Are you a coach or a critic? – the key to greater motivation

Are you a coach or critic

Human beings are purpose driven.  Without being clear on our purpose we can feel lost, stuck and lack motivation.  For many of us, part of our purpose is to grow and to help others.  But what makes a person truly helpful?  What qualities provide the conditions for motivation and growth?

Take some time to reflect on a person in your life who has inspired you to grow.  What were their qualities and values?  What was it that was specifically helpful to you?  How did that make you feel, about that person, about yourself, about possibilities?  And most importantly, do you foster those qualities in yourself?  Not just to pass on to others, but are you able to offer them to yourself when you most need help?  Are you a coach or a critic?  If you are not sure, your self-talk is your best barometer.

Our internal self-talk arises in response to life experiences and messaging from significant people, events, and belief systems.  This soundtrack automatically runs in your head and drives your feelings and behaviours.  Often the things our self-talk says we would not dream of saying to our friends and colleagues!  While our self-talk can be quite self-critical, but it does not have to stay that way.  Consider whether your self-talk needs some encouragement to become a coach rather than a critic.  This will not only help you but will supercharge your ability to help others as you move towards greater integrity.  Here are some qualities to focus on for greater inspiration and motivation:


Qualities of a coach

Coaches are encouraging, strength focused, highlight areas for growth, provide accountability and offer guidance to help you to be your best.  They keep the big picture in mind and see setbacks as part of a pathway to overall success.  Coaches focus on potential.  The kind of messages you can expect are, “You’re on track”, “Keep up the good work”, “You’re improving in….”.  They provide specific, strength focused feedback that can be followed and actioned.

If your self-talk is geared towards coaching you will feel more supported, encouraged, and motivated.  If your self-talk leans towards criticism you will feel more disheartened, less confident and lacking in motivation.


Qualities of a critic

Critics use shame as a motivator, are deficit focused, discouraging, and point out setbacks as a disappointment or character flaw.  They focus on detail as indicators for failure and view setbacks as part of an overall trajectory of not being good enough.  Critics focus on problems and lack.  Typical messaging includes, “You always mess it up”, “You should know/do better”, “You are hopeless, etc.”  The feedback is targeted on perceived character flaws and does not provide a framework of what to action or how to move past it.  So, what do we do about the critic?

Trying to get rid of the critic can often fuel the attention we give it and we want to give it less attention.  So, do not fight it or assess whether it is true or not.  A better alternative is to acknowledge the critic is active and check if it is helpful or unhelpful in motivating you.  It will generally not be helpful and, if you think criticism is helpful, consider the possibility of an even better way where you can feel good about yourself.  Imagine a teacher or mentor that yells at you (critic) compared to one who sees your potential and believes in you (coach).  Which one is more motivational?  Once you recognise the critic is unhelpful try asking yourself what you might say if you were being a coach instead?  What words of encouragement can you offer?  Then repeat, every time the critic pops up.

Each time you notice the critic and practice being the coach, you’re on the right track!



    I have read your coach or a critic email .
    Found it interesting.

    • Amy Islip

      Glad to hear Brendan. I’d be interested to hear what you found interesting.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *