Want to get great at something? Get a coach

Surgeon and public health professor Atul Gawande has studied the question of how we improve in the face of complexity. In the TedTalk attached he shares that he’s found the key is having a good coach to:

✅ Provide a more accurate picture of our reality
✅ Instil positive habits of thinking
✅ Break our actions down and then help us build them back up again.

“It’s not how good you are now; it’s how good you’re going to be that really matters,” Gawande says.

He had watched his surgical complication rates drop from one year to the next. But after about five years, they leveled out. And a few more years after that, he realised he wasn’t improving anymore. After two months of coaching, he felt himself getting better again. And after a year, his complications dropped down even further. He says, “It was painful. I didn’t like being observed, and at times I didn’t want to have to work on things. I also felt there were periods where I would get worse before I got better. But it made me realize that the coaches were onto something profoundly important.”

Atul Gawande TedTalk

Prof Gawande also leads a health systems innovation centre called Ariadne Labs, where they work on problems in the delivery of health care, including global childbirth. The centre ran a trial using coaches in 120 birth centres in India which delivered startling improvements. They coached 400 nurses and other birth attendants, and 100 physicians and managers and tracked the results across 160,000 births. The results in the control group who did not get coaching — they delivered on only one-third of 18 basic practices that they were measuring. Importantly, over the course of the years of study, they saw no improvement. The other group who got coaching increased to greater than two-thirds of the practices being delivered. They could see coaching works, helping deliver improvement in quality and improve adherence to essential birth practices.

See the fascinating full TedTalk in the link attached.

🙋 How can a coach help people improve in the face of complexity in your view? 🙋‍♀️

Best regards, Brian

PS: Book an exploratory call if you or someone you know needs a coach.