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8 Steps to Coachability

By Brad Swift

It doesn't matter how effective your coach is, if you aren't coachable, you'll get far less from the relationship than what's available. Here are 8 key steps to developing yourself as a coachable client. In developing yourself as coachable with your coach, don't be surprised if you become much more open and available in other relationships as well.

  1. SET ASIDE AUTOMATIC LISTENING: How coachable a person you are depends a lot on how you listen. Since most people listen automatically without much attention on it (did you notice this morning you didn't have to turn your ears on?), it's valuable to distinguish some of the most common ways we listen on 'auto pilot.' Three of the most common ones that can get in the way of a developing a powerful coaching relationship are:

    1. Listening for agreement or disagreement: Like a tennis match, the listener bats whatever comes over the net either back on the agree side of the court or the disagree side. Real common and devastating to coaching.

    2. An "I already know it" way of listening is particularly common in males, but women aren't immune to it. It's listening like your cup is already full. There's no room for the someone to learn anything new when they "already know everything."

    3. "It won't make any difference," is the common listening of a skeptic or cynic. Often people who have this as their dominate way of listening often has problems and they're good at sucking those around them into trying solving them. When they do, the common come back is, "Oh no that won't work," or "No, I've already tried that," or some such version.

  2. DEVELOP CREATIVE LISTENING: These automatic ways of listening will prevent you from getting the most from a coach. But what are created ways of listening that can be fruitful in a coaching partnership? Here are two:

    1. An open-minded, "try-it-on-and-see" way of listening. A willingness to consider and explore what the other person has to say. Different from agreeing or disagreeing, this open-minded approach can be very powerful way to listen to all people.

    2. Listen for how can the conversation can contribute to what is being worked on. Listen for the nuggets of gold in the conversation, not only from your coach but also coming from yourself.

    Weaving these two ways of listening together can make for an incredibly rich listening.

  3. STAY ON YOUR GAME PLAN. You hire a coach to work on one or more projects and there are certain results that you are interested in producing. That's your game plan. It's important for the coach and players to identify the commonly held commitments that they'll be working on together. They become the foundation upon which the coaching relationship is built. The larger and better defined the commitments the stronger the relationship possible. Don't assume your coach knows these automatically. While a lot of coaching are very intuitive, most coaches aren't psychics.

  4. ARE YOU A REQUEST FOR COACHING, REALLY? I know this may sound strange, but from time to time I'm hired by somebody to be their coach when in actual fact, they aren't really requesting coaching. Part of being coachable is a willingness to look at life from different perspectives. If you aren't, save your time and money. Another sign of someone who isn't really ready for coaching is somebody who consistently doesn't take action after the coaching session. No one needs a coach, and having a coach opens up a tremendous amount in your life when you're ready to be coached. So, before entering a coaching relationship, be sure you're ready to look at your life with a new perspective and are ready to back up the coaching sessions with action.

  5. DON'T ASSUME YOU'RE AUTOMATICALLY COACHABALE. Touched on above,this one is important enough to have its own item. Most people assume they are coachable, i.e., that they are open-minded and free of any blocks to being coached. On my preliminary question I send to perspective clients, I ask how coachable they think they are on a scale from 1 (not coachable) to 5 (very coachable. Almost everyone rates themselves as a 4 or 5, when in truth few people are automatically that open. So, not only are people not automatically coachable, it's even worse. Most of us walk around thinking and say we are, while in truth we aren't. However, when we understand this about ourselves, that insight is the door to designing ourselves to be very coachable.

  6. BE SURE THE COACHING IS SHOWING UP ON THE "FIELD." No coaching is worth a flip if it isn't making a positive difference in the person's life who's being coached. It will help your coach if you'll:

    1. Acknowledge and appreciate what worked from the previous coaching, what part made the biggest difference and what results were produced. Then. . .

    2. Look at what what didn't work, what was missing, or what portion of the coaching didn't you take, and why. Did you not understand it, were you afraid to try something but didn't say so, etc.

    In this way, you continue to build a solid relationship with your coach. You help them to learn how to best coach you.

  7. STAND FOR BEING COACHABLE. I realize this is a bit paradoxical, but it still makes a difference when you stand for yourself to be coachable. You get what you expect from people including from yourself. Remember though, standing for yourself and knowing what you can count on from yourself is different from assuming that you'll automatically be coachable, which is a more unconscious act.

  8. DEVELOP THE SKILLS OF BEING A COACH. That's right, when you develop the skills of being a coach for others in your life, you'll become more coachable yourself. Train and develop your players to be effective coaches in their own lives, which will give them the opportunity to experience what it's like to be a coach. They will learn to appreciate the difference between a coachable player and one who isn't, including how much better results can be achieved with coachable people.
Dr. W. Bradford Swift is Founder of the Life On Purpose Institute, and author of Life On Purpose: 6 Passages to an Inspired Life. The Institute's vision is: a world on purpose, with people living lives of purposeful, passionate and playful service, of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity, and spiritual serenity.

The Institute's Life On Purpose - Home Study Course is a proven, systematic, spiritually based and practical process that helps you clarify your life purpose. Furthermore, this home study course provides the tools for you to design your life to be a true and authentic reflection of that purpose. So then you can get on with the joy of living according to your life purpose! This is our top recommendation for individuals wanting to live a truly fulfilled life.

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