26 Truisms I’ve Learned as a Coach

A friend of mine asked a group of us for our little sayings that we keep repeating in our heads as we coach organizations and developers. While I have a few tried and true ones, I put together a list of ones on the spot for him based on my experience. Some of these work only in specific contexts; nevertheless, here you go. Here’s a list of truisms that keep me effective.


  • When did being right ever help?
  • When it comes to working on something you know will help vs. making something just the tiniest better, choose the second one.
  • You don’t control the clock when it comes to change, or you getting asked to leave. You can influence both, however.
  • It’s not about you. Or you.
  • How you’ll know is a better question to answer than what you’ll do.
  • Psst… someone there already has a great idea. Go help them.
  • It’s good to know what you’re qualified to coach in. It’s better to avoid the ones you aren’t.
  • Doing together is better than showing. Showing is better than teaching. Teaching is better than whining.
  • Don’t keep what you’re up to a secret. What, aren’t you lonely enough already?
  • Remember how it felt the last time someone forced you to do something.
  • You have to know what your people care about, or you’ll quickly become one of the things they don’t.
  • Every day you get to choose who you want to be, so make a choice.
  • If things are stuck, give them a little shake.
  • Some days, the best you can do is have a seat with people and say, “That sucked.”
  • Scream as loud as you want in your head, then go find out why things are the way they are.
  • If you want them to go from where they are to somewhere else, make a better path.
  • If you’re wrong, what does that say about you?
  • Hey, dummy, did you try talking about it?


  • Why are you working like you want a support call at 2 AM?
  • I don’t care about your guess. Prove it.
  • If your people need permission to do their job well, you have my permission to leave.
  • When there are several real options on the table, flip a coin.
  • The people who came up with KISS went too far. It’s better to be a KISaS (Keep it simple AND stupid).
  • Stop solving tomorrow’s problem today. Today is hard enough.
  • What’s so hard about writing a line of code, proving it works and shipping it?
  • Coding is a religion. At least it is when all you have is faith that it works.

So there you go. A little peek into my head and how I walk a narrow path when working with clients, leaders, and teams to try to improve things. There are two I want to draw your attention to in particular, though. I find these to be ones I come back to over and over.

  • If you’re wrong, what does that say about you?
  • What’s so hard about writing a line of code, proving it works and pushing it?

Those two help me stay humble and help prime development teams to consider new ideas, so if nothing else stood out to you, I’d keep those two handy.