Are You Coachable?

Coaching is popular and discussed on many levels in many cultures, from the courts to the corporations. However, the center of these discussions almost always revolves around the coach, rather than the student.

Hence the question, “Are you coachable?” And it goes well beyond the student on the tennis court. Consider this question on many levels: for each of us individually, for the staff we work with and for the students we teach and coach.

A great exercise is to make a list of qualities that the best student should have. And, remember, this is not just for the students we teach, but for co-workers and ourselves as well. In fact, here are descriptions of the practical implications of the “coachable” question, off the court.

  • Are you, as a head tennis pro or owner of a facility or shop, etc., able to be “coachable” in new techniques, sales methods, etc? How about finding new and better ways to do business?
  • Is your staff “coachable” in their approach to the business and in adapting to customer needs on-court and off?
  • Are your customers/students “coachable” as far as, say, new equipment, playing techniques, etc., which we hope translates into success on court and more sales for you?

Here are ten examples of “coachable” to get you started:

  1. Curiosity – the best students have a natural curiosity and interest in learning. They are the ones with a library card and a dictionary on their desk – or visit regularly, which incidentally stands for Merriam-Webster’s website and takes visitors directly to a quick access online dictionary and thesaurus.
  2. Preparation – the best students prepare for their learning experiences, well ahead of each class, because they are enjoying the process.
  3. Enthusiasm – the best students are enthusiastic. They don’t always have to be bubbling over with smiles, laughter, and high energy, but their enthusiasm is shown by how interested and happy they are to be where they are – in a learning environment.
  4. Focused – the best students are focused and not easily distracted. They are patient with the learning process, but can be impatient with someone who is interfering with them being in a “coachable” environment. For example, a very coachable person in a group setting will not like it when a high-maintenance person consistently distracts and disrupts the class. Nevertheless, they will work through distractions better than most. They certainly will not get caught up in the distraction but will work to bring back their focus.
  5. Goal oriented – the most coachable people are goal oriented. They cooperate with their teachers or mentors and create realistic and achievable short, middle, and long-range goals and establish step-by-step plans to reach those goals.
  6. Process oriented – although goals are established, the most coachable people are process or performance oriented and derive satisfaction from having the right learning attitude. They know that immediate successes or failures are secondary to performing well with the right attitude. They have confidence that if they have the right attitude; the results that are most possible for them individually will eventually come on their own. Other peoples’ successes or failures also do not affect them. They don’t compare their results to others. Instead, they compare their results to their own previous accomplishments, always trying to push the bar higher, one notch at a time.
  7. Relationships – the most coachable people are team players. They are supportive of others and raise the attitude and performance of a group by their own example. They are also humble and take pride in having a consistently good attitude.
  8. Growth – these people see life as a path, as a process, on which they are a traveler. They are eager to learn along the way. They know that only through personal growth does one move forwards along the path.
  9. Balance – the most coachable people are also balanced in their lives and habits. They eat well, they socialize, and they relax. At the same time, they maintain an overriding desire to learn and grow as athletes and as individuals, in whatever fields of interest they pursue. 
  10. Optimism – these people also see life in a positive light, even during the most challenging times. Even after a potentially disappointing loss. They are optimists; they see the glass as half full and never half empty.

Who wouldn’t want a few staff members on their team or a group lesson full of people with these qualities? Before considering the answer to this simple question, we must all consider the old “deserve then desire” principle.

You see, when we are extremely coachable and embody these qualities, we will spontaneously attract others with the same qualities as well. When the tide rises, so do all the boats. We are teachers and therefore we are all leaders in our communities, some big and some small, but leaders nonetheless. Embody these coachable qualities and the tide will rise without effort.

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