Last week in a session with a client, a Division I basketball coach, we spent time talking about what she was doing on behalf of herself and her team to incorporate new tools to support a successful season. The list was long -- and wide. It included support across mental, physical, emotional, and skill-specific areas.

I then met with one of her assistant coaches and our conversation turned to how these new tools were creating positive results. She mentioned that one of the things she most respected about her boss (another long list!) was her approach to learning. She described her as hungry to learn anything she could that would give herself, her staff, or her team a competitive edge.

The assistant coach recalled that early in their tenure together a graduate assistant made a suggestion directly to the head coach in practice about how to do things better. The assistant coach’s immediate thought was, “Wow. That is inappropriate talking to Coach like that. She is going to put him right in his place.” Instead, she watched her boss graciously acknowledge his input, thank him, and say she’d give it some thought at a better time. When questioned about this later, her boss said that if the student had gone on and on and taken up valuable practice time, she would have cut him off. But that her approach was one of respecting all sources of information and emphasizing that you never know when you will learn something new that can be used to improve yourself or your team.

Years later, this head coach is still an empassioned learner – a Student of Life. She ranks high on the list of people I know who are open to new ideas, tools, feedback, and an ongoing exploration of what is working and what isn’t. Last week she was honored as Coach of the Year for her conference – and not for the first time.

I was so inspired after my session with her, I tweeted out: “Spent morn w woman who's among BEST at what she does. She's so OPEN 2 learning 2 get even better. No coincidence there!”

Among the replies was one from the wise Bob Burg, author of The Go-Giver, who said: I've never seen it fail, Dr. Mollie. Those who truly know the most are the most open to learning/knowing more...yeah! ...

Are you ready to take your performance to a higher level? Here are a few suggestions to help you embrace your winning role as a Student of Life:

1. Open Your Mind to the Possibilities
Learners have big visions for their life. They have a strong desire to make an impact in this world. They are passionate about using their gifts to help others. In connecting to and expanding the possibilities for what you can achieve, you will begin to understand how much you don’t know. As you embrace the truth that we all need help along the way, you create a welcoming environment to build a team to support you and hold your vision with you.

2. Master the Ego
Often times your decisions come down to being ‘right’ or being happy. Your ego clings to the former, while your success will be driven by the latter. If you have a strong need to have all of the answers or to be right or to push your opinions on others, it is time to explore these patterns. My Student of Life client is far from a push over. She has a strong presence and garners great respect by openly sharing the areas in which she wants to improve and reaching out to partner with those who can help her. Transparency, vulnerability and asking for help fuel strength, not weakness.

3. Learn as You GO
Learning is experiential. It requires a lot of decisions and taking action on what you’ve learned. You then learn from your decisions, both good and bad, and move forward stronger and wiser. Don’t get caught up in the emotions of making a bad decision and judging yourself with the perspective of 20/20 hindsight. The longer you hang back and allow yourself to be held captive by a decision that didn’t turn out well, the more difficult it becomes to take a step forward. Adopt a success habit of moving forward even though you don’t really feel ready yet. Your confidence will grow with every step. An environment of accountability and support will maximize your forward action and results.

High achievers hold their role as a student close to their heart and place immense importance on learning. This is a life-long process. The more you learn, the more you will want to learn. The more you put your learning into action, the greater results you will see. As you improve as a person, your dreams and goals will begin to grow as well and fuel your motivation to continue learning.

How do YOU embrace the role of continual student? I’d love for you to share your experiences.

Author's Bio: 

Mollie Marti is a psychologist, lawyer, and adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Iowa. She brings years of experience in coaching a prestigious list of clients, including Olympians and business elites, to her mission of helping leaders thrive and serve.

Dr. Mollie speaks around the globe on servant leadership and mentorship, resiliency, life design, and business ethics. In addition to numerous academic articles, her business success books have been published in several languages. Her most recent book, Walking with Justice: Uncommon Lessons from One of Life’s Greatest Mentors, is being welcomed as “a timeless handbook for being human.”

She is host of the popular Make an Impact! event, bringing together internationally renowned thought leaders to raise philanthropic funds while empowering innovative attendees to make a bigger impact in a way that fuels their health, relationships, and life priorities.

A passionate advocate for youth and communities, Dr. Mollie directs the non-profit Community Resiliency Project to help communities support their youth and grow their capacity to thrive.

With her unique ability to combine the science of success with the art of exceptional living, she is a frequent media resource ( and was recognized by The Entrepreneur Blog as one of the Top 25 Business Coaches on twitter (@DrMollieMarti).

Having graduated first in her class in both undergraduate and graduate school, Dr. Mollie continues to learn – and unlearn – on a daily basis. She walks out these lessons from an apple orchard in scenic northeast Iowa where she lives with her husband, their three children, and a large family of pets. Join her for weekly musings on this grand experiment at