by Kevin Hall

(Excerpted from Aspire! Discovering Your Purpose through the Power of Words)

Help thy brother's boat across and lo! thine own has reached the shore.
Hindu Proverb

In old Hungary, along the Danube River between Budapest and Vienna, there was a village by the name of Kocs that produced the world's finest horse-drawn vehicles. Skilled wheelwrights fashioned these conveyances with spring suspension to comfortably carry royalty over the bumpy river road that connected the two great cities. These carriages borrowed their name from the small township where they were skillfully designed and came to be known as "coaches."

Originally crafted for aristocracy, coaches carried important people to their desired destinations in luxury and ease. Their compact, sturdy, and elegant design far surpassed any mode of transportation that had come before, and coaches soon became the rage of fifteenth-century Europe.

Over time, other forms of transportation adopted the term "coach." Passengers traveled the far reaches of the western frontier of America by stagecoach and railway coach. In Europe a motor coach became synonymous with a luxury car or travel bus.

But however far-reaching and prevalent the word has become since the first coach rolled out of production in Kocs, the meaning has not changed. A "coach" remains something, or someone, who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be.

A Coach by Any Other Name

In other cultures and languages, coaches are known by many different names and titles.

In Japan, a "sensei" is one who has gone farther down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.

In Sanskrit, a "guru" is one with great knowledge and wisdom. "Gu" means darkness, and "ru" means light—a guru takes someone from the darkness into the light.

In Tibet, a "lama" is one with spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest-ranking teacher.

In Italy, a "maestro" is a master teacher of music. It is short for "maestro di cappella," meaning master of the chapel.

In France, a "tutor" is a private teacher. The term dates to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.

In England, a "guide" is one who knows and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course.

In Greece, a "mentor" is a wise and trusted advisor. In The Odyssey, Homer's Mentor was a protective and supportive counselor.

All these words describe the same role: one who goes before and shows the way.
Coaches point out the sharp turns, potholes, perils, and pitfalls of the road being traveled. They steer clear of dead-end streets and unnecessary detours as they safely navigate us to our desired destinations. Whether they are leading or teaching or showing or guiding or mentoring, they are coaches. And they are indispensable in helping us find our path and purpose.

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