Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you?

The surgeon, Atul Gawande, writes about the paradigm shift in sports. What was once a humble, no frills approach to training and play has become a world in which every athlete has a coach to reach optimal performance. What will it take to shave off that last two-hundredths of a second? And where do coaches fit in helping everyone reach their potential if, as a society, we’re routinely expecting “ordinary people to take responsibility for doing extraordinary things?”

Personal Best

Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you?

No matter how well trained people are, few can sustain their best performance on their own. That’s where coaching comes in.I’ve been a surgeon for eight years. For the past couple of them, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I’d like to think it’s a good thing—I’ve arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I’ve just stopped getting better.

The sort of coaching that fosters effective innovation and judgment, not merely the replication of technique, may not be so easy to cultivate. Yet modern society increasingly depends on ordinary people taking responsibility for doing extraordinary things: operating inside people’s bodies, teaching eighth graders algebraic concepts that Euclid would have struggled with, building a highway through a mountain, constructing a wireless computer network across a state, running a factory, reducing a city’s crime rate. In the absence of guidance, how many people can do such complex tasks at the level we require? With a diploma, a few will achieve sustained mastery; with a good coach, many could. We treat guidance for professionals as a luxury—you can guess what gets cut first when school-district budgets are slashed. But coaching may prove essential to the success of modern society.

There was a moment in sports when employing a coach was unimaginable—and then came a time when not doing so was unimaginable. We care about results in sports, and if we care half as much about results in schools and in hospitals we may reach the same conclusion.

Read full article

The sort of coaching that fosters effective innovation and judgment, not merely the replication of technique, may not be so easy to cultivate. Yet modern society increasingly depends on ordinary people taking responsibility for doing extraordinary things: operating inside people’s bodies, teaching eighth graders algebraic concepts that Euclid would have struggled with, building a highway through a mountain, constructing a wireless computer network across a state, running a factory, reducing a city’s crime rate. In the absence of guidance, how many people can do such complex tasks at the level we require? With a diploma, a few will achieve sustained mastery; with a good coach, many could. We treat guidance for professionals as a luxury—you can guess what gets cut first when school-district budgets are slashed. But coaching may prove essential to the success of modern society.

 

There was a moment in sports when employing a coach was unimaginable—and then came a time when not doing so was unimaginable. We care about results in sports, and if we care half as much about results in schools and in hospitals we may reach the same conclusion.

Read full article on New Yorker website

What is the right role of coaches in society? Do you agree with Dr Gawande?

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Digg Stumbleupon Email
This entry was posted in Coaching and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Top athletes and singers have coaches. Should you?

  1. Stephen Stanko says:

    I read the article and enjoyed it. Where does Atul Gawande reference his personal experience with a coach. I guess I missed that part. I would have liked reading about how a coach helped him. But, maybe that wasn’t the point of the article.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Stephen, if you can click on the link to the full article, you’ll find it. Quite a colorful depiction and certainly worth reading. Thanks for your interest…

  3. Ann Begler says:

    Gawande is quite a guy. He’s been quite an inspiration to many of us who have been working with healthcare systems to advance more transformative conversations with patients and families following an unanticipated event. I have frequently suggested his writing to my healthcare clients. Thanks for posting this one.

  4. Nadia White says:

    I found this article fascinating and so discomfiting that I found myself physically tense while reading it. Why? The idea of asking an expert into my classroom to critique my teaching is so scary — and something I so badly need — that I can barely read about it, much less actually do it. It bothered me that the sole classroom example in the article seemed to be taught by a near-perfect teacher. Heck, just reading about that class highlighted things I need to improve, who needs a coach when there’s that much obvious work to do! But I loved that Gawande used his own example — and shared his own embarrassment — of having a coach present when things go bad. Overall, I do think coaches or helpful outside observers can help improve everything we do with intention on the job. It made me pledge to unclench and begin exploring the options I have to develop a coaching relationship in my professional life.

  5. Fran Johnston says:

    Hey There, Nadia! In my experience, teachers, are some of the most resistent to outside support. I don’t know why, exactly, but guess it has something to do with the rarity of the experience of having a compassionate helper in their classrooms. Recently, I was doing some work in a school district that was trying out ‘professional feedback rounds’. It was a disaster. Observers were evaluative and unaware of their power, and the teachers’ guarded and tense. When I was a classroom teacher at the university level, I know no one ever come and observed me. I got used to my own style and privacy. It would have taken some kinda emotionally and socially intelligent helper to work their way into my receptive heart, so defensive was I. Thanks for taking on the challenge of coaching in your classroom. Take the time to manage the relationship so it can actually be helpful to you. Learning is it goal, after all!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>