Powerful Lessons of a Quirky coach


You decide; is my coach’s most favourite thing to say to me. If I go to him when in doubt or maybe at the brink of a screw up, he just says, “you decide”.

Also he’s not given to diplomacy; doesn’t tell me things like “this isn’t powerful enough” or “maybe this is a better idea”, just tells me “to my mind, this is weak”.

It took me time to get used to it. In hindsight, this is perfect!

You Decide.

This brings me to “what do I think”. And if I am deciding, I don’t have the luxury of saying “I don’t know”. But my coach knows this is the best way to nudge me towards what I actually think or am afraid to stand up for. I listen to myself talk through it and somewhere in this chat; I know what I want to do and more importantly the why of it.

It’s a powerful technique. More often than not, this phrase has changed what I would have normally done. It makes me look at the situation in terms of “if I and only I were answerable for this, what would I have done”. 7 out of 10 times it ends well; for the remaining 3, I know what not to do the next time.

To my mind, this is weak.

Wow! It’s like a punch in the guts. I spend a weekend doing something up and this is what I get to hear. Or this is better; coach says “I don’t know”. It means he doesn’t care much for what I scrambled to put together.

Yeah! Scrambled. Like I didn’t give it much thought. And it means that I could do a better job.

This statement has taught me to think backwards. I have learnt to ask the right questions-

  1. Who is the target audience
  2. What is their level of understanding
  3. What is the end objective of this exercise
  4. What should the audience feel at the end of this exercise
  5. What thought do I leave the audience with

Well, it makes my attempt more meaningful. I am compelled to ensure that each thread is connected to the larger story and the larger story has a far reaching purpose for whoever it’s meant for.

How is this relevant to you?

Listening is a taxing skill; all the more when you have to listen to yourself.

The next time you want to bounce your ideas off your coach, bounce them in your head perhaps.

  • Force fit the “you decide” methodology
  • Do a fair amount of detailing (don’t shoot for perfection; be aware of obvious loopholes)
  • Just to make it harder- Try the “this is weak” piece after that work (it’s the best way to figure out why your current solution is the best bet; else you need to rethink)

Listening to others is mighty serious. Have you tried “not saying anything and just listening”?

The next time you want to shoot out your opinion or tell someone exactly how something is to be done, tell them to decide. If you want to inspire a more thorough outcome, tell them to shoot holes through their own strategy (another way of saying- “to my mind, it is weak”).

Yes it’s going to take longer to get to the desired solution and yes sometimes the wheel will be reinvented.

But hey! Isn’t innovation a fancy way of saying “learning to reinvent the wheel”?

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