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Are you coachable?

When Jonathan Rosenberg, ex-SVP of Products at Google, was being interviewed for the role of head of Products at Google back in 2001, his final interview was with the legendary Silicon Valley coach, Bill Campbell. And the first question Bill asked him was, "Are you coachable?"

Everybody is coachable. The reason being that everybody has the potential to get better. In other words, nobody is perfect. This is why every top athlete has one or more coaches - from Cristiano Ronaldo to Roger Federer. Every top executive has a coach, every world leader has a coach (I'm not sure about President Trump).

Even at my gym, I see that the most fit and dedicated people have personal trainers.

To Bill Campbell's question, Jonathan initially answered by saying that it depends on the coach and Bill wasn't impressed. So, he recovered by saying that what he looks for in a coach is someone who can tell him what others won't and help him see what he doesn't so that he can go on to become better at what he did.

And that's the essence of a good coach. They aren't going to tell us what to do in a situation. They don't have the answers. But, they have the right questions to help us assess any situation that we are in and guide us towards making a decision that is in our favour.

In any filed that you are pursuing something, if you can afford a coach, get one. It can be a personal trainer at the gym, or a coach for improving your skills at work (this is usually your manager's job, but if your manager isn't doing it, find someone that does).

And if you can't afford a coach, you have several other options. I frequently turn to books, which is easily the next best option. Of course, it is more work on our part to synthesize the literature and take away the right message for us as books aren't personalized. Nevertheless, the time you invest in doing it totally worth it as it has all the benefits of working with a personal coach.

But, most important of all, you need to be coachable. That is, you need to have to humility to accept that you have shortcomings that you can improve upon, and you need to be open to new ideas that could potentially help you, even if they are different from what you believe is best today. Only with the right mindset can coaching be effective.

So, are you coachable?

(Hat-tip to Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg and Alan Eagle for putting together Bill Campbell's wisdom in the Trillion Dollar Coach).

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