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Un-coachable Coach


I have not been very coachable. When I say coachable, I mean the ability to take instructions, adjust to suggestions, and be reflective enough to ask for help. 


Maybe it’s my generation. Or maybe it’s my excuse to say my generation isn’t coachable. At this point in my lifespan, it’s comical to blame others, or my generation, on character weaknesses. More likely it’s a personality flaw I could be better at. It turns out, being coachable is more valuable than I knew.


I learned of “being coachable” when, for the first time as an adult, I tried a sport: CrossFit. To start, even being in a CrossFit gym was a humbling experience. I do not see myself as ‘sporty’.  I overheard a coach talking about a new athlete as “coachable”. I had never even thought about being “coachable”, likely because I am not coachable. 


During my first few months at CrossFit, the coach had to sneak weights on my bar while I was out of the room to trick me into lifting more weight. He knew I could (and I did), but I would not take his cues. It would be easier/more fun if I were more coachable.


I used to think most people were good at things because they were gifted. It was in-born talent which propelled them forward. This flawed thinking came from elementary school. There was the one kid who was good at math, the one who was the best reader, or the best at kick-ball. Looking back now, yes, they were the best, but they were not actually accomplished. They were 8 years old. Being good at something takes time and patience, both of which I was lacking as a child, and the latter as an adult. I had to be tricked like a child to progress. 


My lack of patience was costing me as a full-fledged adult. I was stuck thinking I was only musical, because it was the only thing I was ‘gifted’ at as a child. I was stuck not being able to try new things as an adult because I had “no talent” in them. What I really had was “no try”. The moment I required coaching, I floundered. 


What I learned from trying a new sport is: I can be coachable. There is some “try” in me. Being coachable is being brave. I can be brave. It takes bravery because when I try new things, I will fail. I discovered I would rather be brave and endure some failure rather than be stuck only doing things I am gifted at, which are few. 


I am 100% positive I am not the only person who thinks this way. I worked in a nursery selling plants. People would come into the shop and ask for a plant they couldn’t kill because they “didn’t have a green thumb”. Having a “green thumb” to them was the same as coming out of the womb ready to open a farm stand. When asked what they meant, they would say they killed the two plants they ever had, one in high school and one five years ago. 


Because I worked at a nursery, the customers assumed I have a “green thumb”. What they could not see were thousands of plants I killed and every gardening mistake I made since I started gardening. Those mistakes taught me a lot. I am not a talented gardener, I am a practiced one. I keep trying because I keep being curious about gardening. Once I became a coachable gardener, my garden started to thrive. I couldn not learn to garden in a vacuum. I needed Youtube, and people ready to give me advice and answer my questions. 


I can’t sell you a plant which will make you a talented gardener. I can sell you a plant which will help you get there, one step at a time. 


If I could go back to 3rd grade and had one skill where I was the best, I would pick “coachable”. Not so I could be better at more, but so I could enjoy trying more. 


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