Hope your week is going well and you're staying on top of all the small details that build the success of achieving the greatest version of yourself. Today we're talking about mentors and coaches and just how important having an outward perspective can be.
Imagine it’s another weekday and time to go to the gym. It’s been years of the same type of workout routine, and the results are flatlining. It still feels like a good workout, but something is missing. We already work hard to reach a level of expertise whether that be at work or in the gym, but that knowledge is limited by our experience and the time we have available to learn new things. It might even seem inconceivable that something you’ve done for years needs improving because as the old adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But not today, instead we’re going to make the case for going beyond the status quo to reach out for guidance and maximize our potential.
Let’s take a look at surgeon and columnist for the New Yorker magazine, Atule Gawande, who was 45 and had seemingly reached his best. With so many successful surgeries under his belt, Atul was beating national averages for minimal surgical complications, but at some point his progress flatlined. There was no improvement, just a steadiness that could easily turn into a decline. He’d been practicing for years and succeeding, but he was dissatisfied with the continued same results. In a moment of inspiration, Atul decided to have a former mentor take notes on his work during an operation.
The feedback provided by his old mentor was a laundry list, but that information was also invaluable because it was more than he’d discovered on his own in five years. It started with small details such as the way Atul decided to drape the patient for surgery, or how he positioned his elbows while performing the procedure. If he draped the patient poorly, then the surgical assistant was hampered down and could not help Atul as easily, and if his elbows were high, nearly at his ears, his technique became a detriment to precision.
Atul implemented these new habits, which took practice, but success was immediate. With a change in how the patient was draped, came the surgical assistant’s ability to be more helpful in the operating room. By quickly noticing that direct light was not on the patient, then Atul could see and assess the patient much faster. It was with the help of an outsider’s perspective that Atul was able to create more progress for himself and thereby help his patients heal and recover better. His curiosity and desire to do better not only benefited him, but also the people he worked with, his patients, even the hospital he worked at. The far reaching consequences of bettering himself and his abilities set a new standard for his team.
Atul is not the only person to use a coach to find progress in his work. Musicians, athletes, and CEOs all use coaches and mentors to find and keep progress. We all have an amazing amount of potential just waiting to be utilized, there are no excuses when it comes to accomplishing more for yourself. But maybe the thought of having someone critique you over your shoulder is a bit much. It can feel embarrassing to have our mistakes pointed out to us. That’s why the right coach is paramount to success.
How do you find the right coach for you? It depends on what you want improved or how you like to work. There are a lot of details that could vary from person to person, but the things that stay the same and are the most important are:
- Communication: A great coach is someone that listens and asks questions. Your coach should be able to answer your questions with respect and consideration. Nowhere, except in movies, should there be someone coaching you with negativity. The information and discomfort of being critiqued is enough, a coach should be able to effectively convey what is going on and what needs improvement.
- Trust - A great coach is someone who speaks with credibility. That means this person has your best interest at heart and the information being given is supported with experience. Trust also requires vulnerability, which means when you mess up or need help, your coach should respond with constructive criticism not derision.
- Openness - Cultivate a sense of openness and non-judgment that helps you grow. Not every idea is going to work for you, but the willingness to offer suggestions and be transparent about thought processes makes it easier to trust and cultivates an open learning environment.
If the learning environment is lacking any of these components then it could be more of a one-way conversation and a lack of learning all together. A great coach or mentor will realize that reaching goals and winning cannot come at the expense of developing technique or growing yourself as a person. You deserve to be the best version of yourself, don’t settle for good enough when it comes to anything, even a coach.
By learning the basics you can build into more complex ideas or athletic movements. For example, a coach can watch your deadlift, and critique what’s not working. It might even solve the reason for that nagging pain every time you try to deadlift. You may even learn from their philosophy on how to approach a problem differently. Bob Iger, Disney CEO, shared, “the riskiest thing you can do today is not take risks.” The far reaching consequences of not learning and growing mean stagnation, and the only place to go from there is down. So go, right now! The person you’ve always wanted to be is right there just waiting for you to get up and do the next best thing for yourself.
We hope you enjoyed today's discussion and look forward to our time together again next time!
Blessings, Adan Martinez