Reading an article in JACS recently got me thinking about how we improve all of our skills without the help of a teacher or mentor. Over the last 10 years, I have found professional coaching to be the greatest source of improvement for myself and others. We don’t always have an opportunity to seek truly independent feedback or support from a coach. When we’re on our own, what are the most effective methods for improvement?
We often think of coaching as a collaborative relationship between two or more parties working together to change and improve something. However, in my experience another form of coaching can be self-coaching.
I like to call this powerful self-improvement process – See One, Do One, Coach One.
We can use this process to raise awareness, improve a skill, and internalize feedback for self-improvement. Let’s examine what that looks like.
See One – Visualize the Skill
The first step in the process is visualization, defined as the formation of mental images to rehearse a future event. It can be an effective tool to build confidence, decrease anxiety, and mentally practice reps. I find this to be beneficial when preparing for a particularly difficult surgical procedure, but it can also apply to difficult conversations and other ideas.
What skill do you want to improve? Visualize what success looks like with as much detail as you’ll allow.
Do One – PRACTICE the Skill
How do we get better at anything? We practice. Deliberately practicing a skill repeatedly helps you improve over time. Remember, slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. We can apply this concept to everything from surgical techniques to exercise. When you start practicing, focus on your process and ignore speed. Where we are now is not where we will be with practice, so focus on incremental improvement.
Coach One – Reflect on the Performance
Coaches notice opportunities for improvement, but they focus more on what went well, so they can leverage that for continued improvement. Focus on constructive feedback!
- Which repetitions went the smoothest?
- What are one or two simple things I can do better in the other repetitions for future practice?
Take time to reflect meaningfully on what you’re practicing. Coach yourself in simple small steps for improvement.
See One, Do One, Coach One, is a powerful self-improvement process that powers change when we don’t have a professional coach.
What if instead of being your own worst critic, you instead became your own best coach.