New Year: Review & Staring Ahead with Excitement

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Welcome back, athletes, bloggers, readers, and wonderful subscribers to this meandering blog. I hope you had a superb New Year and are primed for the greatness that 2018 will undoubtedly bring. 2017 was a bit rubbish for many, although having just read my post from this time last year, apparently not as bad as 2016 was! So it’s all been upwards. And so I expect 2018 to be…upwards yet further.

Sitting here watching Scarlets vs Dragons rugby, in my cousin’s house in South Wales (although I’m an Ospreys fan), I’ve got about an hour to sit and reflect on my CrossFit successes of 2017 and look to what I seek to achieve in 2018.

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So, what were my 2017 Goals?

  1. Achieve a top 25% in CF Open 2017
  2. Look and Feel Healthier
  3. Complete 2 x Obstacle Races
  4. Significantly Improve in Strength / Olympic Lifting

And, how have I done?

  1. CF Open 2017. I smashed this goal with my best ever position – top 17% of individual males and top 14% of Masters Men (35-39), taking in to account all competitors, Rx and Scaled, who recorded all 5 workouts.
  2. Look & Feel Healthier. Yes. For the first time on this CF journey, I feel like a credible CrossFitter. Through good nutrition, and plenty of hard work, I actually believe I look and compete like I belong there. It’s vain, I know, but it’s a motivating factor – we all want to look good for the effort we put in. The biggest difference has been nutrition which must continue in to 2018.
  3. Events. I signed up for 2 events, as planned, but the first was cancelled on the day; the Swim/Run event had to be postponed due to weather. We’ve been promised that we can reattend in 2018 though and so that’ll be on my list. The second event, “Mission: Unbreakable”, a 10km OCR in North Devon was a huge amount of fun and really motivated me to get in another one this year.
  4. Strength. Perhaps my biggest success of this year. As soon as the Open finished, I began on the AMRAP Plus One Advanced Weightlifting programme. Beginning with a 102.5kg Clean & Jerk, and a 72.5kg Snatch, I concluded 2018 with a 112.5kg Clean & Jerk, and an 80kg Snatch. oh, and a destroyed barbell 😉
  5. CF Level 2 Trainer. Not a goal that I set out to achieve at the beginning of the year but an opportunity that was too good to miss. Thank you to CF Watford for giving me the space (and money) to do this; I’ve really grown as a coach over the last few years at CF Plymouth and CF Watford but this course gave me so much more too.

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So, going in to 2018, what do I want to see? Well, more of the same, to be honest. Keeping the same themes, my goals are:

  1. CF Open 2018. Achieve top 15% individual male finish in CF Open 2018. I never thought I’d be in this space, if I’m honest and it’s exciting me.
  2. Look & Feel Healthy. Christmas put a bit of a dent in to the good work but it’ll come back by the end of Jan. Having recently had a DNAFit Fitness Diet Pro test, I also know a few changes that I need to make to achieve greater success with my nutrition. It’s critical that I maintain the good standards that I set in 2017.
  3. Events. More events. I want to compete; I’m looking for some midweek CF events, should they exist. If not, I might sign up for the Battle of Britain Qualifiers or something like that. I’m reattempting the Swim/Run event in Devon, if it comes off, and I would like to run the Cardiff half-marathon with other family members. There’s also a “Stand Up 2 Cancer” CF event in October that I’m determined to compete in.
  4. Strength. I’m going to consolidate on this for a few months while the Open takes place. I want to get to the stage where 100kg Clean & Jerk is ‘comfortable’ and can be done under pressure in a WOD; I’d like 115kg as a new 2RM but that is a longer term, year long goal.

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I think it should be reflected upon too that even though I am that enthusiastic, motivating coach in front of the outstanding athletes in CF Watford, I didn’t find this easy. Especially 2 and 4. There were some pretty dark moments where I just kept thinking, “what’s the point?” When those moments came up, I turned to the likes of Mrs Nomad and my coaches (Charlie, Hat, Tash, Roly – you rock) and took their advice and guidance. I repeatedly referred back to my notebook to see just how far I’d come along the trail. I should note too that while Strength was my goal, my MetCon scores have rapidly and steeply improved too, across shorter power workouts and the longer endurance ones too.

