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How Coachable Are You?

The Mental Game of Self-Coaching

Bill Cole, MS, MA

How well do you learn from your own experience? How coachable do you think you are? Do you actively use one of the most powerful tools in the peak performers armamentarium, self-coaching?

Peak performers seek assistance from coaches, teachers, confidants, gurus, mentors, peers, books, high-tech and all other manner of information and feedback. But all the information in the universe won't help if it is not translated into useable form. This is where self-coaching takes center stage. Self-coaching is the ability to learn about yourself and to take that information and make meaningful, positive changes.

No one can teach you anything. Ultimately, only you can take information from the teacher or coach and transform it into your personal use. Peak performers take responsibility for their own learning and devise strategies that provide them with quality feedback and with systems that put that information through the change process into action.

Here are ten mental game success strategies that peak performers use in self-coaching.

1. Have a Willingness to Grow as a Person.

If you are reading this article about self-coaching it means you want to mature and grow as a human being. This desire is manifested by your seeking experiences that help you improve personally, as well as professionally. The self-learner realizes that to grow professionally, personal growth is a must.

2. Have a Beginner's Mind.

The Zen tradition says that to learn, we must be an empty vessel. If we know it all, we can't be very open to new knowledge and experiences. The self-learner realizes that an open, seeking attitude of experimentation and suspension of judgment allows new perceptions to form.

3. Be Unafraid to Lose Face During the Change Process.

Fear locks many people up and stops them from changing. Taking ourselves too seriously, having to maintain a certain facade, and playing rigid roles all stop us from being able to loosen up and go with the ups and downs of change. The self-learner is secure about the process of learning and change.

4. View Learning as Mistake Laboratories.

The best learners have fun as they make mistakes. The slowest learners tie themselves up with every mistake. When we view any mistake as a failure, our negative emotions mask the valuable feedback available around every mistake. The self-learner welcomes all feedback around mistakes and uses them to advantage.

5. Use Creative Exploration.

Peak performers are creative and playful in extracting learning from every experience. They take a fun approach to the change process and realize that creativity increases options for them. The self-learner knows that creativity is a major portal to testing new personal realities.

6. Develop High Self-Awareness.

Self-awareness is not about what should be; it is about what is. Self-coaching is about noticing and observing yourself and about using feedback from any sources to heighten that sense of yourself. The self-learner places a high priority on becoming self-aware and realizes that self-knowledge can be about the past or the present. Self-awareness is the master skill.

7. Deconstruct Your Personal Experience.

Peak performers use self-reflection to analyze their experience. They know that the unexamined life fleets by out of control. Only by reviewing personal experience do we gain some degree of awareness over what we have done and over who we are. The self-learner embraces the process of deconstructing what has gone before so new realities and realizations can be consciously created out of that.

8. Value Self-Reflective Time.

The self-learner uses quiet alone time to learn about self. This down-time might be meditative, a walk, reverie, daydreaming or journaling. The self-learner places a high value on this private time as a means to re-charge batteries, to take stock and to gain personal awareness.

9. Use Journaling.

We often learn best when we have a mirror against which to view ourselves. Writing makes our thought processes clearer, and enhances our self-awareness by our looking back on our actions. The self-learner gains confidence from seeing improvements over time.

10. Translate Your Learnings Into Action.

If knowledge is power, then taking that powerful knowledge and putting it into action is the ultimate power. Knowledge without action does not change the world. Peak performers develop strategies for taking personal knowledge and putting it into action in ways that are personally meaningful for them. The self-learner places a high priority on this last piece of the change process.

Your Mental Game Action Plan:

What action will you take this week in becoming better at self-coaching? Here are three questions to get you started.

1. What system can you develop to increase awareness about yourself?

2. Who can you partner with to assist you in your self-coaching quest?

3. How will you translate what you learn about yourself into immediately useful action?

To learn more about how coach training can help you become a better change agent, visit Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™ at

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, motor skill training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, momentum training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at

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