Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Seth Coffing. I have been a teacher, coach, mentor, psychologist, motivator, public speaker for the past 19 years. As an educator, you have to wear many hats to be successful. I began coaching basketball at my old high school as a 20-year-old collegiate student-athlete. My roles have changed numerous times over the years, but the one that has always been at the forefront in my mind is to lead young people.
What has been one insight or lesson that has been most helpful in your career?
To be successful in anything, I believe that you have to be flexible and willing to try things that may or may not work. In education, like many professions, if you are not willing to change with the times, you will be left behind. I have been able to adapt to many different environments to motivate young people to be their best.
What has been your favorite mistake? A mistake that in retrospect led to a great lesson and progress.
A mistake stays a mistake if you don’t grow from it and respond positively moving forward. We all make mistakes. What I am most proud of, and I feel that I can teach young people about that translates to anyone’s life, is how to be resilient and move forward. Keep your vision ahead and what you truly want to be happy. Do not allow for “mistakes” or circumstances sway you from that path for too long. Get right back on the path that you want.
Project forward ten years. How will your industry or field be fundamentally different then? What opportunities do you see?
Education continues to evolve technologically, and new theories and ideas seemingly come every school year. It’s hard to say what education will look like in 10 years. My hope is that students can be more connected socially, emotionally, and mentally over time.
What are some bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
One of the very first pieces of advice I received when I began in education is to be aware of the teacher’s lounge. I try to gravitate toward positive people, and the advice I received was referencing the potential for “energy vampires” to influence my thinking or to throw negativity at my way of thinking. IF I listened to some of these energy vampires, I would be receiving negative recommendations all too often.
In the last two years, what have you become better at saying no to?
I have definitely been more conscious of leading a more balanced life. Sometimes it’s ok to say no to something that is asked of you and do things for yourself. There has to be a healthy balance of work/life/play. Everyone has a different level that works for them.
What is the one book you recommend most often and why?
I am a big fan of Jon Gordon. The Power of Positive Leadership is a book that I have listened to several times during my commute. It’s a reminder to me to keep the positivity in everything I do. This leadership style is effective in any walk of life.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious recent college graduate? What advice should they ignore?
For me, this goes back to one of the previous questions. Have a life balance that works for you. Your mental health is so important in anything and everything you do.
What is your favorite quote, one you aim to live by?
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky
My family would laugh and say this applies to me on the basketball court. I was never afraid of a shot anywhere in the gym! This quote goes for any walk of life, however. You must take a chance now and then to reach big-time goals. Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is what allows us to grow.