So, what lessons have I learned in 2017?

  1. Surround yourself with Talent. I’ve made it a point to learn from success in every aspect of my life this (last) year. This has hopefully paid off in my professional life (find out in March) but it definitely paid off in CrossFit. Watching the higher levels athletes in our box, learned from those with injuries, chatting to everyone about their motivations…it’s all benefited me immensely and I have to thank them all. I’m sure it’s been infuriating having to put up with some of my inane WhatsApp messages but thank you all.
  2. Recovery. I’m getting (a little) older and am definitely not the 18 year old that could play a rugby match on a Saturday, get smashed in the evening, and do a 5 mile run on the Sunday. Alcohol definitely affects me more than it ever has although I’m not much of a drinker anyway. I also need the odd day off 😉 While I’ve trained twice a day for 3 days a week for quite a bit of this period, and have seen immense changes, I have also taken weekends off, by and large. Without intending it, it’s been just the right amount of rest and recovery.
  3. Write Shit Down! I can’t express this enough to athletes. WRITE DOWN YOUR SCORES! I’ve written about this one before but here’s another angle to it: there are days when you don’t feel like you can lift heavy, or run fast, or jump high. It’s so easy to let your body match your mental state. But, if you look at your notebook and see that just the previous week you put in a 115kg Jerk, then you know that you can do it and that you probably will today too. So many times this year, especially at 0600hrs, I could have just knocked 5kg off the bar because I wasn’t feeling it. Each time, I reviewed my previous lifts and set the targets accordingly.
  4. Have a Laugh. You know what? It’s only exercise. Sure, we have goals and we want to succeed. But not every day is a PR day. Not every day needs that steely-eyed focus. Enjoy it for what it is – it’s time with friends doing something you enjoy that isn’t work.

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Dealing with anticlimax and disappontment

Awaking early on a Sunday, I was excited. My first competition in well over a year. Not a race I could win but one to truly challenge myself. Not sports I would usually go for either,  but something relatively new. 

I headed downstairs for my big bowl of oats. Cup of coffee, staring out of the window at the grey, brooding skies…quick check of the Met Office app – yep, a little drizzle, some light breeze, but ok. Taking the Earl Grey up to Mrs Nomad, I flicked open the drawers to get my race kit out. The wetsuit, goggles and trunks were already good to go by the door. The warrior princesses awoke and we got them through breakfast before swiftly dressing and shuffling them in to the car.

My excitement was building,  I’ll admit. Having not had any form of competition for so long, the chance to just launch from a start line, surrounded by 249 others, was compelling. 

We headed off along the A38, and then down narrow country lanes, weaving through Devon villages still silent on a Sunday morning. The turning for South Milton Sands loomed, the National Trust Car Park symbol leading the way. We crested a hill and saw it…the sea…the start…a little choppy….a lot choppy. 

Parking among the few early arrivals, I jogged over to the TrailEvents.co marshalls setting  up. “1km Sea Swim, 15km Trail Run”, the billowing banners read. “Not a chance”, the faces said. “Sorry mate, swim cancelled, we can’t get the safety boat out – you can still run though, or you can defer.”

£40 for a 15km run on public roads, Mrs Nomad and the girls sitting in the car?

No chance.

And with that, it with as over and we were driving away, back through the Sunday morning villages. No race. No challenge. Gone.
What hit me very quickly was pretty intense and unexpected. 

The sense of anticlimax was pretty tangible. It felt like a new emotion, having not really felt this for a very long time. I’d paid, physically prepared, mentally prepared, was ready, and then…….flat.

So what do you do? How do you overcome that? What’s next?


Well, for starters, the weather improved within an hour, as did my mood 😉

Acceptance

You can’t get around it. The event was cancelled. There’s no arguing or challenging, it’s done.  Let the emotion do its thing and learn from it for the next time.

Achievement

I conducted a whole heap of new training that I was unaccustomed to before.  I’m not much of a long distance runner and I’m certainly no swimmer. But I achieved new skills and new levels of Fitness that are transferable back in to CrossFit and for the future. Didn’t Greg Glassman tell us to, “Learn and play new sports” in the “What is CrossFit?” genesis document? How many of us regularly do? So this is a new achievement and should be celebrated.

