Lost Among Europeans

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There’s a lot of modern corporate terminology that I don’t care for, but I do like the use of coachability to describe people. I seem to remember a manager once telling me I was coachable. I hope it happened; I hope I am coachable.

A coachable person, I imagine, is someone who is learning all the time and taking information in. Someone whose ego is not so big they get defensive whenever given feedback. Also, someone who makes an effort to be understandable. I don’t mean psychologically. Rather, making oneself easy to work with.

I was never very coachable in basketball, mostly for lack of talent. Or, to be clearer, I had little basketball intelligence.

I don’t understand the disrespect that sports get in terms of intelligence. Apparently intelligence is all about the arts, the letters, and the sciences. For other professions different words are used, and so, perhaps this businessperson is savvy, or that plumber is smart. Sports are similarly denied intellectual consideration, only more so.

The thing is, sports are one of the few occupations where people have coaches. Even superstars like Messi or Michael Jordan have had coaches throughout their careers.
In contrast, established artists and intellectuals disdain any criticism, and often attribute negative commentaries to envy, stupidity, or these days, to Censorship or Cancel culture, with capital letters of course.
We get then the over-indulgent Tarantino movie, the clueless yet pompous Vargas-Llosa editorial, and the sycophantic intelligentsia enabling all this.

Today, the term coach, perhaps life coach, is in fashion. Regrettably it has little to do with the concept from sports, and more to do with some sort of priesthood giving disgruntled workers generic advice on how to find work-life balance and cope with pressure.

On teaching: one of my favorite books, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights1, has a chapter where three knights on adventure happen upon three ladies, and decide each to take one lady with him and seek quests.
The older and more established knights choose the fairer ladies and go on their way. The youngest one is left with the oldest lady. She tells him this is exactly what she hoped for. She makes knights better. To her question if he is a good fighter, he responds that he is middling.

“Good,” she said. “Very good.”
“Why good, my lady?”
“Because you have not perfected your faults, young sir. You are well made but not hardened. I watched you move—and you use your whole body well as a natural endowment. I have long waited for such material as you.”

  1. Steinbeck, John. The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) ↩︎