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Why do you resist coaching?

Why do you resist coaching?

April 27, 2017

A 22 year old tennis coach taught a surgeon how to operate better.

Here's how...

Dr. Atul Gewande, a forty-some year old surgeon thought he reached his professional peak. Specializing in endocrine surgery, Atul had performed thousands of surgeries. He was doing well, had consistent success rates, and achieved a high level of expertise. But he hit a plateau and he knew it. It concerned him.

Atul hadn’t always wanted to be a surgeon. In fact, as a teen he wanted to become a professional tennis player. One day at a medical conference, he took a break to play tennis. Finding a local tennis club, but seeing no one to play against, the tennis club pro offered his services.

“You know,” the coach said, “you could get more power from your serve.” His new coach explained that he didn’t keep his legs completely underneath him when he swung the racket into the air. And dragging his leg a few inches was costing him power, according to the tennis coach.

Within a few minutes of tinkering, he added at least ten miles an hour to Atul’s serve.

Atul realized he just paid to have a kid fresh out of college critique his serve. So couldn’t he pay someone to come into his operating room and coach him on his surgical technique?

Lesson # 1. You’re not a loser if you hire a coach. You’re not even deficient.

In fact, the best and brightest are the ones who hire coaches. Rafael Nadal has a coach.

[Find out why I wrote a $100 check to the Nazi Party and how to change your life with the Art of Accountability Coaching Method.]

Some time after that eye-opening tennis match, Atul asked a former surgical teacher of his to critique his operating skills. He called Dr. Robert Osteen, now retired, to step into his operating room and comment on Atul’s performance.

Dr. Osteen noticed things like draping, lighting, the surgeon’s position near the table and how he held his elbows (which told Osteen that Atul needed to move his feet over to get a better view). After the surgery, the two men collaborated on how Atul could improve. He pointed out small suggestions eventually transformed the outcome and speed of Atul’s surgeries.

Lesson # 2: You don’t always have to pay for a coach.

Dr. Osteen was a former teacher and colleague. Have a friend shadow you at work. Whether you’re in landscaping or surgery, there’s always room to improve.

As Atul started researching coaching and its impacts more he noticed that some professions seem to embrace coaching, while others eschew it. Professional athletes never go without coaching, while professionals in medicine, business, law, various hands-on professions rarely hire them.

Why do athletes embrace coaching?

The standard way of learning a trade or profession presumes that after a certain point, youno longer need instruction. You graduate and you’re done. You can go the rest of the way by yourself. You’ve transitioned from apprentice to master by receiving a diploma.

Athletes never assume that they can maintain their peak level of performance without help.

There is much more urgency built into sporting professions - a shorter shelf life of the athletes themselves and therefore fewer opportunities to make it big. Few can achieve and maintain their best performance on their own. They easily acknowledge that require outside ears and eyes.

Lesson # 3: Become a professional athlete in regards to your work.

Let’s go one step deeper.

You know intellectually that it’s a good idea to have a coach. It make sense. All the top players do it. Then why do you (and most others) resist it?

Where’s the disconnect? Why is there such a strong resistance to coaching?

  1. You feel that you should know everything upon graduation. Or at least upon gaining years of experience in your field. You should be the expert by now - and if not there’s something wrong with you.
  2. Others may see your deficiencies. That’s always uncomfortable.
  3. Coaches may report your (under)performance to your superiors. This could involve risk.
  4. It feels intrusive to have someone watch your work.

Lesson # 4: Move past “the shoulds”.

No one can ever improve without constructive input - their own reflection or someone else’s. Remember the phrase “outside ears and eyes”. That’s all coaching truly is.

The implications of minor improvements due to coaching for you and your clients can be enormous.

As Seth Godin puts it, if you skimp on one bean in a pot of chili, no one will notice. If you hire cheaper labor in a call center, few will care. If you use a lower quality bolt in a car, no one will realize. But over time, “some people will notice that the portions are a little skimpy. Some customers will be annoyed enough to switch to another company. And some people are going to die.”

Getting a coach who can help you make small incremental changes over time can make a world of a difference.

Dr. Atul Gewande claims that since he’s taken on a coach, his complication rate has gone down. He’s faster, safer and simply put, better.

[Find out why I wrote a $100 check to the Nazi Party and how to change your life with the Art of Accountability Coaching Method.]

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