How to be Coachable

how to be coachable
I had trouble choosing a word to work towards in 2020. I’ve had years exemplified by “growth” and by “presence,” but like all Brave Sunday emails, I write to you, goal-getter, about my weekly aha. In 2020, I’m defining the year by the word “coachable.”
 
Life and fitness have a lot of parallels – the work you put in, your willingness to try things you’re not good at, and the belief that failure makes you stronger. I got my word of the year from a moment at the gym that was the culmination of a lot of through-lines in my life.
 
I took on a workout this week at my go-to gym Ethos and the coach offered a correction for my chin-up. “Pull your right shoulder down and back.” I’ve been working on chin-ups for years – it’s a movement that makes me feel strong and proud. Something in me paused, ready to clap back with an “I’ve got this.” But as I felt the tension in my neck and right shoulder, I reminded myself – again – that I do not know everything, that I cannot do everything, and that the knowledge of that makes me strong, not weak. I engaged my back and pulled my shoulder down. Guess what – it felt a lot better.
 
“Be coachable, Jeana.” I scolded myself remembering how I used to thank athletes in the fitness classes I used to teach when they accepted my feedback rather than swatting it away. And being coachable is something that exemplifies an aSweatLife core belief, that everything is better with friends. The opposite of #BetterWithFriends? I can do it myself.
 
And to misquote Drake, independence is a drug that I’ve taken too much of. For much of my life, being able to do things myself, set my own rules and figure things out was a point of pride. But like all things in life, independence is best when taken in moderation.
 
Psychology Today on the topic of independence wrote, “But while bravery and perseverance are valuable traits that help us make our way in life, these stories can idealize autonomy, instilling unrealistic expectations of attaining our goals solo—and these narratives also overlook the fact that we benefit enormously from the help of others.”
 
Ahem. Everything. Is. Better. With. Friends. Especially achieving our goals.
 
Isaac Newton is quoted as saying, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” And that’s a nod to the knowledge that came before him and his gratitude for his ability to learn from, retest and in some cases disprove the findings of other scientists, inventors and thinkers that preceded him.  
 
The “I can do it myself” system is excellent if you’re not interested in standing on the shoulders of giants, but as I thought about what I want for the year. The answer is to stand on the shoulders of giants – to be coachable.
 

How to be Coachable Yourself

Step 1: Identify your “giants”
Be they coaches, mentors, professors of the speaker in a TED talk you watch on repeat before sending out a slew of emails each day, find the people who have something you aspire to. I used to recoil at the question, “How do you find a mentor?” because it expressed a sense of needing others. But guys. Guys? While we don’t need others, it sure is a lot more fun to navigate life, business, health and friendship with those who have blazed our path.
 “If I were You-Know-Who, I’d want you to feel cut off from everyone else; because if it’s just you alone, you’re not as much of a threat.”
– Luna Lovegood to Harry Potter
 
 
Step 2: Ask for help
Ask for a coffee, ask for a moment, ask for a single answer. Some people might miss your email, or question, or request to meet, but at the end of the day the more you ask for what you need, the more you’ll get it. The world doesn’t have nearly enough mind-readers to transcribe all of the thoughts and question and needs that go unsaid.
 
Step 3: Remove your ego
Humble yourself to accept the knowledge of the giants in your life. You don’t know everything, you can’t do everything, and the knowledge of that makes you strong, not weak.
 
Step 4: Constantly remind yourself how lucky you are to be a human being who has the sense to accept help
To have access to whomever your giant is makes you privileged. Not everyone is brave enough to ask for help. And not all who need help get it. Be grateful in whatever way feels natural to you.

Your challenge this week: Identify your giants, coaches and advisors. Find ways to learn from them (and their mistakes), whether they’re happening in real life or via a written or recorded piece of work.
Be brave out there,

Jeana Anderson Cohen
Founder and CEO of aSweatlife

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About Jeana Anderson Cohen

Jeana Anderson Cohen is the founder and CEO of asweatlife.com a destination for living better lives, with fitness as the catalyst. But before starting health-focused companies Jeana earned a degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For the first decade of her career, she created and executed social media strategies for brands. aSweatLife fuses her experience and her passion for wellness and SweatWorking was the natural evolution of that experience. You can find Jeana leading the team at aSweatLife, hosting aSweatLife’s monthly #Sweatworking events.