It’s All About Me
I’m kind of a big deal, people know me….
When I first started out as a trainer, I had all the answers and very few questions. There wasn’t a gym I couldn’t walk into and within 5 mins of observing another trainer come to a comprehensive conclusion about everything they were doing wrong. As that’s all the time you need to watch someone else work, just 5 mins and you’ve seen all there is to see, you know exactly what they’re doing and why from that snapshot – right? I’d read magazine articles with some sweeping generalised statements about training and immediately dismiss that trainer is incompetent, as of course they should be able to get across their entire performance paradigm in just 600 words. Even Premiership football teams were not safe from my all knowing and all seeing eye, watching players warm up pitch side doing what I deemed outdated and ineffective drills – as that 10 secs was all I needed to draw my opinion. I was right, everyone else was wrong and I’d seen what I needed to see.
I was 25 years old, and after 9 years serving in the military I assumed I was fairly worldly wise – but looking back now, my total lack of respect for other people’s ‘map of the world’ makes me cringe. We’ve all done it, and even now I find myself slipping back into it. We like to think we don’t judge, but watching someone else work it’s maybe human nature to immediately start judging them, how crap their session is and how much better you’d do it. The plain fact is you have no context, you have no idea ‘why’ they are doing what they’re doing or what series of events lead them to deliver what they are delivering. Back then it wasn’t just hands on training I was critical of, there wasn’t a subject, methodology or rationale that I didn’t have an opinion on. I was willing to wade into anyone and anything whilst operating on my default setting that I knew all I needed to know based on a tiny snapshot of what someone was doing or saying. All the answers, no questions.
The slide is for Taylor
The work market plays it’s part, it’s a point of difference that you know better than someone else and therefore should have the work. Equally training and education providers can also play their part in this process, if you do a course and you’re constantly being told that the education you’re being provided with is THE way – it’s understandable you’ll take that attitude out into the world. You come out of the other end of this process thinking you have an enormous map of the performance world eager to implement your ideas as of course no one has tried before what you’re talking about…apart from just about everyone that has gone before you.
If you want to be successful as a coach, you need to measure yourself by the team you surround yourself with – not by being master of the universe by knowing everything yourself and operating on the default setting everyone else is probably wrong. I’m now (almost…) 41 years old and have been extraordinarily lucky with not only the athlete’s I’ve worked with, but the performance specialists I’ve been exposed to and able to work with. If you don’t know something, then say so – athlete’s and clients are coming to you for a solution and it’s down to you to provide that solution. That doesn’t mean it’s all about you – by seeking out other experts and building your own network, you can ensure you get a positive outcome with whoever you’re working with. By insisting on doing everything yourself, you’re setting yourself up to limit what you’re capable of.
I have a huge network of performance practitioners I can tap into, from premiership football, premiership rugby and olympic sports. Medically I have a specialist surgeon per body part, and for physio therapy I use the ubiquitous Doug Jones. Doug isn’t some random physio I found locally working in private practice, he was head physio at Sale Sharks for many years before moving to London Wasps as head of medicine. Doug now works in private practice with Harris & Ross – point being he is massively experienced in dealing with progressive and aggressive methodologies for elite athletes. You have to seek out the experts who can help you achieve positive results with whoever you’re working with. You will gain much more respect as a practitioner if you facilitate expert advice, that athlete or client will go away talking about how ‘you’ sorted them out, you’re the person to go to as you know all the right people.
If you look at all successful coaches they are surrounded by a network of top specialists. In my case particular I ensure that everyone I surround myself with is way better than I am. I measure myself on the quality of my network, not what I know myself. It’s not about me, what I think I know or how clever I think I am – it’s about the person you’re trying to help. It’s about their needs and the outcome they need – not mine. The other key message is respect other people’s map of the world, you don’t know the full details of why a trainer or coach is doing what they’re doing. A basic glute bridge isn’t going to bring about massive glute adaptations in anyone, or basic plank send their trunk strength through the roof. However if that athlete is just 4 weeks post spinal fracture with significant internal fixation, no control over their pelvis and poor trunk control – it’s a start. A picture and 10 word description maybe doesn’t explain the length, breadth and depth of what is happening – so don’t assume it does. Try and be as open minded as possible, as what you’ve read in a book or been on a course about might not actually be THE way things are, but simply ‘a’ way.
- It’s not about you
- Be open minded
- Respect other people’s map of the world
- Build your expert team, you can’t know everything
- Assumption is the mother to all f**k ups, so don’t assume anything
- Accepted paradigm is the way it is now, things change so be prepared to adapt
- Learn, don’t copy
- Seek out subject matter experts and learn directly from them
- Never stop learning
I’m saying this as I’ve made all the mistakes, tried to do everything myself and totally disrespected everyone else’s map of the world. Every athlete I’ve worked with has contradicted what I thought I knew. 16 years on, I’m still learning, still being surprised and now old enough to see methodologies coming around for the second time. Quite often I’m not sure if I even know a good way to do anything anymore! However, by having a great team around me and extraordinarily challenging athletes to work with – I get there in the end…