Coaching Principle: ‘Learn from Mistakes’

‘You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over’ - Richard Branson

There’s a great line out of the movie ‘Rocky’ where he says in his mumbled accent: ‘It’s not how hard you hit, it’s how hard you get hit and then get back up again’…

How many times have you made a mistake in your life? Thomas Edison is famously quoted as saying he did not fail but found 10,000 ways that don’t work!

Now this is adding perspective to the matter. It is about keeping a positive and open mind as we have explored in principle #6. Without a frame of mind that focuses on continual improvement, we will continue to beat ourselves silly when making so called mistakes. As we explored in principle #4, if we adopt a growth mind-set we are more likely to learn from our mistakes rather than be overcome with despair. The opposite of the growth mind-set is the fixed mind-set that resists learning from mistakes and often look to blame something outside of them. Yes, we can often blame external forces like the government, a family member, the weather rather than looking within for the problem and seeking to find a solution.

This is something in my own journey that I have had to work hard at. When I ‘failed’ at becoming professional footballer, I avoided blaming external forces. Just as worse I blamed myself for not being good enough. Effectively, I didn’t learn from my mistakes I was making. This is where a coach comes into the picture. And how I would have loved one during those times!

We all need a coach and just as we are all coaches in some way shape or form, the only thing that divides us is our inability to be ‘judged’ by an outsider. Let me explain further…

As Einstein once said: ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the very thought or mind that created it in the first place’. So how do we learn from our mistakes in the context of being coached? Early on in my days of setting up the functional training institute with Dan Henderson, we were making the common business mistakes and didn’t know what we were doing wrong. So, we sought out an excellent business coach who looked at what we were doing as an outsider. This is very important. He had no attachments or vested interest in the business prior to us soliciting his help. What he did was ask questions and created a story of where we were at. From there he instilled in the importance of systems over randomness (Principle # 5).

Have we ever asked another coach to sit in on the class we were giving or the trainer we were training? Perhaps our pride has gotten in the way too many times for us to ask for feedback! You see, learning from mistakes is not about doing the wrong thing. It is about doing the wrong thing and becoming aware of the process (both in thought and action) that is preventing us from progressing or growing. We also cannot just do it alone. We need to humble ourselves and ask for advice. It is about seeking the best coaches and learning how they do things.

This brings us to our next principle ‘Make observation a habit’ where we will delve into this amazing way to learn. Learning is about how we orient ourselves in the world; being aware of our environment and observing how people do things and why. It is what science calls ‘inductive reasoning’ that we come to experience the world in all its dredge and wonder.

Coach’s Tip:

Think of someone who you look up to or consider a mentor. Ask them to observe you teaching, running a class or presenting. Take the bold step to ask for specific feedback. It may at first be a general observation but if there is a pattern identified that is a stumbling block to your growth as a coach, then you can get more specific and look to other strategies that will help you overcome such limitations. The modus operandi is always to seek feedback; continual improvement and most of all be aware and present when performing your duties as a coach.

Keep Reaching

Coach Tarek



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