“We could all use a little coaching,” business philosopher Jim Rohn used to say.

I’m trained as a musician, and in the music world, coaching is the norm. The best musicians regularly play for each other and take tips from one other, because they know that no matter how good you are, there are things you just can’t see about your own performance. Bonafide virtuosos visit old teachers for a tune-up again and again, as in the case of Hollywood studio trumpeter Jerry Hey, who for nearly 40 years flew from LA to Bloomington, IN, for periodic lessons with his old college teacher, Bill Adam (until Adam’s death in 2013).

Coaching is part of the cultural fabric of music, sports, and a few other fields. In many arenas, though, it’s only utilized by a few forward-thinking individuals.1 In some fields, in fact, asking for help is still seen as a sign of weakness. And some of us (like me) just don’t like asking for help regardless of how it’s viewed in our professional circles. So try reframing things.

If it’s not that easy to ask for help, ask for a little coaching instead.

  1. Surgeon Atul Gawande has a great TED talk on this very subject, but if you plan to watch it at work, you better bring some onions to chop so you can explain why you’re tearing up at your desk. ↩︎