I've spent the last 5 months studying music performance full time at a local college, and this has given me the opportunity to observe both myself and the other students in my class. I particularly noticed how our approach to being coached by the teachers effected how enjoyable the process was and the final results each student got. Some attitudes to learning end up being much more enjoyable and productive than others. Other attitudes create stress, drama and unpleasant learning experiences for everyone.
I'd describe the degree to which a student exhibits the collection of traits, behaviors and attitudes that facilitate fun, powerful, rewarding learning as how "coachable" they are.The more coachable a student is, the more they get out of the learning process and the more fun it tends to be. This correlation between fun and learning isn't coincidence: it's a consequence of how our brains and central nervous systems process and store new information and skills.
As a confidence coach, I can appreciate that like the students in my music classes, clients who are coachable get the best results. They are the ones who tend to enjoy the process more, make faster progress and get better value for money out of each coaching session.
Furthermore, there are a lot of parallels between becoming a confident man in relationships with other people and learning to be an effective musician performing in a band, because they both require a high degree of self-awareness and interpersonal skills.
So with my own experience and that of my fellow music students in mind, here's How To Be Coachable:
Turn Up On Time
This was the number one nugget of advice our teachers attempted to impart to the students who ended up struggling by the end of semester. There's more to being a musician than just being able to play an instrument: you also need to be able to work well with other people.
Turning up late consistently leads to negative results: you piss people off, miss out on valuable information and unwittingly broadcast the message "I'm unreliable" to everyone around you. All of these things make us harder to work with and diminish our personal power.
The students who habitually turned up late also tended to be the ones who undervalued the importance of teamwork and building relationships in class, then complained the most about feeling unsupported when they needed other students to play on their songs in our live performance and during recording sessions in the studio.
Don't Make Excuses
This is related to the last point, because generally the response of students who turned up habitually late would be to make an excuse when the teacher pointed out that turning up late was diminishing their own learning experience. Again, being told to be on time wasn't just a formality for class: it's an important lesson for being an effective human being.
Nobody cares about our reasons, rationalizations or justifications for being late; everyone else just hears them as lame excuses. They may seem important to us but actually they just obscure our view of what is really going on: we're indulging in self-sabotage by missing out on valuable learnings; and we're pissing off other people whose support we will later need if we want to succeed.
Listen To Your Coach
Building on the last point, remember that your coach or teacher is there to teach. They have valuable experience to impart and it's our responsibility to soak it up.
When the teacher suggests we try something new or different, take it on board. Don't indulge in a lengthy explanation of why we did it the way we did; when I see this happen, it almost always wastes everyone's time while the teacher patiently waits for the student to finish spouting a totally unnecessary justification.
Often this results from an overbearing need to feel understood; when in fact your coach probably already understands the situation better than you do. Learn to differentiate between when you have something valuable to add in response to your coach's advice, and when you're just stalling the process of getting on with implementing it.
Do Your Homework
It's a bit pointless having a coach if you don't actually put their advice into practice in the real world. The students who did their homework and practiced the songs that we learned in class at home made by far the most progress compared to those who only practiced in class.
A lot of what I do with my clients in a coaching session involves emotional healing in the session itself that immediately leaves the client less prone to being incapacitated by painful emotions in real life. However I also give clients exercises to do that reinforce this healing outside the sessions, and when my clients habitually take the action I give them for homework they tend to make the most progress.
Take Responsibility For Your Results
I was stunned by the number of times I saw an underperforming student who hadn't followed these suggestions turn around and blame the teachers for not helping them enough. One of the early steps in The Confident Man Program is to take full responsibility for your life. Otherwise nobody will take you seriously or want to help you for any length of time.
Blaming your coach when you don't get the results that you want is a cop out. It's true that there are underperforming coaches out there, but our life is our responsibility and finding the right teachers, mentors and coaches to help us is up to us.
It's important to acknowledge when a teaching or coaching relationship isn't working, to talk it over with the coach and to move on and find someone else when appropriate. But to blame your teacher when you haven't turned up, didn't listen, didn't take their advice, made excuses, didn't do your homework and ended up being dissatisfied with your results; well that just leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouths.
Show Gratitude For What You Are Learning
Always remember that your coach is a human being, and the more powerful your relationship, the more powerful the learning experience is likely to be. People like being thanked and acknowledged for their efforts, over and above the fact that they're getting paid.
I heard students at college bad-mouth teachers behind their backs, denigrate their efforts to teach important lessons, and even label them "unprofessional" while the teachers were bending over backwards to support the very same students who routinely self-sabotaged the learning process.
Good teachers and coaches know the importance of healthy boundaries and even the most patient teacher will have a point at which they start saying "no" to a student whose demands or accusations are unreasonable.
On the flip side of the coin, a teacher who feels valued will often go out of their way to help students who make the teaching process more enjoyable for them. It's just human nature that teachers perform better too when they're having fun and feeling appreciated.
Now you might think that these are the sort of lessons that every child is taught in primary school; and you'd be right. Yet it's remarkable how many adults haven't learned them yet and self-sabotage the learning process, and their lives, by not following them. I'm as guilty as the next person sometimes but I'm not always aware of it; which is why having constructive feedback from a coach can be so valuable.
Lifelong learning is part of the human experience, so whether you're studying music, working with a confidence coach or just picking up valuable day-to-day life lessons, it's important to learn how be coachable.