When I was in the Army and stationed in Germany I use to visit and marvel at the magnificent Cathedrals throughout Europe. Have you ever sat back and thought of just went into their design and construction? Their construction much like the Training Process is not something to step back from and admire only when it is completed. It is an ongoing process of design, laying the foundation, forming, building, bonding, changing, detailing, refining and renovation. We never get it quite right. It is never perfect. It is always under construction.
Am I talking about the building of the Cathedrals or the building of an Athlete?
Today's blog is something that I have been thinking of writing for quite some time now and it really is quite personal to me. As I step back and look over my own personal journey as both an athlete and a coach and see that long before I knew about Deliberate Practice I was living it in my daily pursuit in becoming a champion. I also look at the success of so many of the athletes at all levels that I have been blessed to coach both past and present and I am proud of each and every one of them no matter where their athletic talents took them. Many of them have their own stories of success that I am happy to have had a small part in but unfortunately not all of my athletes have achieved success in their athletic endeavors that they thought they'd have and many come back to me later and accept the blame for their own failings.
"I am but a guide on this journey." is what I tell them.
In the book "Talent is Overrated" the author makes a great statement. "It is more than apparent that in order to become significantly good at almost anything is extremely difficult without the help of a coach or teacher. Without a clear and unbiased view of the subject's performance then choosing the best practice activity will be impossible for reasons that may be simply physical or psychological. Very few of us can make a clear and honest assessment of our own performance." (Big Thanks to LeCharles Bentley of OLine Performance for the book recommendation and Ben Crookston of Train Heroic for even more insight on Deliberate Practice)
On my Coaching Journey it seems too many people I come in contact with want the prize without doing the work. They want to rush the process and can't seem to get out of their own damn way. They want to achieve success right away and don't want to do the work month after month and damn sure not year after year but that's exactly what it takes. This really is a Journey and to those that understand and embrace this philosophy well, they are the ones that put themselves in a position to achieve success. Now, I'm not saying if you simply do X' you'll be guaranteed a championship but if you do you will achieve your' success whatever that success may be. Of course there are many factors that influence The Journey just don't let your ego be one of them.
My Masters Weightlifter Darren Williams had a great quote concerning ego the other day that had me laughing and thinking at the same time. He says "I make sure that I keep my ass off my shoulders so I can always be coachable" and he damn sure does he's one of the more coachable athletes I have ever worked with.
If you're wondering what's got me thinking about all of this is its an email I got from Owen Franks of New Zealand All Blacks Rugby expressing that our training together the last couple of years has been an eye opener and pretty much has gone the way I told him. He feels the best and is healthier, moving and playing better than anytime in his career and he is at his heaviest bodyweight and is in his 8th season with the All Blacks. He is looking towards playing in the 2019 Rugby Word Cup in Japan. Owen and I began training together in 2014 at the suggestion of his brother Ben who was also an All Black (started training Ben in 2011). Now, understand that each of these boys were at the top of their sport and considered the absolute best at their position on the pitch when I came in to train them. They are now 2 time Rugby World Cup Champions and elite athletes and with that in mind so many other coaches go into training guys at this level with the adage of just don't fuck them up' and to keep doing what they've been doing because of the level of success they have already achieved'. I come in with the idea of what can I do to make them even better!!! After all, isn't that why I was brought in? Honest assessments, effective communication and a lot of work not just designing a program but making sure that program evolves and continues to grow. This is a process that is years long not weeks or months but YEARS LONG!!
Let's go back to Masters Weightlifter Darren Williams who walked into my gym over 2½ years ago to improve his lifting and to learn to catch his lifts in the squat position instead of the split technique he had been using. Think about it here he was at 54 years old and wanting to relearn technique. We spoke at length about the work both in the gym and on his own that this would take to achieve. He was more than up of the task. Fast forward to today and he is stronger than he's ever been in his life and with that increase in strength came increases in his lifting abilities and the poundage he moves combine that with the ability to hold more effective positions and you have a better weightlifter. Did this come easy or quickly? NO it didn't!! It did come with a big dose of pain, sweat, frustration, and mind numbing drills. Even though we've achieved a level of success he is still not satisfied and continues to do the work that is required to achieve the championships he wants so badly.
What am I trying to tell you is that this is process and no matter how badly you want it or how much talent you may or may not have you just simply cannot rush he process. Deliberate Practice by definition is not fun and it is not flash. It is hard and it hurts but it works and more of it equals better performance and tons of it equals great performance. I am often asked well if its not fun why do it?' My answer is always the same, "Don't get me wrong I love training but it's just work. You want to know what is really fun? Winning championships is really fun" and like my logo says and I believe it to be true.
Play Hard...Train Harder... there are NO EXCUSES
Question for you: Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve your success?