Monday, December 3, 2012

Inspirational Message: Be Coachable

Wow, we had a great beginning to December with the YA Scavenger Hunt! Thanks to everyone who participated. I will email all the winners of the Possession paperback today.

Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about being coachable. I recently spoke to a class of 6th graders, which I think is a pivotal time in a young person's life.

I first talked about Michael Phelps. He didn't just show up at the pool one day and win 8 Olympic gold medals. He's been swimming and training for years. And years. And years.


And I ask: Do you think he achieved such greatness by himself?

I don't. Behind every great thing we see, there's a support system. I've watched enough 30 in 30's to know. (Don't watch this? It's an ESPN feature that I find highly inspirational. I love sports documentaries! My favorite one is about Tom Brady.)

Michael Phelps has a coach. Someone who tells him what he's doing wrong, what he needs to do to get better. Because in swimming, you can lose by 1/100 of a second. And a good coach can tell you how to turn at the wall faster, or dive into the pool faster. And that 1/100 of a second can mean gold or no medal at all.


I think writers can learn a lot from athletes. They are coached to the extreme. They're told ALL THE THINGS they're doing wrong and they're asked to get better, and better, and better.

Writers need to be coachable.

I teach elementary school children, so no one over the age of 12. They are coachable. I can train them to do exactly what I want them to do, and with a few exceptions, they actually feel bad if they make a mistake. Children are coachable, because they don't know everything, whether they know it or not.

Teens are, for the most part, uncoachable, because they think they know everything.

I hope we can be more like the little child, and not like the teenager. It's hard. We don't want anyone telling us what to do, because it makes us feel like a failure. But it doesn't have to be that way.

We need to surround ourselves with people we trust to coach us in our writing. If you can do that, you're destined to have a golden experience.

Do you have writing coaches? How's that working out for you?

21 comments:

Matthew MacNish said...

I love 30 for 30! There are so many great ones. I haven't seen the Tom Brady one though, I need to check it out.

And yeah, I have so many writing coaches, I've learned so much about how to be a better writer from all my friends. Now if I could just get an agent and an editor ...

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You're talking to the writing-craft-book and workshop junkie here. I'm definitely coachable. :D

Angela Brown said...

It's like being clay. You know you are clay and you have a good feeling of the kind of clay you are, but being coachable also means being willing and open minded to allowing a trusted support system to help mold the clay you are into the form you truly want to be. Molding takes time and coachability. Yeah, I've got a few trusted coaches and wouldn't try to do anything without first getting help from them.

Julie Luek said...

Like Stina, I'm a craft book junky-- it is my preferred way to learn. I have to quell the insecurity monster when it comes to being coached by others. Staying open and willing to learn and change is so important for any kind of growth. Great post.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Created a marketing group on your advice and now I'm convinced I'd do well to find a writing coach. I have many people further on the path that have taught me...but ah, to have a coach!
~ Wendy

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I certainly don't know everything! My critique partners are like my coaches and I am open to all suggestions.

SA Larsenッ said...

Great points! WE must be open-minded and yearn for growth. Of course, growth only comes through seeing our flaws and working to correct those. It's great to have someone there to show us the way. That is the thing I'm most thankful for since signing with my agent: trustworthy guidance.

Liesel K Hill said...

Great post, Elana. I think my biggest coaches are my writer's group gals. I tell them to tear my writing apart, and then cringe a bit when they do, but I find that the times when I cringe the most are the times when I end up learning the most and getting the most valuable advice. I always try to be more teachable, as we all should. Thanks for reminding us! :D

LindaC said...

So true. In all aspects of my life I try to remain coachable, including my writing. I couldn't agree more that it's really important to keep an open mind on what you know and what you think you know! I work in a primary school (the same as your elementary more or less)and have been dismayed to discover with the class of 11 year-olds we have at the moment that they are not all coachable! It's been a shock this year to discover that some of them think, like many teens, that they 'already know'. Our attempts to correct and advise are met with "I know!" I really hope this isn't going to be the trend with subsequent classes! Great post!

Julie Daines said...

Someone once told me that it doesn't matter how good your writing is, it can always get better. So, yes, let's be open to coaching.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So true about the swimming. My daughter is a swimmer. And writing. I have been stubborn in the past but no more.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Great post, Elana.

It's not just teens who can be unacoachable. Too often it's seniors who also think they know it all. I never want to be that kind of old lady. lol

L.T. Elliot said...

An important lesson for anyone in pretty much any part of life. I need to be a little more coachable in life itself. As for writing, I have help and support but I don't know if I've ever had a "coach," so to speak. But I try and learn from others and at conferences.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great post - I talk about being coachable all the time with my kids too - it's soooo important :)

Martha Ramirez said...

This is so true and such a great reminder how specific athletes reached their goals. You are soooo right!!

BTW I still love that you are a kinder teacher. So awesome!Go Teacher Johnson!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

My mother's a high school teacher and she says the hardest people to train are adults. I think she did something in that department and it went badly because the adults wanted to do their own thing. She says he'll never teach adults.

Nice post, I agree that writers and everyone else needs to be open so they can be coachable.

Nicole said...

Excellent post! I've gotten great coaching from my local writing studio and my co-workers (I write for my day job too). Plus, love the shout out for swimmers - woo! :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I am a baby. Or maybe a toddler. I know nothing. Or so it seems today!

Alice said...

I'm very coachable. Maybe too much so. If someone gives me a suggestion I usually take it.

Leigh Covington said...

Love this Elana! I don't know what I would do without the coaches, who've helped me improve my writing --- and still do! Great message!

Kathryn Purdie said...

Lovely post, Elana. I've had some harsh writing coaches, that's for sure, and some who have been the best cheerleaders. I need both and both have carried me far.

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget