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Coaching others to coach
Coaching others to coach

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9 Learning from setbacks

Learning to become a better coach means being prepared to admit to making mistakes and accepting failure as an inevitable part of coaching. It requires an openness and willingness to discuss things that don’t go to plan and to learn from these experiences. As a coach developer one of the most crucial aspects of your role is to support and guide coaches through the process of learning from failure. This will be helped by the strength and health of the relationship you have with these coaches.

Described image
Figure 10 Slipping up and making mistakes is a rich source of learning

Failure is not easy – sometimes shame, embarrassment and a fear of ‘losing face’ can be a barrier to accepting that mistakes happen and that something can be learned from them. These feelings may be felt because failure and a fear of mistakes have been socially constructed as a sign of weakness, under-achievement, losing and rejection.

Activity 9 Alex talks about his approach to mistakes

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

In this activity Alex talks about his approach to helping coaches learn from their mistakes. In your experience, do coaches sit down with other people in real life to learn by reflecting on their mistakes, or is this just something that happens in theory?

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Alex claims that learning from mistakes is a vital part of becoming a better coach and a better coach developer. Sharing reflections on mistakes and failure may well be productive in a strong, healthy relationship that is supportive and co-operative.

Sometimes the rhetoric around how you should deal with setbacks can seem rather theoretical but one thing is certain, failure is part of success. Often, working through setbacks while in a close, committed and complementary relationship can make the relationship stronger.

At the start of this session you saw that shared goals, connection, empathy, trust and attitude towards mistakes all contribute to effective learning relationships. The common coach development thread between all these ideas is the deliberate planning and effort that is needed for these to take effect.