We often begin to look for external solutions for the frustration we feel. But we take that frustration with us wherever we go. The solution is to deal with what is going on inside of us. But instead of growing, we are rearranging. We want circumstances to change rather than change ourselves. When the dust settles, more often than not, all of the rearranging will result in the same frustration in a new context.
This makes Sean Glaze’s book Staying Coachable so relevant and important for our times. It’s an engaging story about a father and a son—Wallace and Max—who decide to hike The Narrows in Zion National Park. Both are frustrated—Wallace over changes at work he is resisting, and Max over the new coach and basketball tryouts. On the hike, they meet Gayle, a wise woman who listens and agrees to help them with their frustrations if they are committed to change and growth. Gayle shares the lessons her husband learned as a coach before he died and she experienced in her own career.
My husband used to say, “frustration is a magnificent and powerful tool. Like a hammer, you can use it to build something impressive—or wreck something you worked hard to build.”
Turns out most people want to get better, but they want to do it their own way. That usually means doing what they already know, which is just repeating the same stuff that got them stuck.
Staying coachable is a commitment to growth. “Being uncoachable is really about being stuck in a comfort zone that a person refuses to acknowledge or leave.”
Glaze says there are four main ceilings that limit our growth: the ceiling of contentment, ignoring reality, personal pride, and knowing without doing.
After they part ways, she agrees to share four questions they will have to grapple with over the ensuing months if they are committed to getting unstuck and improving.
Four weeks later, the first question comes, and it is about hunger: What specifically do you want? Where do you want to be by when? Who are you trying to impress?
You have to want something enough to disrupt the inertia of the status quo.
Success is about selection and commitment. Complacent people refuse to choose.
We are often cured of our most dangerous faults when we witness the consequences in others.
Question two deals with honesty: Where are you now? What “numbers” accurately measure your desired performance? What obstacles exist to achieving the success you seek? This is hard because “many people find it difficult to acknowledge where and what they are without prejudice.”
If you want directions anywhere, you must pinpoint the place you are starting from.
You need to know the skills and strengths you possess that you will need to make use of. You need to know the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
Where are you in relation to your team? Are you willing to fill a role that is uncomfortable to ensure the team can succeed?
What is best for the team, not convenient for you.
Does the team need you to take on a different role?
Question three deals with our willingness to accept help—humility: How do you respond to mistakes or criticism? Who are a few valuable mentors that you can learn from? This question is meant to “inspire you to reflect on how you have handled feedback or the people who shared advice with you in the past. You can’t pour growth into a cup already full of assumptions and ego.”
Criticism is not a dead-end; it is a detour to somewhere better.
You need other voices because 90% of your daily thoughts are the same ones from the day before—and the same thoughts lead to the same actions and same results.
Humility understands that growth doesn’t merely mean changing ourselves. It means allowing others to change us, to hold us accountable, and help us shed unhealthy behaviors we’ve learned, so we are introduced to a better version of ourselves that we otherwise would not have discovered.
The final question comes down to habits: What will you do differently? What are you doing occasionally that you will now do consistently? What are the current distractions that you will stop doing?
Your habits are external evidence of your internal commitments.
Simplicity in understanding does not always translate to simplicity in execution.
The hard thing they must do to succeed, the challenge they must master, is more often doing small, simple things with extraordinary consistency.
Whatever you want to be better at, identify what you can do differently that will create different results for you and your team. And remember—successful people do not negotiate with themselves.
How will you acknowledge your progress? Disciplined effort declines without encouragement.