Every year the young entrepreneur society holds an event called the UNconvention which celebrates the growing number of young entrepreneurs out there in the industry today and brings together a group of experienced and successful counterparts to coach them to become greater.
Many young entrepreneurs don't come backed with years of experience in any industry, however once thing they excel at is being coachable, and when surrounded by more experienced leaders and mentor's they are just like a sponge that will try anything and everything with no preconceptions or past failures tainting their glasses. In fact they are most likely wearing rose colored glasses, which is extremely important when it comes to the entrepreneurial journey.
Just like your first love, they are more likely to give 100% into their entrepreneurial relationship and not hold back because of past experiences.
It's true, being experienced and good at anything predisposes you to be less coachable in that area. For example if you have been in your industry for 10 years, it's natural to feel that you know more then someone that just joined your industry, it's also natural to have more to lose than someone that has no previous industry qualifications, and you (even if unconsciously) tend to think your ideas are better then theirs because you've tried it and it's worked before and well at that. Also usually the more success you've experienced in the past the more afraid you are to look silly and lose that success. It's simply natural for this to also get in the way of your coachability.
However if you are a horrible dancer you will notice that you will be receptive to whatever anyone can teach you to become a better dancer, after all, you have nothing to lose right when you are starting from the bottom. You will notice you are more open to trying out suggestions no matter how silly they are to you because you have one thing that is essential to being coachable and we'll cover that next.
What does being coachable REALLY mean?
When you ask people about being coachable your first thought might be:
- "It's about listening to instructions from your coach and carrying it through"
- "It's about taking advice from people that are more successful than you"
- "It's about acting upon someone else's advice that is more experienced than you"
All those situations have elements of coachibility but following the above roads does not make you coachable. Seth Godin said
"in fact, the best insights and advice usually come from informal or unexpected sources."
Being coachable is about having complete faith in that piece of advice without pre-judging it's merit. It's about jumping in executing it and seeing what happens. If scientists prejudged all hypothesis, we would definately not end up with such extensive scientific advancement - in fact we might still think the earth is flat. But someone took a leap of faith on a piece of information that sounded completely absurd at the time, and changed the world. That is real coachability.
How do you know when you are NOT being coachable
When you are not coachable the ironic thing is, usually the only person to be ignorant of this would be yourself. In fact the majority of people that have past childhood are most likely not coachable most of the time because of a funny little thing called analytical skills.
Ask yourself this:
- Do you feel the need to understand why, ask questions, and analyse a suggestion before executing it?
- Do you ever feel like a need to justify a suggestion based on your own experiences before implementing it into your life or business?
These may be little signs that you may not be as coachable as you once thought you were. And trust me - most of us do this.
Seth Godin also points out a short list of symptoms of uncoachability:
- Challenging the credentials of the coach
- Announcing that you're being unfairly singled out
- Pointing out, angrily, that the last few times, the coach was wrong
- Identifying others who have succeeded without ever being coached
- Resisting a path merely because it was one identified by a coach
The most important thing is to have faith in your advisor, regardless of their credentials, for coachability to happen.
Be young at heart
Youth's are like a sponge, and if you haven't noticed they get good at things fairly quickly. I've known kids to surpass professional adults in their chosen industry before they turn 15. In fact there are more and more successful app developers that are children.
I attribute this all to the fact that they are coachable. Kids are neither more experienced or smarter then their adult counterparts, what they posses is the ability to learn without any "intellectual baggage" or "social baggage" e.g. what if my peers that currently think I'm amazing at what I do, start thinking I'm a failure if I implement this and it goes south?
They have nothing to lose so put 100% into everything they are taught with no fear. When was the last time you saw an adult attempt to jump as high on the trampoline without thinking: "what if I miss the trampoline, what if my legs give way, what if I turn sideways on the way down" whereas kids just get up there and jump jump jump as high as they can without a second thought to the dangers they will face. However reckless, that is a demonstration of true faith and sometimes the risk in business can be just as fatal as breaking a leg on the trampoline - but you should go for it anyways.
I believe that there are a lot of great coaches out there these days, and I believe that the reason why sometimes business coaching doesn't seem to work, is because many of us these days are becoming less coachable due to our fears.
What if you have a lot more to lose?
It's true, being more experienced and successful in our chosen field also means you have a lot more to lose and a lot more risk to take on with every incremental advice taken. But what is the long term effect if you stop innovating? I think it could be a lot worse.
If at first you are uncomfortable with the idea, you can take small steps by creating a part of your business that is dedicated to trying out new things without linking it to your existing brand. Start a new line of products that is solely focused on trying crazy things and brand it that way, or start a subsidery that targets a market that's receptive to change and try out experiments there. There are lots of things you can do to remain coachable without putting in as much risk as you think. For your personal life, you could consult your closest family and friends on your behavior changes before you go all out.
Sometimes the craziest advice was the best advice
I'm continually amazed at what young business people are able to achieve these days, and I am so glad that there is such a movement towards entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship in the younger generations, and I think this push towards focusing their energy towards changing the world for the better, will be what gives us a better world for the future.
I also believe that we have so much to learn from each other as well, despite past credentials and experiences. The world is changing so fast that sometimes past experience can be a disability and we all have to learn to let go of it and put on a fresh pair of glasses from time to time.
Committing to being coachable could be the best decision you make for your business.