“You must always be the apprentice, even when you become the Master.” – Christopher Cumby

Ok, so by “coachable,” I don’t mean simply, are you able or willing to take direction. That isn’t what this is about, and it isn’t even what a good teacher or coach does for that matter. A great coach/athlete relationship is a team, not a dictatorship.

No, what I mean is, are you able to be accountable. And I’ll add, humble.

One of the most important qualities of really successful people is humility. Obviously, determination and work ethic are essential, but in my experience, humble people are able to take advice – they’re teachable. They never stop learning. It’s a mindset that inspires and fosters self-reflection, learning, growing, sharing.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a BIG fan of New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady. In an interview on Westwood One radio on Monday night, Tom said something interesting when speaking about HIS coach, Bill Belichick:

“Coach has a way of coaching, as a disciplinarian, that is going out of style in the NFL, unfortunately. And that’s the only coach that I’ve ever known. And I think it’s an amazing way – it’s an amazing style…is to…you know, you coach the players, and you give them the truth. And you motivate them to be the best that they can be. And without coach Belichick coaching me the way that he has, there’s no way I would become the player that I am today.”

Whether you love him or hate him, that’s a SIX time Super Bowl champion talking, who is in his 20th year in the league and still going strong at 42, absolutely raving about what it’s like to come to practice every day with a student mindset. To be held accountable by a disciplinarian like coach Belichick. Think about that.

We live in an information age, ya know? The WWW, with all of its riches (including YouTube of course!) have taken the place of the constant back/forth sharing that is an inherent part of learning – the “teacher to student” exchange.

The “student” now knows as much as the teacher. The athlete no longer needs to heed the guidance of the coach. Or be accountable.


Hell, with so much of it (information) all around us, it’s easy to fall victim to the idea that we can get by just fine without being accountable to ourselves or to anyone else, be it a teacher, parent, coach, mentor, or team.

And what’s more, in our quest to find “information” that we can agree with or that doesn’t challenge us, if we don’t get the answer we like or we want from someone, it’s very easy to go somewhere else and get a different answer. Even if that answer isn’t the truth, or what we really need to hear in order to grow, improve, get better.

From my point of view, as someone who strives to learn and listen every day, I have a big problem with all of it. For reasons which I hope are becoming increasingly obvious to you as you read. #confirmationbias

  • Being coachable means you’re open to feedback and able to receive constructive criticism without taking it personally.
  • It means you’re willing to take a look at your own performance in order to improve it.
  • And I’ll add, folks who ARE coachable are often the most fun to work with and the most enthusiastic badasses too! 🙂

Is being coachable, disempowering or a sign of weakness?

In an article on the topic by author Laura DeFranco, MPT, she wrote: “Sometimes people relate being open and able to listen to feedback from another person to being a pushover or weak. Some may feel that if they seek out coaching it means they aren’t good enough. Being coachable doesn’t mean you have surrendered and don’t have an opinion of your own. It means you have the awareness, perseverance and determination to seek out someone to help you be better. It means you’re willing to have a discussion about something that might help you improve a skill or part of your life you WANT to improve.”

I couldn’t agree more.

For today, Al, will you join me in trying to become more open to the possibility that there’s something you and I haven’t learned yet that could make both of us even better? I have a feeling if we can do this individually and collectively, our future selves will be thanking us!

To your success!