I’ve been thinking a fair bit lately, as I like to do, about my sport and my principals and about what I can pass on to others – This has been mainly inspired by listening to Frank Dick speak at the weekend, and his message that we all have a responsibility to help others and pass on the knowledge and experience we have to the next generation. As a level 1 coach I have for years tried to pass on my pearls of wisdom, but as I’m doing more and more public speaking I’ve been thinking about what I have to say that is unique to me and what I could call my Mantra – this is what I’ve come up with so far…
1. Goal – ‘The purpose toward which an endeavor is directed; an objective’.
With everything in life we need a start point and an end point, goals represent end points. They can be big or small, long term or short term. From the quote above you see that goals give training a purpose, and objective, substance. They are what you should aspire to everyday of your life, you have to take responsibility for achieving them, they should always be in the back of your mind and you should dream about them to imagine how it would feel to achieve your end goal. Your end goal is the most important and other smaller goals will guide you there, it’s not always about how you fall, it’s about how you land. Whether you set your end goal or someone else, you have to buy into it, and believe in the idea of it no matter how ambitious it is – End goals should be set at the very edge of what your perceived capabilities are, ideally they should be beyond what you think is possible, because if you aspire to be better than you need to be to win then you could still win even if you don’t meet your goal. It’s very rare that people over perform so setting goals lower is effectively lowering your expectations. Set goals high, so even when you under achieve you over achieve.
2. Obstacles – ‘One that opposes, stands in the way of, or holds up progress’.
Planning is essential in achieving goals, having a programme setting out how you are going to get to your end goal is fundamental, but even more important is being able to cope with inevitably come your way. Obstacles can range from small things like getting stuck in traffic on the way to training, to big things like getting injured. I also include balancing your private life and training here, and mental issues like stress. To negotiate obstacle successfully in pursuit of your end goal, you must be able to adapt and change appropriately, you must also be constantly learning and seeking advice and help where and when it’s needed. You have to be prepared to make changes along the way, to admit to failings, to make different sacrifices, to do what you didn’t expect to have to do – you need to challenge yourself constantly, always asking questions and thinking what you could do better. Keep an open mind and expect obstacles so that when then come, you can deal with them confidently and calmly. You must know yourself well, know when it’s time to change, and when you should stick at it because you feel it’s going to come right. Your instinct will be right nearly all the time so long as your knowledge is good, when things go wrong, know the reasons why and don’t panic.
3. Attitude – ‘manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, esp. of the mind: a negative attitude; group attitudes’.
Attitude is something only you can control, it’s not something that can be easily coached or past on. Having the right attitude towards training and competition is so important, if your attitude is poor then you won’t achieve your end goal. By poor I mean, an attitude that lets your focus drift during training, that you go through sessions half hearted, that you don’t take responsibility for your actions, that your don’t take an interest in learning and improving. Our attitudes are shaped by the experiences we have and the environments we are in, people are more greatly influenced when they are younger so it’s important young people get the right messages from a young age. Attitude is something that should be ingrained deep down, so that it is natural, an in-built trait that effect behaviour and thought process, with ambition clouding every thought and action, driving us to the end goal. Every training session should be seen as a step towards the end goal – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
4. Limits – ‘the final, utmost, or furthest boundary or point as to extent, amount, continuance, procedure, etc.: the limit of his experience; the limit of vision. ‘
Sky’s the limit, basically. Setting limits is something I avoid doing, whether physical, mental or perceptual, if you set limits you will ultimately work within these limits, and you won’t achieve your potential. Pretty much all perceptions are wrong, especially perceptions of ourselves – if we think we have no friends and no one likes us, we become depressed, stop talking to friends and stop going out. Same applies in sport, if you think you can’t do an exercise, you will fail it an eventually stop trying to do it. If you approach the same exercise without any negative thoughts and are persistent, you will eventually master it. Don’t let personal inhibitions dictate what you think you can and can’t do, let fate decide.. In terms of training volume, limits are needed to stop you breaking yourself by doing too much but limits should always be one the edge of your capabilities, but its important to know when to move limits on. In terms of performance, you should never set limits.
5. Deliver – ‘to do or carry out as promised: an ad agency known for delivering when a successful campaign is needed’.
The hardest part of achieving the end goal, to deliver the performance when it is needed under the most intense pressure. There are infinite ways to fail but only one way to succeed, and if you think about any of the ways you could fail then you are doomed. You have to be strong of mind, and well practiced, well rehearsed, any doubting thoughts will kill you. It’s important not to think at all, not about the consequences of failing, neither the rewards of success. The best performances are the easiest performances, so relax and accept your emotions without trying to control or change the, and the performance will come.
6. Success – ‘the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavor’.
Success can be yours if you are willing to risk failing.