Motivation

Tap in to the motivation that was there when you woke up to compete and set a new challenge as soon as you can. While I’ve been focusing on endurance, it was at the expense of strength and CF competitions. Immediately, I reached out to Charlie Goode, our Coach-in-Chief and asked for comps.

Build

Take the new skills you have and build on them. I’m not going to now put my wetsuit to one side and say, “thanks”. I’ve given myself the challenge of getting to a lake, and doing a swim/Run on my own or with a friend. I need to see this through, if for nothing but closure. After that, I will continue to seek open water swimming opportunities.

This has been a learning opportunity for me. I didn’t like it at first but I’ve seen strong positives in it. I am stronger now as an athlete.

Surround Yourself with Greatness. 

Seek Inspiration Everywhere.

Olympians. Business Heads. Children. Young. Old. New. Experienced. Beginners. Experts. Sport. Science. 

As I sit in Terminal 2, sipping my Caffé Nero Americano, I’m reminded of all manner and sources of inspiration around us.  

I see children playing together, oblivious to the divisions that remain, haunting the world at large. Running, rolling, hiding, jumping. Pure potential.
There are sportsmen, possibly US national level from the look of their kit, huddled up, headphones on, focused inwardly, quiet. Determined but relaxed.

Business execs queue to be the first on the plane; they’ll turn left, I’ll turn right. They’ve earned that…… (maybe 😉 )

Mothers and fathers entertain their little ones; endless patience, innovative parenting, tireless enthusiasm.

Retirees, the elderly, the wise. Looking on with a knowing, satisfied, comfortable smile at the world around them. Success in their own right.

In the coaching world, the quote, “Surround Yourself With Greatness” has become fashionable as a soundbite, as a backdrop of a sunrise photo or accompanying a copyrighted image of some silhouetted player slam-dunking a basket. 

My own photo, my own pithy words

Taking inspiration from the success and hard work of others is absolutely the right thing to do. Seeing yourself at that level, emulating and setting your sights on the very best is powerful motivation. 

But how do you intentionally, actually surround yourself?

You can watch selected video clips. There are inspirational books written by those at the top, those who turn left and not right on the plane. Perhaps you can have photos taken with sportsmen after they cross the finish line. Many organisations arrange gatherings and evening speeches that you can attend (not always for a fee).

These are all valid and useful endeavours. 

Or.

You can sit in an airport,  a town centre, a cafe…..you can grab a hot coffee and a paleo snack (obviously)….and you can watch the strength and success all around you. 

See the new parents who haven’t slept in days yet find imaginative and inventive ways to make their child smile. 

Watch the collective and self-discipline of the  sports champs with their determination and mental fortitude. 

Smile with the veterans heading for a trip abroad who’ve been there, done it and defeated the scars.

“Surround Yourself With Greatness” is not an instruction to go out and seek something new. It’s not a cue to pile up books, put cat posters up and watch endless YouTube clips. 

You are surrounded by greatness. 

It’s everywhere you look. 

See the strength, the raw greatness in the world, and invoke it.

Coaching Part II – Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation. What you Want vs What Someone Else Wants

You’re laying in your bed, your warm, snuggly, cosy bed, looking up at the ceiling. It’s dawn outside. It’s raining. You said you’d support your closest friend as she prepares for her upcoming half-marathon. But your bed….it’s warm, oh so warm, and it’s drawing you back in….your eyes begin to shut as you slowly return to where you were before that sodding alarm cut in…..you yawn….”She won’t mind…..”. “I’ll say the alarm didn’……..ZZZZZzzzzzZZZZzzzzZZZzzzZZzzZz”

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vs

You’re laying in your bed, your warm, snuggly, cosy bed, looking up at the ceiling. It’s dawn outside. It’s raining. You’ve been training for a half-marathon now for 6 months. Your first attempt at this distance. You’re doing it for charity to support your dear mum who’s recently had an operation. But this morning it’s raining. Hard. “But it might rain on the day!”, you say to yourself, “how will I cope on the day if I’ve not given it a go today?”. “Besides, I’ve got targets to hit this week, I can’t afford to miss them!” you scold yourself as you look longingly at the duvet. You pull your kit on, grab some water and head for the door.

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Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic Motivation.

