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Being Coachable

Everyone talks about finding a mentor or mentoring others, but few talk about the skills needed to be mentorable, to be coachable. I define being coachable as giving another person permission to demand the very best of you. I don't mean following someone blindly, ignoring your ideas or principles. I'm talking about having a goal big enough that you're willing to step outside your comfort zone - in your relationships with others - and to allow someone else to contribute.

Being coachable/mentorable is a learned skill that will serve you in your quest for high goals. I would not have made it to the victory stand without my coaches. Not even close. As a lawyer, I now actively seek out those within our law firm with high standards, who might push me and help me develop my legal skills.

I have been fortunate to work with several world-class coaches and each one has contributed to my success. One afternoon, my coach made me race a 50-yard backstroke (two laps) against a swimmer who had missed morning practice and (as far as I was concerned) had loafed the afternoon workout (as much as one can coast 400 laps). I felt that after swimming 80 laps, I "was done for the day." I was bone tired and didn't want any part of this unfair race at the end of practice.

She won and, under my breath, I whispered, "I don't care."

Big mistake!

My coach hauled me out of the water by the strap of my suit and chewed me out good. He shook my perfectly rational, reasoned belief that I had done enough. But that thinking was only going to get me to a certain level, and not to the victory stand at the Olympic Games.

After telling this story, I've heard people say, "I don't respond to that kind of motivations." Let me be clear: I am not recommending that particular coaching technique. But when I tell this story, it makes the point that if the people around you (your mentors) have to do it perfectly according to you, you will probably have a hard time finding effective mentors and what you can achieve will be limited.

– Nancy Hogshead

Other Resources about Swimming:

Further Information about Nancy Hogshead:

Excerpted from Inspiring Others to Win, edited by Robert B. Sommer
© 1998 by Griffin Publishing Group
This publication is a creative work fully protected by all applicable rights. All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including fax, photocopy, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system by anyone except the purchaser for his or her own use.

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Inspiring Others to Win
Robert B. Sommer, ed

Paperback $16.95

© 1998, Griffin Publishing; ISBN: 1882180941

192 pages

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