Usain Bolt, Michael Jordan and the TCT

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You may have heard it said that success leaves clues and that when the student is ready the teacher appears. My teacher in this life lesson appeared in two separate interviews I saw with Usain Bolt and Michael Jordan.

Speaking candidly with veteran Jamaica journalist Ian Bowen, the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, told Bowen that he always does exactly as his coach tells him. Ian Bowen listened intently to Bolt’s recount of examples of applying unquestioning obedience then remarked almost in shock, “so you really are like a child in your coach’s hand?” Bolt’s response was golden, his facial expression evinced, ‘is there any other way?’

A few days later I received a video from Tai Lopez that referenced basketball great Michael Jordan in an object lesson on humility. Jordan was described as the cockiest NBA player ever, yet he was also described as the humblest when it came to learning from his coaches. He had a reputation to do exactly as they advised without question.

As you already know, both these men are legendary in their craft for their accomplishments. Bolt created Olympic history in Rio 2016 by being the first athlete of all times to win gold in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay thrice!  Jordan is the most decorated NBA player. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships and earned the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award five times.

Without doubt, both sportsmen possess incredible talent and trained very hard. But what’s remarkable to me is that with all their talent, athletic prowess and success they listened unquestioningly to their coaches. They mastered the art of being teachable, coachable and trainable (TCT).

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, that I have displayed a huge deficit in this area. For even though I love to learn and often seek advice and appreciate the value of a mastermind, I’ve had a predisposition, almost unconsciously, to follow my own way. Have you ever done that?

Not that anything is wrong with going with your gut. That natural instinct clearly has its place. But when you want to achieve a goal that you’ve never pursued or have pursued and failed, the advice of proven experts is often the game changer to accelerate you towards success.

That’s the reason for coaches. They know how to help you to get to your goal with efficiency. But the work to get there is squarely your responsibility. And it starts with an awareness that you need their help, followed by your decision to heed and implement their advice.

So I began to reflect on what is it about these star performers that makes them comply unquestioningly to the advice of their coaches? Could it be that they have a clearer view of the end game and desire it bad enough to do whatever it takes to get it? Maybe. Maybe it is such certainty of purpose that helps them to remain teachable, coachable and trainable. What is obvious is that success leaves clues and I am ready to learn.

So alternately, I reflected on what sabotages us from being teachable, coachable and trainable. What is it that we fear, why we do not implement the advice of a proven expert who has our best interest at heart and who has nothing to gain from our failure? Is it ignorance? Arrogance? Lack of trust?

For me it was all three. For you it may be something else. But that moment of awareness was very humbling yet equally liberating.  It made me eager to course correct. A process I started with apologies, followed by seeking out requisite coaches and mentors and submitting fully to their counsel. I am learning that being teachable, coachable and trainable is imperative to success. If it worked so well for Michael Jordon and Usain Bolt, then certainly it can work for me and for you.


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