Intrinsic factors are those internal to yourself. They are your wants and desires, based on a combination of your values & standards, your beliefs, your sense of self-worth, curiosity, and even fun. If it is your idea, you are more likely to see it through, especially if it is novel, or new in some way to you. You are in control. If the goal you seek to achieve comes from your core values and beliefs, you are more likely not to want to let yourself down (although fear is never a good motivational factor, a little nudge from behind isn’t a bad start).

Extrinsic factors are those imposed on you from outside. Deadlines, money, awards, punishment. You might be given a task to complete with fear of reprisal should you not carry it out. What does this motivate you to do? It ensures you do ‘just enough’ not to get told off. You might be given the same task and told you’ll have an award for completing it on time. You do it and get the prize. Next time you are given a similar task, you’re going to want a slightly better prize! Or what if the offer of the prize is taken away during the course of the task…..will you keep trying as hard?

Of course, I’ve been quite binary here for the purpose of example. Yes, extrinsic factors do work and they work quite well for short term, time limited and simple endeavours. Goals that do not require any fundamental change, or those that are supporting other goals (such as those on your developmental path), or those as part of an ongoing area in your life (such as work), can respond to awards, punishments, etc. How would we achieve anything at work otherwise. But, for genuine life changing goals, or those that require planning and coordination over a long time, intrinsic factors are those more likely to see success.

McLelland

There is a theory of motivational needs (McLelland) that presupposes everyone in to a combination of 3 categories. Those categories are: Affiliation, Power and Achievement. A Person is motivated by a combination of those but with a bias of one over another. For example, I am very much motivated within a team setting. I perform and try much harder when working as part of a team. If I work alone, I tend to coast or at least not give my all. Furthermore, I am motivated by achievements. Not awards, per se, but overcoming problems and goals. Power, or senior managerial roles, do not motivate me whatsoever. Indeed, I would find it hard to categorise anyone with a leaning towards both Power and Affiliation; certainly Power and Achievement.

When we combine McLelland’s Theory of Motivational Needs with Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivational factors, we are given an extremely powerful tool in our coaching / goal achieving arsenal. We will come back to McLelland next week when we set out a path to achieving those goals.

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Goal Setting

Last week, we looked at identifying goals (here). One of the lessons at the end of the post was about Honesty. Being absolutely honest with yourself about what it is you want to achieve. Now, I would add, “Why”. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want that new car? What drives you to behave the way you do on a daily basis? Honesty here, about why you want to achieve your goal and about the type of person you are is absolutely vital in achieving goals. Worthwhile goals are not easy, as we will see soon when setting out a developmental path. There will be micro and mini challenges along the way, attempting to pull you off course. You have to want to get past every single one of them. Here, extrinsic factors may be needed in order to quickly overcome some of them; just beware that the reward / threat you offer yourself in order to get over it will only work just enough to see you past it.

At all times, you should link your goal to YOU. What is it inside you that makes you want to achieve it. I raise the example above that fear of failure or fear of loss (of a physical item or even a relationship) might just only be enough for you to do just enough to keep hold of the thing. An external threat is not enough for you to put everything you have in to achieving something. In order to succeed, you have to want to attain something more or something new. There has to be a yearning based from your inner self. What have you always wanted to do and what inspired you to even think of it? Be sure to know what type of person you are and align accordingly. Do you want that promotion because you’ll be able to manage / command those around you because you believe you are the best person for the job and noone could do it as well as you? GOOD! Go for it! That is not a bad thing if you are truly a Power-motivated person. We are all different but you have to be honest. Do you want to get that deadline cracked because you know the team will get a day off at the end, and the team will all give you a pat on the back? GOOD! Go For It! You are motivated by Affiliation and team success. Do you want to smash your first marathon because you’ve never done one before and wouldn’t it be nice to be known as a marathoner? GOOD! Go For It! You are motivated by achievement and can work long periods on your own to get what you want.

 

By way of example, here’s my story:

rain-07 (What my eyes feel like most mornings!)

I get up most mornings, in to the cold, to trudge over to the gym. I train in the mornings and I then train in the evenings most days. I eat pretty damned cleanly these days and very rarely drink more than a pint or two (per week!). I could get by on maybe 2 or 3 training sessions a week and pass my fitness test though. So why the extra effort? I never used to be like this. I used to do just enough to pass my annual service fitness test (threat). I would drink in the bar with colleagues, eat pizzas relentlessly and stare at myself in the mirror complaining that my genetics were faulty. I got married and assumed that as long as I never got any worse (threat) then I’d still seem attractive (physically at least) to Mrs Nomad. That status quo could easily have been maintained.

And then we had kids. With my children, especially as they are girls, I immediately surged with a sense of protection towards them. The same sense of protective spirit that pushed me in to the Armed Forces Careers office now resurged towards my daughters. I want the absolute best for them, no matter what. I want them to experience the very best in life and I will be there to support and protect them, no matter what. However, in order to do that, I have to teach, coach and mentor them to navigate this exceptionally crazy world of peer pressure, social media and influences that we can’t see or be on hand for – it’s the fundamental reason I qualified as a coach, to be a better daddy. I need to provide for them in ways that schools don’t, to ensure they grow up with a sense of self-respect, self-worth and pride in their inner selves, something schools do not, and cannot, cater for. Therefore, I need to set an example, first and foremost. I could not preach about self-respect, good nutrition, good judgement, if I were a fat slob, drinking heavily and stuffing my face with crap while disrespecting other people in the process. My girls are young and they experience everything with their eyes and ears first. What they see Mrs Nomad and I doing, they will do without thinking about it.

So I am motivated by being a strong father. Of course, there is balance to be had, I get that. Pizza is not bad and time playing on a tablet is not bad. There is balance. But when it comes to setting an example, I don’t just want them to see their father do just enough in front of others. I want them to be proud of their mother and father and to want to walk in their shoes. As part of being a father, I recently had to watch my father die from cancer. The whole 4 year experience was defining in many ways. I learned a lot from my father, a lot more than I’d expected to given that I am 37 and think I know everything. I also vowed to do everything I could to ensure I avoided a similar fate. You might argue that this is fear motivating me and you’d be right. “But what about…just enough?”. Ordinarily, you’d be right there too. However, with this, I directly linked fear of decrepitude or untimely demise with a positive yearning to be out on the park with my granddaughters when I am in my +50s. I ache to be the grandfather showing off in the fathers’ race at school sports days. I desire my daughters to want to take our Team (and I refer to our family as a team every day, we are an affiliation) values and apply them daily. It gets me out of bed in the morning and it gets me in front of a keyboard writing this although noone will read it (perhaps I should work on increasing my readership as a goal!)

Summary

  1.  Understand yourself from an achievement, affiliation or power point of view. What motivates you inside? Do you play well with others?
  2. Be honest with yourself about your goals. Are they your goals, for your own heart’s desires, or are they to satisfy an external threat or award.
  3. Learn to tie them together. Understand yourself so that when you have to undertake a challenge that isn’t from within yourself, you can link it to something that it.

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Goal Identification, Motivation, Goal Setting, Development, Achievement

Over the course of the next 5 weeks or so, I will be writing a few short articles about the nature of Goal Setting and Achievement. We all have genuine, well-intentioned goals or targets based on strong, reasonable desires but quite often the aim is never quite right and the target is missed. Fortunately, there are few very simple tools available to us all to improve that aim and give us confidence to stay on track and achieve our goals.

Goal Identification

What do you want?

A new car? Stop smoking? Lose 20lbs? Get ripped?

Each of these is a valid, perfectly reasonable objective. But each of these requires a little thinking and some degree of forethought.

You might have cash readily available for a new car and can go out and buy it today. In which case, well done! However, it strikes me that in that situation, buying the car is no more a goal than simply buying a book on Amazon. A goal is something you aim towards and seek out; it’s a challenge! Therefore, let’s pretend you don’t have the money to buy a car but decide that you still want it.

In order to generate the money to buy the car, you are going to have to make some changes elsewhere in your life. What change do you make? Tighten the belt and save? Do you seek to generate income elsewhere to make a little more? Do you declare that to the taxman? How much belt-tightening are you willing to make and over how long? How much harder are you willing to work to generate the extra money? Wouldn’t it just be easier if the money was here and you could just go out and buy the car already!?! Is it too difficult and who cares anyway about the stupid car, I only wanted to impress the missus anyway because she thinks I’m middle-aged and boring…………

Ah…..so you didn’t want a car, really. You wanted to impress your wife because she’s been nagging you and you immediately thought about a car to make some kind of positive change?

