We should all have a coach

In his article, “Coaching a Surgeon,” Atul Gawande writes about the use of a coach for himself, a world-reknowned surgeon, and wonders why more people do not have a coach. When describing the coach, starting with the sports professions, Gawande writes:

The concept of a coach is slippery. Coaches are not teachers, but they teach. They’re not your boss—in professional tennis, golf, and skating, the athlete hires and fires the coach—but they can be bossy. They don’t even have to be good at the sport.

Indeed, coaching is hard to conceptualize, especially in a sport like basketball that is growing more specialized with individual coaches and team coaches working with players. He continues:

Coaches are like editors, another slippery invention. Consider Maxwell Perkins, the great Scribner’s editor, who found, nurtured, and published such writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Thomas Wolfe. “Perkins has the intangible faculty of giving you confidence in yourself and the book you are writing,” one of his writers said in a New Yorker Profile from 1944. “He never tells you what to do,” another writer said. “Instead, he suggests to you, in an extraordinarily inarticulate fashion, what you want to do yourself.”

Coaches breed confidence. Really? I suppose that is one purpose, but do most coaches succeed? If that is the role of the coach, how should a coach inspire confidence in his or her players?

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