hand, have a 6-month to 2-year relationship with a club that requests help to grow. Club coaches help clubs achieve Distinguished, Select Distinguished, or President’s Distinguished by helping them focus on their Club Success Plan criteria. (TI recently created an excellent Club Coach Program Module for anyone who wishes to help clubs succeed.)

Let me offer a few other words that are closely related to those mentioned above:

Teachers and trainers convey knowledge and teach skills they gathered from mostly learning from others. Consultants diagnose situations and apply their expertise, which they accumulated from experiencing multiple issues where problems were solved or resolved. Teachers, trainers, and consultants provide standard solutions, while mentors and coaches provide customized solutions.

If you have ever been a parent, a supervisor, a manager, a director, or in any other leadership position, a teacher, a trainer, or a consultant, or if you had any professional experience in an area during your life, you could easily step into the roles of a mentor or a coach.

With TI designed and offered forms, plus dialogues with people you wish to team up with, it is pivotal to review the purpose and the ultimate goals of the relationships for everyone’s satisfaction. Strive for a “WIN-WIN”. The more mentors you work with, the richer your experience will be. And when you are ready, you can become a mentor as well.

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