So what is your goal really? Is it the car or is it to make your wife happier by showing her a youthful, spontaneous you?

The point is that the goal you think you want isn’t always the goal you actually want. It doesn’t necessarily make the want of a new car any less valid but if your actual goal is to impress the wife then perhaps there are other ways, that you haven’t considered and that are more within your means?

Consider the car again.

“Wouldn’t it just be easier if the money was here and you could just go out and buy the car already!?!”…..I need the car because my other one keeps breaking and I’m paying out so much on minor repairs that it just makes no sense to keep this one when I could spend some money and have a newer, more reliable model.

So is your goal to have a new car or is there a way to make your car more reliable and stop it breaking so often? Have you considered spending a little more on the ‘top level’ service instead of the cheap option?

Capacity

How many goals will you have at any one time? Any good goal deserves time, effort and other resources. How much change can you handle? Understand your capacity for change and prioritise. Giving up smoking AND losing weight require tremendous commitment. Not only that but giving up smoking is known to increase appetite and therefore weight. By not understanding your capacity for change, or the interplay between goals, you set yourself up for failure in one, likely both.
Honesty

You’ve got to be very honest with yourself.

It might be that you REALLY want that car purely for the love of the car, how it makes you feel, the sheer vain way you know you’ll look driving it around. And you know what? That’s a purely valid reason too. If you want to lose 20lbs so you can look good on the beach then own up to it, vocalise it and tell others; you’ll be surprised how many others are thinking the same thing – now you’re part of a community of like-minded individuals and even more likely to succeed! If others laugh and you give up then perhaps it wasn’t really that important to you?

My point with this is that the more honest you are with yourself about your desire to achieve a goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. I’ll come on to why this is when discussing Motivation next week.

Summary

My three takeaways for Goal Identification are:

1. Keep asking “Why”. Why do you want that thing you think you want? Get to the heart of it, identify the actual goal and then work back outward to see if there’s another, more effective / simpler / cheaper way you can achieve it.

2. Understand your capacity for change. Stick to one, maybe two, things and understand any interplay between them. Then throw all you have at it to set yourself up for success.

3. Be honest. Be 100% honest with yourself about what it is you want. Don’t be afraid to write it down or vocalise it. If it’s truly important to you, it won’t matter what others think and you’ll be surprised to find others are thinking the same thing.

12 Apr 15 – On exercise somewhere up north. Kettlebell Time.

2 days of travelling and getting set up on exercise has left me feeling a little cranky and so I woke this morning excited to find some time to get out and crack some PT.

In a moment of relative calm, I managed to grab a 24kg Kettlebell and, after reading a recent The Box Mag article, opted for:

MetCon

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 For Time:

Kettlebell Swings

Burpees

Time: 9:47 RX

In the bright, albeit bloody freezing cold, sunshine, this was the perfect WOD to get the heart rate up. Unbroken throughout, I perhaps wasted up to 15 secs in transition between the movements as well as about 3-5 secs where I suddenly realised I’d done 12 instead of 15 Burpees and then had to quickly make up the final 3. It was my intent to do this completely unbroken and I found that more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I could easily have dropped the KB during the 18s / 15s but having crushed those the 12s and downward were pretty simple, mentally. This little bruiser left me gasping at the end and pleased that I’d achieved it unbroken.

More of this type of thing to follow over the next few weeks. 24kg isn’t as heavy as perhaps I need now but I did see some big rocks on the coast nearby….

Becoming more than ‘Just Enough’

A a coach, I would relish someone coming to me and presenting with the situation that I laid out in the post of 2 days ago. Therefore, it is up to me to take a look at it as dispassionately as possible and come up with a plan.

I identify a few questions straight away:

  • What is the goal? (How? By when? Relevance? Why??)
  • What is the motivation? (Achievement? Fear of Failure?)
  • How is the individual motivated? (McLelland’s Theory of Human Motivation) How can I exploit that?

 

So, what is the Goal and why?

