Jan 24
Want to get great at something? Get a coach

Video: Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach

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Want to get great at something? Get a coach.

Atul Gawande, the famous author of The Checklist Manifesto, tells the harrowing story of how coaching literally ended up saving lives in the medical industry. The book is based on the concept that lists help you track tasks, creating more efficiency in your daily life (yes, I know this is grossly oversimplified, but you get my drift). The story follows the medical industry and Dr. Gawande’s goal of decreasing infant mortality rates. But, what he left out until this TED Talk was the secret sauce; hiring a coach. 
Because coaching helped them learn to execute on the fundamentals


The Best Teams Better Execute the Fundamentals

Sounds like a quote from a high-performance sports coach: “Executing on the fundamentals is the key to success.How you do it, just like in sports, is by listening to your coach. In a hospital, of all places, you wouldn’t think there would be much need for a coach. However, where high-level individuals perform complex tasks, day in and day out, a hospital is the precise place that a coach could have an impact. Dr. Gawande says in the video that coaching was the support staff needed to ensure the checklists were working.

Coaching Ensures Consistent Execution

Developing a sanitary checklist for all staff in a hospital is one thing – ensuring people are still taking it seriously three months later is another. Coaching helped the hospital staff stay focused on what was important. It served as a reminder of staff accountability and as a safe place to relay feedback. One of the biggest struggles the hospital faced was getting their staff to communicate. Simple things, like stopping someone who forgot to wash their hands before handling a patient, were not as easily communicated as you might have assumed. As a solution, a coach could help come up with various ways of handling a similar situation, in order to prevent a communication breakdown.

His message isn’t just for the medical industry, though. It’s for anyone who is interested in getting better at something. Dr. Gawande tells the story about his own career as a surgeon. He felt like we wasn’t improving at one point; his practice was plateauing. So, he did the only sane thing he could think of: he hired a coach. It can be tremendously helpful to have someone you trust watch how you work, how you solve problems and how you communicate. Better yet, to have someone report back how on you can do all those things better. This is exactly what Dr. Gawande needed. What he learned changed how he did his job. It made him a better surgeon. 

It's not how good you are now; it's how good you're going to be that really matters

It’s not how good you are now; it’s how good you’re going to be that really matters.

This sums up Dr. Gawande’s thoughts on the topic. Once you have the desire to get better, getting a coach will be the next easy step.

Have a favourite TED Talk? Let us know in the comments below! 

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