Performance Coaching & Accomplishment

What is Accomplishment?

First of all let us define what we mean by accomplishment.

The English language definition of accomplishment is:

  • Something that has been achieved successfully.
  • The successful achievement of a task.
  • An activity that a person can do well.

Notice that there is no mention of winning, beating others, specific outcomes, money, sport, power or fame.

Accomplishment is something that you can strive for in almost any area of life. You can be an accomplished parent, friend, partner, sports person, employee and soldier. You can even be accomplished in a life chosen to be spent alone. Unfortunately you can also be accomplished in very destructive behaviours too. Often this is accidental but in the case of amorale or unethical individuals with misplaced goals it can be very deliberate. Notice that we have not listed criminals, as the breaking of the law does not always equal a behaviour that is destructive. In fact, history has shown us that without some courageous rule breakers the world would be a much worse place for us to live in today.

Before you begin your journey to becoming more accomplished you must first be clear on what accomplishment means to you. It is easy in modern times to be distracted by someone else’s deficnition of accomplishment Social media has played a huge part in a perception of success. For example we often celebrate sporting winners, famous celebrities, politicians and the wealthy as accomplished. Well we need to look no further than Lance Armstrong, Donald Trump, Bill Cosby and too many religious leaders to name to realise that this is simply not the way to measure if an individual is accomplished. Now I am sure that all of these individuals would argue that they were accomplished and most would fail to see how they were not even to this day, this is known as narcissism and delusion. There is the argument that even negative experiences can add value, for example, they can lead to greater resilience in the recipient and we know that making mistakes is a great way to learn, but, there is balnace and rather than get into a debate about the value those types of individuals may not may not add we are going to try to keep is as positive as we can. So when we talk about accomplishment we are only going to focus on the type that genuinely and undeniably helps make the world a better place for us all to live in. This does not always mean that a behaviour may feel positive to a recipient at the time, for example helping a drug addict break the habit is going to see some significant short term suffering delivered to them to ultimately accomplish the goal of them no longer being an addict, denying a child everything they want to help teach them the value of things will not be met with a happy response. What people need and what they want are not always the same thing. So we are going to focus on the principle that says, “if you are not helping others you are wasting you time”. Remember ‘helping’ takes many forms. For some it is nurturing, for some leading by example and being an inspiration, for some it is challenging others, for some it is teaching. Helping others can take many forms that can all ultimate lead to the recipient leading a more accomplished and fulfilled life.

However, regardless of the subject, task or way of life an individual or group chooses to be accomplished in they all almost always have something in common. In general they all demonstrate a set of behaviours. If their accomplishment is something that also impacts positively on others there are extra beahviours they demonstrate that those with destructive goals often do not. The percentage of the behaviours these individuals demonstrate and the percentage of the time they have them on-point is almost always directly proportional to the level of their accomplishment versus the ultimate objective.

What is it that accomplished individuals do that maybe you do not?

At Passion Fit we are striving to create a self sustaining culture of accomplishment. Culture is everyone knowing how to behave without being told. However, by definition takes time to develop. So what follows are the key behaviours we have seen demonstrated from accomplished individuals that over the the last 30 years we have consciously observed them engaging in day after day.

While you read through this paper we would strongly recommend that you consider the following questions as you do.

What do you currently do well?
What could you be better at?
How will you do that?
Who needs to help you?

What is performance coaching?

As coaches that mainly specialise in triathlon and other endurance sports we are approached week after week by athletes asking for our help and the majority of these athletes completely misunderstand what it is that we can do to help them. In the majority of cases athletes are asking for support for one or more of the following reasons:

1) They have failed to prepare solo for their goals and/or have not given themselves adequate time to prepare so want us to magically get them ready in less that adequate time and think a coach can work magic tricks to find them a quick fix. Remember we do not hold the Marvel Comics Time Infinty Stone or The Doctor’s TARDIS.
2) They are poorly motivated and want a coach to act like a personal trainer and group exercise instructor by making them WANT to train for the goal they say is important to them.
3) They want you to find an impossible solution to their own poor time management and lack of willingness to make sacrifices or contact with the other important people in their lives
4) They just want you to set the sessions that will magically make them more accomplished without them changing anything else in their life
5) They want you to be aware for them. For you to identify what they need to do better and not own this themselves by developing their own self awareness. The frustration part is that they often only want you to point out the parts that they feel good about not the parts that challenge them.
6) They want someone to constantly reassure them and praise them for everything they do well.

This is simply not what performances coaches do. Yes these do form parts of the process but this is the easy bit, any personal trainer with some basic knowledge of training principles and enthusiasm can offer this. In fact most athletes could learn enough in a couple of months to write an fairly effective plan for themself.
Performance coaching is so much more and to benefit from this you need to be coachable, understand what coachability is and how this leads to accomplishment.

