SLAM! Bob walks out on us with the following words: “Sir, you’re just here to criticize me!!!”. He shakes our hands and proceeds to walk out the door of the coffee shop. It all began with a message from Bob (name replaced for privacy). Bob is a real estate broker and a property manager in my area. He’s seen my blog posts, YouTube videos as well as some of the success he’s seen. Most of all, he lost on a bid in which we were successful in getting the deal, not him. He messaged me on Facebook asking for a quick coffee. In which case, I invited my partner at the time to join me. We met at a local coffee shop near Bob’s office. My partner was also a real estate broker in the area so he began asking questions about Bob’s operations. Things seemed like it was going well until my partner started to point out all the flaws that Bob had in his business. Looking back, my partner wasn’t so tactful in his approach for sure and I realized that this meeting was doomed from the beginning. Both my partner at the time and Bob had a missing trait. Both successful but had been met with a limitation of this ONE trait that graduates an entrepreneur from being average to successful. Bob actually ended up getting a complaint from us as he proceeded to defame both myself and my partner to other real estate investors in town.
Patience, Hardwork, Initiatives… Those are all the great traits and characteristics of an entrepreneur. Traits don’t necessarily make someone successful by themselves. It’s the culmination of different traits, feat, and skills that bond together that paints a picture as to whether an entrepreneur is deemed successful. What you’ll notice is that I haven’t mentioned anything about their trophies and accomplishments. It’s more about the ones who have cultivated a being that shines beyond their accomplishments. I’ve met countless number of individuals who have accomplished great things but when interacting with them, I felt repelled and unimpressed with their character traits and their judgement. Equally, I’ve also met some amazing people who are very loving, caring and supportive of another yet they aren’t entrepreneurs by actions. It’s both actions and their being that imperforate someone to be a shining example of an entrepreneur.
But out of ALL the traits and feats that one could master, there is one that stands out the most. I call this the pillar trait. It’s a character trait, rather a state of being, that upholds all other skills and traits. If an entrepreneur or any leader get this ONE thing right, almost everything else will fall into its place.
I know that’s not a real word. But nothing else can seem to express the very meaning I wish to articulate. Being coachable can mean being humble, exercising humility or being less of oneself but I think it’s more than that. It’s an attitude and the action of wanting to learn more. It’s accepting a belief that you don’t know everything and you’re willing to learn new possibilities and concepts. Not only that, coachability also means that you respond and take action. Sure, you can be open to new ideas and passively accept them. But it’s not as powerful as being open to the new ideas AND actively engaging with the new idea.
Being coachable means that you are willing to accept tough criticisms. Being coachable means that you aknowledge the belief that you have not arrived. Being coachable means allowing others to shine and take the spotlight for the work that you’ve done.
You see, coachability is also a foundation to a great leadership. Without listening and responding to those that you lead, it is nearly impossible to create a culture of collaboration and transparency. Without collaboration and transparency, not only are you being counterproductive but it is a massive waste of precious time and energy for those around you and yourself. Coachability is the power to accept that, despite what you have accomplished, you create a new possibility for the better.
The interesting paradox is that entrepreneurs are naturally prone to NOT being coachable. We have OUR way and OUR fixed route. Some may see that as a strength. But, what can be said about our strength can also be our greatest weakness. It’s great that we have this amazing will-power and certainty but without clarity, it’s like driving in a Lamborghini at 150mph with a visibility of a few meters ahead. Being a coachable entrepreneur will open the doors to allow others to help you find clarity and bring into focus on what really matters in your business. It allows you to see beyond what we can see. It’s the power of the collective minds that can triple or sometimes quadruple our strengths. It’s the very interesting idea that a single horse can pull a weight of 8,000 pounds. But when two horses work together, they can pull up to 32,000 pounds. That’s 4x the weight that a single horse can pull. But let’s say one of the horses do not wish to cooperate with the other horse. Rather, this stubborn horse wants to pull a different direction while the other horse does the same. That’s what un-coachability looks like.
Coachability can’t be faked. You are either coachable or not. The tell is in your action.
If you can identify someone that you encounter that is better than you at something, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Sometimes it’s simply asking those around you for a feedback on your performance and how you can be better. But it comes from a place of honesty. A honest belief that you actually suck at something. Only when you begin to adopt the honest look of your own being can you start being coachable.
“Everyone is my teacher. Some I seek. Some I subconsciously attract. Often I learn simply by observing others. Some may be completely unaware that I’m learning from them, yet I bow deeply in gratitude.”
― Eric Allen
Back to the story with Bob… If Bob was in any way coachable, he would have calmly accepted my partner’s criticism and he would have been eager that someone was being honest with his way. On the contrary, if my partner at the time was also being coachable, he would have started the conversation with questions to learn more and if there were any differences, my partner would have asked why Bob chose to handle business in such way. Neither men were very coachable and placed their ego first. They were steadfast on their previous victories not on the possibilities of the future. In fact, Bob caused so much headache for my partner (both are realtor). Bob was aggressively trying to take deals and businesses away from my partner ever since that interaction. You can imagine how NOT being coachable can be costly and no one really wins. Not only did my partner lost a property management client to Bob, Bob engaged in bidding wars for ALL of my partners’ deals. Crazy how when two uncoachable people come together, you get a war.
On a bigger scale, just ask Blockbuster, Lehman Brothers, Carson Pierce, and Kodak. Businesses that have failed because they weren’t being coachable from the market, the new technology and the arising demand to change. None of them did. They all thought they were invincible. They all thought they have arrived. Stockholders to those companies have lost incredible amount of money. Executives who once worked for those companies not only lost their positions but their reputation is now tarnished by driving those mega-giants into a complete meltdown. All due to one thing… Coachability…