Coach Spotlight: Daniel Wood

“Curiosity is the key to coaching”

Before Daniel Wood came to InsideTrack, he spent ten years as a high school teacher. It was there, in front of his classes every day, that he honed a philosophy that resonates just as much today in his role as a coach and Lead Student Success Specialist. Rather than being a “sage on the stage,” he believes it’s better to be a “guide on the side.” Taking himself out of the spotlight means that he doesn’t have to have all the answers — he’s there to ask questions.

For Daniel, curiosity is the key to coaching. He points out a moment in the popular TV series Ted Lasso where the title character uses the Walt Whitman quote, “Be curious, not judgmental.” And while Ted Lasso is a fictional TV character, Daniel relates to the idea that someone could go from coaching American college football to coaching a premier league soccer team in England without knowing anything about the sport. “In a way,” he says, “it’s like coaching learners. You don’t have to be an expert in the topic you’re coaching on in order to be a great coach. You do need to be curious, and open to asking questions.”

In other words, Daniel believes that you can coach about anything, as long as you have the coaching skills to back you up. “Coaching is universal,” he says. “It can support people by drawing answers out of them that they didn’t realize were already there. Coaching is about leading someone to the point that is going to make a difference in their life.”

Now that he’s been working with learners as an InsideTrack coach for nearly a decade, what’s one of Daniel’s biggest takeaways? “As I talk with students, I am often struck by how much they have done… how dynamic they are. After speaking with people who start out as complete strangers and earning their respect – and earning the right for them to tell me about their lives – I start to see people more fully and understand that everyone is coming from somewhere different in their lives. If we can have a little more compassion for that and the whole person they really are, it can help us to be more mindful of our thoughts and our reactions — not just in coaching, but in day-to-day life as well.”

Not surprisingly for someone so well-versed in Ted Lasso, in Daniel’s life outside of coaching, you can catch him on the soccer field as the captain of ITKFC United — InsideTrack’s soccer team. They ended the most recent season with an impressive 9-1 record.

“Coaching is a light touch. When done right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all. Because what you’ve done is drawn something out of them that was inside them all along. You are there to ask the questions to get to that point. It’s almost Socratic in nature.”

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