Performance coaching is not about setting you sessions and motivating you to do them. Performance coaching is not about celebrating mediocrity. Performance coaching is about developing a way of thinking, a way of acting, a set of behaviours, a set of values and a mindset in the coachee. Performance coaches do not measure the accomplishment of individuals by the performances and outcomes, they measure them through their execution of the ‘hows’, behaviours and their resulting coachability. If these are executed perfectly then the performance takes care of itself. So next time you wonder what your coach is looking for or you want to understand how to become more accomplished (after all this is what you are asking your coach to help you be) then review these behaviours, this is what your coach is doing all of the time. If you coach is challenging you about something then it is likley that one or more of these behaviours is not where it needs to be (remember many affect each other), they are unlikley to be challenging you because, for example, you missed a session or because a session went badly. Missed sessions and sessions that are that do not produce the desired result are part of the process sometimes, even for professionals. It is the root cause of the issues that coaches review and what you did to influence this, or maybe what you didn’t do. In an ideal world you will know the root cause, be aware of your actions, have reviewed possible adjustments or solutions yourself long before you engage with your coach. The further you can get along the process yourself the more effective you coach can be in helping you find more subtle and marginal gains towards your goal. If you know an accomplished fully self coached athlete it is more often than not as a result of them being able to get almost all the way through this process with every part of their journey all of the time. This is exceptionally difficult to do. Do not underestimate how hard when you think you fancy having a crack at coaching yourself.

What to look for in a performance coach and how will it feel to be them.

If your coach is accomplished themselves (which if they are not you may want to be asking some serious questions about whether they really are worth working with) then it is likley that they will become deeply invested in your own journey and deeply committed to your own individual success, not for their own glory but because leading others to success is their passion. If you do not share the same level of passion that they do for your journey it will frustrate them. If it does not then you might question if they really have the passion they should and care as much they claim to. Some coaches will share and show this passion, some will be better at masking it in some way. When coaches share their frustrations it can be challenging for coachees to deal with. However tough (and for some less resilient coachees, demotivating) that may seem it saves time, speeds up communication, creates clarity, cultivates sincerity and trust and ensures messages are concise and accurately received. When coaches mask it then it can more motivational, more positive, more inspirational and encouraging but may miss some other key factors that will create a more efficient journey to accomplishment. Different coachees respond better to different styles and at Passion Fit we have a diverse line up of coaches that offer different styles as no two people are the same and not everyone will become accomplished with the guidance of the same coaching style. However, there is no doubting that most highly accomplished individuals challenge themselves and get more frustrated than the coach would ever be. At this stage the coach’s job then becomes about redirecting that frustration into positive and value adding action.

Beware the coach that always gives you praise or only ever challenges you. Balance is key.

We all love praise but too much praise can be a bit like sugar, it makes you feel great at the time but could ultimately be preventing you from truly becoming accomplished. Many coaches make a great living out of rewarding their coachees for every single thing they do right no matter how remedial. Some coachees crave this more than they realise and so feel motivated and empowered by coaches like this. The reality can often (but not always) be that the coach is holding the coachee back by making them feel that they are accomplishing their potential while unwittingly reinforcing their need to this type of coach. This extends a coachee’s need for the coach as it can slow their ultimate progression down and they become ‘addicted’ to the praise and are unable to function without it. In this situation coachees can also become deaf to the challenging feedback too as all they tune in to is the praise and think they maybe doing better than they are. Ultimately they do not progress as much as they should but love the feeling they get. This also works in the coach’s favour commercially and you could even argue that some coaches do this on purpose (in fact in the fitness industry this is often true as retention is the a key measure for many, not client progression). Now this can also work in reverse, a coach that just brings you down and criticises you is of limited value too and this can become a toxic environment. Never rewarding a coachee will never help them progress. There are almost always ‘wins’ that need to be recognised and it is arrogant of coaches to assume that a coachee may not need praising for these, in fact one great coach of mine once said, “winning is important but not knowing why you won is unforgivable”. However, just because someone tells you something you do not want to hear does not mean that they are wrong or not adding value. Balance is the key. Praise when it is genuinely earned and warranted, challenge when it will help improve awareness, learning and progression. See it like this, if you praised a child too much for doing the simple things like being on time for school and did not challenge them enough about the standard of their work would they ever really progress to their potential and they would not develop much resiliance. They might enjoy school and want to go more often or stay on for longer but they might ultimately fail to achieve their goals. Criticise them too much and they lose all self esteem and motivation and give up all together as they may believe they could never be good enough. Both the coach and the coachee have a responsibility to get this right. In our experience the coachees that tend to become accomplished need little or no challenging though as they challenge themselves enough. If you respect your coach and they challenge you more than you like maybe ask yourself why?

Next article coming soon: The Behaviours Of The Accomplished

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