Coachable, Teachable and Trainable: The 3 Keys to Doing Anything

In the last few months I have found myself repeatedly referring to myself in casual conversation as a ‘professional hoop jumper.’ Although people find my comment funny, its true. What I have learned in my pursuit of achieving any goal in life is that you have to prove yourself to others by being coachable, teachable and trainable. It’s only when you are that people who have what you need, or know what you don’t, are willing to help you.

While continuous learning is a basic necessity to professional improvement, being coachable, teachable and trainable requires subtle but different kinds of learning abilities from you.

Excert written by John C. Maxwell

Are you coachable?

Someone who is coachable is:

  • Approachable
  • Attentive
  • Receptive
  • Curious
  • Trusting
  • Shapeable

It means you listen with the intent to learn rather than to show what you know.

To be coachable means to lack arrogance and defensiveness and you check your pride and ego at the door. It means you don’t judge your coaches approach but try and adapt to it. When you allow someone to coach you, you allow that person to contribute to the situation, problem or decisions you need to face. It means you allow their point of view to shape the choices you make and actions you take.

Is there anything more frustrating than a know-it-all you have offered to share your expertise with and coach?

The best professionals at all levels require coaching to improve and they know it.


Are you teachable?

Jazz trumpeter and bandleader Louis Armstrong once said, “There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t teach them.” Some people want to be right, even when they aren’t. And as a result, life is difficult for them. They never find the pathway of learning nor do they learn the lessons life offers to those with a teachable spirit.

Being teachable is a choice. We choose whether we are open or closed to new ideas, new experiences, others’ ideas, people’s feedback, and willingness to change. The key to teachability is not just that we try ideas on for size, but that we actually learn from others and change our point of view, process,  and future decision making based on the what we have learned.

Traits of a Teachable Person

1. Teachable People Have an Attitude Conducive to Learning
People with a teachable spirit approach each day as an opportunity for another learning experience. Their hearts are open. Their minds are alert for something new. Their attitudes are expectant. They know that success has less to do with possessing natural talent and more to do with choosing to learn.

2. Teachable People Possess a Beginner Mind-set
When people are actually beginners, they find it easy to have a beginner’s mind-set.  And yet, the more success you have, the harder it is to maintain because you are much more likely to think you know the answer and have less to learn.  Regardless, it is important to maintain a beginners mindset because your thinking preferences limit the way you think. Try to maintain a beginner’s mind-set by keeping the following three things in mind:
1. Everyone has something to teach me.
2. Every day I have something to learn.
3. Every time I learn something, I benefit.

3. Teachable People Take Long, Hard Looks in the Mirror
Becoming and remaining teachable requires people to honestly and openly evaluate themselves on a continual basis. Any time you face a challenge, loss, or problem, one of the first things you need to ask yourself is, “Am I the cause?” If the answer is yes, then you need to be ready to make changes. Recognizing your own part in your failings, no matter how painful, and working hard to correct your mistakes,  leads to the ability to change, grow, and move forward in life.

4. Teachable People Encourage Others to Speak to Them About Their Lives
Teachable people surround themselves with people who know them well and who will lovingly, yet honestly, speak to them about their life.  For many reasons this can be a big challenge. First, you must be willing to develop strong enough relationships with people that you can ask them for feedback. Second, they must be courageous and honest enough to speak freely to you. And third, you must be willing to accept their feedback and criticism without defending yourself. Otherwise, you’ll only receive it once and that defeats the purpose.

5. Teachable People Learn Something New Every Day
The secret to any person’s success can be found in his or her daily agenda. People grow and improve, not by huge leaps and bounds, but by small, incremental changes. Teachable people try to leverage this truth by learning something new every day. A single day is enough to make us a little larger or a little smaller. Several single days strung together will make us a lot larger or a lot smaller. If we do that every day, day upon day, there is great power for change.

Futuristic author and speaker John Naisbitt said, “No one subject or set of subjects will serve you for a foreseeable future, let alone the rest of your life.” In other words, even if you do know something well, it won’t do everything for you. Living to your potential requires you to keep learning and expanding yourself. For that, you must have a teachable spirit. If you don’t,  you will come to the end of your potential long before you come to the end of your life.

Are you trainable?

To quote the Greek philosopher Aristotle,  “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation […] Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

As such, it is important to view yourself as a perpetual trainee so as to never allow yourself to become complacent and sedentary.

Seeking to build your skills through training is vital for a multitude of reasons. The first and foremost advantage is that it ensures that you are constantly growing your skillsets which will add value to not only to the individual, but also to any business you start or work for.

Training serves to improve your  overall performance both in life and at work as it builds confidence and allows you to assess where and how you can improve. It also gives you something to measure against that building a skill provides. When you learn a new skill it is easy to measure your progress and abilities and anytime you can measure or assess objectively it helps us grow and learn.

Actively seeking out training will allow you to build your skills and productivity, which will allow you more time to focus on other priorities because what once was a daunting task to do, now is easy for you because you learned how to do it.


A quick 8-point check on your coachability, teachability and trainability:

Which of these are true and to what extent?

  1. I usually allow others to complete their sentences before interrupting/responding.
  2. When I’m given feedback/ criticism, I usually think about it before responding.
  3. When I’m given feedback/ criticism, I rarely find myself defending a position or action immediately.
  4. When I’m given feedback/ criticism, I ask questions about it in order to try to better understand it.
  5. I feel my work’s purpose is to be of service to somebody. (“You’re gonna have to serve somebody.” – Bob Dylan)
  6. I feel my work’s purpose is to serve others to the best of my abilities and continuously  learn and improve.
  7. I’ve changed/ revised my position/ approach because of the advice of another individual.
  8. Others invests time in my professional development.

There is no rating scale for this 8 point check.  These questions are simply meant to raise  you awareness about your coachability, teachability and trainability.


 1014467_10202833947183293_5964056692173013765_nAbout Lisa Canning

“Vowels are to words what creativity is to the world~ basic and necessary.” What motivates you to explore your creativity?

For daily inspiration and creative education join me on Facebook:

Need a magic creativity wand? Let’s start with the clarinet and see what it inspires you to dream and do.

Lisa Canning is the founder of Lisa’s Clarinet Shop, IAEOU, the Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship (IAE) and Entrepreneur the Arts. And now Learning Flies too.






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Coachable, Teachable and Trainable: The 3 Keys to Doing Anything

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