Summary of Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach

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Want to Get Great at Something? Get a Coach summary


9 Overall

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Experts can and should continue to get better. Surgeon Atul Gawande explores how. He pulls answers from the sports world, where even the best athletes use coaches to ensure ongoing improvement. These coaching insights informed Gawande’s remarkable, lifesaving collaboration with the World Health Organization. getAbstract recommends his moving talk to professionals in every field. But view at your discretion: The talk contains some graphic images.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How experts can continue to improve,
  • Why coaching works and
  • How professional coaching helped lower mortality rates in birthing centers in India.

About the Speaker

Harvard Medical School professor and surgeon Atul Gawande wrote The Checklist Manifesto.



Proficiency matters, but not as much as the potential to keep improving. How do people close the gap between potential and actual growth? Consider the example of a birthing center in a region of India that often sees tragic birthing outcomes. Medical science has identified the major causes of birthing deaths. Many have deceptively simple solutions, such as proper handwashing and using clean gloves. But in the Indian clinic, birthing rooms don’t have sinks, and there’s no supply of sterile gloves. Moreover, 10% of the world’s newborns experience breathing trouble. A medical provider must dry them with a clean cloth to stimulate their breath, suction their airways or, as a last resort, give breaths through a mechanical baby mask. However, teams in the Indian clinic learned these skills only from textbooks, and their baby mask was broken. These birthing professionals had performed thousands of deliveries, but they’d stopped improving.

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