I’ve just watched an inspiring TED talk by Atul Gawande about how people get better at what they do. “It’s not how good you are now; it’s how good you are going to be that really matters,” Gawande says.
We are often at our limits in our professions and we don’t get better. So he asks “How do professionals get better at what they do?”. The dominant school of thought is that a professional is somebody capable of managing their own improvement once they graduate from their degree. This is the thinking that pervades most professions, including science. However, there is another school of thought. In sports, they consider that everybody needs a coach - even the greatest sportsperson in the world needs a coach. Gawande asks “Which view is right?”
It turns out that there are numerous problems in making it on your own. You don’t recognise the issues that are facing you, and if you do, you don’t know how to fix them. At some stage in your professional career you stop improving. We graduate from university, have a steep learning curve, and then reach a point where we’re not improving anymore.
Gawande found out that coaching does improve our professional practice. Teams are transformed through coaching. It is the key difference between ‘doing well’ or ‘excelling’ in our profession. He speaks about how his own skills as a surgeon have improved through taking on a coach and how birth centres in India have greatly improved their practice through a coaching programme. His story is inspiring and thoughtful. It is surprising that coaching isn’t adopted more widely. That self-reflection and improvement are not embedded in our day-to-day work. However, there is resistance in admitting that we can do better. But if top sportspeople have coaches to help them perform even better, why don’t we? My personal mission is nature conservation. In a world where biodiversity is disappearing at a rapid rate it is essential and critical that nature conservation professionals are at the top of their game.
This is the mission of We Are All Wonder Women. To help us to continue to improve. To help us be better in our jobs and have greater impact in the world. For it is only by being better at what we do that we are going to create a better world.
See Gawande’s inspiring talk here. Enjoy!
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.