A former mentor of mine, who was training me in long distance endurance events that involved running, rowing, and biking.  I had little or no experience in any of those areas but in a short period of time I became one of the better members of my company rowing and biking team.  When someone asked my mentor about why I had been successful, he said, “Corey is coachable.  He’s not afraid of what he doesn’t know.  He takes advice and works to improve on that advice every workout.”

He was right.  I think my greatest strength is that I’m aware of what I don’t know.  That there is always someone out there that can teach me to be better than I am today.  It’s something I focus on in both my professional and personal life.  I’m always trying to grow, to move forward, and improve on what I’m doing today. That does mean I’m perfect.  I don’t do everything right.  Like most people, I still have a lot of things to work on, but that’s why I’ve started doing most of the things in my life.  It’s the reason I write this blog, attend weekly toastmasters meetings, workout almost every day, spend sometime reading, and write code.

I wrote about this idea of being Coachable in a recent blog post, Common Interview Question: What’s your greatest strength? The past week I decided I wanted to learn more about what it means to be coachable and I stumbled across this article in Forbes, Are You Coachable? The Five Steps to Coachability. In the article it describes the five steps on Coachability. Below I’m going to give my description of each of the five steps.

1. humility

To be humble. There is no way you’ll ever let anyone coach you if you can not learn to take advice.  If you think you’re the greatest at everything you do then you’re pretty much lost. You need to realize there is always room for improvement. That you don’t know everything.  Many people, myself included, don’t like to admit when they are wrong, my wife will certainly attest to this fact, but you need to be able to know when you should take someones advice.  I don’t think this is something you’re born with.  It’s something you acquire through experiences.

2. Action bias

Are you willing to take the advice someone gives you and then put it into action?  This is key.  No change can take place unless you make up your mind to change.  I never thought I’d be able to run a marathon.  I used to think a 5k was crazy.  Today, I finished one marathon and in the spring I’ll have finished my fifth half marathon.  I got a lot of advice along the way but no of it was more important then my decision to simply go outside and start putting one foot in front of the other.

3. Purity of purpose

The purpose of changing yourself should be about what is in return for you. Yes, we all need and want to make a decent living, but the things I’ve done that have impacted my life the most were not done with the sole goal of increasing my salary. Running a marathon and triathlons were about getting myself healthy and in shape after my father passed away from a heart attack. Writing this daily blog was caused by my need to improve as a writer.  Attending weekly Toastmasters meetings and getting the point of giving a speech every week was caused by my desire to improve my ability to communicate my thoughts and have the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd. I didn’t start any of those goals because I wanted to find a job or increase my salary but they resulted in exactly those two rewards.  They been a positive side effect but not the main purpose.

4. Surrender control

Come to grips with the fact that there are other people in this world, other than doctors, that know more than you about a particular subject.  Instead of ignoring them, figure out what you can learn and how you can apply it in your life. You would tell a surgeon how to do your knee surgery. There a lot of things to learn and many people who are will to teach them if you will just accept their knowledge.

5. faith

The last point is about having faith in the process.  My thought process is that if I write a post everyday. I’ll get better at writing each time.  At Toastmasters, there is a manual and advanced manuals with speaking projects that give you things to work on during each speech. If you complete those manuals you’ll improve your public speaking.  That doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be Tony Robbins but you’ll be drastically better than when you started. Having faith in the process is key. If you don’t believe the process will work then why would you follow it? You won’t.  It helps when you find a mentor who’s completed the change that you want to incorporate in your life.  It makes it easier.  Their the example to follow.

Figure out the things you want to change in your life.  When you have a list or pick a goal, think about the five parts of Coachability and ask yourself if you’re willing to accept each part.