I want to be competitive at CrossFit. I believe that in order to be a good leader / coach / motivator in a given field, the coach must demonstrate competence and ability in order to have credibility. Certainly, I have no desire to be Rich Froning and compete at the CrossFit Games but I set myself a target of reaching the top 25% at the CrossFit Open 2015. I achieved top 33% this year and I believe that a push in to the top 25% is achievable and realistic. I believe that being able to hold that standard demonstrates to those you are coaching that you have crediblity backed up by ability. Perhaps in following years I will wish to advance further but for now my goal remains to achieve a top 25% finish at the CrossFit Open 2015. I therefore have from now until mid-Feb 2015 to begin to make a change.

What is the motivation?

If I look historically at the areas I have succeeded in, I am able to look at what got me across the line in the end.

My Commando Course is perhaps a very good example to begin with. I have wanted my Green Lid since I was very young. Had the ruling for colour perception requirements been different back then, I would have turned right instead of left in the careers office and would have applied to join the Royal Marines. As it was, my inability to tell a red light from a green light at range meant that I applied to join the Army as an Officer and, to be honest, my heart was never really in it. I have always wanted to serve my country (this has been a burning desire of mine forever and continues to be so) but I never really felt part of the Army. When the opportunity to transfer came up, I knew it was the right thing to do. Attending the Commando Course wasn’t exactly easy, however. There were moments when the “lazyman” raised his head and I felt like just walking away from it; my desire to pass kept me in the game but it wasn’t as strong as the fear of returning to my Unit in Scotland without that Commando qualification. The fear of failure was very strong for that period.

Going back to University, I picked the wrong degree from the outset, after picking the wrong A-Levels. I accept some blame but really, was there noone out there who could see that I was definitely not suited to Genetics?! Where was my advisor in all this??? Still, I picked ridiculous A-Levels and then a foolish degree that I had no personal interest nor investment in; I then struggled relentlessly. I knew at the time and I still know now that had I applied myself then I could have passed with a better grade than I did. However, I chose rugby, a social life and anything else to occupy my time instead. When it came to getting over that line, the fear of letting my parents and family down was what won me over. The  fear of failure pushed me to act at the death and got me my 2:2. I remember exactly where I was when the result came in and the feeling not of joy and elation but of utter, unburdening relief not to have failed.

In November 2011, I was given the opportunity to undertake my first ever marathon. In fact, I was given 10 days notice and am most definitely not a runner. I had no gauge for success and so picked a pace that I could just keep up throughout, achieving a 3:59:28 in the process. What motivated me? I had just begun a new job in an HQ in Afghanistan and everyone believed that just because I was a Royal Marine I was therefore exceptionally fit. There was considerable fear of bursting that bubble because…..I rather enjoyed that perception.

There are other examples but for whatever reason (and as a coach I am interested in the psychology of this so please, if anyone reads this, let me know) I am motivated by a terrible negative rather than the positivity of success. This will only ever push someone to work just hard enough not to have failed and will never motivate them to achieve their potential. When I compare that to my fantastic cousin who recently achieved blanket A*s across the board in her GCSEs (some of which she sat a year early), I am clearly contrasted against her ability to motivate herself to high-flying success.

So, what drives me? Fear of Failure. I MUST use this in the short term but need to find a way beyond this as it will not get me far. Visualisaton of positive outcomes? Remembering the feeling of success and channeling that? I have achieved many things in the past, things that I am very proud of. I have to think about those.

How am I motivated?

McLelland believes that humans are motivated by 3 things; power (nPow), affiliation (nAff) and achievement (nAch). From previous work, I know that I am more motivated by achievements and affiliation than by power. That is to say that I need to work towards goals but that I am likely to be more motivated if those goals are part of a wider effort and not just for my own ends (fear of failure as a driver again?). In this context, I need to be a part of a team in order to really get the most out of myself.

So how do I use this to achieve my aims?

I believe that I need to be a part of a team in order to feel that sense of responsibility to others and the wider effort. I respond to the fear of failure but this cannot be a sole driver; I have to see some success, relish it and thrive on it. I have signed up for CrossFit Plymouth and on return from this little trip coming up, I shall attend at least twice per week. I plan to be part of one of their teams and get a few competitions under my belt. I think that these factors will definitely help me achieve my aims and I will see success in CF Open 15.