“GET A COACH!”
I listened to a “Ted Talk” this weekend that was sent to me by my very good friend, Dede Bartlett, that knocked me out.
It was given by Atul Gawande, an American surgeon, writer, and public health researcher who practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
He “had me at ‘Hello,’” as the saying goes, when he said, “I don’t come to you today as an expert. I come to you as someone who has been really interested in how I get better at what I do and how we all do. I think it’s not just how good you are now, I think it’s how good you’re going to be that really matters.”
Gawande, was visiting a birth center in the north of India, watching “birth attendants” help women “through the struggle” as he puts it, “of delivering babies in a region where the typical birth center has a one-in-20 death rate for babies and the moms are dying at a rate ten times higher than they do elsewhere.”
“A whole team has to be skilled and coordinated; and these people are all experienced professionals,” Gawande said. “I didn’t didn’t meet anyone who hadn’t been part of thousands of deliveries.”
“But,” he said, “against the complexities they face, they seem to be at their limits. They were not ‘getting better’ anymore. It’s how good you’re going to be that really matters…”
“A professional,” Gawande says, “was always someone who was supposed to be capable of managing his or her own improvement...including doctors, lawyers, scientists – even musicians.”
But not in sports. In sports, Gawande reminds us, “They say you are never done, everybody needs a coach. Everyone. The greatest in the world needs a coach.”
So which view is right? Go it alone or get a coach? Gawande learned that coaching came into sports as a “very American idea.” In 1875, Harvard and Yale played one of the very first American-rules football games. Yale hired a head coach; Harvard didn’t. So what happened? Over the next thirty years Harvard beat Yale just four times… Harvard hired a coach.
As it turns out, even Itzhak Perlman has a coach. (His wife.) And by the time Gawande finished studying the benefits of coaching he got one, too. He’d asked himself, “Is this as good as I’m going to get?!” He didn’t like the answer so he hired a former professor of his…
What great coaches do, Gawande discovered is: “They are your external eyes and ears, providing a more accurate picture of your ‘reality.’ They…break your actions down and then help you build them back up again. Only better, stronger and more powerfully.”
Get a coach!
Here is a link to Atul Gawande’s TED TALK. It’s very entertaining. I think you’ll enjoy it!