Performing at Your Personal Best
Do you have a coach? I don’t mean the one who runs your son’s little league baseball team or the fabulous bag you got at a sample sale in Soho last week. I’m talking about someone who watches you work on a daily or weekly basis and challenges you to be better at what you do best. I recently re-read this great article in The New Yorker by a surgeon, Atul Gawande, who hired a coach to watch him in the operating room – someone to push him beyond his current capacity.
A couple of years ago, I began singing with a coach again. I have a degree in vocal performance and I’ve been singing my entire life. I know all the techniques and the things you are supposed to do (and not do) as a singer. I could even write a few essays on it. But having knowledge of how the voice works and hearing if I’m actually putting that technique into practice are two very different things. I need a coach to help me see outside of my own head, to challenge me to try new things, to remind me of the things I know.
So... what about in our careers? How often do we have a coach observing our work, giving us critical feedback, asking questions, and helping us to see the work in a new way? We're not often given this type of coach after college, but perhaps we should seek it out!